Tag Archive: religion



It is not really until we come to understand the meaning of the bible as a grand narrative, a love story of God’s pursuit of mankind -the first love, the evil intruder attempting to destroy love and woo the heart of God’s beloved away from him towards anything else, and the lies that were believed of the goodness of God, the turning away, and His radical love to pursue a wayward wife that we can even begin to understand the love of God.

If we merely see the bible as a religious book of bedtime fairy tales, or the Christian religion as rote rituals and spiritual disciplines than we are likely to miss the point. We are likely to gloss over the whole point to the story:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him, might be saved.” John 3:16

God loved us, and when we wandered off from him questioning his goodness, bandaging our wounds, believing the lie that God had indeed forsaken us and left us to our own devices, oblivious to the true fact of his never ending love for us, he still sought us out to repair the relationship torn apart because true love cannot exist without trust. And we thought God was holding out on us, keeping secrets from us, not to be trusted, when all this time, he has merely been pursuing us with his love to win back our hearts to him, hearts that were broken because his love was called into question.

He had to do something radical to show us his unconditional love, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, taking all of our sin and shame on himself, so we could live free, and that our eyes may be opened to believe that he loves us.

“I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…” Ephesians 3:17-19

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

“God IS love” 1 John 4:8b

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neighbor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God, that is on Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39.

These are only a few of the many passages of scripture that present the great unfailing love of God for us… Yet, unless we open our minds to see it, and our ears to hearing the truth of His love for us, we sadly stay locked away in a prison we created for ourselves, and miss the point: God is love. God IS love. Love comes from God, it abides in us, and we are able to love others because he has first loved us! He is the one that imparted within us the ability to love each other, and the insatiable hunger for it. We all need to be loved!

Understanding God’s love is a lifelong pursuit as he corrects our distorted thinking and beliefs about him. When we get those ‘aha’ moments, where we sense his divine presence… And we just ‘know’ God is good, it is in those moments where he is inviting us to know and encounter and experience the great love of God, a love that fills like no other can!

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Last Monday, I began to write about the concept of understanding God’s love, and mentioned I would continue the discussion today.

To recap just a little, I talked about what abiding in Christ Jesus looks like, that abiding in Him is abiding in perfect love, which casts out fear, and I talked about God’s commandments to love each other, and that this command does not come from a God who is demanding and punitive, because abiding in him removes all fear of punishment as we begin to grasp the message of the good news of the gospel, which comes down to faith in God. This same God who gives commandments to obey him, does so from a posture of humility not forcing himself on anyone, but rather he respects our free will that He himself gave us, fully understanding that love cannot truly exist without choice. God wants us to love Him, and receive His love. He is on a mission to pursue our hearts and let us know just how much he loves us by sending his son Jesus, to take the punishment of sin upon himself that we may go free. This is the good news. Very simple, yet so hard to embrace… A free gift? What’s the catch? By faith alone? Can’t be. Must be earned. He loves me unconditionally? No way. No one can love like that. Conclusion: He must have a hidden agenda and is not to be trusted, and so we continue to live our lives independent from the love of God, which he desperately longs for us to embrace by faith alone, and by the evidence he gave us by taking away the punishment for sin, by having his son take it on himself, thereby allowing God to be perfectly just and perfectly merciful at the same time. Perfectly just by demanding that justice be done for evil, and perfectly merciful by allowing us to go free from the consequences of sin by embracing the idea that Jesus took all of our sins, past, present and future on himself, and paid the price we couldn’t.

So coming back to the concept of abiding in God, aka, perfect love, which encompasses the idea of keeping his commandments, let’s take a look at these commandments and how to apply them in our lives.

“But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, for the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility, receive the word implanted, (Jesus) which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror, and once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he is, but the one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer, but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does. If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. This is pure and undefined religion in the sight of our God and Father: to visit orphan’s and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:19-27

“So speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty, for judgment will be merciless to the one who has shown no mercy, for mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12-13

“For whoever keeps the whole law (Old testament law) and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10.

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor, love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10.

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”, for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust is conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” James 1:13-15

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in you? You lust and do not have, so you commit murder, you are envious and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask God, and when you ask, and do not receive it is because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3

“Even so, consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies that you should obey it’s lusts, and do not go on presenting your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead and present the members of your body as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are a slave to the one whom you obey, either of sin, resulting in death, or of obedience, resulting in righteousness?” Romans 6:11-16

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law (old testament) could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the flesh, but those who are according to the spirit, the things of the spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not subject itself to the law of God for it is not even able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the spirit, if indeed the spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him. And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Romans 8:1-10.

Again we come back to the concept of abiding in God, in Christ, and the spirit of God, and the law of liberty which sets us free from the old covenant law of sin and death. The law of liberty is the good news of faith in Christ. If the spirit of God lives in us, we have the power through the spirit of God to condemn and put to death our sinful behavior, not of our own strength, but enabled by the spirit of God living within us.

The law of the spirit of life in Christ (or the law of liberty through his sacrifice on behalf of our sin), has set us free from the law of sin and death that judges and condemns us. But there is no more condemnation if I am IN Christ, or abiding in Christ.

“So then, brothers, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to it, for if you live according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are being led by the spirit of God, these are the sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons, by which we cry, Abba, Father!” Romans 8:12-15

Here we come back to this concept of fear again. Our sin nature, the desires of our flesh that wage war within us, enticing us to sin, are what lead us back into the fear of judgment and condemnation. Our sinful acts are what the enemy of God (the devil, or satan) uses as ammunition to judge and accuse us before our Father God. (see Revelation 12:10,11) When we receive and accept his accusation against us, we submit ourselves again under the law of sin and death, rather than the law of liberty which deals with mercy triumphing over judgment and also deals with love casting out the fear of punishment. If we are In Christ, we live by the law of liberty, trusting and knowing and believing that Christ has already paid the price for our sinful nature. We must continue to put to death those inherent sinful desires and choose to live in love which is the fulfillment of the law, rather than living a selfish lifestyle, but also understanding there is grace when we do sin.

The enemy tempts us to sin, and when we yield to sin and are carried away by the lust in our sinful nature, he accuses us before God trying to cause us to subject ourselves again as slaves to sin, so that we forget what Christ has accomplished for us on he cross by laying his life down for us, in our place. The enemy appeals to our self-centeredness, or selfishness, which is why abiding in love keeps us under the law of liberty. Because this kind of love, God’s love, is unselfish. When we abide in Christ, in love, we are putting to death our sinful nature, resisting the devil and the desire to yield to sin, and close doors on the devil to legally accuse us before God, because we come to God, abiding in Christ, the law of liberty, and when we are accused, God sees Jesus abiding in us, and simply says “paid in full.”

