Praying Within Relationship

Welcome to the home of my book, Praying Within Relationship. I hope you you enjoy it. Please give me any feedback you might have for it.

  • September 2016
    M T W T F S S
    « Feb    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    2627282930  
  • Categories

The Call 2.

Posted by craig b on February 19, 2008

 He loaded another pebble onto the sling and after a few twirls he hit the same stump again. It was normal for him to practice every day, shooting at trees, stumps, rocks, knots in the trees and last summer killed a few snakes as they raised their heads up. He never killed just for the sake of it, for he had been taught to respect all life and that included all the animals under his care. There was always a level of sadness, mixed with satisfaction when he did bring home game from a hunt. Sadness that he had to take a life; the satisfaction in that it had been a clean kill and that he was providing food for the family. He slung pebbles a few more times, alternating his aim, spontaneously choosing his target as he spun around and releasing it towards it. Twice he missed, once by a hands breadth, the other went sailing clear over the top of it into the hillside. Not bad today he thought, “Yesterday I missed four times, but I still have to improve” He wound the sling back around his waist, and went back to the tree to have something to eat and drink. Sitting down on the rock he looked up at the sun, it had moved from being straight over him and was moving towards the hills. Once it moved to a certain spot over a tree on that hill he knew it was time to start calling his flock and taking them home once again. “Yes”, he grunted “I wouldn’t miss this for the world”.

He thought about the end of the week’s celebration, and how soon things would suddenly change after that. His father was planning to leave to go to Caanan, his brother Abram and his wife, his nephew Lot would be going with him. They were going to go once the lambs and kids were weaned, which normally took about three movements of the moon. On the way through they were going to stop at Haran, the village his brother built and visit their distant relatives there. He thought about Milcah’s sadness that she would not see her uncles or her mother’s parents as she was staying behind with Nahor. It was a difficult decision to make, yet they wanted to settle down. He liked where he was, his wife liked it here and so did his two sons. And it wouldn’t be fair on Milcah to take her on a long trip, as she would be heavy in child. This was going to be his inheritance, and here he would train his sons to use the staff and the sling. He would teach them how to care for the animals, to dig into the hooves releasing the infection when they were injured, to bind up broken and sprained limbs. He would teach them to work and he smiled, soon they would be able to do the bulk of the work and he would be able to rest more like his father.

The sheep fold

Lot grunted, the rock was too big, and he wasn’t sure if he was up for the challenge; though he wasn’t going to admit it to Abram. Struggling to rise to his feet, his face going red, Abram reminded him, “Breathe Lot; breathe” and slowly he gained his footing, stood tall, hugging the rock close to his chest, his arms stretched out wide, fingers barely gripping the rock and staggered to the enclosure twenty paces away. He placed it on top of the pile where it was meant to go, gasping, trying to get his breath back.

‘Come’, said Abram, ‘let’s have a break, I’m famished’ and they both laid under the tree, gasping allowing themselves to rest. Abram opened the water skin, and poured it over his face with his mouth open; allowing the water to wash over him as he drank it.’ He passed the skin to Lot, who did likewise. Grabbing a chunk of bread and cheese he passed it to Lot and broke another piece off for himself and started to eat. He was so hungry that he barely chewed it before gulping it down; he had skipped breakfast and was now paying the price for it. He loved the cheese that was made out of the goats milk; especially before it was fully cured, small soft palm sized lumps, floating in the salt water, full of flavour and which truly melted in ones mouth upon eating. However it was rare for him to eat it that way for his wife would usher him out of the food room, wanting it to cure more. He tore off a piece of dried goat’s meat, and chewed slowly on it. It was like a piece of leather, though salty and full of flavour. It wasn’t something you could gulp down quickly like you did with the bread. Instead you had to chew and roll your tongue around it, and chew some more, giving it time for the salivary juices to soften and hydrate it. Together Lot and Abram sat together, chewing and sucking in silence, enjoying each others company without having to say a word enjoying their time of peace. Abram was tired, the sleepless night caught up with him, and there under the shade of the tree he quickly fell asleep.

Lot had always liked his uncle Abram, and felt he was like the older brother he never knew. He was twenty years younger than his two sisters and so really only knew them like he did his mother. Bossing him around telling him to do this and not do that. He missed his father and mother, but didn’t know how to talk about it, how to express him-self without crying and so he had buried his grief, deep down inside himself in the inner place that only he would know.

He looked forward to the trip to Canaan, even more at the thought of staying in his home town. There he would catch up with his friends and settle a few scores with an old mate, who had once placed a scorpion in his pebble bag. He smiled at the memory of it, they had been out hunting for pigeons and he didn’t realize he had picked up this scorpion, and placed it in his bag. And when he reached into it to grab a pebble, bang it stung him. He started laughing at the memory of his mate bending double, gasping for breath, making, ‘haw haw’ sounds as he couldn’t quite get his laugh out. ‘Funny how time does that’ he thought, he couldn’t really remember the pain of it, though he could still picture his swollen finger that took four days to go down. He was tired; even though he was many years younger than his uncle, Abram always seemed to work harder then he could and he too soon fell asleep.

