Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bible Study - Why Do Diets Make Me Hungry?

Something about being on a diet makes me hungry. The moment I start thinking about how I shouldn’t eat something, that’s all I want to do. If I had been Eve, I wouldn’t have needed a lying serpent. I would have probably eaten the fruit the second God said, “Don’t.” Last time our focus was the serpent’s deception but today we’re going to move on to Eve’s response.

I don’t know about you but I’ve often had to learn things the hard way. I’m a rebel at heart. I regret to say I learned very little about life as a teenager by just listening and obeying. I had to find out for myself, like I said, the hard way. (My parents are vigorously nodding their heads right now) Even now when I see a sign that says “wet paint” I still feel that twinge of desire to stick my finger on the wall. There’s something in us that doesn’t trust those signs. Something that doesn’t trust the wisdom of our elders. Something that doesn’t trust God. And I think I know what that “something” is.

In many cases, learning something the hard way is harder than we ever imagined. Not trusting God can have dire consequences. It sure did for Adam and Eve. Let’s get started by looking at the way this story is told in a popular children’s Bible.

The fruit on the tree looked good to eat. Eve took some and ate it. Then she gave some to Adam and he ate it, too. Then Adam and Eve saw that they were naked. They made coverings for themselves. Soon they heard God walking through the garden. Quickly, they hid. “Where are you?” God called. “Did you eat from the tree?” “The woman you put here gave me the fruit,” said Adam. “The snake tricked me, and I ate it,” said Eve.

Sounds like a kid version doesn’t it? They heard God coming so they hid. Like that’s even possible. The parent, God, asks, “Where are you?” Then a specific question, “Did you eat from the tree?” Adam blames Eve and then Eve blames the snake. In many ways, this story is very familiar to me as a mom of two little girls. Let me give you a scenario. I notice the girls are awfully quiet so I go upstairs to see what’s going on. I see the two of them hiding behind the couch and some interesting crayon drawings on the wall. I might ask, “What happened?” and then follow with, “Did you color on the wall?” One will say, “She did it!” To which the other will counter, “She told me to!” Then the first will reply, “No I didn’t!” And so on, and so on, and so on. Can you relate?

The kid version is clear but let’s look at your Bible now and read the story as it is recorded there.

Genesis 3:6-13 (New International Version)
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" 10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid." 11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" 12 The man said, "The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

I can relate to Eve. And not just because the temptation involved food. I can relate to Eve because I am familiar with the process here. First, she looks at the fruit and sees that it is “good for food”. And it’s also desirable for gaining wisdom. This is the point where I would start to talk myself into it. The really dangerous part. Adam and Eve had surely seen the tree before. They had looked at the fruit and seen that it was good for food…but they weren’t tempted before now. I think this is an important point. God doesn’t tempt us. It’s not until the serpent comes into the picture and twists the truth that Eve begins to look at the fruit in a different way. The serpent is the one who tempts her, but ultimately, Adam and Eve are the ones held responsible.

Can you think of a time you were suddenly tempted by something that had never been tempting before? What changed?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Same Old Lies

I find it interesting that Satan targets Eve in the Garden of Eden with his lies and deception. There are lots of theories about why he focuses on her, but whatever the reason, he causes Eve to doubt God’s words. I think he knows that if he can cause her to doubt God, then he can cause her to fear.

I believe one of Satan’s most effective tools against women is fear. Most of the women I know struggle with fear and that fear leads to worry. We worry about what others think. We worry about the finances and the future. We worry about our children, having them, not having them, and everything to do with them. I’m not saying men don’t worry, I’m just saying some women I know tend to think it’s a spiritual gift. We worry as if it wards off anything bad happening in our lives.

So why do we worry? I think it’s because we believe the lie. Satan is still telling the same lies he told in the garden and we are STILL believing them! Let’s face it, “you will not surely die” might as well be, “God is a liar.” And then we have, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” which is basically, “God is keeping something from you. He can’t be trusted. If you trust Him, you’re going to miss out! Or worse, he’s going to let something bad happen.”

