Wednesday, December 26, 2012

If you'd like another word to search as you're searching out the God of the scriptures - "still", "quiet", "silent", "without words", or "without speaking" (depending on which translation you use) . . . can you think of Bible stories where still or quiet or silence is a key element? Verses?

"Stop fighting!" "anger," "grieve," "weeping" . . . from the last post and this post - words you'll find along the way . . .

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I posted the word study then read through it and almost took it down. It leaves us with more questions than answers. Hopefully our relational faith can handle that.

Centuries ago before the days of word studies, I'm guessing that it was the stories, the heroes, that most people remembered. The scriptures are full of stories about tragedy, among them the massacre in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. Talk about a reason to hate God!

But comfort. . .

Where are the songs and stories of comfort? Job. Isaiah.Lamentations. Psalms.  John and the promised Comforter. You can probably find others. There were surely older siblings, parents, family and friends left in the wake of Herod's work...

Scripture is clear that there are times when we are so overcome by tragedy and grief that we can't be comforted. May we find the God of Comfort close to those who need Him. May He wrap His everlasting arms around those who grieve in ways that we can't.

Monday, December 24, 2012

We wish each other Happy Holidays or a Merry Christ-filled Christmas . . .

So sad for so many, this season. Maybe for more people than we know every Christmas season, but this year, the grief is media-public.

Words of comfort ... There are many faces of comfort in these verses... a word study . . .

Read them in context...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Think of specific people or situations in scripture where there is a teacher and a learner.

Lay aside your preconceived ideas and make observations. What do you notice about the teacher? What do you notice about the learner?

Are there similarities? Differences?

Who learned what? Did anyone change? How? Make your observations.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Are there implications for children?

Probably many more than what you will find in this post!  Probably far more than those jumping out at me after only one quick read.

But here's one. We live in such a global, technological world. We want our message to be relevant to the children of this world. We tend to use media and images and metaphors from this world.

Are we using fewer and fewer images from scripture and looking for others because kids can't relate? Adults can't relate? Are we using fewer and fewer of the images of scripture because we are becoming less and less agrarian? less and less rural? less and less dependent on the land and as a result we have less and less interaction with the natural world that God has made? Because we live different life styles?

Or maybe kids' concentration skills are device (or non-device) specific.

Are there ways to offer children (and adults) the experiences of hands-on Biblical imagery and at the same time strengthen their connection with the greater natural (human and non-human) God-created world?

The understandings, sensibilities, know-how, wisdom, experience of someone visiting a farm or forest the first time isn't the same as a third generation full-time impassioned farmer or naturalist (or even engineer.) But if you want to go there (even for a short visit), you have to start somewhere. Every time you see and experience the same world it's different. God-given capability with the capacity to grow.

How do we balance the interdependence of man and the non-human natural world that allows us to continue to coexist - dependent, independent, interdependent. How do we apply our Biblical understandings to environmental activism? To pet and land ownership? To our interaction with the outdoors? What lines do we draw? How about the way we see livestock - not human but living creatures, nonetheless. What about man? Are we are creatures first and humans second? What if the world really doesn't revolve around just us? Or even just God? Are we an intergral part of the system or only one part of an integral system?

We have more access to the human social cultural global community than ever before and hopefully more empathy. What are those passages about what God has made? What God fills? What all belongs to Him? Ownership? What does that mean? Discipline? Responsibility? Freedom? 

Dr. Freitheim's scriptural observations are timely. Changing our thinking will take time. It's interesting to me how cultural changes open the door for us to see things in scripture we might not see had we lived in another time, and visa versa. But I suppose a Living Word is like that.

For the record! God is still God: the Beginning and the End, Creator, Father-Son-Holy Spirit. He is all that He says He is, all that the scriptures reveal. He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow - forever. Jesus is Lord! In the greatest sense of the word. In the greatest sense of the Word and all that He's created.

Conclusion: " Implications of a Relational Theology of Creation: Human Vocation and Nonhuman Vocation" *

*from God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology by Terence E. Fretheim

This is a really interesting chapter. It has to do with purpose. It's not uncommon for us as humans to talk about purpose. Dr. Fretheim calls it "vocation" and goes beyond human vocation to non-human vocation. He concludes this work talking about "a mutuality of human vocation and non-human vocation." An "interrelated community."  "dependence," "independence," "interdependence." All are present. (p. 269). Have you ever thought about the job God gave rocks? or birds? or trees?

Exploring the scriptures, giving language and voice to the traditionally  Unheard,  he proposes a "relational model of creation."  (p. 269-272) He applies what he's saying to the present age. At various points throughout the book looking at the interrelatedness of God, Man, the natural world, God's "chosen" and those "outside" he asks the question "who is serving whom?" (p. 273-284)

He talks about the healing capabilities of the non-human (p. 283) and sin limiting praise (p. 284).

God is present, yet independent, yet interdependent.

I'm sure if I read it again, other things will jump out at me. Read it! It might take a year or two to read but take the time to read the scriptures. See where the scriptures take you.

Chapter 8: "Nature's Praise of God"

*from God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology by Terence E. Fretheim

In this Chapter Dr. Fretheim focuses on the Psalms.

He notes the praise of human and non-human and says "According to H Paul Santmire, nature's praise of God is 'one of the least understood themes in old testament'." ( p. 249) He looks at Psalm 148 and Isa 44:23.  (p. 250)

This is where he raises a question worth pondering. Ok. The whole book is full of questions worth pondering but this one is particularly interesting. He says that historically how we understand these passages is largely influenced by "a preoccupation with the human as the center of the universe." (p. 250) Does our praise mean more to God because we're human or was all of creation made with the capability to praise our maker and our praise is a fulfillment of purpose and God is thrilled when we choose to realize our purpose. He doesn't exactly say that but if you're reading this you are bearing with me as I ponder.

He says, "This anthropocentrism is evident in a salvation history that is focused on human beings, or an existentialism that sees all of reality from the perspective of human existence, or a political theology centered on the liberation of the human or a theology of the word that includes only human beings within its purview. In  such views, nature has often come to be seen as having only an instrumental value, to be used for the enhancement of human life." (p. 250) There's also a perspective that holds to an understanding of God that "has tended to remove God from too close a brush with the world." (p. 251)

"No human history is independent of the history of nature, and this for both good and ill." (p 264)

The author emphasizes that though God and His creation are separate, He created all that He created with relational capability - God, Man, Nature (living and non-living) - all interconnected. Not secular, not profane, not divided. (p. 251)

"Francis of Assisi stands out because his sensitivities are comparatively rare; he belongs to a very thin tradition." (p. 252) He stands out to me as a champion for appreciating and respecting the world that God made. I didn't realize that his thinking is rare.