After about an hour had passed Abram woke up, and stretched out. He always enjoyed his midday siesta; it energised him for the afternoons work as well as kept him fresh for the night’s dinner. He gave Lot a nudge in his back with his toe and walked back to the sheepfold wall. By tomorrow morning it would be finished, they had made good progress today. “”Ouch” he thought his sore muscles groaning as the blood started to flow through them once again, his nephew was becoming a handful and it was starting to take some effort to keep leading the pace. Picking up some smaller rocks he started packing them around the large ones, filling in the gaps. Having to slightly lift a larger one up to place a smaller one under it, tapping one here and there to make it fit more tightly. He at first thought it was a waist of time building such a big fold, especially when they were going to take a third of the flock with them. Yet his father insisted, saying, ‘It would be a long time before Nahor’s sons were ready to help him, and so it is right and proper that we help Nahor prepare for the future.’  Abram agreed with his father’s logic and so continued his work, picking up the rocks, stacking and placing them. Lot continued bringing smaller rocks over to him. They had a cow’s hide that they would pile small rocks onto, and then folding it over would drag it over to the wall, where together they would empty it on the ground.

In what seemed like no time at all, they heard Nahor’s whistling and calling coming up the hill and the noise of the animals following behind him. They hadn’t noticed the sun moving over the hills and starting its downward motion behind. A few minutes later Nahor came into sight and the animals moved quickly into the fold, suspiciously sniffing the new ground and wall, instead huddling together closer to the far corner that they already knew.

‘You two have done a good job’ said Nahor, ‘Come lets go have some dinner.’

Posted in The Call | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Call

Posted by craig b on February 18, 2008

Abram lay awake, he was having a sleepless night and though he went to bed tired, he couldn’t sleep. His wife Sarai was asleep, snuggling beside him, one arm carelessly thrown across his chest; gently snoring away which made him even more fidgety. He lay there thinking about his brother Haran and his wife who had both died through a drowning accident. How his brother’s wife dived into the water and hit her head on a rock knocking her unconscious. He thought about how his brother dived in to rescue her, and how he became caught in the mud of the river bank, and while struggling to hold her head above the water he became so exhausted that after having to let his wife go they both drowned. As he lay there Saria turned away from him, grabbing hold of her pillow and continued snoring.

Free from her embrace he quietly left the bed, and made his way outside to sit on his chair outside the tent and looked up at the stars. He often enjoyed looking up at the stars, up at the heavens that his father told him were made by the Lord God, creator of the heavens and the earth. But the tonight the skies were cloudy and he could not see any stars, and it looked like it might rain. His thoughts went back to the story the old man Noah had told him about the time it rained. He had only ever met Noah once; and that at a family celebration. He was a very distant relative and apparently once had some importance to do with the survival of the human race. He wasn’t sure what to make of him and the stories about him, how his God spoke to him telling him to build an ark, that he would cause it to flood through rain and that he would keep his family safe on the ark. Surely there was a lot of myth to this story he thought, yet his grandfather Norah, told him it was all true. His grandfather used to gather them all around telling them the stories of how the heavens and earth were made, how in the beginning there was only God and nothing else.

That caused Abram some difficulty trying to image nothing, trying to imagine how all the countryside around him was made out of nothing except by this God speaking. While he sat there thinking about this God who spoke, the God who spoke every thing into being, the earth, skies, water, land, and trees, his dog came up to him, nuzzling him on the leg, and almost absentmindedly he scratched it behind the ears.

He thought about life and how hard it was, thinking about the stories of Adam and Eve how they had a perfect life living in the garden at Eden and because they disobeyed God he put them outside the garden and death came into the world because of their disobedience. This led him to think once again about his brother Haran. How he missed him, how he missed his antics. He was always adventurous, always brave and always getting into mischief. He thought about how he almost hero worshiped his older brother. He thought about his brother’s wife and how they soon married and gave birth to a son, naming him Lot, and his daughters Sarai and Milcah whom he and his other brother Nahor married.

Abram groaned, thinking about his own family, how though they tried time and time again Sarai would not fall pregnant. His wife was tired of the way the village women would look at her, as they went about looking after their children. He thought of her despair and his inability to protect her and comfort her from the gossip regarding how they must be cursed, because God had not blessed them with a child. He thought about his own manhood, how the men of the village would lift up their sons, placing them upon their shoulders, running, playing teaching them their trade.

Standing up, he stretched himself to his full height of just five foot six. Though lean, he was muscular and very fit. He was popular among the men of the village and his father’s servants considered him a fair man, never asking them to do something he wouldn’t do himself. His competitive nature when it came to working without a break was renowned and many a young man had been broken and beaten, dropping through exhaustion while trying to beat him at it. In thinking about the days work ahead of him, he let out a loud yawn and headed back inside to bed, where he soon fell asleep.

Sarai got up when she heard the rooster crowing, knowing she had a big day ahead of her. Today was the first day of the week long Spring Celebration and she was ready for it. For over the year she had been preparing the food, harvesting the garden, buying and trading what she didn’t have. She had grown beans and lentils through the year, allowing them to dry on the vine and had stored them in the large clay jars that were waist high. There were many other jars, filled with barley, wheat, corn and millet. There were cane baskets holding the sweet dried figs, potatoes, pumpkins and the sultanas from the previous years grape harvest that hadn’t been crushed for wine. Breathing deeply, smelling the fragrance of the bunches of garlic and onions that were hanging from the roof intermingled with the smell of coriander, basil and rosemary caused her to imagine the pleasure of those hungry workers sitting down to eat at the end of a hard days work.

There would be bread, eggs, cheese, fruit and vegetables, roast duck and goat, along with the normal lentil soup spiced with oil and garlic. And at the end of the week when the work had been done they would celebrate throughout the night with the preparing of the fatted calf. There would be the retelling of many stories of what happened during the week, Terah, Abrams father would gather all round him to retell the story of God and His creation, passing down to each generation the same story that had been passed down to him. Finally the night would finish with singing and dancing, perhaps someone will play their whistle. And Sarai allows herself to think, “Perhaps that will also be the night I come to be with child.” Then firmly putting those thoughts away from her she continues to think of the work that is needed to be done at the present, though not for very long.