If we abide in the word of God, we are able to overcome.

“For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For whoever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that had overcome the world – our faith. And who is he that overcomes the world? but he who believes that Jesus is the son of God.” 1 John. 5:3-5

The commandments of God are summed up in loving God and loving each other. God’s love is the fulfillment of the law. God’s love fulfills the requirement of the law -perfection’. Perfect love drives out fear of punishment. Christ lived a perfect, sinless life, and his love was perfected by laying down his life for us, in our place, fulfilling the law and allowing us to go free from condemnation and accusations.

Could it be that as we abide in love for each other, (and as we do, God also abides in us), that we are presented with the opportunity through relationship, to encounter the specks and log’s within each other’s lives, giving us the ability to see our own faults as we are otherwise blinded to see through our pride, which deceives us, and through loving each other as God loves us (preferring each other above ourselves) we are made aware of our sin nature and are then able to crucify our sin nature because of love? When we truly begin to love each other, we find this law at work: “love does no harm to its neighbor” and our consciences are grieved when we see our own sin nature (selfishness) affecting the lives of the ones we love and when love begins to take precedence in our lives, we find ourselves empowered to change, thereby taking authority over our sin, and submitting it to God. Just some food for thought.

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins. If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:10-12

Propitiation means “to appease because of Christ’s sacrifice. The benefits of Christ’s death to man. Not only the benefit of reconciliation with God, but the manner by which we were made friends of God. He is both the sacrifice and the high priest from the old testament, sacrificing himself.”

What is this love that we’ve been talking about, that drives out fear?

Love -agapeo from the greek, means “to love, indicates a direction of the will and finding it’s joy in anything. Agapeo is used of God’s love toward man and vice versa. Phileo (from the Greek) means to contend with, common interests, befriending. Agapeo stands higher above phileo because of its moral import; love that expresses compassion.

Agape, also from the Greek, is another word used for love, meaning “charity, meaning benevolent love. It’s benevolence however, is not shown by doing what the person loved desires, but what the one loving deems as necessary or needed by the one loved. God gave us not what we wanted, but what we needed, as perceived by God (the one loving). God’s love for man is doing what he thinks is best for man and not necessarily as man desires. It is God’s willful direction toward man. For man to love God, he must first appropriate God’s agape, for only God has such an unselfish love.”

“For God so loved the world that he sent his only son, that whoever believes in him, has eternal life.” John 3:16

Faith comes from hearing the word of God. Believe it. God loves you. No matter what. He has only been recklessly pursuing us since the beginning of time, since the fall of man into a sinful condition separating us from the ability to receive God’s love, because of the knowledge of sin and death and our mistaken beliefs about the character and goodness of God’s heart. He had to do something radical to show us how much he loves us and desired intimate fellowship with us. He sent his son in our place removing the curse of sin from us to prove that his heart toward us is good. To show us he wants relationship with us and will go to any length of humility to gain our love. He has set himself up for rejection again, by paying the ultimate sacrifice and removing the consequences of sim from us if we receive his free gift of salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection. We can still reject this love if we so choose. But if by faith, we receive this gift, the love of God, we will be saved from the consequences of sin.

“Now for this very reason, applying all diligence, in your faith, supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self control, and in your self control, perseverance. And in your perseverance, godliness, and in godliness, kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. If these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8


Part 2

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be crrtainly wrung and possibly
broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it careful with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless- it will change. It will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable… The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.” (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves).

And yet, the solution to the inhumanity and sinful condition is love. Perfect love.

As I closed the end of part 1 of this blog I mentioned that God is love. That God sent his son that whoever would believe in him, would have eternal life. That love does no wrong to it’s neighbor. That love is the fulfillment of the law.

But back we come to our problem. If you go back several blogs you will see the problem we wrestle with the ten commandments. We cannot fulfill them. As I quoted Erwin McManus in an earlier blog, he suggests this on the 10 commandments:

“The ten commandments are not heaven’s standards… They are not God’s attempt to pull us up beyond the human into the spiritual. The Ten Commandments are the lowest possible standard of humane living. Stop and consider what they demand of us. Maybe it would help if we just rephrased them in everyday language. Here goes: ‘hey could you stop killing each other? Oh, yeah, and by the way, could you not steal each other’s stuff? And it would be really helpful if you wouldn’t lie to each other and here’s a thought, could you not take other people’s husbands and sort of, like, keep your own? Upon reflection, these are unreasonable right? How could anyone be expected to live up to those? Only God could do that, right? Why don’t we get it? Anything below these standards is choosing to live like an animal, a barbarian. The Ten Commandments don’t call us to extraordinary life; they call us to stop dehumanizing each other. The law is the minimum of what it means to be human.”.

And yet, when we read it, we still find ourselves disqualifying from being able to love perfectly, and fulfill the law by loving perfectly.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear., because fear has to do with punishment, the one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:17-19

Who can love this perfectly? And unconditionally? God alone.

So where is our help?

Let me unpack this great love God has for us, and how Christ became the willing perfectly human, perfectly god in the flesh, able to love sinlessly and flawlessly to rescue us from our fallen state by taking on the consequences for all of our sins onto himself, (perfect justice placed on Christ’s sacrifice on The cross) allowing us to go free and receive the benefits of the good news of grace and unmerited favor of God. We go free. If we believe on what Jesus did, who he was, and receive it, there is now no more condemnation for our sins and offenses. Jesus paid it all. It is a simple message that we complicate so much. We go free. All we have to do, is believe, by faith, that Jezus is who he said he was.

Check this out, to understand the love of God and the concepts of mercy and justice a little more. Often hearing about the simple message of the good news: I go free because of what he did… No more guilt, no more striving, no more consequence for failure, because he took it all, is to mind boggling to believe. It just can’t be that simple. And yet, despite it’s simplicity, what we wrestle with internally is the sin nature within us, vying for complete control of one’s own self, independence, and distrust of the character and goodness of God and we often find ourselves stuck here:
“The mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so. And those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” So again we find ourselves stuck.

The solution is faith, not works.

“if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord (God), and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, we shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-10.