Read John 8:44-45 to get some perspective on how “crafty” the serpent is, Jesus is speaking to the Jews who sought to kill him,

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s
desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for
there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is
a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe

Satan is the “father of lies”! There is no truth in him. In fact, lying is his native language. Jesus says that because he(Jesus) is telling the truth, we don’t believe him. Not, “I tell the truth and you don’t believe.” He says, “Because I tell the truth you don’t believe.” So…I have to ask myself…why do we trust the lie more than we trust God? Think I’m wrong? When we worry about our kids, we’re believing the serpent. When we worry about our future, we’re believing the serpent. When we are afraid to give everything over to God because we’re afraid of what he’ll do with it, we’re believing the serpent’s lies. So again, I ask, why do we trust him more than we trust God? Is it because sometimes we are more like him? Is it because deep down (and sometimes not so deep down) we want to be God? We want control? We want to decide what’s best? Are you getting as uncomfortable as I am?

In what way are you still believing the same old lies?

John MacArthur said of Satan, “He wanted to be like God, so God made him as unlike God as possible.” If Satan is the father of lies then our Heavenly Father is the Father of Truth. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth,” more than 70 times in the Bible. Let’s end this section by looking at what God says about the truth and who He is.

Psalm 31:5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.

Psalm 40:11 Do not withhold your mercy from me O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me.

Psalm 86:11 Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, full of grace and truth.

John 14:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Next post, we’ll move on but in the meantime, let’s remind ourselves of the truth…and then believe it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Twisted Truths - Part 2

Not so long ago, we had what I might call The Year of Twisted Truths…otherwise known as a presidential election year. In 2008, when I googled the phrase “twisted truth”, I got a page full of articles about politics. Not all that surprising I guess, but it strikes me that during that election, my friends, family and yes, I myself, heard some twisted versions of the truth and often believed them. Not unlike the garden, many of the advertisements and accusations during any election have some bit of truth in them, but have been tweaked just enough to confuse and alarm, to cause us to question what we think we know.

Can you think of a time you were deceived by a lie that sounded true?

So in my last post, Twisted Truths, we started comparing what each party said in the Garden of Eden. I want to continue making the comparison between what God said, what the serpent said, and what Eve said. Once again, I have underlined some words to help you see the sometimes subtle differences.

God – Genesis 2:17 “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…”

Boldserpent – Genesis 3:1 He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Eve – Genesis 3:3 “but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it…”

First of all, I find it interesting that Eve doesn’t call the tree by its name, “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” She simply refers to it as the “tree in the middle.” Then even more interesting, she also adds another restriction, “…and you must not touch it.” Did God say they couldn’t touch it? No. Now as I mentioned last time, when God gave Adam instructions about the tree in Genesis 2:16-17, Eve hadn’t been created yet, so as far as we know, Eve didn’t get the instructions directly from God. Maybe Adam added the “no touching” rule just to make sure she stayed away. I guess it’s possible she made this rule for herself. It’s probably not a good idea to touch food we’re not allowed to eat, right? Why would I want to touch a cupcake when I’m on a diet?

I don’t know why she said what she said or what it means but what I do see is this…maybe Eve was beginning to speak the serpent’s language. Exaggeration…subtlety…it’s just a slight variation. I’m just saying…but let’s finish by making one last comparison.

God – Genesis 2:17 “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Boldserpent – Genesis 3:4-5 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Eve – Genesis 3:3 “but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

Now, when the serpent told her that she would “not surely die”, that was an outright lie, and that lie alone probably would not have deceived Eve. So the serpent continues with the language he speaks best…the almost truth. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” Suddenly, it gives Eve pause. You can almost see the wheels turning in her head. The tree is called “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” after all. Consider the serpent’s words. In what ways was what the serpent said true? In what ways was it a lie?