Her sister Milcah came to her, yawning and rubbing her belly complaining of her aches and pains and the difficulty that she had in sleeping, stating loudly that she wished the pregnancy was over. Giving her sister a hug, with a hint of anger rising up in her, she rebukes her saying, “I wish I had your problems, but enough of this, go and organise the other servants to get the water, and enough wood for today’s cooking and I will start filling the bags with the lunches. With that she turned her back to her sister and grabbed a few of the leather bags that were threaded through the top and tied with a sinew. She filled some with olives, figs, cheese and sultanas. Others she filled with bread and jerky that had been made by cutting goat meat into long thin slices, salted and dried in the sun. And finally she made sure the water skins were filled, the bungs tight and not leaking ready for the days work. She filled up the bags, knowing that what ever was in there would have to last until nightfall.

Abram came shortly after into the food storeroom where he unplugged a water skin and drank deeply from it, water trickling down his beard. Soon followed by Lot, who also grabbed it off him and not only did he tip it up to drink, he allowed the water to flow over his face, spilling onto the floor. “Lot”, shrieked his sister Sarai, “Get outside and do that, your making a terrible mess, and I don’t have time to clean up after you, you too Abram, get out, out” and she made sweeping gestures towards them. “Take your food bags and go”

While laughing at his wife, he scooped up the food bags and called Lot to bring the water skin with him. They had a big week ahead of them, repairing and extending the sheep fold. It looked like they were in for a great spring with most of the does and ewes in full lamb. If every thing went as well as expected; the mob of sixty sheep and goats would be nearly doubled, perhaps more so if some had twins. This meant though that the current holding yard had to be extended, the existing one barely big enough as it was. They had already started on this, but the winter months were wet and cold making it hard to work in that weather. They had already laid the foundation of the extension next to the existing wall, and now all they had to do was to knock the right hand wall down and use the rock and stones to build the walls..

Deep in thought he walked quietly towards the pens, Lot still laughing behind him. He couldn’t help but think about children, what it would mean to him to have a son. It seemed that every one around him was blessed except for Sarai and himself. His brother’s wife was pregnant again, their third child. His older brother Haran who died also had three children, a son and two daughters, though he didn’t begrudge him this as Sarai after all was one of his daughters, and he deeply loved her more than he could explain. And not to mention the sheep and goats for this was the reason for the heavy work that was ahead of them. Every where he turned he was reminded of his own lack, and it burned deeply within. Nahor soon caught up to them, and taking the water skin off Lot he also took a drink from it. The sun was just starting to come up above the trees, the morning dew drying and the livestock were baaing waiting to be let out. It was Nahor’s turn to take them down the valley about two kilometres away, looking after them, returning that afternoon to lock them once again in the fold. Lot and Abram helped him to pull the branches away from the opening, and taking his staff that was leaning against the wall, called the mob to him and started walking away. Baaa, naaa, they cried, running after him, one of his favourites butting him softly in the leg.

Nahor knew this one well and how it had changed. It had been a wild and rebellious doe since birth, and he thought he would have to kill it before it corrupted the other young. He found it injured when it was three months old; its foot caught between two rocks and its leg broken. He thought back to when he cut up some strips of green hide and after wetting it bound the leg into place. When the leather dried it had shrunk hard forming a rigid plaster. Every day for the next two months, he picked up the doe, placing it over his shoulders and carried it with him when he took the mob out to the pasture. The hardest part was trying to cut the leather off the foot, when it had started to cut into the flesh, but eventually it came off and the doe had followed him around ever since. He enjoyed this type of work and didn’t envy his brother and nephew at all, grinning when he thought of the hard work that faced them. Whistling as he went, the goats and sheep followed him, down the track to the water hole they went to on a daily basis. Soon the flock smelt the water and once around the bend they saw the shimmer of the water and raced ahead of him to the edge of the pond, fighting and butting each other to get there first.

Nahor smiled, he knew their antics well and continued at his leisurely pace behind them, heading towards the Oak tree and the rock that he had spent so much time and effort last spring to place under its shade. He found it jutting out of the side of the hill about three hundred paces away, and it took him nearly a whole day just to dig it out. His only tools were his staff and another flat rock that he found that he could use like a shovel. Finally it came free and using a large tree branch and a smaller rock he was able to lever it up a bit and once there he had to prop it up more with another rock before he inched it up again. I took him two weeks to dig it out and move it to where it was under the tree. But the effort was worth it. Once there he continued to shape it, bashing more rocks against it until it was reasonably rectangular in shape and hollowed a little more out on top for where he would sit. On top of the rock he placed a lambskin, one that he also tanned the year before for it. Its soft wool and pliable leather made it such a comfortable place to sit and observe his animals.

Hanging his bags off a branch he took his staff and wandered around the pond, keeping an eye out for any thing unusual. Being spring it would mean that the snakes would be coming out of hibernation soon and the last thing he wanted was to tread on one. The other danger was bears and mountain lions. Though he had not seen one around for a number of years, he heard through the village grapevine last week, that a traveller had reported sight of a bear only two days walk from the village. His only defence against them would be his staff, the sling he carried tied around his waist and his antics, yelling, screaming and jumping up and down, trying to frighten them off. He had a pouch containing small round pebbles and was considered one of the better hunters amongst his family. He often brought home a pigeon or duck and if he was lucky even a hare. He sometimes daydreamed about killing a lion or bear, how he would stand up to it, with nerves of steel, quickly fit a rock to the sling, swinging it around his head a few times and then letting it fly, hitting the animal square on its temple dropping it dead. Yet in spite of his imagination he knew that he would be extremely afraid and didn’t really want to meet one.