Some scholars interpret Psalm 148 as an expression of the final freeing of Creation to praise God when the sons of God are revealed. Some understand it as ever-present reality. (p. 253-4)

The author says, "What are gods elsewhere are here reduced to elements of the natural order in praise of Yahweh; these entities praise God, they are not themselves objects of worship." (p. 254)

He addresses the concept of what some call "psychic affinity." You'll have to read the whole discussion yourself but he says that moderns see the natural world as more of an "It". Ancients regarded the elements of the natural world (even the ancient Hebrews) as having life, will, character. The author moves on without drawing conclusions saying, "the possibilities for an internal relationship between God and all created things must be left open. This issue deserves further exploration." (p. 255)

He notes that for some interpreters, the "exuberance" and "extravagance" of metaphor and worship language as they reference creation bear "little, if any, correspondence to reality". (Makes me think of TV!) He explores the nature of language, specifically worship language. (p. 256-7)

He says, "God's transcendence is given a special lift by the use of such natural metaphors...they evoke wonder and awe in human beings; God's strength and majesty are commonly emphasized, the use of natural metaphors for God opens up the entire created order as a resource for depth and variety in our God language." (p.257) He further explores that.

He looks at Tradition.

He talks about God's presence. "If one says that God is truly present in , with, and under every aspect of the created order, what does it mean to speak of the presence of God? Is it only external...? The The texts suggest that God is able really to relate to every creature.  . . Given the relationships that human beings often have to pets...and other natural elements, we dare not suggest that God is incapable of such relationships." (p. 263)

"The symbiosis of human and non human in the praise of God is intended to fill the universe with the knowledge of God, with the knowledge of God's love and faithfulness" (p. 256) Contrast this with the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. God's creatures show forth their praise by being what they are. Men and women show forth His praise by being who we are ("the redeemed people of God") (p. 266) And together? Can you imagine the earth filled with the glory of God?

Lots of food for thought! His concluding reflections are profound. (p. 263-266)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pondering Chapters 8 & 9

Finished reading all but the Notes. Probably won't read them, actually.

Pondering. When I have more time to sit and write...

Dog people have challenged the dominance model in dog training, parents and society have rejected heavy-handed parenting, as Dr. Freitheim searches and studies the Old Testament he sees an interdependence between God Creator, Man, and all that God has made. He challenges our traditional thinking.

God is still God - separate from what he's made and yet He fills. He is still all that He says he is - Powerful, Benevolent, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

Metaphors from nature tell us things about Him that comparing God to man don't.

God, Man, all that God has set in motion are interdependent in more ways than we think about.

Dr Freitheim challenges our thinking that man is the center of God's thinking and all that God creates exists to serve man.  O, Man - life is not just about you!! A humbling thought?

But God is there - faithful! Caring, nurturing, holding us to high standards, relating, watching, protecting, intervening sometimes but not always, teaching ... intimately acquainted with all that He's created and how it all works together. Back and forth, give and take...Fascinating!

The scriptures stand. God is who He says He is. Worthy of our praise. In it's fullness, all creation praises Him and God says, "It is good!"

As I say, still pondering. When I have time to sit and write more...

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Chapter 7: "Wisdom and Creation"*

*from God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology by Terence E. Fretheim

Forgive me for seeing the veins in the leaves and missing the forest when I read books like this.

Chapter Seven: Wisdom and Creation. This is my favorite chapter (only two left). The author's focus in this chapter is on the lady Wisdom of Proverbs and Job.

How often do we talk or hear talk about wisdom?  "The heart of wisdom is what is done with that knowledge in the daily round, the discernment of the appropriate relationship between what individuals have come to know and how they live." (p. 199)

He reminds us that not only does wisdom come from the Lord and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but that it is only the beginning of wisdom.  He sees creation as the most basic source of wisdom. (p. 200) He sees creation as the "ground" on which lady Wisdom builds her house. (p 201)

He talks about the "Universality of Wisdom," the "Secularity" of Wisdom, the "Interrelationality of Wisdom". (p. 202-204) But he caught my attention when he asked why is Wisdom female. Wisdom was with God when He first created the world - created by God independent from the rest of creation. She is not dependent on the created world but is shaped by it. (p. 206)

She is the female " co-creator" perhaps because a woman bears fruit and is changed by those she bears in ways a man isn't. (p. 208-216). Maybe she is the example to women (wives in particular) - which would deserve a re-reading of the wisdom chapters in the beginning of Proverbs and a look again at Proverbs 31.

Job! (p 219-246) Job is full of creation imagery. I hadn't really thought about how Job's conversations with his friends are like someone who is hurting - really hurting- getting pat answers from his very religious (though well-meaning) friends.

Job wants to call God to task, bring Him before a judge. "God, why?"

The author draws attention to God's responses.  The author says, "Job has been right in his basic claim about a disorderly world, but Job draws the wrong conclusion." (p. 237) The author believes that though God is faithful to that which He has made and the systems He's brought into being, God is also faithful to man. Sometimes there's conflict. God made the world in such a way that sometimes the unexpected happens, seemingly random disorder, the unpredictable.  He didn't create a machine. He could have, he didn't. (p. 237)

The author looks at some of the different approaches to understanding this dialogue between God and Job. At the end of the chapter he notes all the things that Job would have no way of knowing, things that people in our world know. Scientific observations. (p. 243)

When Job compares himself to isolated creatures in the wilderness, the author says, "If all the wild animals of the wilderness are embraced by God's care and nurture, then so also is Job embraced in his disconnectedness from friends and family." (p. 245)

The author concludes, "In the end God is more honored by the impatient probing of Job than by the friends who place certain questions off limits. Job gives voice to those who dare not raise unconventional questions for fear of treading on existing orthodoxies, or being shushed up by those who think it improper to explore the edges of the faith. Job gives voice to those who have indeed experienced great suffering, but who cannot find their voices in the midst of a clamor that suggests that such questions are impertinent. Job gives voice to those who do not have the courage or the theological moxie or the articulateness to raise their deepest questions. Job gives hope that rest and healing may come, but perhaps only on the far side of the probing and the questions, but then the healing will have touched some of the deepest recesses of minds and hearts." He ends with thoughts about God's "infinite resourcefulness." (p. 247)

Dr. Fretheim keeps returning to evidence in scripture to remind us of how big God is, how great his influence yet not as a tyrant or as a micro-manager. He continually focuses on relationships. We get caught up in our theological boxes and in the end make our God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit - the God of all creation) so very very small. This thinking (Dr. Fretheim is more precise with his defenses than I'm being), remembering God as Creator, gives meaning to passages that don't make sense when we fail to remember and acknowledge God in this way. There's a complexity about all this. There's also a stark simplicity. God is like that. All that He's created is like that. This is a book to read with your Bible open. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

This is a book searching the scriptures, making observations, and drawing conclusions but what I'm posting are my feeble attempts to sift through someone else's thoughts. How we understand the scriptures (broad or narrow, deep or shallow, big or small) affects how we think, how we live, how we teach, how we understand God. Do we need to spend more time thinking about our God Creator?