If we believe in Him and place our faith in him that he is the messiah prophesied to come and redeem his people, and can understand that God loves ALL of us, and desires none of us to be outside of fellowship with him, our faith saves us, and we are born again. Symbolically, we die to our old sinful nature with his death on the cross where he takes all of our sin and shame, and even our sickness and infirmities onto himself on the cross, dying in our place – as death is the natural requirement to pay the consequences of sin – and in his resurrection, symbolically, we are raised to life with him, having the power and spirit of God now indwelling us to use that power of the new nature to exhibit self-control and resist the sinful temptations we face, and by his strength at work in us, we are given the power to overcome the sin nature still at war within us. His spirit gives us strength to choose or live according to the nature of Christ, and love when we thought we couldn’t, to really genuinely forgive when we felt incapable, to resist yielding to independence and
Ride, and the people pleasing, performance trap, and accept and receive God’s grace and unmerited favor towards us. We must only believe.

There is so much more to unpack about this simple, and yet so difficult concept to believe, about the love of God to plan a way to bring our wayward independent hearts back to a trusting relationship in the God who created us, loved us, grieved at our independence, pursued us with al, his heart and made a way for us to have a perfectly restored relationship with him. All our sins he remembers no more. When we believe in Jesus, all God sees is the blood that Jesus shed on our behalf, taking all our sin, shame and imperfections upon himself, and he just sees us as his creation, dearly loved by God.

I have much more to say on the subject but not enough time today! Stay tuned. I may unpack this unconditional love further in my Wednesday blog! And again next Monday, on understanding God’s love!

Stay tuned this Friday as well, as I discuss sexual abuse in my series on abuse on Fridays.

Take care, and God bless!


What is the gospel? Why is the message of Jesus good news? Why is it that his death and resurrection are so important in the christian message of God’s love and grace? And how does it help us, if we are locked away, stuck in a sinful condition, unable to help ourselves be sinless and perfect? Why is it important that Jesus rose from the dead to make the Christian religion credible? I believe the Christian message of God being perfectly loving and merciful and perfectly just to be fundamentally flawed without Jesus’ claim that he is God, and without his resurrection from the dead, and his sacrifice on the cross for sinful mankind, it is impossible for God to be both perfectly just and perfectly merciful. If he were perfectly just, he would have to punish every sin, making no one eligible on the basis of ‘works of righteousness’ to earn his favor, for everyone sins and fails and is flawed. But to compromise that justice, he would no longer be perfectly just. The same is true of his perfect mercy. If he were perfectly merciful, he would have to dismiss every single human sin and flaw, and compromise his standard of justice for the oppressed. How does he then remedy this problem? We continually make assaults against the character of God when some moral code is broken… Someone takes an innocent life and we are fuming inside at the injustice if it all, daring even to blame the God of heaven as to why he allowed this injustice to occur, standing idly by, appearing uncaring to our cause. Do we not see from this example alone that we are made in the image of God, sharing with him the same value of both mercy and justice? How then does this dilemma get resolved? What is the perfect solution to the mercy/judgment problem? I believe the answer lies in the person of Jesus Christ. If he is who he says he is -the son of God, (the second person of the triune Godhead), and if his claim, and the claims of the many witnesses who testified to the fact that he was indeed resurrected from the grave are indeed completely true, then Christ MUST be the messiah, sent to redeem mankind from something far more than the Jewish believers of his time period could see. He was after something so much more important than rescuing his people from the Roman occupation of the nation of Israel. He had a much greater mandate, a free gift offer to all who would receive his message, and was living out the grand narrative of the mission of God -to redeem the hearts of his creation back to himself!

We will circle back to that mission in a few minutes. Let’s explore a bit further. What is it in us that desires perfection so much, that we strive for it in every area of our life? What is it in us that if we fail, we lose all hope and believe we are a complete failure? What is it that causes us to want to earn favor, recognition, love, appreciation, affirmation, success? Is it not the very nature of the divine, indicating we were created in his image, his image that is perfect, and unflawed, unconditional, and unending? Why do we have trouble accepting death? As if innately, we knew death was never meant to be the natural condition of mankind? Why do we believe we have good within us and fight so hard against ‘the bad’ or ‘imperfect parts’ of our being? Because somewhere inside of us, we know. We know we were meant for more. Romans 1:19 suggests ‘that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them, for since the creation of the world his invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, having been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse”. The evidence is in. We have inherited qualities that God himself possesses, we long for (often unaware) that which was lost to us because of sin, independence and separation from God. For instance, the longing for love that completes us, that is fulfilling, and that never ends, we long for freedom, and mercy and justice and to be perfect. And I could go on and on. But we cannot earn perfection, and the human love we seek after is fundamentally flawed, it ends, it fails us, eludes us. The purpose we seek in life, we try and fill with lesser loves, like success in a career, and we are often still left unfulfilled. As if we were made for something more substantial to sustain the largeness of our hearts. We grieve and cry out against injustice, often unaware that the name for injustice comes from the root issue of sin. Someone’s sin and evil mistreatment of another. What is the solution to this madness? To the cycle we spend our lives on trying to live for ourselves and make ourselves happy, and work toward being perfect… For what? For who? Why?

And love… The pursuit that leaves us so often in so much pain…. I want to share this quote with you, before I delve into the solution that the godhead came up with that the early believers that Jesus was messiah simply called ‘the good news.’ Today, we will find out why. But first, let me share this quote with you, from C.S. Lewis:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be certainly wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it careful with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket -safe, dark, motionless, airless -it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable… The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.”
(The four loves)

And yet the solution to the inhumanity of man, is love.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

God is love.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever would believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor, love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

“greater love has no one than this; to lay his own life down for his friends.” john 15:13

Stay tuned…. Part 2 of ‘Good news – what is the gospel’ will be coming later this afternoon.

A Look At Idolatry


Two weeks ago on April 9th, we looked at a deep inward bankruptcy and our attempts to earn our way to God. We touched a little on the idol worship the nation of Israel was involved in that grieved God’s heart as it pulled away their faith and confidence and trust in him, shifting it to idols made out of stone, rather than dependence on the living God.

Today we are going to take a look at what kinds of idols Israel worshipped in the time of the writing of the Hebrew scriptures of the Old Testament, as well as taking a look at the idols of the New Testament era, and if we have time, perhaps I’ll give a few examples of modern day idols we worship today rather than God.

To understand idol worship a little more and how it was such an offense to God, we first should take a closer look at what happened when the nation of Israel was given the ten commandments by God.