It only took him about an hour to walk around the pond, which was fed by a small creek that snaked around the valley fed by various springs where water bubbled up out of the ground. Clean sweet, sparkling water and it was from one of those springs that he would fill his water skin from before the day was over. He looked downstream from the pond, where just over half a days travel was the village. They had a river running beside the village where they would do their washing, bathing and fishing. The river ran had a small sandy beach beside the village the rest was a mixture of rocky outcrops and mudflats. There was one spot that overhung the river, about a mile from the village where the more adventurous would dive off and climb back up the cliff once again. It was either that or swim back towards the village where the sandy beach was and that took time. The mudflats were treacherous and many animals had become stuck there, eventually dying.

He thought about that spot, for it was at this spot that his brother and his wife died. Spurred on by taunts and dares that she a mere woman would not have the courage to jump off, she did and it was here that she and his brother died.

They had been visiting; Haran had left home many years before for he was about thirty years older than Abram and himself. He returned with his wife, and three children; Lot his son, Milcah and Sarai his daughters. They came for the weddings that had been arranged sometime after the birth of his daughters. Haran said he could not imagine any one more suited to marrying them then his brothers, who were only about ten years older then them. The celebration of marriage went on for over a week. They celebrated the reunion of the family for it had been many years since they were last together. His father was excited when Haran told him about the village he started and how it was named after him. He also told him about a place called Canaan and how he had heard that it was a land flowing in milk and honey. His father said that he would like to go there one day and might even pack up the family and head to Canaan himself. Then tragedy struck, the festivities suddenly stopped with terrible grief replacing joy. That had been six years ago.

Nahor suddenly turned around, startled by a flock of ducks landing on the pond, relieved that that was all it was. He unwound the sling from his waist and taking a pebble from the pouch he swung it around his head, three or four times, each time the swing getting faster and suddenly he released it, the rock was true to its mark and hit the stump that was just poking out of the water beside the ducks, satisfied that he could have had one if he wanted, but had been told not to bring home any game today.

Posted in The Call | Leave a Comment »

History Repeats it’s self.

Posted by craig b on February 12, 2008

Here we have a story that has much in common with Adam and Eve and their shame in knowing they were naked. We read how the serpent twisted the word of God, causing them to sin, and how sin caused Adam and Eve to view each other with shame. We read before how God clothed Adam and Eve with clothes of skin, covering their nakedness. He didn’t mock them for it. He didn’t abuse them for it. Instead God clothed them and covered their nakedness covering their shame. Noah’s sons Shem, Ham and Japheth knew the story of their ancestors, they knew the mercy of God and they knew that God does not look down on our own nakedness with scorn. And yet Ham does so any way, and in his doing so treats with contempt Gods own method of his own salvation. And so his two brothers covered their father in a way that kept his dignity, respecting him, loving him for who he was.
Shem had learnt from history that Cain should have been Able’s keeper, meaning that he too should follow and do what is right, teaching, and showing his brothers and his sons the right way to live. Japheth had known the story as well and perhaps as both he and Able were the younger brothers in their families, he encouraged himself to walk with God in a similar way. They both recognised that sin was crouching waiting to devour them all. They do not answer their brother with words, they do not engage in his unwholesome talk, in looking at their father as Ham had done, instead they rebuke him with their Godly actions.

When Noah wakes up, he finds out about what his son did. As the head of the household he speaks judgement over his son Ham. His judge-ment is that his youngest son will rule over the older brother. No longer is Ham in seniority over Japheth as was the custom of the times. No longer is Ham second in charge to Shem in the family business. And no longer is Japheth considered the youngest and therefore the slave to his brothers. Noah pronounces his judgement on his son. He has lost favour with is father, he has lost favour with his brothers, and for the first time we read the words that the older shall serve the younger.

Not only does this affect Ham, it affects his whole family and his subsequent generations starting with his son, Canaan whose name means humiliated. What a name to be called, and yet apt in his description, humiliated, by his father.

Posted in Who can pray? | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Found drunk and naked – a Godly conumdrum

Posted by craig b on February 11, 2008

After they finished Noah has a time of worship, he builds an altar and takes some of the clean animals and birds and sacrifices them to God, with a heart full of thanksgiving. God is pleased with the sacrifice Noah makes, enjoying the pleasant aroma of his sacrifice and worship. Personally I don’t think that it is the sacrifice of the animals themselves that God finds pleasing. For King David centuries later says about sacrifices, “…that of the sacrifice of animals, God is not pleased…instead it is worship with a contrite spirit and broken heart that is pleasing to God. (Psalm 51:16-17) It is the attitude of Noah’s heart and it is the attitude of genuine thanksgiving that God found pleasing.
In response God makes a covenant with Noah and not only with Noah, but also speaks to his sons. God tells them,“Though the inclination of mankind’s heart is evil from
childhood, never again will I curse the ground nor destroy all living creatures, as long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” Gen 8:21-22

He then says to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, the animals and birds will fear you from now on. From now on they are given to you for food, in the same way that I gave you all the plants for food. But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And you must not murder, for I will demand an accounting from both people and animals who takes the life of another person. I tell you that I will never again destroy all of my creation by flood, and after it rains I will place in the sky a rainbow which is the sign of my promise to all of my creation.”