Please understand that the serpent’s lies were no accident. They were carefully crafted. He was there when God was looking for a servant. And he sure wasn’t it. John Milton said of Satan that he “[preferred] to be the king of hell, rather than the servant of heaven.” Satan wanted to be God and he’s counting on Adam and Eve being tempted by the same possibility. For now, think about this. There was no such thing as salvation for Satan and he wanted to take down the ones who walked in the garden as well. Once he knew God had a plan of salvation for man he must have become FURIOUS. And now we are the center of his focus. In what ways are we believing the same old lies?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My 100th Post...Looking Back

I was going to post the next in a series on Adam and Eve I've been working on. But then I's my 100th post. I don't know why but I just feel like I want to do something fun for this one. It's taken me forever to get here and writing this blog has meant so many things for me. This is where I really discovered how much I love to write. This blog helped me get my job as a writer for Mercy Ministries. It has been an outlet for expressing myself and what I've learned in life. I just turned 40, another milestone I'll write about soon, but as I look back, I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite of the last 99 posts. Mostly they are the ones that made me laugh at myself and the ones you responded to the most. So here they are if you have the time and need a good chuckle:

My Very First Post

How to Extract Top Secret Info from Spies

and the follow up to that fun night The Secret Life of a Toddler

We're Breaking Up

The First Day of School...Again

Little Sister has been the star of many a funny blog post and at times has provided some hilarious video. Here they are:

Knock Knock

Long Day

Jingle Bells

And then there are the lessons learned



Lost and Found

If you made it to the end of this post, you're awesome. Thanks and I look forward to the next time. Tune in for more soon!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Twisted Truths

My brother Joshua loved to quote scripture as a young child. It was obvious my dad and stepmom would often say, “Now Joshua, the Bible says…” Soon, he was quoting his own scripture…and I do mean his own scripture. I remember once when my uncle was visiting.

Uncle: Josh, it’s time to go. Go get your shoes.”

Joshua: I don’t know where they are.

Uncle: Well, go and find them.

Joshua: But…the Bible says that when you lose something, someone else has to go and find it.

We may not be making up our own scripture, but many of us have been taught things (and then repeated things) that we thought were in God’s Word. And sometimes they sound right, they might even be almost right, but they’re not in the Bible, or they twist the truth of scripture...just a little bit. Just enough to send us down a dead end road. Some examples of quotes you may have thought were in the Bible are:

God helps those who help themselves.
Cleanliness is next to godliness.
Spare the rod, spoil the child.
Money is the root of all evil.
This too shall pass.
The eyes are the windows to the soul.
The lion shall lay down with the lamb.

Now these sayings are probably familiar to you. In some cases they might even be true. Some of them are similar to verses in the Bible, yet by changing a word or two, they say something completely different. Too often, a twisting of the truth, a misquote of God’s Word, whether purposeful or accidental, can have dire consequences. Today, we’re going back to the garden to look at how Satan and maybe even Eve, twisted the truth.

Read Genesis 3:1-5.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" 2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' " 4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Let’s break it down a little bit by making a comparison. Let’s look at what God says, then what the serpent says, and finally, what Eve says. We will look at partial verses today in order to make more direct comparisons. I have underlined some words to draw attention to the differences.

God – Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but…”

serpent – Genesis 3:1 He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

Eve – Genesis 3:2-3 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but…”

Do you notice the subtle differences here? Read what the serpent said again and put the emphasis on the word “really”. Can’t you just imagine the doubt the serpent tried to raise in Eve’s mind? Can’t you hear him say, “Did God really say…” Now read it again and this time put the emphasis on the word “God”. Imagine he says, “Did God really say…” Maybe he wants Eve to question whether it was actually God who gave this directive. When God is speaking to Adam in Genesis 2:16-17, Eve hasn’t been created yet. Maybe the serpent knows a good way to separate them from God is to first separate them from each other, so he tries to cause division by suggesting maybe this was just something Adam came up with.

