We couldn't find what you are looking for. Try searching for something else.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. - Genesis 1:27 (NLT)
Creation was perfect. People were totally good with God and one another. But this would shortly be shattered. Enter stage right: temptation, choices, actions, and the fall of mankind in the garden. John Milton, in his epic poem “Paradise Lost”, speculates on the background details that made Satan so angry he hatched his diabolical plan to mess everything up. All the complexities that might have been involved in the decision to eat of the Tree of Knowledge can be boiled down to one thing: Broken relationships.
Satan rebelled, and, as a result, reaped separation from God and banishment from Heaven. Then, to get back at God, Satan baited people to choose their first and ultimate act of disobedience. And we experienced the same consequence... separation from God and banishment from the Garden of Eden. Can you just feel the ache in the pit of their stomach as they realized what they’d done? Just like that. One decision. Relationships broken. With God and one another. And we’ve been suffering the fallout of this rift ever since. Now men and women go looking for their identity and significance in all kinds of places… everywhere but the one place they can truly find it.
Nowadays the journey of life is one of trying to recover the connection we once had, and lost. We catch glimpses of what that restored connection could be in our relationships with other people. And, through Jesus, we are restored to God… but since we’d gotten used to doing life on our own, we still sometimes suffer the consequences of the old separation. To be healed and made whole, we need growing relationships with God and others. God reconnects us to real life - the life He designed for us. And relationships with others serve as a laboratory, a proving ground, a training field as we experiment with and learn what it looks like to reconnect in the way God intended.
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. - Genesis 3:7 (NLT)
I reached for a snack in the pantry recently and snagged a handful of pecans. I popped a few in my mouth, only to experience a surprise flavor... Something’s not right here. I stopped mid-chew and looked closer at the remaining nuts. As I zoomed in, I discovered little dots of green, moldy growth on those pecans. Bleargh! I spit them into the trash can and jumped online to discover what kind of impact these spoiled pecans might have on my evening. I quickly learned about poisonous, potentially-deadly mycotoxins that can grow on certain foods when they spoil. Pecans included. I was genuinely concerned. Would the Lord take my life that day?
Spoiler alert: I lived.
Imagine God had warned me ahead of time about those dastardly pecans and I knew better than to eat them. But, say I was really hungry and someone offered them to me? What if, as they handed me these inconspicuous snack nuts, they assured me they couldn’t actually kill me? If I ignored God’s warning, and wound up doubled over in agony, He wouldn’t have to ask, “Did you eat of the nuts I warned you about?” He’d know! My eyes would be opened. My failure to obey God’s words would be obvious. And He wouldn’t even need to punish me, I’d have already done a really effective job of that myself. That’s the way it is when we awaken to the power we’ve given to sin and the way it runs rampant in our relationships.
I can only imagine the sorrow filling God’s heart as His kids made the choice to eat of the forbidden fruit. And how His heart hurts for us today when we choose to take a taste of sin. Our loving Father wants so much more for His kids.
Can our choice of a snack really have such a significant impact on our life? Can the choices we make as we interact with others really matter that much? Take a moment to look inward at the big and small choices that are bringing either health or sickness to your relationships.Share Tweet
He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.” “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. - Genesis 3:10-11 (NLT)
Some days I sit at Starbucks and there are good friends nearby - people I’ve known for years who work, read, or meet at my favorite location. Today, however, I’m surrounded by strangers. There’s a guy with a hacking cough across from me… thankfully he’s holding today’s issue of the New York Times between us as we sit. Several couples are connecting over coffee, tea, iced lattés. None of these folks knows me and it just feels different here today. It’s the difference between everyday anonymity and the joy of knowing and being known. We all desire at some level to go deeper. And, depending on how authentic you’re willing to be, how deep you’re willing to go, how much you want to know... you can grow as close to (or remain as distant from) others as you’d like.
But it’s like we prefer to play hide and seek. We risk sharing a tiny something of ourselves. Then we wait to see how it’s received. Or rejected. And we adjust our level of willingness to risk more or less in the future accordingly. We make minor adjustments, trying to do more of what we think is accepted. And less of what isn’t. Until we eventually lose track of who we were, what we wanted back at the start.