Put the book away but search the scriptures the author references. He's looking for and finding reference after reference to creation and Creator. He's saying, "Look! See?!"

Apart from the battles over creation and evolution do you think about God Creator more when you're a child or as an adult? As you became an adult, what changed? How does it affect your understanding of Father, Son, Holy Spirit and the Word He's given us? How does it affect your understanding of salvation and redemption. Is one more important than another or are they all interrelated and dependent on one another to accomplish God's purpose?

Chapter 6: "Creation, Judgment, and Salvation in the Prophets"*

 *from God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology by Terence E. Fretheim

Three chapters left. The last third of the book is notes.  Philosophizing without application isn't worth much, is it. Here is chapter 6 "Creation, Judgment, and Salvation in the Prophets." Not sure I'm understanding of how relational creation theology differs from the way most of the church thinks. Not sure I understand how the application of such thinking would differ from the way live now.

I'm reading, reading, reading and I say, "He keeps saying the same things over and over."

Then I realize that he (the author) is systematically examining creation and relational theology in the Old Testament section by section. If he's finding the same basic understandings over and over as he goes book by book (or section by section) then we probably need to pay attention.

In this section he looks at the prophets (especially Isaiah, Jeremiah and Amos).

He asks if natural disaster is linked to God's judgement. He looks at different definitions or understandings about judgement.

This is interesting: He says, "If, for example judgement is only or primarily a spiritual matter, then the healing of the body or the environment will tend not to be comprehended within the understanding of salvation." (p. 159) He suggests that salvation includes the healing of body and land. To me this adds to the meaning of Jesus' healing men and women as He forgave them, but that's NT.

"God's judgement is never simply justice." He reminds us that  "God is much too lenient. God is patient, forbearing, and 'slow to anger' (e.g.,Jonah 4:2), and open to changing the divine mind-- both before and after (!) the judgement has been exercised. (e.g., Jonah 3:8-10)." (p. 159)  Rethink your understanding of God as judge.

He speaks of judgement when a relationship is at stake. (p. 159) He draws our attention to the fact that God is not an independent, objective observer or representative. He is bound to what He has made. He grieves, He gets angry, He expresses remorse and anguish. The author says, "When thinking of God as judge remember that the judge behind the bench is the spouse of the accused in the dock." (p. 160)

"The world of nature is also caught up in divine judgement through no fault of its own. . .a further testimony to the interconnectedness of life...moral order affects the cosmic order..." (p. 160)

God used Nebuchadnezzar to judge and Cyrus to deliver - neither was a member of His chosen people. God used the Red Sea, natural phenomena (plagues) and foreign armies. (p. 161)

The author talks about sin and consequence.  He says history teaches us about consequence but  "God's salvific will remains intact in everything, and God's gracious concern is always for the best; but in a given situation the best that God may be able to offer is burning the chaff to fertilize the field for a new crop." (p. 165)

"God's creation is at stake in Israel's behaviors, not simply their more specific relationship with God." (p. 165) It's not just about me & God. It's not just about God and Israel - God's redemptive, salvific intent is much bigger.

Our purpose, the consequences of our actions are more far-reaching than we realize - past, present, and future. 

The author references "oracles against the nations" again reminding us that God is Creator. He is the God of all flesh. (Jeremiah 32:27)

The author draws our attention to "creation language . . . used to interpret redemptive events and not the other way around" and relational language as it pertains to God, Man, Israel, nations, (all of our actions), and the Living and Non-living natural world  - all inter-related, inter-dependent (more Hebraic than Greco-Roman)

He ends the chapter "It is important to be clear, however , that this text does not speak of a return to Eden. The most fundamental difference from Eden is that this new covenant does not have the possibility of being undercut by human failure; that cycle will never be repeated." He references Isaiah 32:15-18, 20. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Are rules and law the same?

Do you see God's Ten Commandments (or even Jesus' two commandments) as restorative? Redemptive? How do they affect the web of  relationships between God and man and all that God has created and our stewardship? How do they affect children?

How does God model them for us?  How do we model them for children?

How does it affect the rest of creation and communities around us when we keep God's law? When we keep those two commandments?

Why do you have the rules you have? (Safety? To win obedience kudos? So a child can grow to be all he can be?) So things will go well with you and you will live long in the land God gives you?

Do the rules we have redeem and restore in the context of all that God has created?

Think about God, creation, law, kids. What stories in the scriptures influence how we think about these relationships?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chapter 5: "Creation and Law"*

 *from God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology by Terence E. Fretheim

Chapter 5  was harder for me to read than the others. Probably because I'm not really into all the academic theological nuances and debates.

He talks a lot about references to law in the scriptures before the Ten Commandments. The author believes that the existence of a universal natural "right" and "wrong" so to speak helps bring understanding to passages that might otherwise be hard to understand.

Here are some of the quotes I found most interesting.

"By building the law into the created order, the point is made that every human being, not simply the chosen people, is to attend to the law for the sake of the creation and all it's creatures." (p. 133) 

He believes that the laws of God are not "static...Given by God... never to be changed" but "that the texts themselves understand the law in dynamic terms and as most fundamentally related to creation." (p. 133)

"...many laws articulate Israel's deep concern for justice for the less advantaged; by neglecting these law texts we lose so much grist for consideration of these issues. More generally, these laws, both individually and in their entirety, are a gracious gift of God for the sake of the life, health, and well-being of individuals in community." (Deut. 5:33) (p. 134)

"God gives the law in the service of life." (p. 134)

"The laws that God gives Israel are understood basically in terms of creation and vocation ...its understanding of law is dynamic and is fundamentally creational in its orientation." (p. 134)

"God gives the law not only for the sake of the life of those who receive it but also for the sake of the life of the neighbor, indeed all of creation, whom they are called to serve."

When I think of the law I think of hard, non-negotiable, not caring about individuals or motivation. What the authors paints for me is a side of God as Lawgiver different than that. God gives us His law as a gift - "for the sake of the life of those who receive it...the life of the neighbor, indeed all of creation, whom they are called to serve." Creational & relational.

So that's what this chapter is about: the author's belief that Israel's laws are grounded in God's work in creation..."Israel's creation-faith." (p. 135)

He talks about worship and ritual and obedience as a reminder of our participation redeeming and restoring what God created and as do things God's way, we affect the process. "The law is given to be of service in the ongoing divine task of reclamation of creation. In the obedience of the law, Israel in effect becomes a 'created co-reclaimer' of God's intentions for creation." (p.145)

He talks about the wilderness as context and makes interesting comments about the law as more fluid than I tend to see it. "The book of Deuteronomy, whether viewed canonically (forty years after Sinai) or historically (the seventh century B.C.E), is a major expemplar of law emerging in view of changing circumstances." (p. 147)

He goes on to say, "Law for Israel is always intersecting with life as it is lived - filled with contingency and change, complexity and ambiguity." (p. 147). That causes me to reconsider Christ Jesus and the New Testament and references to law there in new light.

