Monday, February 9, 2009

Everyday Talk by John A. Younts - Chapter 1

I’d like to spend a bit of time blogging through a book I am currently reading. This is not really a book review, as others much wiser than I have already taken care of that sort of thing. My attempts at sharing my thoughts are for the possible small benefit to the kind person who gave me this book, as well as for my hoards of regular readers. ;-) Apologies in advance for the sporadic nature of my posting; my crazy life often gets in the way of blogging.

Chapter 1 - Stupid Rain

Any parenting book worth its salt will, at some point, quote the Shema from Deuteronomy 6. This book wastes no time! I especially appreciated the reminder of context; this command was given at the brink of the Israelites entering the Promised Land. God was revealing the seriousness of remembering Him, reverencing Him, and teaching the next generation to do the same.

From the next section I gleaned some important questions to be asking myself:

1. What is so important to me that I think about it all day?
2. What do I talk about NOW?
3. Do I realize that I am already communicating to my children where my priorities lie by what I talk about and do all day?

On a personal note, what do my children observe when God is calling me to “love the unlovely?” Or how about my selfish demands of “me time?” Are my children an interruption of my To Do list (because we know how important it is to keep the house sparkling clean at ALL TIMES)? Do I act differently when others (not immediate family) are around to observe my words and actions?

When I first read the “stupid rain” conversation, the timing couldn’t have been better. I had been looking forward to a particular event for weeks, and our babysitter backed out at the last minute. It was a fabulous pity-party! I moped out to check the mail and this book was sitting in the mailbox. Admittedly, it perked my spirits a bit to get a gift….until I read the first few pages! After all, it was ultimately God’s fault that we had no sitter, right? My response was sending a loud, clear signal, not only to my children, but to my husband as well. I was placing my joy in something temporal.

Now for a bit of uncertainty. The author makes several references to Satan in this chapter. Acknowledging my probable lack of understanding regarding Satan, I feel that he need not waste his time on me. I do a fantastic job of sinning without any help from Satan. Even in my worst trials I have never felt oppressed enough to say that I was under attack from Satan; my oppression came from my own sin. Again, I am likely showing my ignorance regarding supernatural issues.

How beautiful that scripture compares the godly instruction of parents to “a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (Proverbs 1:9)! This insight was meaningful to me in how I approach discipline and instruction. Presentation affects reception…how true!

My favorite quote in this chapter: “If you don’t spend time thinking about God, you won’t have much to say about God.”

(Side note that I observed at this point in my reading - I really like the author’s use of several translations of scripture. This gives me a fuller picture of the intent of the original writer.)

Finally, the author talks about the influences that press upon our children each day. I am blessed to say that I have MUCH influence in the lives of my children; I stay home with them, educate them, play with them, etc. But WOW! What a responsibility!

Also, I am not 100% convinced that there are no “neutral influences.” It seems that for this to be true, we would have to assign spiritual meaning to every single thing that happens all day. Granted, some things that I might consider neutral could be used in a positive way, such as riding in the van. We could ride in silence, which to me would be neutral. We could argue the whole time, which would be negative. Or we could talk about what we studied that morning in the book of Ruth, which would be positive.

But no neutral influences? And, could something that is positive for one family be negative for another (and no, I am not advocating relativism!)? For example, take this list of potential influences:

Watching an ungodly TV program for a lengthy amount of time
Watching an ungodly TV program for a short amount of time
Watching an educational TV program for a lengthy amount of time
Watching an educational TV program for a short amount of time
Watching a “spiritual” TV program (Veggie Tales? LOL!) for a lengthy amount of time
Watching a “spiritual” TV program for a short amount of time
Watching Teletubbies or Yo Gabba Gabba (TOTALLY MINDLESS) for a lengthy amount of time (this could land you in a mental institution, people)
Watching Teletubbies or Yo Gabba Gabba for a short amount of time (still not recommended!)
Not having a TV at all in your home

Can you sort these into positive and negative? Can you do this for all of your friends’ families, as well?

Okay, I realize that I am WAAAAY overanalyzing this, but my crazy brain works that way. Regardless of whether or not an influence can be neutral, this chapter was valuable for providing me with tools of evaluation in my parenting, as well as fodder for “Jenny’s Crazy Theology.”

Hopefully I will have time to get rolling on the next chapter very soon.


RPC Blog Editor said...

Thanks for your insightful and helpful thoughts! The stuff about Satan is addressed in Chapter 9.

Re: Neutrality
Two Questions:
1. Would you say that there is no neutrality if Christ were physically present with you everyday as you watched tv, taught your kids, went to the store? In other words would you think differently about the things you do if you could see God standing there with you.

Question 2: Does Psalm 139 teach that God is with you and your thoughts in more real way than if he were only physically present.

Thanks for looking at the book - I think what you are doing is a really helpful thing.


Jenny said...

Answering with questions, eh? I used to have a pastor who did that. I learned more under his teaching than from anyone else, although it sometimes drove me crazy!

I will be thinking about these things and appreciate your dialog. Not sure how much help my ramblings will be to you, but I thought it would at least be interesting to hear thoughts from someone who is likely in your "target audience."

Jenny said...

Offhandedly, my thoughts are running to the fact that Christ knows motives. So putting my kids in front of MathTacular to teach them addition would be a positive influence, but putting my kids in front of MathTacular to get them out of my hair would be a negative one. I'll definitely be thinking more about this!

RPC Blog Editor said...

Not bad!

ajourneyinmommying said...

Jenny, I love reading your questions and thinking about the answers here. I often wonder in the "nuts and bolts" of life, what "big picture" my kids are getting from me about God....about what's important in life...about what really matters. As I read some of these posts, the mentions about legalism and questions about daily choices and neutrality and about the book you're reading and a sermon you mentioned I thought of two passages of Scripture. One of those is I Corinthians 4...particularly verses 3 and 4. Verse 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, i do not even judge myself. Vs 4 For I know of nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord....oh, and vs. 5 too! Vs 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.

What should I take away from those verses? So does God want me to not be judging myself? Vs 3 pinpoints a biggie...taking the judgment of others as a small thing. Oh, and then, there's verse 14 where he says he's writing these things not to shame them, but as his beloved children he was warning them. He's doing all this with a spirit of gentleness (vs 21). This chapter just always leaves me with a lot to process!!!!

Then, the other passage of Scripture that comes to mind is Romans 14. I come back to this passage again and again....especially verses 5, 14-17, 19, 23. Basically it's all about the "Law of Liberty." There is so much depth in this one chapter, but I have come to this chapter before when I was actually feeling BAD about having a conviction that was really strong. I could not get beyond the strong, strong conviction and after reading this chapter the conviction was affirmed even while the conviction of my Christian friends who disagreed with me on a matter of practice was also affirmed. This is quite a chapter to consider, I think.

I hope my babbling makes sense here and that you can see the link between the subject and this ramble. It's after 8 on a day when 3 out of 4 boys are sick (so ye olde brain has become jello once again!) :) I'm getting ready to feed Sawyer so I'm rushing, too...but I wanted to post these two Scriptures.

I've enjoyed reading your blog tonight once again! It's made me laugh...and smile...and think! Have a great weekend!!! Christie