Scripture says that Noah was a man of the soil. He became a gardener of sorts and planted himself a vineyard. I think this statement is humorous, because after one year and eleven days of being cooped up in the ark, I doubt if he would have wanted to become a fisherman. After one year and eleven days of constant smell and noise and living so close to all those animals I doubt if he wanted to continue any kind of occupation involving animal husbandry. The one thing they lacked on the ark was a garden. They lacked fresh produce, the smell and aroma of flowers, the taste of fresh fruit, juicy apples, grapes sweet oranges and tomatoes etc. Is it any wonder that he was a man of the soil? And so he begins his task in planting his garden. He digs the soil, plants his vines, tends to his trees, and crops. His Sons are involved with him in this venture and some years go by and a son is born to Ham; Noahs second son. Noahs other sons have sons and daughters and soon Noah is a grandfather and then a great grandfather and finds that the years quickly go by from the time they first entered the ark.
It was during this time of Noah being a grandfather that he produced enough grapes to make wine. There could have been a celebration of the harvest, where the whole family gathered to celebrate, and in the course of the celebrations Noah become drunk and staggered to his tent falling asleep.
Think about the tent. It was years after they came out of the ark and Noah was still living in a tent. He didn’t live in a house, but in a tent. He was a craftsman of craftsman. He had all the skills to build a house, and a nice solid one at that. So what was it that caused this man to be still living in a tent? I think it was his experience of being confined in the ark for one year and eleven days that had a lot to do with it. He could have dismantled the ark and built a home from it. They could have stayed in the ark and continued to use it as their home. Did Noah and his family suffer from claustrophobia stemming from the long time on the ark? Perhaps his family continued to live on the ark and Noah stayed outside, living in the tent. Or perhaps they all lived in tents? Scripture doesn’t tell us what happened; we can only read between the lines. It is a story of real people, real problems, with a real past that is having an affect on the now.
Ham, Noah’s middle son was a hothead, someone who lacked self control, for his name means “Hot” as in the tropical sun. He not only discovers him lying naked in the tent, he looks upon his genitals, which most likely were frail and shrivelled, with contempt. He goes and tells his two brothers about it outside. Here we read a story about a young mans rebelliousness towards his father, a man who is showing the truth of his name. He doesn’t just go and say quietly to his brothers,

“Dads in a mess, look he got drunk and passed out on the floor, while trying to get undressed and we need to help him”


Instead he looks upon his father in contempt, he looks upon him in disgust, and while mocking his father he goes out to his brothers and says words to the effect.

“Look at that silly old goat inside, stupid bastard, got himself drunk and now look at him. He calls himself a man, humph, look at the size of him”

To his brother’s credit, they would have none of it. They did not join in his mocking, and his unrighteous anger; instead they rebuked their brother through their actions. They quietly spoke and working together picked up a garment or blanket and spreading it between themselves they walked into the tent backwards covering their father with it. They would not allow themselves to see their father’s state and they would not allow themselves to partake in their brothers shameful actions.

Posted in Who can pray? | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A year and eleven days goes by

Posted by craig b on February 9, 2008

There they were, locked in this wooden boat for one year and eleven days. While the Scriptures do not speak of what happened in the boat, there was a story of humanity living in extremely close proximity with each other. There was a story of real human relationships happening on board that boat. Were there tensions? Were there arguments? Were they going stir crazy? Did they ever have real arguments? What were their living conditions like? Imagine what it was like being stuck on a boat three stories high. What were the practicalities of living on the ark? For it was full of animals both noisy and smelly. Animals that needed feeding, animals that needed their stalls mucked out, and even perhaps animals that both fell pregnant and gave birth to their young while on board. I have worked around animals for many years, mostly on dairy farms. And I can say they stink, though you do get used to the smell after a while. Think of the smell of the boat, the smell of the timber, the tar, the manure and the smell of each other. For one whole year the ark was their home, it was their prison and it was also their means of salvation and hope for the world.

It was here on the boat that Noah and his family learnt about Gods faithfulness. It was here that they learnt to relate to one another as family. And it was here that they learnt to worship God.

Every day for forty days as the rain came down they would have heard its noise against the roof of the boat. I wonder if they thanked God every day for the protection he gave them. Did they ever complain about the rain? Did they suffer grief for the loss of their family and community? There were Noah’s brothers, his sisters, his wife’s family, the daughter in laws family and perhaps their friends. How did they cope emotionally knowing that they would never see their loved ones again? Every day within the one hundred and fifty days that it took for the flood waters to recede, the ark was at the mercy of the winds and the waves. Scripture tells us that God sent a wind to dry the earth. What a mighty wind it must have been! We are not talking about a gentle breeze here. It would have been a howler, one that caused the ark to pitch and roll around. They were at the mercy of God; they had no method of steering it, or powering it. Did they suffer from sea sickness? Did God place a shield over them to keep the waters calm and the ark stable? We don’t know for Scripture gives us no insights into this. What was their health like? Were they eating properly? Did they suffer from jaundice from lack of sunlight?

Five months after the rain started they feel the bump as the bottom of the ark lodges on the top of the mountain. What sort of elation do they feel as the ark stops moving freely in the water? Do they have a sense that their confinement is nearly over? Yet their ordeal is not over. They have to wait for the water to continue to recede from the mountains, draining away from the valleys.

Another three months takes place before they can see the top of the mountains poking out from the water. How this ordeal must have tested their patience.

They waited for another forty days Noah opened the window and let a raven go, where it flew in the sky for a week. He then sent out a dove, which came back to him, meaning it had no dry ground for it to land on. Another week went by and Noah sent the dove out once again. This time it returned with an olive leaf in its beak.