He says, "...the basic shape for a life lived in obedience to law is drawn most basically from Israel's narrative experience with God rather than from abstract ethical argument or even divine imperative." He quotes Deut 10:18-19, Luke 6:36, Deut 24:19-22. Yet it doesn't limit us, or God. (p. 149)

He ends the chapter talking bout Law and Spirit and New Testament patterns.

I'm not an academic. I'm not a scholar. I care about living in a way that accurately reflects my understanding of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as revealed in the scriptures and the way He made me. I care about stewarding what I've been given. If nothing else, pondering Creation themes and God's relational activity in the scriptures reinforces my belief that God is bigger - not non-Biblically bigger, just bigger than we often allow Him to be and that He is very involved in a Life that is much bigger than my own.

Monday, October 08, 2012

I discovered a book, written about 10 years ago, that you may have already seen. It was written for writers, storytellers, and other professionals working with people who may have difficult stories to tell. It's called INVITING THE WOLF IN by Loren Niemi and Elizabeth Ellis. Worth the read.

Interesting to think about how the scriptures tell difficult stories. I don't think of them as difficult stories but in many cases if the original story was my story (and it wasn't scripture), I might think differently...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I think I blogged a while back about touch. Let's add dogs and touch.

Here  [The link won't take you there anymore. She wrote an excellent post on training your kids and "stranger danger." Not sure where it went. More recently (2014) she posted about touch.] is a profound blog post about pets and touch by, yes, a dog person Sarah Wilson - someone I greatly respect for her technique and expertise. 

In the world of therapy dogs there is a growing group of ministry dogs - therapy dogs in yet another venue. Therapy dogs are dogs trained to visit people in nursing homes and other institutional settings. They usually visit with their owners who are trained volunteers. Sometimes their owners are professional teachers, counselors, pastors. The dog (and person) must be good with people, other visiting dogs and animals and the sights, sounds, smells  and activities in nursing homes, schools, and similar institutions and situations. There is also a R.E.A.D dog program where kids can read to therapy dogs who are particularly good with children in a non-judgemental environment.

If you have a dog who is particularly good with people and more specifically kids, google "therapy dogs," "R.E.A.D. dogs, or "ministry dogs" you'll find lots of interesting information. The progression is obedience training so you can pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test with your dog, then there is Therapy Dog training/test, and more specialized R.E.A.D dog training. If your dog is socially" bomb-proof" (calm with people, dogs, cats, and new or crazy situations) and he/she listens to you you'll whizz through the training! If your dog already goes to work with you and loves everyone, you're already there!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Thinking about older elementary and junior high children:  We read the Old Testament in the context of a Savior but when the OT was written, Jesus hadn't come yet.

Are there creation themes in Old Testament stories that we miss because we read it through a New Testament window? Does it matter?

Does our scientific thinking keep us from really reflecting on God as relational Creator when we read the Old Testament stories?

How do your respond to unscientific child-like faith?

What do the Old Testament stories tell us about the Maker of Heaven and Earth and His creative power? How do the Old Testament stories renew our understanding of a Creator God Who is relational and involved?

How can these reminders better prepare us for the new life He sent us in a Baby who grows into a Man and dies and lives again to reconcile us with that same God who made us to do what He made us to do?

Chapter 4: "Creation and Foundation Narratives of Israel" *

*from God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology by Terence E. Fretheim

We probably take  the influence of the natural world on the people of Israel in the OT for granted. Dr. Fretheim doesn't do this. His window is even wider: Individuals, family, extended family, community exist in a larger context - not just the God-created natural world, a world full of neighboring peoples and cultures.

The author continually points out to us that Creation's story continues. It doesn't stop because we begin to focus on the life of God's "chosen" people. God is still Creator. Creation continues to be an integral part (the very context) of Israel's story. (pg 91)  Dr Fretheim emphasizes often that God's created world is bigger than His chosen people.

The story of God's work in His people ultimately affects the greater cosmos: the land, other peoples. ( p 92)

In Genesis, man is called to care for what God has made. Despite the Fall, man is still called to faithfulness. (p. 93)

Man is good - created in the image of God. Man chose not to trust God and he will continually battle with that inclination. Yet, on occasion, men like Noah and Moses overcome and chose to faithfully serve the God who created them. (p. 94)

Humans are individuals but always part of communities. "To be concerned about the development and continuing dynamic of  family is a creational matter." (p. 94)

The author makes an interesting comment about family conflict: "A key to understanding the family stories [in the OT] is that God's choosing, speaking, and acting generate much of the conflict. At the same time, God does not leave the principals to stew in their own often ill-conceived interactions. God remains at work in and through an amazing range of family problems and possibilities, finally for purposes of reconciliation. (Gen 50:20)" (p. 94) This extends to God's concern for a nation and even for those "outsiders" - not the chosen Israel. (p. 95)

The author notes the creation theme in Joseph's story."This story draws important links between family life and national life and, and in the person Joseph, demonstrates the importance of good national leadership for the proper development of social life, indeed God's entire creation (Gen 41:53-57). National life is often compromised by the sinfulness of individual leaders and systemic forms of evil (including Joseph), but the nation remains a key structure of creation in and through which God is at work for life and blessing."(p 95)

Land adds creational focus in these narratives. Land is a source of God's provision. It is a gift. It is a source of blessing. Sin may affect the land but "...the land is apparently understood to be subject to such realities as drought just by virtue of its createdness." (p. 97)

He says, "cosmic order is linked to moral order" and gives examples. (p. 97)

He talks about "implied law" before Moses. "By building the law into the created order, the point is made that every human being, not simply the chosen people, is to attend to the law for the sake of the creation and all its creatures." (p 99) " As with the relational model of creation with which we have been working , we have here a relational model of the development of law." (p 100)

He successfully looks for ways that creation, not just salvation, themes from Genesis 1-11 continue through Israel's story. "Most fundamentally, the images of God in Genesis 1-11 witness to a God who is present and active in the world more generally, not just in Israel." God intends "Abraham to be a blessing to all 'families'" (p 101)

God is the God who "Speaks/Reveals" (p 102), "the God who Elects" (p.102) "the God Who Saves" (p. 103), the "God who Makes (Covenant) Promises," "The God Who Blesses" (p. 106-108), the God Who Judges (p 108), the God Who is Relational ( p 108-109).