He also twists the truth, right from the beginning, with over-exaggeration. He suggests that the rule is that they can’t eat from any of the trees. Even though Eve answers with the correct information, you can see the serpent’s craftiness. He’s trying to confuse things and raise doubt. Consider this…Eve had never heard a lie before. And she going to soon discover that someone is lying. This must have seemed so strange to her. Until next time, let's consider how Satan twists the truth in our own lives...and why we so often believe him.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Acts of Service

During college, I had a job as a server…otherwise known as waitress. I didn’t know how to cook the food, I didn’t tell people what to order, I simply interceded on their behalf. I asked what their need was, I told the person who could meet that need, and then I delivered the answer to that need. It wasn’t about me. In fact, aren’t the best restaurant servers the ones you don’t really notice at all? They don’t interrupt your conversation, they don’t let your glasses get empty, and they don’t leave you wondering where they are. You couldn’t pick them out of a crowd the next day but they are always there right when you need them, eager to serve.

Now, serving others doesn’t come naturally apart from God. When there’s something in it for us (like tips), when it fits easily into our schedule, when we’re getting the credit…serving is easy. But when it requires something more of us…our time, our money, and there’s nothing in it for us….not so much. Ever since the fall of man, it’s been hard. And at this point, you might be tempted to think, I’m going to buckle down and do more. I’m going to volunteer for this or that. But then you might be missing the point. Service isn’t just volunteering at every opportunity. It isn’t about doing really at all. It’s a matter of the heart.

Read Mark 12:28-31. What does Jesus say are the two most important commands?

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that
Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments,
which is the most important?" "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is
this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all
your strength.’ The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is
no commandment greater than these."

See anything in there about how important you are? See anything about “looking out for number 1”? Loving God is serving God and serving God is loving God. Augustine put it this way, “Love God, and do what you want.” If we truly love God, service will be a natural outpouring. We willingly and selflessly serve those we love. Service, if not done out of love for God, is not even service, it is our own self-righteousness. Look at what the Bible says about our righteous acts in Isaiah 64:6:

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags

One of the best examples of loving God and serving is brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence was a monk in the 1600’s known for his closeness to God. He wasn’t famous for his service, though a true servant he was. In fact, he worked in the kitchen for most of his life and repaired sandals in his later years. He was known for his love of God. In a book compiling some of his letters and conversations, the practice of the presence OF GOD, brother Lawrence said, – “Never tire of even doing the smallest things for Him, because He isn’t impressed so much with the dimensions of our work as with the love in which it is done.” I love that!

Are you starting to see how rich this story is? Adam was created to serve. We were created to serve. And what are the prerequisites for the job? Loving God. As we work through this story together, my prayer is that we will grow in our desire to study God’s word so that we may know Him and love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Next post we will move forward in our story and look at what happens when things start to unravel.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Servant...That's Who

So in my last post, we discovered that the word “work” in Genesis 2:4-15 can also be translated as “to serve” or “to worship.” Rather than rehash it all, if you want to go back and review, you can find it here. But today, I’m going to take it a little further. I wanted to find other places that showed our God was looking for a servant. What I found encouraged and convicted me at the same time.

Look at 1 Kings 3:7-9 and see what stands out. These are the words of King Solomon.

"Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

Did you notice that three times, Solomon refers to himself as a servant? It’s almost redundant. But this is whom it pleased God to make king. But now look at 1 Kings 11: 9-11 in the English Standard Version… just a short time later.

The LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes, that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.”

What happened? God initially chose to give the kingdom to Solomon. When He took it from Solomon, to whom did He give it?

God gave the kingdom to Solomon’s servant! Once again we see that God is looking for a servant. A servant to worship the one true God of Israel. Especially in His leaders. Think about that why don’t cha?

So we were created to serve from the beginning. Even in the Garden of Eden. And in due time, God sent us a perfect example of the ultimate servant leader.

Look at what Jesus said about himself in Matthew 20:25-28.

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus was God as man and even He came to do what? To serve.

I’m telling you…I love this stuff! especially, when it brings conviction. The Word of God truly is ALIVE! I only wish I could talk to you in person! Thank you for your comments and keep them coming!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Tell Me Again...

