Monday, January 10, 2011

Adam and Eve Get Evicted

Okay, so October 1, 2010 I started a series of blog posts on Adam and Eve. If you’re new to my blog, the first in this series is posted here. For anyone else who has been following along, I’m going to jump right in. Last time we looked at the consequences of sin as it related to Eve (and therefore, all of us). This time I’m going to look at what God had to say to Adam (and therefore, all of us). Read Genesis 3:17-24

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Once again, we see physical consequences for sin. The ground is cursed and it will be difficult to produce food. There will be thorns and thistles. He will have to work hard to get something to eat now. If you’ve ever seen Little House on the Prairie you can kind of get a picture here. Can’t you see Charles plowing a field, taking off his hat in the hot noonday sun and wiping the sweat from his brow? But in our everyday world, this isn’t something most of us experience. We just run down to the grocery store to get food. We don’t have to work the ground because someone else does it for us. If you have a garden, you might have some sense of the care and hard work that goes into growing your own food but for most of you it’s something you enjoy. Something that is special or extra…not something necessary to live.

What no one can escape though, is the second physical consequence…death. “…for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Before sin came into the world there was no death! This was a HUGE consequence, a huge price to pay for sin. Genesis 2:7 tells us that “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” After sin came into the world, man would return to the ground and lose his life. This had to be shocking and confusing to Adam and Eve. This was the real kicker. Man wasn’t just going to have to work hard to survive, he would fail. He would die.

But there was a third physical consequence even worse than death. They were cast out of the Garden of Eden forever, no longer able to walk with God, separated from their Father. Both death and being cast out of the Garden symbolized a spiritual consequence that was much more devastating. Even worse than death and eviction. Separation from God. That’s what hell is my friends. Permanent separation from God. And we deserve it.

Yep, I brought it up. Hell. Listen, I want to assure you…there is phenomenally good news ahead. But we’ve got to fully understand how BAD the bad news is before we can begin to grasp just how amazingly GOOD the good news is. So stay with me because we’re almost there!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My One Word...2011

Wow, has it really been a month since I blogged? We're not done with Adam and Eve just yet but I wanted blog about something I've been doing every New Year for the past few years. No, I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. But I do believe in changing and growing. So rather than make some resolutions that I will surely abandon before the month's end, I like to do something I learned from the pastor of Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC, Mike Ashcraft. I like to put my focus

In 2008, my word was contentment. I feel I learned a lot that year about not comparing myself, my life, my marriage, my everything to others. And I began to understand the truth of Philipians 4:12-13 - I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Did you know that last verse had to do with being content? I didn't before 2007 and in no way have I arrived or anything, but I am more content than I was.

In 2009, my word was self-discipline. Do I even need to explain what a challenging year that was? I purposely put myself to the test several times in an attempt to develop self-discipline. I made some progress, I did. But the jury is still out on how much.

In 2010, my word was finish. I get great satisfaction from finishing things. The problem is, I am much better at starting than I am finishing. I did a lot better with my word once I started my new job. I get to start and finish lots of projects there but it isn't always easy. There were a lot of spiritual applications to finishing but if you want to read more, you can see what I wrote last year here.

So, what about 2011? I didn't know until a couple of nights ago what my word would be. I begged the Lord to give me something...something easy. I said, "What about rest" But I felt like the Lord wanted to teach me something more. I'm pretty good at resting and having fun. There wasn't as much work needed there. For some reason the word "fearless" kept coming to mind. I have been really challenged at my job to push beyond my comfort zone. I have a real fear of failure and I have experienced it quite a few times since starting back to work, a humbling thing to say the least. It hasn't been very "fun" to fail. But I do have a supervisor, Eve, who really inspires me by how fearless she is. "Oh, I've failed so many times I'm not afraid of it anymore," she told me one day with a laugh and a shrug. That one simple statement left me in awe. You see, I think of her as a wildly successful, smart, and talented person. Her ability to fail, learn, and move forward has made me long to do the same. I have always sensed that if I would push past my fear it would be worth it. But I am not fearless. I am afraid. And at times it has stolen my joy. JOY! Now that's a word I'd like to focus on!

And then I had a thought. Joy is often what is waiting on the other side of fear. Sports are a great example of this. My husband is a football coach and I see it all the time. A big game against a formidable team. Wide eyed players in the huddle and my husband pacing the sideline. And then...victory! The joy is evident all around you. Players lifting a teammate to their shoulders, parents in the stands high-fiveing and hugging, and students rushing the field. Fear turned into joy. But you have to be brave enough to step on the field and line up.

I was talking to my friend, Whitney, about this today and she gave me a great example. She went skiing over the holidays, I think maybe for the first time. She described how she kept heading straight down the hill without ever cutting across the slope and by the time she was halfway down, she would pick up so much speed that she spent the entire time being scared to death. Her husband kept encouraging her to cut back and forth across the slope and learn to stop correctly. She had a hard time trusting him with this advice because although she was scared going straight down, she didn't fall. She was more afraid of changing things up and falling than moving at warp speed. Finally, she decided to take his advice and once she began to make her way back and forth across the slope in a controlled manner, she started to enjoy skiing. She had to decide to trust her husband and push past the fear and the result was JOY.

So that's what I want for 2011. I plan to be FEARLESS this year. I'm going to put aside my fear of failure, loss, imaginary dangers, and see what happens. I'll let you know how it turns out and if my theory that joy is waiting on the other side is real. I know it won't be easy and at times I may fail, but I plan to take a note from my friend Eve and learn from it and keep moving forward. Let me know what your "one word" is for 2011!