He looks at creation themes in Exodus: "Pharoah, a historical symbol for the anticreational forces of death, seeks to subvert God's life-giving work with death-dealing efforts, to close down God's work of multiplication and fruitfulness. Such efforts are a threat to undo God's creative work with negative macrocosmic ramifications." (p 112-113) He puts this part of Israel's story in a bigger context. The redemption story is bigger than just Israel.

He talks about the plagues and how "they are all out of kilter with their created way of being." (p 119)

He spends a number of pages talking about the parting of the Red Sea. "Given the anticreational forces incarnate in Egypt and the pharaoh, no simple local or historical victory will do; God's victory must be and is cosmic in scope." (p 124) God's liberation is universal. "God's redemptive act reclaims Israel as God's own and reconstitutes them as a living, growing people." (p 125) "The effect that God intends in the act of redemption is a new creation -in the dynamic sense." (p 126). 
The author draws attention to the re-creational themes expressed through God's provision for Israel in the wilderness. If God's miracles use natural means, is it less God? If God leads us to provision already available through the natural world, but unknown to us, is it less a miracle? Is it less God's provision? (p 126-8) Again, the author keeps highlighting parallels and similarities to the creations story in Genesis as Israel's story unfolds.

He links the tabernacle and creation - a movable "place" spoken and built to God's specifications, the way creation was - a sanctuary for God moving in the midst of His people. (128-131)

Dr. Fretheim ends the chapter with a reminder that all that God created, all that God creates, all that continues to reproduce what God has made is still good! "The glory manifest [in the tabernacle] is to stream out into the larger world. The shining of Moses' face in the wake of the experience of the divine glory (Exod 34:29-35) is to become characteristic of Israel as a whole, a radiating out into the larger world of those glorious effects of God's dwelling among Israel." (p. 131)

These are just bits and pieces. We don't always know and understand why God does what He does but there are things that  make more sense in the context of all that God has created that don't make sense when we narrow our focus.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Liturgy boxes! Whether or not you use an actual liturgy 
or not, great idea! Play with it! Make it work for your own faith community!

Sunday, September 09, 2012


Someone asked me, how does reading a book like this change how you do what you do, or how you interact with people?

Any book that draws attention to sides of God clearly revealed in the scriptures but that we don't pay attention to is worth noting. How we perceive God affects how we reflect Him, which affects the people around us and their understanding of the God we claim. Admittedly, some are healers and some are warriors at two extremes. God is both and more.

In Genesis, we hear God sharing his thoughts.

He shared His work with Adam. He gave Adam opportunity to contribute.

God adjusted to the way Adam and Eve exercized their free will. He protected them and all that He had made. He had to manage the situation.

He clothed them when they discovered they were naked.

God created a world that kept creating.

God's creation never stopped being good even though it suffered for man's failure to believe God.  God didn't change His mind about that.

The work God intended for man changed when man chose not to believe God.

Man's relationship with Eve and with the serpent changed.

God isn't operating as a tyrannical monarch. Benevolent dictator? Benevolent, for sure.

God is amazingly patient but His patience has limits.

God had regrets but still didn't trash all that He had created.

Pick a chapter of scripture and make observations about God. Is He the God you know?
Still working on a short clip snap shot format.  I don't have photos that work or rather the time to play with that. But I'll think about it!

Chapter 3: "Creation at Risk: Disrupted, Endangered, Restored" *

*from God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology by Terence E. Fretheim

He focuses on Genesis 3-11 

I still think books like this would make great guides for two-year community Bible studies! But you'd have let the questions and observations that ruffle your thinking send you back to the scriptures! You'd have to focus on the scriptures, not the book. You may read and focus on different thoughts, but here are the ideas that jumped out at me.

What God did was risky, "...genuine relationships always entail risks (at least pre-eschaton)". The author sees God's creation in a "constant state of revision" and notes that God shares that process, especially with us. The creatures God has made are finite and able to "fail in the fulfillment of their tasks and responsibilities, of course, and that can have negative effects on the entire created order" - deep and far-reaching. (pg 69) "Moral evil had cosmic effects." (pg 70)

"For God to have forced compliance to the divine will and not allowed creatures the freedom to fail would have been to deny any genuine relationship." (pg 70)

Regarding "the fall" (and the author explores this concept at length) "The issue is not the use of the mind or the gathering of experience, but the mistrust of God that the human move assumes." ( p.75) All of creation is affected when Adam and Eve chose not to believe God but God didn't start over and God didn't stop interacting with mankind.

"More generally, humans wanted control over their own lives; they now have control in grievously distorted and unevenly distributed forms. They wanted to transcend creaturely limits; they have found newly intensified forms of limitation. They now have the knowledge they desired, but not the perspective to  handle it well. . . Even in the wake of these effects, God remains in relationship with the creatures and hopeful signs for the future emerge, though expulsion from the garden becomes necessary." (pg 76) Sound like parenting?

The story of Cain and Abel. "This story is important for the theme of creation not least because it reflects God's involvement with a family apart from the ministrations of the community of faith." (p.77)

Man's sin didn't make God's creation evil. "God continues to be effectively at work for good across the created order and people are responsive to that divine activity among them." The author says that Israel had a "strong sense of God's continuing creative work apart from the chosen community."(p. 78)

The Flood: "...while flood imagery may be used to depict [difficulty, suffering, catastrophe] , God's promise at the end of the flood story indicates that the flood was an event that would not be repeated. Hence, the flood should never be used as a type of illustration of divine judgement" but rather the certainty of God's promise that it would never happen again. (p. 81) God saved a righteous man and his family. The world wasn't totally corrupt. He saved enough of His original creation to start over. (He remembered the animals)

After the flood, God changed some things. He still gave humans responsibilities "[b]ut sinful human beings do not possess sufficient resources for the responsibilities they have been given; only God can assure the creation's future." (p. 85) Do we not possess sufficient resources to reliably handle the responsibilities God gives us? Something to ponder. More the issue is God's ultimate influence on the outcome.

It's a scary thing to think  that God has given humankind the freedom and responsibility He's given us. It also takes Him off the hook when we want to blame Him for everything that goes wrong.

God makes a covenant. He makes an unconditional, public, promise to His creation. God's promise here is not dependent on us. Our choices can still bode badly for us and have far-reaching effects but God will keep His covenant. (p. 85) This "covenant of peace" was made to the entire natural order. (p.86)

"God's absolute commitment to the creation is used to ground God's commitment to Israel." The rainbow will remind Him."This divine restraint in dealing with evil set the direction for a different approach to dealing with sin and evil and to the redemption of the world." (p 87) The author's focus, remember, is on God's relational presence and ongoing interaction with what He's made.

Families become nations. (p 87) "Problems and possibilities of various sorts - both good and evil- take on a communal aspect." (p 88) "The move from individual behaviors to systemic forms of evil is remarkably in tune with reality and will perdure as an ongoing pattern adversely affecting God's good creation. God will work against such human developments, but not in a way that will destroy the creation or compromise the divine promise." (p. 88)  God is awesome and remarkable - is he not?!