Because we all tend to hide, it’s difficult to get to truly know anyone. We can’t rely on appearances. If you already know part of someone’s story, rest assured there’s more richness yet to be mined in there. There’s so much under the surface in a person’s life. What do they love? What are their passions? What’s their gifting? What do they know? What wisdom hides behind those eyes? Ask those questions. And more! And then listen really, really well. And share more of your story. It’ll be worth the risk.
Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed…” - Genesis 3:14 (NLT)
Recently a woman ran into a western diamondback rattlesnake in her yard and her husband came to the rescue with a shovel, cutting the head off the snake. Eager to show off his conquest, he reached down to grab the severed head and the snake-head bit him, latching onto his hand. The snake died, but the man nearly did, too, during the flight to evacuate him to a hospital. The snake’s head had been severed. But in the moments before it’s brain and muscles stopped functioning, it went on the offensive. Victory looked for a span of time like it would end in defeat. The snake was condemned to death, cursed, done-for. And yet...
In a similar way, the serpent, Satan, has been cursed. He’s been defeated. And yet, he still causes problems. Especially in relationships. The enemy tries to attack God’s kids on many fronts, but destroying relationships is a top priority in the death-rattle of the serpent’s defeat. The snake brings temptation: self-serving decisions, greed, narcissism. We reach for the bait. And the snake leads us perilously close to the cliff’s ledge. When we fall off that precipice, sin enters the scene, bringing its curse to every relationship. It takes what could be whole and wholesome and makes it a minefield with the potential of blowing up in our face at any moment.
The enemy has been defeated by Jesus - it’s a truth that can’t be changed. But God’s victory is never more visible than when we reconnect with God and others, demonstrating the significance of God’s victory over sin and death through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Jesus Himself prayed for you and me to be unified because He knew that would demonstrate the absolute fact God has won! Jesus died to save us, crushing the serpent’s head forever, removing the venom from its mouth, and defanging the enemy as God works in our hearts to restore the brokenness.
What’s your snake story? Maybe you haven’t literally encountered one - but we all have an account of dealing with the serpent in the spiritual battle that’s constantly raging. Remember that Jesus has the victory. And you can live in the freedom He’s won for you. Want to learn more? Email me today!Share Tweet
Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve... - Genesis 3:20 (NLT)
Our words matter. They convey meaning, labels, or names. They provide direction. They bring clarity. They define.
I served on a mission trip once in an English-speaking country overseas when a group of our college-aged young people were ministering to some teenagers who graciously taught our team several new local slang words. They gave them the definitions and examples for their use. So when one of our students stood to share their testimony one evening, they decided to use a couple of these new words to demonstrate a sense of connection to the vernacular of the local culture. Only to learn afterward they’d been hoodwinked and the words were actually highly offensive jargon meaning something completely different. It can be treacherous to allow others to define words for you.
But it can also be unsafe to assume we’re consistently using the right words to convey our own meaning. Can you home in on the last time someone said “hone in” instead? Or flesh out the story of a time you flushed out a squirrel from its hiding place in your attic? Perhaps a moot point literally became a mute point when you used the wrong word? You get the point.
Wordplay can clearly have humorous implications. But using the wrong words to name and define ourselves and others can be really harmful. If the words we speak about ourselves and others are not rooted in the truth of what God says and thinks about us, we will come up short. But we find life when God does the defining. When He speaks His words over us. And what does the God who cares so deeply for us say? He says we are much loved. His holy children. Saints, even. His words give us confidence. They convey our acceptance. And they are our sense of security in a world that tries to mistype and mistakenly define us.
What words do you hear in your head as you think about who you are? With which of your words can you find agreement in the Bible, affirming they’re actually true about you? Cross those you can’t find off the list. Can’t find any of the words you used? Let us help you discover some better words. Send me an email and I’ll help you find the right ones!Share Tweet