What happened that day as Moses received the 10 commandments from the God of Israel, the creator of the universe, the God Christians believe in as well? The Israelites had agreed to enter a covenant with God, a contract, as it were, that consisted of blessings for obedience, and curses for disobedience. You can take a closer look at these blessings and curses in Deuteronomy 11 in the Old Testament. If we de-construct this to a modern day comparison, we can view this as a contract. If the two parties participating in the terms of the agreement are satisfied with the terms they will sign a contract including the consequences involved for breaking the agreement of the terms stated. we see a similar contract developing with God and the people of Israel. The people agreed wholeheartedly, wanting the blessings offered in this contract, and the terms seemed reasonable enough. As the 10 commandments state:

1.Don’t have any other gods before Me. (this is God speaking to Moses as he is giving the law he expects Israel to follow).
2.Don’t make any idols, in the image of anything in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth. Don’t worship them or serve them.
3.Don’t take the name of the Lord God in vain.
4.Remember the Sabbath (a day of rest) and keep it holy. You shall not do any work on this day.
5.Honor your father and mother that your days will be prolonged in the land which God gives to you.
6.You shall not murder.
7.You shall not commit adultery.
8.You shall not steal.
9.You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10.You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.

I read a quote once, that I absolutely love, on the subject of the ten commandments that I will share with you now, which at first, may seem to contradict everything that I am suggesting about some ‘standard’ that God has set, that we cannot attain to. But bear with me; I am taking you on a journey with me to discover what the heart of God for man is. Here is what Erwin McManus suggests on the subject of the Ten Commandments:

“The ten commandments are not heaven’s standards… They are not God’s attempt to pull us up beyond the human into the spiritual. The Ten Commandments are the lowest possible standard of humane living. Stop and consider what they demand of us. Maybe it would help if we just rephrased them in everyday language. Here goes: ‘hey could you stop killing each other? Oh, yeah, and by the way, could you not steal each other’s stuff? And it would be really helpful if you wouldn’t lie to each other and here’s a thought, could you not take other people’s husbands and sort of, like, keep your own? Upon reflection, these are unreasonable right? How could anyone be expected to live up to those? Only God could do that, right? Why don’t we get it? Anything below these standards is choosing to live like an animal, a barbarian. The Ten Commandments don’t call us to extraordinary life; they call us to stop dehumanizing each other. The law is the minimum of what it means to be human.”

When you look at it the way Erwin McManus puts it, it makes sense. Sounds like some good rules to live by to keep everybody happy and inherit massive blessings on top of it! Israel was IN! They agreed to the terms of the contract, little realizing how difficult it would be to follow. Little realizing that to God, this was more than a contract, this was His heart of love wanting to bless his people and have a close relationship with them. But as I mentioned in my blog two weeks ago, Israel strayed their commitment and affection from God to other things.

Some of the major idols in the BC (before Christ) era that Israel served were the gods of the Caananite people who controlled all the fertile valleys of the region at the time. The Caananites worshipped Baal and other deities that were known to be gods of fertility. It was natural to pray to these gods to hope for one’s crops to be good each year, as well as the very sexual content involved in the worship of these gods.

The erection of two golden calves in cult centers were also idols that were forbidden to be worshipped. These forms of worship were introduced from Assyrian and Babylonian worship that influenced Israel while they were in exile to foreign rulers.

“Israel’s calling was to the worship of the one true God. God’s election separated the people from unholiness and to himself as his special possession… God had chosen Israel and they were to worship and serve him only…the first commandment is to have no gods before God (Exodus 20:3). In addition, the construction of any images or the mention of other gods was forbidden” (taken from biblestudytools.com. )

Baal, according to the Caananite religion of the time, was considered to be the god of the rain, thunder, fertility and agriculture, and lord of heaven. In an arid land were agriculture was a thing of difficulty, it is no wonder people would turn to whatever God ‘specialized’ in the need at the present moment. Fast forwarding to the Roman and Greek culture that we are more familiar with in history, the same applies: pray to Aries the god of love, or to Aphrodite, the female sex goddess, or for peaceful journeys at sea, pray to Poseidon the god of the seas. Or Zeus, or Hades, god of the underworld. You prayed to whom you needed the most at the time.

Going back to Baal worship for a moment, back in the day, Baal worship consisted of child sacrifice, indecent sexual acts, and the reverence of creation over the creator. It would look a little like a bunch of people standing around the alter to Baal and burning a child on the altar, and then having a massive sex orgy, in the attempt to bribe Baal to bring rain and fertility to the land.

The goddess associated with Baal is Anat, like the goddess Ishtar, of love and war. She is believed to aid & support him in his conflicts and vindicating him in his losses. According to tradition, Caananites centered their worship around the male creator god, El, and his wife Asherah. Baal was the son of their union. Asherah was the chief female deity worshipped. Baal’s appearance was mostly in the form of a man with horns of a bull, carrying thunderbolts in his hand like his father. He would also appear in the form of a serpent. Asherah appeared mostly as an Asherah pole, a wooden figure depicting sexuality.

The problem the Living God of Creation had with these pagan idols was multi-fold. First of all, these idols were treated like household gods, in an attempt to get what they wanted, they would pray to the appropriate god, thus, treating all gods as a means to an end, out of selfish ambition. Second, these idols had turned Israel’s dependence and trust in God to other images of stone that were not gods at all, but mere idols and myth. God wanted his people to recognize that he was God over all, that HE in fact, was the God of creation, not El. That HE was the God of the rain, and the thunder and the water and all creation itself. Thirdly, creation itself was exalted higher than the God who created all things!! And finally, and most important, God loved his creation and wanted them to know his love, rather than exert their independence and trust in their own strength, or in fantasy rather than reality. He wanted them to know, according to Him, all other gods are no gods at all and have no strength or might or ability.

He alone is God. So here we have it… God is still trying to teach them (and us) to get it: He alone is God. “all other cisterns are broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

No other god, or created thing can fill us as He does. We were designed on purpose to connect to God, to be loved by God, to love him in return, to enjoy the community of oneness between us and the godhead, and to pass it on in the communities of our lives, our family, our friends, our community, our neighbors… Even our enemies, to extend compassion & love towards them.

Briefly, on idols today: anything we put our faith, confidence and assurance in MORE than God, is considered an idol. He wants us to rely on Him. After all, he is known as the Exer Kenegdo: “The One who comes through for”.

Katie Meilleur
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Waiting. Anticipation high. The air of expectancy of a Messiah to come and rescue the Jewish people from captivity. But the time of the Messiah was not quite ready. First we see the dreadful and terrible effects of the law working to expose sinful deeds.

As a generation, the Jewish people were turning their hearts away from the one true God, and looking to other false god’s, lesser gods that could not save them.