As this chapter draws to a close, the author makes observations about the story of the Tower of Babel and begins the story of Abraham. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Chapter 2 "The Creation Accounts of Genesis" *

 *from God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology by Terence E. Fretheim

Chapter 2 is here!

Not that this is a difficult book to read but there is so much to process! If you want the real meat of it, take the time to ponder the passages of scripture in the light of the author's observations and let the Word change your thinking... Here is my over-simplification of the author's observations and a bit of my own random processing.

First and foremost, the author's thoughts about the relational character of God aren't sentimental, modernistic notions but observations about God's initial and ongoing interactions with what He created (and creates) as expressed in the scriptures.

God is Creator, communicator, servant.  God is interactive, not out there somewhere.  He shared his thoughts with man. He shared His work with man. God named, then He let man name. He took something he made (dirt) and made something new (man). He took man, and made woman. He made them in such a way that they could continue creating human beings and set up all of creation to do that.

The author's focus is less on God relating to what He has created as a non-resident ruler or landlord but more as Creator including what and whom He's created in the process of continuing what He began - not as clones but as helpers.

It wasn't enough for God to just create and enjoy His creation, by Himself. It wasn't enough for God and man to have only each other. God gave woman to man and they created more people. The creatures of the earth created more of themselves. The non-animal creation created more of itself. The non-living creation also continued to create...Such a God we have!

Rest was part of God's creative process, the author says that perhaps it gave God opportunity to enjoy the fruit of His labors. God had a day for this and a day for that - interesting observation. God orders time as a dimension of His creation: sunrise and sundown, phases of the moon, phases of the night sky, seasons.

The author's observation that God kept evaluating His work was an interesting observation: God said, "This is good!" Creation - God's creation - is good. It wasn't "good" that man be alone - just him and God. It wasn't "good" that man be alone with just God and all the other things that God had created. God made woman. Man had been helping God. Woman would help man. Interesting?

There was give and take between God and His creation. God made clothes for Adam and Eve after they fell. Interesting observation that patriarchy came with the "fall." God took them out of the garden to protect them from the possibility of continuing on the path they were on and partaking of the Tree of Life and living forever with the "Knowledge of Good and Evil."

That's an interesting thought, isn't it. Is it in God's plan to save us from the "knowledge of good and evil," to redeem us from the effects of "the knowledge of good and evil?" Is that why Jesus came? Is that what our restoration, our being brought  back into a right relationship with God, walking with Him in the cool of the evening might look like?

God gave Adam and Eve the freedom to choose, knowing they could choose badly and they did. But God responded without giving up on that which He had made ... Man's choice affected all that God had made and God rolled with it, so to speak...Our wonderful interactive, relational, Creator God!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chapter 1: "Theological Perspectives" *

*from God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology by Terence E. Fretheim

Processing Chapter 1. FINALLY!

I decided not to dissect it. I'm not a scholar or a teacher. I'll tell you what I brought away from it. Chapter 1 is twenty eight pages. I scratch the surface here. You might come away with something different.

My general understanding of this introductory chapter is that, the language of creation and the language of the scriptures tell us that God is relational. (p. 1)  God's relational capabilities extend beyond redemption and salvation. (p. 10-13)

I've always taken God's cosmic involvement, His role as Creator - once and ongoing- for granted. ( p. 5-9) I've taken his momentary personal intervention in the lives of men and creation (p. 8) for granted, even God's involvement in the lives of peoples who don't worship Him. (p. 19-22)

To whatever degree science confirms ecological interrelationships, I assume God designed it intentionally. (p. 19-20) I expect that creating life systems that work and keep working, systems that keep creating, save God the headaches of micro-management. But we'll never really know. God didn't have to give mankind a will - "Choose this day whom you will serve!" But He did. Eve made the first choice.   

Dr. Fretheim shows us that the scriptures open with our God calling Creation into being and the scriptures end in Revelation with God calling a New Creation into being. ( p. 9) He places the people Israel and their history in the context of Creator and creation. (p. 18) Note: The author considers creation more than just the natural world ( p. 4). Israel lives and has their being (as do we) in the context of all that God created. Perhaps their pastoral lives kept them more acutely aware than most of us are today.

God walked with Adam in the cool of the day, He dwelt with Israel in the tabernacle. He filled the sanctuary with His glory all indicative of His desire was to walk with man, to dwell in the midst of Israel and all that He made. And Emmanuel, of course - but that's New Testament. (p.22-27)

Faith communities who focus on God as Redeemer and on His work of salvation might take issue that the author sees redemption and salvation as only parts of God's greater work, not the end all. But he says, ". . .God's work as Redeemer does not stand at odds with what He is about in creation." ( p.10)  Freitham says we are redeemed, saved, bought back, to become all that God created us to become and do." (p. 10) Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He came to restore us to God, Creator, Father. All of creation groans for the revealing of the sons of man, to be set free from the consequences that came when we first broke trust with our God Creator - but that's New Testament and this is about the Old Testament.

The seeds for thinking like this, the foundations for my seeing God first and always as Creator God, the God who made me and everything in and around me, began growing in me as a child - maybe because I grew up on a farm around animals and preferred outside to inside. As I grow I come to know Him by other names: Shepherd, Redeemer, Lord, Friend. For all of my questioning over the years whether or not God is relational was never one of them but thinking like that can make us egotistical. God - Creator - is much much bigger than that.

All through the Old Testament, God draws metaphor after metaphor from His creation to help us understand. (p.1-3) Successful human understanding requires that we are familiar with those same concrete realities in real life.

His basic claim "about the Old Testament understanding of creation, is that it has a fundamental relational character." God is relational! (p. 13) Of course God is relational! But the author is saying that all of the Old Testament gives us a relational understanding of God. Some people say, Of course. He is the God of Covenant. Freitheim explores evidence that, as revealed in the scriptures, God's relationships with Israel (and all that he's made) is more: "The inadequacy of covenant language in specifying the nature and range of the God-human or God-Israel relationship is [also] evident in the prophets' sharply reduced use of it." (p  15)

How we understand the scriptures influence how we see God, how we know God and how we perceive His influence, how we understand His Word. How we know God effects how we understand the scriptures, how we live and how we see and respond to the rest of the world around us. (p. 14)

We understand that those who recorded the holy scriptures were "pre-scientific" yet they lived in the midst of life realities that, today, scientists explore and study. (p. 27-28) From my perspective, scientists exploring and studying various and sundry aspects of creation does not make what they study less what God created it to be. When I look as all that we discover through scientific inquiry, I see just a glimmer of how amazing God is. Our theories, assumptions, and speculation are just that: human theories, assumptions and speculation. Thirty years from now those will change. But I begin with the assumption that God, my God, is Creator and all trails of scientific inquiry lead back to Him.

