Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The View from 99

About a week ago, my darling husband was lamenting the impact pregnancy has on fathers. He summed it up with "Fifteen months. That's positively scandalous!" I stared in disbelief. Surely he jests...

First, the school marm in me wanted to hand him a pencil and paper. "Using two unit multipliers, convert eleven pregnancies to days." But no. He wants to talk in months; fine, we'll talk in months.


Eleven pregnancies converts to ninety-nine months of my life being pregnant. That's eight years and three months. Your point?  His shocked silence told me I had hit home. "Well, when you put it that way..." And we both had a good laugh.

So, here I am, halfway through my ninety-ninth month of pregnancy. According to the calendar, I'm inside of two weeks of my due date. Of course, we all know that babies are not calendar watchers. So, technically, I could be at zero hour...or I could be looking at four more weeks.

My clothes are getting tight. There is no such thing as the little black maternity dress. I have a little black maternity dress--which looks more like a little black tent. And my large black maternity dress could sleep eight comfortably.

I'm sleeping on the couch now because, unlike my bed, it rises up to meet me. But that doesn't mean I'm comfortable. And getting off the couch in the morning is visually reminiscent of a hippo lumbering out of the water. I'm also longing for tummy time...as in getting to sleep again on my tummy. But as all mothers know, that will be a glory in which I can revel for about forty-eight hours, at which point, my mammalian milk makers will force me to my side. Again. Zheesh.

We still don't have a name, although we're getting closer. And don't think we haven't considered reusing some names. Big Luigi, Little Luigi. Why not? At this point, I get so muddled when talking to my kids anyway that the new rule is that they have to answer if I'm looking at them...even if I am referring to them as Batman.

After various injuries from slips-n-slides, grocery shopping, and base jumping (No. I'm just kidding about the grocery shopping.), which made me sedentary for two long months, I'm finally walking again. Of course, this is the final stretch, where I can't seem to make it to the end of the street without contracting. Tough tooties. I'm walking. And that's that.

I'm tipping the scale this time at ... like I would tell you ... but suffice it to say I'm seeing numbers in my 99th month that I've NEVER seen on a scale before. Svelte is something I was in college. Squishy is a better descriptive now.

Then, of course, there's that little thing called 'childbirth' hanging over my head.
Some of my friends think childbirth doesn't hurt.
I think they're on crack.
I have one friend--who shall remain anonymous--who claims she's had a hangnail hurt worse.
That must have been some freakin' hangnail.

In all seriousness, though...

In the time I've had this one pregnancy, five of my friends have suffered miscarriages. Three of them were in their forties, as am I. One was a due-date buddy and dear friend whose miscarriage was particularly painful. And the fact that I am the last man standing is not lost on me.

Additionally, as I look to the end of this adventure, I am aware that there are things I do not know. We didn't have a sonogram this time around. I don't know why; we just didn't get around to it. I don't know whether this child is a boy or a girl. I don't know where the placenta is. I don't know if this child is healthy or not.  And I'm strangely peaceful about all those little details.

Brett was preaching this past Sunday the opening sermon on Genesis. And he said the most amazing thing. When we read Genesis as an apologetic for our beginning, whether we consider it philosophy or science, we miss the point. Genesis was written to comfort a people immersed in pagan cultures that worshipped creation. Genesis was written to introduce an all-powerful, all-knowing. all-wise Creator who created by the word of His mouth. The creation account was never about creation; it was about the Creator.

On Sunday afternoon, I was talking to my grandma, a perky 91-year-old. She asked how I was doing, and I said, "Grandma, it was a weird week. I washed baby clothes, and I'm ordering college graduation announcements. Isn't that crazy?" And you know what she said?

"And God knew that before the foundation of the world. This has always been His plan for you--from the beginning." I could practically feel her reaching through the phone and patting me reassuringly on the arm. Month 99...and I had never seen that before. But Grandma saw it just as plain as day.

This has never been about me. Not one of these pregnancies, not one of these ninety-nine months. They've all been part of the Creator's plan from before the foundations of the earth. This has never been about the biology of pregnancy and weight gain and sleep and baby development and big clothes that are too small. This has never been about me, the creation; this has always been about the Creator and His story of time and space and redemption and glory.

Ninety-nine months.
Just a pinprick in the story of Eternity.
He is the Author of all of it.
And it's a really, really good Story.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Law and Liberty

The United States is not a Christian nation.
The United States has never been a Christian nation.
The United States will never be a Christian nation.

Now. Go write that on the tablet of your red-blooded, American, evangelical heart one hundred times.

The United States is not a city on a hill...no matter what Ronny Ray-gun said.
I like Reagan and all. I really do, even if he was conveniently daft during one interfering episode with some Iranians and some Contras, even if his henchman, Ollie North, should have gone to jail instead of prime time. I liked his 'Come and Take It' charm during the Cold War. But he did much harm taking scripture out of context,
way out of context.

The City on a Hill is the Church. It is not the USA; it has never been the USA.
And the Church is the only recipient of His "Favored Nation" status.
Just sayin'.

When Ronald Reagan quoted City on a Hill, he was referencing Governor John Winthrop. Winthrop was, perhaps, a mite closer to better exegesis, as he was speaking of a his little Christian community united together, not by a civil government, but by the Holy Spirit. But by the time we got around to our founding national documents, any claim to this being a group of people in covenant with the Creator Redeemer is simply untenable.