“…They did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood-idols that cannot see or hear or walk.” Revelation 9:20

“Do not turn to idols or make metal gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.” Lev. 19:4

“Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the Lord your God.” Lev. 26:1

“you have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourselves other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me.” 1 Kings 14:9

“They forsook all the commands of the Lord their God and made for themselves two idols in the shape of calves, and an Asherah pole. They bowed down to all the starry hosts, and they worshipped Baal.” 2 Kings 17:16

“They angered him with their high places; they aroused his jealousy with their idols.” Psalm 78:58

“Our God is in heaven, he does whatever pleases him. But their idols are silver and gold, made by human hands. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but cannot see.” Psalm 115:3-5

“Their land is full of silver and gold; there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of idols, they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made.” Isaiah 2:7-9

And the above passages are just a sampling of the turning away from the one true God, turning to lesser gods, the god’s of the people surrounding the nation of Israel.

So in turn, as a result of their turning away, the Lord allowed the nation of Israel to be taken into captivity in order to humble their hearts, that they would turn back and remember all the glorious ways the God of Israel had rescued them in the past, hoping they would turn back to Him with their whole heart so that He could cause a hero to rise among them and bring about their deliverance, so they might see that the God of Israel was not a mere idol, carved of wood and stone, but a living God, with great power beyond human ability. But over and over He would reveal this power, and over and over the love of God in the hearts of his people would turn cold as they would run after their lesser gods.

“My people have committed two sins; they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13

The worst was about to come. The kingdom of Israel would be ripped in two, and both kingdoms, the north and south, were inevitably doomed to be taken into captivity, first by the Assyrians, and finally, the Babylonians. Their temple destroyed, the worship that primarily had to do with the temple needed a new expression in a foreign land with no temple. The Israelites would need to come up with ways to renew their commitment to God and turn their hearts back to him. They came up with their own attempts to earn their way back to God, by coming up with new rules and laws, and ways of interpreting the scriptures. This of course would eventually become a stumbling block to them.

But here we are, at the turning point. The attempts of earning the favor of the living God, just as the surrounding nations have done for thousands of years, making sacrifices to appease their gods and seek to earn favor. The Jewish nation adopted this method by the laws they created for themselves to discipline themselves to follow God. But this was never what the God of the bible had intended. A God hungry for the love of his creation, whose primary objective was to love them and be loved and have the people experience and receive the love of God, they had now turned their faith into a list of do’s and don’ts, just as Christians have done as well. There is something about fallen sinful nature that is wired to “earn our way.”

This was never the plan. A radical shift of thinking would need to occur to understand God’s grand narrative -his remarkable plan of salvation. But when would it come? How long would they need to wait?

Stay tuned next week and the week after, as I dig a little deeper about what idolatry is defined as, and a look at the kinds of idols the Israelites worshipped thousands of years ago. And then there are the whispers of a savior, one like King David in the Old Testament, who would be the one to deliver the people of God from slavery. But would it look quite like the Jewish people were looking for, or would it possibly be fashioned in a different mould than was expected?


Last week I started this two part series on God’s grief and love for us. This is the part two of last weeks’s blog. Another excerpt from the book I’m writing.

” ‘For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.” Romans 11:32

God intends to show us mercy. God has envisioned a plan for our redemption. But before we see this plan unfold, we must take a painful look at God’s side of the story. The anguish and grief, the sorrow and anger that burns within him at our wayward condition, and his desperation to renew a right standing between God and mankind once again.

Let’s take a look at a few more passages so that we have a fuller understanding of this love story unfolding, a love story with a wounded lover, who has lost his wife to her unfaithfulness towards him.

“I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, the love of your betrothals, your following after me in the wilderness, through a land not sown… what injustice did your fathers find in me, that they went far from me and walked after emptiness and became empty?…Has a nation changed gods when they were not gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, o heavens, at this, and shudder, be very desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water… you are a swift she-camel running here and there sniffing the wind in her craving – in her heat, who can restrain her? Should I not punish them for this? Should I not avenge myself?” Jeremiah 2:2,5,11-13, 23; 5:9

And again the Lord expresses his frustration:

“You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill, there you went to offer your sacrifices. Behind your doors and doorposts you have put your pagan symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide and made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked with lust on their naked bodies.” Isaiah 57:7-8

“This is your lot, the portion measured to you from me, declares the Lord, because you have forgotten me and trusted in falsehood. So I myself have also stripped your skirts off over your face, that your shame may be seen. As for your adulteries, and your lustful neighing, the lewdness of your prostitution, on the hills in the field, I have seen your abominations…How long will you remain unclean?” Jer. 13:25-27

Perhaps the most passionate look at how God feels at our idolatry and turning away from him is found in Ezekiel 16:4-26:

“As for your birth, on the day you were born your navel cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water for cleansing, you were not rubbed with salt or even wrapped in cloths. No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you. Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born. When I passed by you and saw you squirming in your blood, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!’… I made you numerous like plants of the field. Then you grew up, became tall and reached the age for fine ornaments; your breasts were formed and your hair had grown. Yet you were naked and bare. Then I passed by you and saw you, and behold you were at the time for love; so I spread my skirt over you and covered your nakedness. I also swore to you and entered into a covenant with you so that became mine, declares the Lord God. Then I bathed you with water, washed off your blood from you, and anointed you with oil. I also clothed you with embroidered cloth, and put sandals on your feet; and I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your hands and a necklace around your neck. I also put a ring in your nostril, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown upon your head. Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your dres was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, honey, and oil, so you were exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty. Then your fame went forth from among the nations on account of your beauty, for it was perfect because of my splendor which I bestowed upon you, declares the lord. But you trusted in your beauty and you played the harlot because of your fame, and you poured out your harlotries on every passer-by who might be willing. And you took some of your clothes, made for yourself high places of various colors, and played the harlot on them, which should never come about nor happen. You also took your beautiful jewels made of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images that might play the harlot with them. Then you took your embroidered cloth and covered them, and offered my oil and my incense before them. Also, my bread which I gave for you, fine flour, oil and honey, with which I fed you and you would offer before them for a soothing aroma; so it happened, declares the lord. Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to me, and you sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small a matter? You slaughtered my children and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire. And besides all of your abominations, and harlotries, you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare and squirming in your blood. Then it came about after all your wickedness, that you built yourself a shrine and made yourself a high place in every square. You built yourself a high place at the top of every street and made your beauty abominable, and you spread your legs to every passer by to multiply your harlotry… to make me angry.”