My comments won't do this book justice. Be forewarned: it's going to take me forever to wade through and process this book. Not a quick, easy read but interesting thoughts about how the scriptures reveal how very relational our God is and always has been.
Simple Little Home:
Her pinterest boards are full of WONDERFUL activities for kids!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I've also been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp who (among other things) talks about naming in terms of noticing and giving God thanks. She ties in not just noticing but looking for God's gifts, giving thanks is a way of naming, and in doing that we acknowledge not just the wonder of His creation but His presence moment by moment. Perhaps we do more than acknowledge but we share that moment with Him, then we can't help but worship Him . . .gratitude changes us. It's worth reading the book.

So all three books are doing their work, not the books really but the scriptures tied to the ideas.

The point of taking time with children to notice, and be awed, and give thanks for His gifts in my mind is part of worship - worship that quietly puts God at the center of every day. This circle (wheel) starts to roll of noticing the little gifts God gives us everyday, our thanks acknowledges His presence, our awareness and our relationship grows, despite the other stuff - in the face of all the other stuff . . .

I've also recently re-read Vickie Hearne's book Adam's Task. She was a writer, philosopher, horse & dog trainer. The first time I read her book I found it the most frustrating book ever. All the things I wanted her to keep talking about, she didn't. On the second read I caught the part where she said she did it intentionally.

So God created a world, then he created man and gave him dominion over what he created along with the privilege of naming. Not just the authority but the privilege.

What does it mean when you give something un-named, a name?

God and the World in the Old Testament: A Relational theology of Creation by Terence E. Fretheim
CRT (for creation and relational theology)

The whole book is 284 pages plus about 100 pages of notes and indexes.

from Chapter 1

The author starts with the comment "A remarkable number of Hebrew words are used with reference to creation with God as subject..." (p. 1)

He notes the vast number of  images and metaphors from creation used in the Old Testament. My comment: if we allow our children to lose touch with (first hand experience) they will not understand those images and metaphors.

"...because creation in the Old Testament is a theological category, it is not to be equated with nature or world."(p. 4) My comment: Interesting.

creation is ongoing...something that human and non-human creatures do. ( p.4)

Asking what does the word creation entail? He explores
          1)  "Originating Creation" - as when/where things originate,
          2)  "Continuing Creation" - where God continues to sustain, hold things together, and keep things running implying a system as opposed to God making moment by moment micromanagement decisions. "God also continues to create the genuinely new." (p.8)
            "The broad understanding of creation in ancient Israel was crucial ... it helped assure a fundamental earthiness, a down-to earth understanding of the faith that was related to life as it was actually lived rather than a faith centered in a spiritualistic, futuristic, or sentimental piety."(p.8)
            "God's continuing creation is as 'good' as the original creation. . .Given the realities of sin and evil, such continuing creational activity will not proceed without significant opposition." (p. 8)
          3) "Completing Creation" - He completes the incomplete. "The books of Genesis and Revelation provide a creational bracket for the Bible, and texts in between are a continuing witness to the purposive work of God toward this new creation. At the same time, the new creation is not a return to the original beginning - if that were the case, everything that had happened in between would finally be of no consequence . . . The new creation is not simply a rearrangement of that which has existed; something genuinely new will come to be." (p. 9)

He explores redemption, creation, salvation - interesting thoughts for evangelicals.

That's only part of Chapter 1. I'm going to keep reading but not get into the old quotes and comments.

I will get into the old asking of questions . . .

Friday, July 13, 2012

Exploring the scriptures in Dr. Fretheim's book. Reading Eccl 9:11 in the NIV, the Holman, the KJV, the 21st Century KJV I noticed that there is a word which is translated as "learned" in the NIV but a form of the word "skill" in the others. Do you equate "learning" with aquiring a new skill or do you equate it with gathering knowledge and ideas?

Friday, July 06, 2012

Ivy Beckwith has a new book out (Jan 2010). I haven't read it but I was reading the amazon reviews.

The Church of England's newsletter Going for Growth (children's ministry/youth) cites a recent survey

Children & the Lord's Prayer (survey) . They also offer a resource page to help kids explore and use the Lord's prayer.

I find myself using it more. When we were kids we prayed before bed with one of my parents or grandmothers: "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, keep me safe all through the night and wake me with the morning light. God bless..." And you go through the list of every living creature you know. The longer the list, the longer you have before you have to go to sleep. There were probably times when I prayed "If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." There may be other verses.  With our (now young adult) kids, we prayed Thank You prayers and we prayed for people. They learned the Lord's prayer but didn't use it in our evangelical/charismatic church every Sunday. They don't know it well.

Sometimes I prayed the Lord's prayer at night near the end of elementary school. I knew it because we prayed it in church every Sunday. And we went to church every Sunday.  A traditional Presbyterian church, soon to celebrate 225 years. When we actually started to look for a church when I was in my late 40's, early 50's I realized it was something I had never done. The Lord's Prayer (with a few differences) was one of those things that remained the same from church to church, denomination to denomination. A common denominator, if you will.

I've been praying the Lords' prayer more out of church in the last five years than ever before. Less "name-it-claim-it". More "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Did you ever wonder what that must look like from where God sits?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dr Fretheim says, "A remarkable number of Hebrew words are used with reference to creation, with God as subject...The sheer number of words indicates that Israel's thought about creation was wide-ranging and complex." (p.1)

It would probably be interesting to know what concept Israelites have the most words for. Consider all the names for God.

Years ago, I found a book for kids about the seven Inuit words for snow. Apparently there are more: nouns, verbs - often describing or implying all the nuances that go with such an important presence in the far north. Contrast that to the number of words for snow in native Hawaiian or Caribbean languages. There were so many kinds of snow, context, detail that they needed more words to tell one another what they meant!

I once read somewhere that conquerors will often take away a conquered country's language and require them to learn the language, customs, and stories of the conquorer - to give up not just control of their land but their very identity .

People who speak different languages think differently. I read an article that a girl wrote for a children's magazine years ago. She grew up speaking (if I remember right) four languages. She found that when she thought about ____she used ___ language because of what that particular language allowed her to express.

Who knew! It's just interesting. Such is the beginning of the discussion about our relational Creator and his creation.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Pondering "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God." To be a peacemaker - a real peacemaker, someone capable of changing how people think, feel, behave for the long term - requires superpower!
p. xvi

"It is the Creator God who is understood to be the redeemer of Israel from Egypt."

I think this understanding is foundational for children and faith. In my mind, Creation is all that God's hands have made. In my mind, God as Creator is something concrete!

The author quotes Rolf Rendtorff: "faith in God the Creator was perceived and experienced as the all-embracing framework, as the fundamental, all-underlying premise for any talk about God, the world, Israel, and the individual."