A couple of years ago, I was having lunch with my dad. He was wound up and talking about how the gospel should be preached in every single sermon because it’s what the whole Bible is about. He was using David and Goliath as an example. He said something like, “It’s not a story about how to face your giants or what a great and brave hero David was, it’s a story about Jesus. It’s a story about how God uses one insignificant, unimpressive son, to intercede on behalf of his people.” There was more to it than that but you get the idea. Suddenly, as I read through the Bible, I saw Jesus everywhere. And in places where I missed him, there were other mentors who pointed him out to me...and it’s never been the same.

Another thing that happened was I realized through friends and family how many parents send their kids to Mother’s Day Out and VBS and the only Bible teaching they get are the little story pages their children bring home and the songs they sing. Other adults who attend church for the first time (or maybe just attend a Bible-teaching church for the first time) hear references to David and Noah and Moses and Abraham and Daniel…and they’re intimidated because they don’t know anything about those people and they think everyone else does. It struck me that we rarely go back to the stories that are taught mostly to children and how much I’d missed. So I began to study. I didn’t want anyone else to be stuck with the kid’s version only, so I started to write what turned into a sort of Bible study and I thought I would share it with you a little bit at a time.

I guess there’s no better place to start a retelling of children’s Bible stories than “In the beginning…”. Adam and Eve is a story that most adults know to some degree. Even non-believers know there was a garden, a piece of fruit that was eaten, and that eating that fruit was a bad thing. But many of us, believer and non-believer alike haven’t looked much deeper than that. This introduction to our God is a rich story full of essential truths about the trouble with man and what an amazing God we have. It’s a story of lies and deception, of jealousy and blame, of consequence, of sacrifice, and it’s ultimately our first introduction to God’s unfolding plan to redeem the world through his son, Jesus. Yep. Right there “in the beginning”. The word Genesis means “beginning” and God had the sacrifice of Christ in mind right from the start. So let’s take a grown-up look at the story.

I would recommend you start by reading Genesis 2:4-15. I’m going to spend this blog post on one word highlighted below:

v. 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground,

v. 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Maybe your translation says “to cultivate” or “to till”. These are all easy to understand when it comes to a garden. Whether or not we’ve ever lived on a farm, planted a garden, or mowed a lawn, we can imagine what “working the ground” looks like. Do you imagine someone digging, ploughing, or pulling weeds? Do you imagine tools like rakes, shovels, maybe even tractors? Adam doesn’t appear to have had tools. And doesn’t it make you wonder? Did God really look at his creation and think, “Now who’s going to pull the weeds? Hmmm, there’s no one to do the pruning and fertilizing. I’d better make someone to take care of this garden.” Did God need someone to take care of the earth? I mean, wasn’t creation pretty much perfect at that point? Could it really be that the only reason the idea “man” came to be was because God needed a gardener? Yet, there it is in black and white. There’s no one “to work the ground”. God creates man, and then in verse 15, God puts him in the Garden of Eden “to work it and take care of it.”

I decided to “dig” a little deeper (pun intended). When I have questions or have a hard time making sense of something, I often find it helpful to go to the original language. Oftentimes, the English translation doesn’t tell the whole story. So let’s investigate further by looking at the original language. The Old Testament was first written in Hebrew. The Hebrew word translated as “to work” is ‘Abad. Here is a more complete definition of ‘Abad.

‘Abad; to work, to labor, to toil…to serve; to be served or honored; to worship; to cause to worship…

Here’s what I find most interesting. The word ‘Abad occurs 290 times in the Bible and over 200 of those times it is translated in some form as “serve”. Is it starting to make a little more sense? Maybe God didn’t need a gardener. He didn’t look at his creation and think, “Now who is going to water, prune, and fertilize?” Maybe that was part of it. Work is a good thing for man, especially if it’s in a world where there’s no sin. But maybe God also looked at it and said, in essence, “There is no one to serve,” or maybe even “no one to worship.”

I’d love to ask you what you’re thinking right now. Are you as surprised as me? This story is so rich! I can’t wait to share more of what I’ve learned with you. Chew on this a bit and if you would be so inclined, leave a comment. I’d love for you to come on this journey with me!