In his anger, he rose up a prophet to experience what He himself experienced concerning our waywardness. The prophet Hosea. The Lord instructed Hosea to marry a prostitute and bring her into his home. Hosea experienced this same rejection as his wife left him after bearing two sons for him, and returned to her harlotry. The Lord instructed Hosea to go after his wife, and bring her back to live with him again, as the Lord has done repeatedly for us, pursuing us each time we are wayward and run off to serve lesser gods, the idols in our lives that replace him in our hearts.

Let’s listen to a little of the imagery once again, of God’s anger and his plan and intention to woo his wayward bride back to himself:

“Contend with your mother, contend, For she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. And let her put her harlotry away from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts, lest I strip her naked and expose her as on the day when she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, make her like desert land, and slay her with thirst. Also I will have no compassion on her children, because they are children of harlotry. For their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them acted shamefully. For she said, “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths. And she will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; and she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now… therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her… and she will sing there as in the days of her youth…and it will come about in that day, declares the Lord, that she will call me Ishi (husband) and will no longer call me baali (master).”

Hosea 2:2-7, 14, 16

Despite all of this painful imagery of a lover who has lost his loved one to her adulterous behavior in walking away from a beautiful relationship with her beloved, we hear him saying things such as this:

“Return to me, and I will return to you. Yet you have said harsh things about me. You have said, ‘there’s no pay off in this relationship. It’s not worth loving God.”

We also hear him say, ‘return faithless sons, and I will heal your faithlessness.” Jer. 3:22

“for I the lord, do not change… return to me, and I will return to you.” Malachi 3:6,7

“For I will not contend forever, neither will I always be angry, for their spirit would grow faint before me, and the breath of those whom I have made.” Isaiah 58:16

And again; “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

We see a God desperately in pursuit of redeeming a lost relationship, and willing to relent on his anger, seeking to find a way to close the ever widening gap between man and God. But do we see what is going on beneath the surface? Behind the scenes, there is a war going on. This same serpent, the devil, who we were introduced to in the preceding chapter, is on a mission… to woo our hearts away from the Living God. He is the one enticing us into our harlotries, by deceiving us and telling us that what he has to offer is better than what God would offer. We are still under his spell, the one that questions the goodness of the heart of God, which draws us away to lesser loves, and independence, and confidence in our own strengths and abilities. All the while, the real story happening here, is that this enemy is merely playing with us, like the pieces on a chessboard, discarding us when he no longer has need of us, all in the attempt to break the heart of God, because he lost the battle, because he could not overpower God. And we are blissfully unaware of this ongoing assault of the heart of God, nor are we aware of our part in breaking God’s heart. Until now.

At this point, in the divine timeline of a grand narrative underway, God is alone, on a mission to pursue a way to bring us back to his heart, to trust that his heart toward us is good, once again.

But there is hope coming:

“We hope for justice, but there is none, for salvation but it is far from us. For our transgressions have multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us. We know our iniquities, denying the Lord, and turning away from our God… Now the Lord saw and it was displeasing in his sight that there was no justice. And he saw that there was no man and astonished that there was no one to intercede…then his own arm brought salvation.” Isaiah 59:11-13,15,16

And there we have it, in the midst of a situation that looked hopeless, a people shut up in disobedience, unable to even turn to God on their own efforts, we hear the vague sound of a plan unfolding in the heavens… the sound of hope: ‘then his own arm brought salvation.’

As a result of this plan of salvation unfolding to restore mankind to right relationship with their god, we can foreshadow what this salvation would bring: the ability for God to say this to us and forever end the wrath of God toward his creation, because salvation would come in such an extraordinary way. When salvation would come, He would say to us once and for all:

“Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more” Hebrews 10:17″


“Here we are, in a desperate state of isolated independence from God, a loss of the relationship and perfect community designed by God. Now, we are living in the age of the fall, the era of mistrust, aloneness, pride, independence, fear, rejection, the pursuit to make a name for oneself, and the list goes on…to somehow deaden the blow of what is felt internally – bankruptcy of enormous proportions, a bankruptcy of the soul. Adam and Eve felt it immediately. Something had changed. They’d been ripped off. And they KNEW it. The eyes of their heart had been opened, and they understood that they had been deceived. They understood that the former intimacy had been robbed from them. Or so they thought. They understood that this knowledge was backfiring somehow. They thought they would be like God, but what had happened is that they had cut themselves off from the former enjoyment with God. But I doubt they fully understood why.
We are blessed that we have the story from beginning to end written out for us in the bible, but even in that, our eyes can remain blinded by deception for a lifetime, that we cannot see, nor understand this grand narrative that I am attempting to describe. (2 Cor. 14-18). Even as Christians it can take us years to finally figure out just how ‘deep the rabbit hole goes’ so to speak, in understanding the human condition, our spiritual bankruptcy, our fallen condition.

We touched on the wrath of God in the last chapter, arising out of a jealous love to protect the ones he loves, and are about to explore a little of God’s frustration, hurt, sense of betrayal and even anger, as he pours out his heart to the ones who have fallen away from him, all the while in a desperate pursuit to win back the heart of the one he loves, as he frequently refers to as his bride, in both the old and the new testament.

You see, our fallen human condition was not merely Adam and Eve alone in this fallen state, but every son and daughter since, has inherited this dreadful condition. As with all things, as a result of the fall, the condition atrophies, it worsens over time. It may have been a simple act of disobedience in the garden of Eden that day, but very soon after, we learn of a murder arising out of the condition of jealousy, among the children of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. And the more you progress in reading the old testament, the greater the atrocities of our sinful human condition emerge. You see King David taking another man’s wife as his own, and having her husband murdered, you see him refuse to do anything for his daughter who was raped, arising an outpouring of wrath among one of his sons adamant for justice, taking justice in his own hands and murdering the one who raped his sister. You see human sacrifices as the people God loved turned away from God and sought other gods and became obedient to the practices of child sacrifices to appease the gods they chose to serve, something that was abominable to the one true God. On and on it goes, the depravity of the human condition, unleashed as man takes matters into his own hands. In our day we see it too, the corruption in our governments, the pursuit of power at the expense of others, the lack of peace in Israel. War and terrorism becoming a real part of our world, and holocausts, killing off whole races of people because one race sees themselves as more superior than another. White supremacy, bringing other races into slavery and abuses of extreme conditions. Human trafficking – the lack of respect for the dignity of human life. Nuclear threats, you name it, not to mention the murders that take place in our own time, due to jealous rage, or racism, or whatever the root cause may be… it all comes back to our sinful, inward condition of waywardness from the intentions God desired for us. It is the result of our falling away from a real and living God who loves us. In our independence, we thought our own human effort was good enough to resolve the condition of the world, ignorant and unaware that coming from a place of fallenness, could not possibly result in a perfect solution.