Here is another story waiting to be told. It was the story of creation recovering from the flood. Note that the dove returned to Noah, this meant it still had no place to settle. Yet it had an olive leaf in its beak. Think about the olive tree, still immersed in water, its branches reaching skyward bound, struggling to get air, having the need of the warmth of the sun shining on it and suddenly the tip of its branches break forth. Just enough of the branches for a few leaves to sprout, yet not enough for the dove to land and make its nest. This tells the story that all of creation suffered from mans sin. It shows a picture of patience as creation still groans with the weight of sin, waiting for God to restore it once again. The branches of the tree lifting up higher than the flood waters shows a picture of how Gods creation can lift their hands high towards their creator, worshipping Him, as they reach to Him, the only one who can provide for them in the midst of the floodwaters of life.

Another seven days takes place and Noah lets the dove out once again, but this time it does not return. Three weeks have taken place before the dove found a place to land, a place to call home, and a home it found for it did not return. Imagine the sorrow Noah had when the dove returned the first time. Then his reaction as it brought him an olive leaf and his elation when the dove did not return. What was the reaction to his news each time he shared it with his family? What was their reaction when he showed them the olive leaf? Did they eagerly grab it off one another to touch and smell it? Did they rejoice when they realised the dove was not coming back? Did they have real sense of anticipation that they too could be released from the confines of the ark? Yet in the ark they stayed.. Three months after they first felt the ark go bump and lodge against the mountain top, Noah removes the covering over the top of the ark, and sees that the surface of the ground was dry. Listen to the silence in this story. Suddenly there was no wind. The wind stopped howling, and it was in the silence that Noah was finally able to remove the covering over the ark. What was his reaction as he looked around, twelve metres up from the ground, on the top of the ark looking at the ground? Did he itch to jump off and run around? Did he have to restrain his sons from doing the same? Yet they still had to stay on the ark as the ground was still muddy.

Creation must have been rejoicing madly, its grass growing and its trees blooming, their leaves and branches reaching upwards soaking in the sun.

Then God says to Noah and his family. It is time. It is time to come out of the ark. This happened one year and eleven days after they first went into the ark. What was it like for them? Did they hoop and holler? Did they leap around like a bunch of hillbilly’s having a square dance? Or did they in dignity walk out of the ark as God opened the door for them? I doubt this very much. I think there would have been a mad scramble to be first between the brothers, wanting to explore their surroundings.

But they still had work to do. They also had to bring out the animals from the ark. It took them a week to get them into the ark, how long did it take to get them out of the ark? Did the animals want to leave, or had they become so used to their pens and confinement that they had become used to them, and needed a lot of coaxing and prodding to get them out? I like what Scripture says, that the animals came out of the ark, one kind after another. Picture the mad rush, the noise, the thunder, the stampede as they rushed out, eager to get out, eager to munch on some fresh grass, to eat some fresh leaves, chew on some real bark and tree roots. As the animals dug in real dirt, scrambled up real trees and flew high into the sky. And for some maybe just laying down in the shade or warming up in the heat of the sun basking on a heated rock.

Posted in Who can pray? | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Who can pray 8- The story of a ship at sea

Posted by craig b on February 7, 2008

But the story does not end there. For there is the story to tell of what went happened in the ark during the extended time they were locked in it. There they were locked in this wooden boat for one year and eleven days. While the Scriptures do not speak of what happened in the boat, there was a story of humanity living in extremely close proximity with each other. There was a story of real human relationships happening on board that boat. Were there tensions? Were there arguments? Were they going stir crazy? Did they ever have real arguments? What were their living conditions like? Imagine what it was like being stuck on a boat three stories high. What were the practicalities of living on the ark? For it was full of animals both noisy and smelly. Animals that needed feeding, animals that needed their stalls mucked out, and even perhaps animals that both fell pregnant and gave birth to their young while on board. I have worked around animals for many years, mostly on dairy farms. And I can say they stink, though you do get used to the smell after a while. Think of the smell of the boat, the smell of the timber, the tar, the manure and the smell of each other. For one whole year the ark was their home, it was their prison and it was also their means of salvation and hope for the world.

It was here on the boat that Noah and his family learnt about Gods faithfulness. It was here that they learnt to relate to one another as family. And it was here that they learnt to worship God.

Every day for forty days as the rain came down they would have heard its noise against the roof of the boat. I wonder if they thanked God every day for the protection he gave them. Did they ever complain about the rain? Did they suffer grief for the loss of their family and community? Noahs brothers, his sisters, his wife’s family, the daughter in laws family, how were they coping with their emotions knowing that they would never see their loved ones again? Every day within the one hundred and fifty days that it took for the flood waters to recede, the ark was at the mercy of the winds and the waves. In all the pitching and rolling around, did they perhaps suffer from sea sickness? What was their health like? Were they eating properly?

There is a history of eight lives living together for a year and eleven days being told here, one that we can easily skip and miss out on for scripture only records the bare basics of the story. For it’s a story of humanity, it’s a story about real people, living in a real situation, in a new situation where the old has passed away and a new unknown future awaits them.

Posted in Who can pray? | Leave a Comment »

Who can pray 7. The ark is built, the message is preached

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

Not only did Noah have to cop flack from his neighbours, he also had to cop it from his family; his brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunties, nephews and nieces. Not only them, but also his in-laws – though most likely they were all related any way. I wonder what Lamech thought of it all. He died about two years before the flood; did he come alongside and help Noah build the ark? Did he encourage him by telling him stories about his grandfather Enoch as well as what he knew about Adam? Perhaps Lamech was a typical boy who loved his grandfather and trailed him about wherever he went? Was Lamech there when God took Enoch? Was he a witness just like Elisha was a witness of God taking Elijah? We don’t know, in fact we don’t know any thing about their relationship. We do know however that someone told Noah about the past, for it is recorded for us today, and that most likely would have been his father. And in the same way Noah passed it onto his sons.