And by the time Reagan gave that speech (circa 1974), well, it's just ludicrous.

Jesus is King of the United States?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, in a "ready or not, here I come" kind of way.
No, in an "all the lovely ladies wore flowers in their hair" kind of way.
He's King because He will be, not because we asked Him to be.
He's King because there's not one square inch of His creation, as Kuyper reminds us, over which He does not say, "Mine!"
But not because we rolled out the red carpet for him.

Back to City on a Hill.
Who said that?
When did He say that?
In His sermon on the mount.
To whom did He say that?
To His subjects.
To review...
A city on a hill refers to...the...Church.
And the Church is the only Christian nation because it is the only nation in covenant with God.

Which brings me to my latest disappointing read, Law and Liberty by RJ Rushdoony.  I have heard great things about Rushdoony, but I've never read anything by him.  Before I say anything else, let me say this: I am a manager of my home. I am not a scholar; I am not a theologian; I am not a pastor or author.  So I admit I feel a bit sheepish taking Rushdoony on.
And yet...
I am an American concerned about good government. I am a Christian concerned about a Biblical division of governmental jurisdictions like self, family, church, and state. And I am disappointed.

In some ways, Rushdoony seems to be spot.on. I read what he says about self-government and family, and I think he's got a strong Biblical case. But I am a little dismayed about how he tackles civil government.

For one thing, he is a fan of legal positivism.
Legal positivism. That's statism, kids. Statism is bad.
To boil it down quickly and, admittedly, to oversimplify the issue, legal positivism is the view that liberty comes from the government, as opposed to natural law which says that liberty comes from the Creator, and government must justify any infringement on liberty.
Legal positivism is what liberals do when they declare that clean water or health care is a 'right'...or say that 'hate speech' is illegal. It's also what conservatives do when they support prayer in schools or ban marijuana.

Whereas believers in a truly limited government recognize that a government oversteps its bounds when it goes beyond the bounds of protecting life, liberty, and property, believers in legal positivism insist that it is the government's job to protect you.

Rushdoony, and many like him, fail to address the difficulty of governing a pluralistic society in which most do not walk with the mind of the Spirit. And it leaves one thinking that they would look at their non-Christian neighbors, who might feel a tad bit restricted by their theonomic approach to government and shrug, "Dem's da berries." I find that both provocative and fruitless.

What should we say to our fellow Americans who are outside the faith? That we can all agree on life, liberty, and property...but we're prepared to shove the rest down their unbelieving throats? And that will get us...where?

I begin to suspect that my disagreement with Mr. Rushdoony is largely eschatological. I do think he believes in limited government; I do. But he errs far too frequently on the 'civil government must align itself with God's law' approach.  I think that view more likely reflects the jurisdiction of Church government, not civil government. And the result is a civil government far larger and less limited than it ever should be.

Church government is for the citizens of Heaven.
Civil government is for all.

I just had to get this rant off my chest.
I feel better now.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Of Catches, Kibbutzes, and Covenants

Well, you're there. Your feet are on the ground in the Holy Land. And I'd just like to review a few things with you before you really get started.

Let's talk about men. You know...those swarthy, handsome types who live right where you are...

If his name is Mohammad Al-Anything, run.
If you're watching a soccer match with him, and his idea of trash talking is, "Death to the Infidel!" run.
If he thinks you look totes presh in a burqa, run.

But to be fair...
If he wails at walls, run.
If he wears a box on his head, run.
If he thinks he's going to heaven because Abraham is Great Grandpa, oy vey, run!

And while we're on this subject...
We'd really rather you don't come home having married a dispensational Zionist named Goldblatt. Actually, we'd really rather you don't marry a dispensational Zionist named Smith or Jones, either.  Just stay away from romantic flings with dispensational Zionists, mmmkay?

You are not to come back wearing a kerchief and telling me you're going to move to a kibbutz.
You want exotic?
Try walking on the water.
Or stick an umbrella in your matzoh ball soup.

But seriously...

You're in a spiritually volatile place.
Remember what Dad's been talking about here: wisdom crying aloud in the market.
When you get to a real outdoor market, and your senses are barraged with all kinds of sights and sounds and enticements, remember how important it is to hold on to your passport and your good sense and to think clearly.

And as you begin to move into the international marketplace of ideas, those same principles hold true.
Listen for Wisdom's voice and follow her.
Hold on to your heavenly passport. It reminds you where your true citizenship lies.
Hold on to the good sense of your Covenant and think clearly.
And the secret to that?
How ironic that, as you begin your adventure in the Land of the Sh'ma, it's all right there.
Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart,
ALL your soul,
ALL your might.

Apply sound, not sloppy, theology.
The only Favored Nation status God has ever granted is to His Church,
not to some tiny geopolitical nation off the Mediterranean,
not to some 21st Century dudes who have Abraham's nose or Sarah's curly hair.

You're in a politically volatile place.
Love the Palestinians, as well as the Jews.
Remember that you have more fellowship with a Palestinian believer than you do with a Jewish non-believer.
Remember that all men, regardless of ethnic origin, must come to the Father through the Son.

Don't get involved in the land grab or take up anyone's offense. Don't seize that dog by the ears.
And remember that there are two sides to every story. One man seems right...until another comes along and states his case.

Remember that you are a Covenant woman.
Be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in you,
to the Jew, the Palestinian, and the alien.

And have fun.
Love, Mom

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. Deuteronomy 6:4-6