"...the underlying premise for any talk about God..." Apply that to working with children.
p. xv
The author talks about creation as more than a word study. He reminds us that Israel's understanding of creation was probably influenced by surrounding cultures. Israelite leaders decided matters like boundary disputes. Israel "lived close to the ground, if you will, and the natural world filled their lives. Creation was a lively reality for them prior to the development of specific ideas about may be that 'blessing' was a basic and early understanding of Israel's God as Creator."

Think of Adam and Eve and where they lived. Think of Abraham's journey, Israel's journey out of Egypt, David hiding out from Saul, Jesus in the wilderness. Where (not geographically but in light of creation) do the various stories of scripture happen?

The author raises a question. Which came first in the development of Israel's faith? God as Creator or God as Redeemer?

Friday, June 22, 2012

p. xiii
"H. H. Schmid...specifies that sedeqah, 'righteousness'...refers to a harmonious world order built by God into the very infrastructure of creation. . .  wherever righteousness is practiced by human beings . . . that act is in tune with the creation. . . When humans do not so practice righteousness, adverse effects are felt across all created spheres."

I think of Romans 8:19-22

Rolf Knierim: "Yahweh is not the God of creation because he is the God of the humans or of human history. He is the God of the humans and of human history because He is the God or creation. . .The most universal act of Yahweh's dominion is not human history. It is the creation and sustenance of the world."

I think of Psalms

Fretheim: "God is the God of the entire cosmos; God has to do with every creature, and every creature has to do with God, whether they recognize it or not. . .That the Bible begins with Genesis, not Exodus, with creation, not redemption, is of immeasurable importance for understanding all that follows. . . creation is as basic and integral to Israelite faith and its confession  as is the first article of the creed to Christians."

As a child, I just assumed that this was so...
p. xii
" ...[Claus] Westermann claims that the creation accounts ...are a witness to God's ongoing creative working every present moment. These accounts are understood in terms of ritual actualization in which the word about creation is recited in worship and the Creator is praised as the source of a lively word for ongoing life (and not as a source for intellectual probing)."

p. xiii
"[H.H. Schmid]...strongly emphasizes creation (rather than, say, covenant) as a comprehensive theological . . .framework within which Israel's most basic theological themes are developed and its historical experiences articulated. . . Schmid shows that creation in Israel is understood in terms of both origination and continuing order."  

What I surmise from this:

Creation is something God did historically, it is also something He is always doing.

Israel's historical life took place in the context of all that God created.
Dr. Fretheim cites many theologians - footnotes and all that. I'll give you page # with a quote and person quoted and a couple of comments. You'll have to get your own copy of the book to read all the sources he cites.

pg xi  "Rolf Rendtorff makes an obvious but neglected point: 'The Hebrew Bible begins with creation. Old Testament Theologies usually do not...'"

My brain jumped does the New Testament begin? Was God speaking creation into being? Was He creating something from nothing? Was He creating something by just speaking a word?  God's Son (Living Word) made flesh, made man.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I've started a book that I've been considering for five or six years now, and guess what! I'll blog as I read. It may be a total bomb or it may be worth our time. It doesn't specifically deal with children or children's ministry. It is about God and creation. I don't know about you but creation played a huge part in my childhood and my child-faith. I don't see how you can bring God and child together without involving all that God has created.

Do you include "outdoor stuff" as you teach about God and faith to the same degree that God originally immersed man in His creation? Man walked with God in the cool of the day - immersed in God's creation. As we open Genesis, God was working. To speak was to create. Man's work - to name the things God spoke into being, to rule over (there's probably a more accurate phrase)  and care for them.

God and the World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation by Terence E. Fretheim. Abingdon Press, Nashville TN, 2005. I'm seven years behind! This came out about the time I started blogging.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One Thousand Gifts
by Ann Voskamp, a book worth reading! Her blog and website offer ways to cultivate thankfulness for all ages.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Google "quiet book" and find lots and lots of wonderful ideas!

Consider a weekly or monthly craft night for moms, teens, college students, grandmas. Make quiet books! Bring a page you've already made to show & tell or bring a page to work on. Figure eight pages. One page per week.

Give them as gifts. Make them available in the sanctuary during worship. Nice for car trips. Nice for nurseries or preschool rooms.

Sometimes the incentive of working in a group helps make it happen!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

If you want LOTS of great ideas for kids get yourselves on Pinterest. It's visual but the links will send you back to the source. People "pin" pics from sites they like. I wasn't all that interested in yet another virtual distraction but it really is a gold mine for ideas.

My first impression was that it was about materialism and consumerism but it doesn't have to be. I started making boards for things I care about and it wasn't about consumerism (for me).

I recently saw a teacher's board FULL of kid ideas, crafts, books. Very very cool!!

Check it out. You can probably also use it as yet another source for networking if you haven't already!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mother's Day is over for this year, so this is late.

A family member sent me a USA "history of Mother's Day" forward.

This site tells about carnations as the flower for Mother's Day. For all the decades I spent in church on Mother's Day I don't think I ever say a presentation of red carnations for living mothers and white carnations for those deceased. Each family could bring a vase of carnations representing the mothers in their families. Or wear a carnation! It could be quite beautiful. If your people are going to number in the hundreds looking for red and white carnations the day before Mother's Day you might want to pick a florist and order ahead.

Do it for fathers, too! Wear a rose! Red if your father is alive, white if he's deceased. If you want to honor more than one father (or mother), common these days, wear two!!

Maybe you've already done something like that. With all your CM networking, is there a gathering place for holiday ideas? Consider a Pinterest board of holiday CM/Family Ministry ideas!

Friday, March 09, 2012

My verse for last night. My sister, by the grace of God, is very very good at this: " . . . comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. . ." I Thess 5:14  (KJV21) The link is for the whole chapter. Interesting to read it in context.
Visited a church with my daughter the other day. Their youth group had a lock-in to raise money for kids overseas. They each had a specific individual with a real life challenge. One had to support their family. One was blind or lame. For the weekend one of the kids here took on that burden as they went about their lock-in activities. One had to support his  or her family and wore a heavy back pack all weekend. One wore a blind fold for a blind individual. One was lame. Opportunities for teens to grow empathy. There are probably ways to incorporate something similar into the activities of pre-adolescent and grade school kids. Maybe there's someone closer to home, in the neighborhood, or at school.

A very challenging activity would be (for families on a week when school is on vacation ) to eat like a family some where else. Go without electricity. Spend the day (or a week) without using gasoline. Live on $25 or $50 (for a week). What happens to worship if you turn off the electricity? How about the sermon? Think of a list of cultural challenges. Pick one.

We take our cultural/material existence, our health, transportation, food sources, water, the natural world - most of what we have, for granted. We have lots to be thankful for.