Imagine the conversation that could have gone on between his wife and her mother if she was alive, or her siblings.

Mother – I’m worried about you dear… Is Noah alright? … I think he needs to see someone…

Wife – Don’t worry about me mum…Noah is fine mum… He is seeing someone; he talks to God every day…

Mother – That’s just what I mean dear…don’t you think he has gone to far with this God stuff?… I mean it’s all a bit of a mythical story about God and how he made Adam and Eve, and kicked them out of the so called Garden of Eden…

Sister – I’m worried about you as well sis; don’t you think you are taking it all a little bit too seriously about this God stuff? … I mean who believes you? … Surely God would have spoken to other people about it as well, if it was really going to happen … if he really does exist that is…

Brother – Sis, this has gone far enough, who does Noah think he is? … Why would God pick him? … Look at him, Mr Goody two shoes… Does he think he is better than us?…

Wife – Come on mum, you know full well that God is not a mythical leg-end! …. You all know the history of Noah’s great grandfather, the history of Cain and Able, and that Adam and Eve were real… You really know that the Garden was real…. You only have to look around at what is happening today to know that sin is prevalent in today’s society… Noah believes God, he knows God, and I believe God as well… Come on guys, don’t get left behind, come help us build it, and you too can be saved…

Mother – What will the neighbours think?…Nothing is going to happen dear… just wait and see…Rain, what an imagination…I wonder what he will think of next…I just hope no one will think to badly of you dear…

While the above conversation is fiction, we do know that only 8 people boarded the ark, Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. There was no one else. No neighbours, no extended family; only Noah and his family. So perhaps there could be some truth to what I have written after all?

In speaking of Noahs family issues, lets turn to our own walk with God and ask ourselves some questions about where we stand with God.

1. What does your neighbourhood think of your faith?
2. What does your family think of your relationship with the living God?
3. How do you cope with criticism?
4. What has God asked you to do?
5. What have others said to about that?

So Noah and his sons built the ark, which took them one hundred years to do so. The ark was 136 metres long, 22.7 metres wide and 13.6 metres high. I live on a quarter acre block of land, which is 50 metres long by 20 metres wide. The ark was over two and a half times the length of my block of land and slightly wider. And it was about 3 times the height of my house, which is a normal single story home.

One hundred years of sawing, cutting, nailing, chopping and sanding. They didn’t have the luxury of being able to duck down to the local hardware if they needed something. They didn’t have the luxury of power tools nail guns, and chainsaws. Nor did they have a local timber mill to go to, and give them the order for all the timber they needed, pre cut into all the different lengths and sizes that they needed. If they needed a plank; they had to cut a tree down to make it. If they needed tools, they had to make them themselves, or perhaps there turned to their distant relatives who were tool makers and had them make them for them.

At first Noah worked on the ark by himself, perhaps with the aid of his wife and father. Two years after God asked Noah to build it; his wife gave birth to his first son Shem. Picture Shem, following Noah about as he chopped, hewed, heaved, carried, and nailed or tied every thing together, and asking his father questions about what he was doing. Can I help you dad? What’s this for? What was it like for him to grow up in awareness that the community around him did not share his father’s enthusiasm nor heed his warnings? Then there were his other two sons who were born afterwards, and not only them, they met and married their wives. What was their reaction to father in-laws antics? Did they have the same kind of discussions with their families like I wrote of Noah’s wife having with hers?

The time came, when God had them cover the inside and outside of the ark in pitch to seal it from leaks. They started the gathering of food, both for them-selves and for all the animals who would come on board. What sort of questions do you think Noah was going to ask God while he created and gathered? How much food do we need? How long will we be on the ark for? And his sons as they helped him asking, “Have we made enough hay dad?” How much longer dad? And yet for one hundred years they kept at it, gathering, cutting, heaving, making, storing. Talking to God as they went about doing what he called them to do. And then the rain started to fall, and God brought the animals to them, two pairs of every kind of unclean animal, and seven pairs of every kind of clean animal. Finally Noah and his family entered the ark and God shut the door on them.
I wonder what the community’s reaction about the rain was. What was it like to suddenly realise that Noah was right after all, and they were wrong? To late to board the ark for it had been sealed shut by God. Do you think perhaps they would have been asking questions, crying out,

“Why God why?”

only for their cries to go unheard. For one hundred years, Noah was warning them of what was to come. For one hundred years his community ignored his message of hope, and instead of turning back to the Lord their creator, walking in right relationship with Him they continued to ignore Him and went about their own ways.