And so we come to see the grief of God, and his anger at the atrocities he sees in the world.
We first see this great grief expressed in Genesis 6:5: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” In his anger, he said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land… for I am very sorry that I have made them.” This is the cry of a broken heart. For those of you who know the rest of the story, God found a man who was righteous before God, Noah, whom God chose to be the man whom he would rebuild the human race with, after he chose to flood the earth in an attempt to rid the earth of the violence of mankind. When all was said and done, God was again grieved and his anger subsided and he vowed he would never again destroy the whole earth by giving us the sign of the rainbow. But then again… some time later, wickedness arose so desperately in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, that the outcry of their evil deeds arose to God’s attention. He decided to wipe out the whole city. But Abraham interceded to God to spare the city, as he bartered with God from 50 men who were found to be righteous, down to 10. In the end, not 10 were even found righteous, and God allowed the city to burn up in smoke, after allowing the few people in the city who still feared God to flee for their safety.

It is difficult for us to look at these stories and see that God is a loving God that cares for us. When we see his wrath and his anger, we once again, from our fallen condition, reject him still further and wander farther off from him, not seeing his side of the story, his broken heart. His grief at our waywardness. His desire for a community of unity, rather than one that breeds hatred, isolation, and cruelty.

Let us take a closer look at how he feels toward us, this jilted lover, who is broken up over our wandering away from the love and fellowship he desired to share with us.
Listen to his heart:
“I long to be gracious to you. You are precious and honored in my sight, because I love you.”
“From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him” Psalm 103:17
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you. Therefore he will rise to show you compassion. For the lord is a god of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.” Isaiah 30:18
“Love each other, as I have loved you.” John 15:12
“For God so loved the world…” John 3:16a
“As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so your God will rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5
“The Lord God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and truth, who keeps his lovingkindness for thousands, and forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. Yet he will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…”
“I have loved you, says the Lord, but you say, “how hast thou loved us?” Malachi 1:2a

Here we see a developing theme of his great unshakeable love for us. But we also see He is equally a God of justice. We complain ever so readily when we feel that God has been unjust, and yet, every time he displays his acts of justice, we assume that he is cruel and lacks mercy. Exactly like this last quote we just read out of Malachi, where the Lord is speaking to us telling us that he has loved us, but complains that we say back to him, ‘how have you loved us?’ because we cannot believe. We are all locked in this state of blindness and hostility toward God, that we cannot turn to him even if we will it, by our own might. “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God, and it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh, cannot please God.” Romans 8:7,8.

God intends to show us mercy. God has envisioned a plan for our redemption. But before we see this plan unfold, we must take a painful look at God’s side of the story. The anguish and grief, the sorrow and anger that burns within him at our wayward condition, and his desperation to renew a right standing between God and mankind once again.”

The above is an excerpt from the book I’m writing, called Found Wanting. I think I will leave it there for now.

Next Monday, I will try and attempt to unpack how desperately God loves and longs and yearns for relationship with us.

What is sin?


“What is sin? What is “the fall of man” really about? Several months ago, God began a major journey of discovery for me… I thought the initial discussion between me and God was about faith. But He kept taking me elsewhere… as if to say, before you can understand the roadblocks you’ve struggled with your entire life about faith, you need to understand the foundation of the problem. And that problem- is sin. And He began to open my eyes to understand what sin really is.

What went wrong? Why, how… did we lose out on fellowship with God? Well… ‘the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.’ Gen. 3:1. The great enemy of God, the accuser of those who believe in him, who had a vendetta against God since before the foundation of time, had it out for us, had an evil intention to break up the relationship God had in mind for us.
Lucifer, once an angel of God, the covering cherub of the glory of God, had become proud in his heart thinking he could become as powerful as God himself. The following passage taken from Isaiah 14:12-15, is often referenced to refer to Lucifer’s fall:
“How you have fallen from heaven, o star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven, I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the most High. Nevertheless, you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.”

And again in revelation it references a war that takes place in heaven between Michael and satan, also called Lucifer, as a result of his rebellion against God:
“And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”
As a result of his defeat in this great war in the heavens, the fallen angel, Lucifer, (which means morning star) now referred to as Satan or the devil, went off to make war with the people that God had created. His plan: if he could not physically overpower God to become equal to, or more powerful than God, he would break God’s heart, by breaking the fellowship between God and mankind whom he had created to enjoy and experience the bond of love and community with him.
So now we fast forward again to the garden of Eden. All of this previous detail is the prequel to the events described in the first few chapters of Genesis. So essentially, we find, just like a movie might start, we aren’t necessarily starting at the beginning of the story. Yes, it is the beginning of the story of how earth came to be, and the business of God’s creating, and the beginning of mankind. But here, scattered throughout the bible, we see that there were things happening prior to creation. In Hebrews 11:3, we see that ‘by faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Suggesting then, that what is unseen is more real than what is seen with the naked eye. Again in Ephesians 1:4 we find that there were things going on before the actual business of creation:
“just as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him, In love, he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of his will.”
And to Job, a man who endured many trials in his lifetime, through a series of great losses, God speaks to him, when Job cries out to the Lord for a response as to why all the misfortune he has experienced, God replies: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth, tell me if you understand. Who set its measurements… who laid it’s cornerstone?” (Job 38:4-6)
So we come to know that the back drop to creation suggests there were things happening before we came to be… before we were a glimmer in God’s eye.
And when we came on the scene… we were already in the middle of an ongoing conflict between a fallen, angry angel, with hell bent fury and vengeance on his heart against the heart of God. How could a defeated foe vanquish his enemy who is more powerful than he is? Aim for his heart. Aim for the crown of his glory, the created beings made in his likeness. Made to display the glory of God. Remember, Satan once was the ‘covering cherub’ of the glory of God. Now he’s jealous, as God has a plan to extend this glory to mankind.
Innocent and unaware of this drama unfolding, mankind enters the scene. Act 2, Scene 1. The garden of Eden.
Enter the serpent: Lucifer. Satan. The deceiver.