Posted in Who can pray? | Leave a Comment »

Who can pray 7. Noah is ridiculed

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

Not only did Noah have to cop flack from his neighbours, he also had to cop it from his family; his brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunties, nephews and nieces. Not only them, but also his in-laws though most likely they were all related any way. Imagine the conversation that went on between his wife and her mother if she was alive, or her sister…

MotherI’m worried about you dear… Is Noah alright? … I think he needs to see someone…

Wife – Don’t worry about me mum…Noah is fine mum… He is seeing someone; he talks to God every day…

Mother That’s just what I mean dear…don’t you think he has gone to far with this God stuff?… I mean it’s all a bit of a mythical story about God and how he made Adam and Eve, and kicked them out of the so called Garden of Eden…

Sister I’m worried about you as well sis; don’t you think you are taking it all a little bit too seriously about this God stuff? … I mean who believes you? … Surely God would have spoken to other people about it as well, if it was really going to happen … if he really does exist that is…

Brother Sis, this has gone far enough, who does Noah think he is? … Why would God pick him? … Look at him, Mr Goody two shoes… Does he think he is better than us?…

Wife – Come on mum, you know full well that God is not a mythical leg-end! …. You all know the history of Noah’s great grandfather, the history of Cain and Able, and that Adam and Eve were real… You really know that the Garden was real…. You only have to look around at what is happening today to know that sin is prevalent in today’s society… Noah believes God, he knows God, and I believe God as well… Come on guys, don’t get left behind, come help us build it, and you too can be saved…

MotherWhat will the neighbours think?…Nothing is going to happen dear… just wait and see…Rain, what an imagination…I wonder what he will think of next…I just hope no one will think to badly of you dear…

While the above conversation is fiction, we do know that only 8 people boarded the ark, they being Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. There was no one else. No neighbours, no extended family; only Noah and his family. So perhaps there could be some truth in it after all.

What does your neighbourhood think of your faith?

What does your family think of your relationship with the living God?

Noah would have known about his great grandfather, though he had never met him. He certainly would have heard a lot about him as well as the full history of Adam and Eve. Perhaps he was caught up with the tale of Enoch walking with God? Perhaps he thought, if Enoch could do it, so can I? Noahs father Lamech, named him Noah, for it means comfort. And at his birth, Lamech says,

“He will comfort us in the labour and painful toil of our hands caused by the
ground the LORD has cursed.” (Gen 5:29)

Noah was five hundred years old when God spoke to him about what he wanted him to do, those around him knew his name, they would have known what Noah meant, and still they did not believe him.

Posted in Who can pray? | Leave a Comment »

Who may pray 6. Noah

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

Leaving Enoch, we continue to read how the earth was increasingly filled with wickedness, violence and the inclinations of men’s hearts were evil (Gen 6:5)

We could be talking about today.

We read of another man who was righteous and who walked with God (Gen 6:9) and who also did every thing that God commanded him to do (Gen 6:22.) A man called Noah. Who by the way was a descendant of Enoch!
Let’s truly think about Noah, what it really meant to obey God and do what God had called him to do? Imagine your-self in Noah’s position. Up till that time there was no such thing as rain, the earth watered itself from springs of water that bubbled up out of the ground. Imagine the conversation God and Noah had.

God – “Noah, listen up, I’m going to make it rain.”

Noah – “Rain, what’s that?

God – “Rain is water that comes down from the sky, instead of coming up out of the ground.

Noah – “Oh OK then, you want me to build a what?

God – “I want you to build a boat Noah; I want you to build it according to my plan, and on this boat I want you to take two each of unclean animals and seven each of clean animals as well as any one else who wants to join you”

Noah – “So let me get this straight, you want me to make a boat, to hold a heap of animals of every kind, gather enough food and water for them, for you are going to send, what’s that stuff called again? Rain out of the sky and so much of it you are going to flood the world and put an end to all this wickedness?

God – “That’s right Noah, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, and that’s exactly what I want you to do.”

Noah – “Well OK God, I’ll do it for you, because you have told me to do it, if you say it will happen, IT is going to happen …HELP”

God – “Of course I will help you Noah, you better get cracking.”

Neighbour – Hey Noah, what are you doing there…Your what?…Its going to rain…what’s that? Water that falls from the sky and is going to flood the earth…Noah, you are crazy, Gods not going to do that.

Noah – God are you sure about this rain and flood stuff…I’m sure copping a lot of flack from my neighbours who think I’m a crazy ole coot.

God – It’s OK Noah, keep doing what I have asked you to do, it will be OK, you will be saved from the floods, trust me.

Shut your eyes for a moment; think about your own reactions and dialog you would have with God if you were Noah. What do you think your conversation with God would have been like during that time and as you built the boat? What sort of flack do you think you would have to cope with in building that boat?

Since I first wrote draft of this, a movie has come out called “Evan Almighty”, which is a modern day tale of the story of Noah, where God calls a man called Evan to build an ark, though with a few major differences. If you have seen the movie, think of the flack he copped, yet because of Gods faithfulness, his obedience though reluctant was truly rewarded.

Posted in Who can pray? | 1 Comment »

Who can pray 5. Enoch walked with God

Posted by craig b on February 6, 2008

A few short verses later, though historically many years have passed, we read of Enoch walking with God and then he was gone! Taken away! No longer here! Scripture says he was taken by God. (Gen 5:23-24) The Bible doesn’t say what this walking with God meant, it doesn’t tell us much about Enoch, apart from the fact that he walked with God and then was gone.

I personally believe that Enoch walked with God in the same way that Adam and Eve used to walk with him when they were in the Garden in Eden. For while it is true human beings were banned from the Garden, that did not, and does not prevent God from walking any where through out his creation with his creation. How did God take Enoch? We don’t know, perhaps he took him like he did Elijah with a chariot from heaven. Or perhaps he just walked with God one night into eternity, stepping from one creation into the next. A bit like a scifi movie where someone steps through a portal into another realm….Or perhaps it is just a colloquialism to say he died.

What ever it means, those few verses pack a powerful punch, it speaks a powerful message that breaks up the history of sin, for where up till now only one other person had walked a pleasing walk with God and who had been murdered by his brother, this person lived a Godly life and God took him to himself.

Posted in Who can pray? | Leave a Comment »