So how did he do it? How did the serpent make his assault against God? He went after his beloved creation. He enticed us to question the very character and nature of God. “Did God really say?” he asks, planting a seed of doubt in our ability to recollect what God had spoken. Followed by a bold lie, “You will not surely die!” God is LYING to you. He is holding out on you. He is NOT to be trusted.
Let’s look at the passage before we unpack this further:
“(the serpent) said to the woman, “indeed, has God said, You shall not eat from ANY tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, ‘from the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat, but from the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘you shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’ And the serpent said to the woman, “you shall not surely die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves…coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid themselves from the presence of…God among the trees of the garden.” Gen. 3:1-8

Even as I type this, I feel like weeping. I have come to know the heart of God for mankind, and can only imagine the sorrow and sadness God felt at this broken fellowship. But so ingrained, and so deeply did the lie permeate the entire being of the man and his wife, that trusting God was broken. They embraced the lie, fully. And the community that God intended… was broken. Between God and man, and between the man and his wife. Let’s take a look at that for a moment. The woman made an independent decision to eat of the fruit, and though Adam was with her, theirs was a partnership of mutuality, and as a result of making that independent decision, she isolated herself from the man. When God called for them in the garden that afternoon, what did they do? They hid themselves from him. He invited them to come back to relationship, but their shame had caused them to hide, and they refused to come out of their hiding, so they cut off that fellowship of trust between them and God because a seed of doubt in his character had been planted. Thrust into isolation, God asked them, still reaching out, “what happened?” Adam, making the isolation permanent, responds, “It was the woman’s fault. She did it.” And instead of taking responsibility for his own actions, because he WAS WITH her when she ate, and he chose independently to eat as well, passed the blame, isolating himself from the woman. The woman then blamed the serpent causing the cycle of rejection to be made complete. The man and the woman were left alone, dependent neither on God nor each other, and sin was born.
Now you may say, that’s fine, but that doesn’t have anything to do with me. I wasn’t there, I didn’t make that choice, we need to take a look at what it means to inherit sin nature.
For those of you reading this, that aren’t quite sure what you believe about sin nature being inherent, or the concept of original sin, passed down from adam and eve to the rest of us, without getting too technical, let me ask you this: Do YOU trust God? Do YOU believe that his heart for you is good? Have you ever felt an inclination to disobey a command from your parent to “not” do something, and you did it anyway, feeling that independence/rebellious nature within you, rising to rear it’s ugly head? Have you ever indulged in the urge to protect yourself and defend yourself when you are ‘caught’ doing something you know you shouldn’t do? (like speeding on the highway, or making a big blunder at work, and wanting to pass the blame on someone else, or at least refuse to take responsibility for your actions?) Have you ever tried to protect yourself when someone accuses you, falsely or otherwise, because there is something inside you that needs to justify yourself?
What is that? It’s independence. It’s rebellion. It’s self-protection. Call it what you like. It’s sin nature exerting itself in you. It’s that “I can make it on my own’ attitude, the “I have no one to rely on but me, so I have to defend myself’ idea. It’s because of isolation from the foundational relationship of trust between God and man. But trust was broken. But perhaps this is just where the deception comes in. Adam and Eve believed that God has broken trust with them because he was ‘holding out on them.’ But has he? Were they not the ones who broke his trust?

What is a person to do, when trust is broken? Now keep in mind, we haven’t even established whether God has broken trust with man or not, but in this story, Adam and Eve believe God has broken trust. He lied to them, they perceive. What do you do when you think someone has broken trust? You defend. You keep your distance, you become skeptical of their every move, or their intentions. You separate yourself, emotionally, or physically to keep from being taken advantage of. You no longer trust them, so you harden your heart toward them. Intimacy is broken. The relationship is then torn apart. There is a rift between the two. It takes more than a little work to re-earn trust once it has been broken. Even then, some relationships never achieve the former intimacy they once enjoyed. What’s worse is when you find yourself in God’s shoes, as in this scenario with Adam and Eve. Where you have been accused falsely of something you haven’t done, and people who once were close to you, believe the accusations against you and their trust in you has become broken. And you didn’t even do anything wrong.

This, has been the single most enlightening concept that God has revealed to me in recent months: Independence.

Sin… is independence from God. It is choosing to go our own way. It is believing that the very heart and nature of God toward us is NOT GOOD. That He is NOT to be trusted. He is holding out on us somehow. Therefore, we must take matters into our own hands, and look out for ourselves.”

What you have just read is another excerpt from the book I am writing, called “Found Wanting”. This particular chapter takes a look at the concept of original sin, and the heart of God to have a relationship with us and how one big lie drove us far away from believing a simple concept: that God is love. God is good. His heart for us has always been good, but we have hardened our hearts to Him, and go our own way, not believing & trusting in all that He has for us, thereby living far beneath the destiny and intended purpose & inheritance He had planned for us.

But hope is coming… God did not plan for us to remain in exile from himself. He was already putting together a plan of redemption. Stay tuned for further updates and excerpts of my writing in the weeks to come!

Perceptions about Christians


So I mentioned on Monday that today I would blog about the perceptions many people hold in north America about Christians, church and religion. Most of these opinions are negative, according to statistics.

This particular subject is actually something I am extremely passionate about. I strongly believe that God is relevant for today’s society. For years, the age of enlightenment has taught us that we outgrew God. That modern science would replace our need for God, or at least prove He doesn’t exist. As much as I would like to delve further into that subject, I will save that for another time. The point is, the current trend that is taking place, at least in North America, is a moving away from the modern era, and moving steadily towards what people are deeming the next wave, calling it post-modernism. What are the differences you might ask? Well, in a nutshell, instead of leaning heavily on the sciences, and modern intelligence, a new generation is emerging that is extremely spiritual, and hungry for spiritual meaning. Now, you might think that is great news for modern religions, such as Christianity, that work to proselytize new believers to the faith.

Instead, what is actually taking place, is a movement away from traditional religions in their purest form, such as Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, the Muslim religion, and others. What IS happening, however, is that people are finding a sort of ‘choose your own adventure’ sort of faith, mixing varying traditional religious beliefs from many of the above religions, and then some, adding their own ideas & values, forming the ‘god’ that suits them best. A god that most represents themselves individually, forming something that people have best labeled, ‘tolerance.’ It’s the concept that you can believe what you want, and I’ll believe what I want, and we will respect each other’s opinions.

Now, for me, coming from a Christian upbringing, what I personally see out of that, is merely that we have become gods to ourselves as a generation who has been dis-enchanted and disillusioned by the traditional modern faiths of our time. What it looks like from my perception, is that we gave up on something greater than ourselves, and must rely on our own selves instead. The problem with this, I fear, is that… What if we’re wrong? What if there is absolute truth? What if there is a solid foundation to be grounded on? What if we are just floating around believing in whatever we ‘feel’ is best for us, and the same thing happens all over again? Another wave of disillusionment that comes from recognizing that what we have put our faith in (ourselves) is not enough. Then where will we turn? Because obviously, modernism and science did not feed the hunger in our souls for a god. What if our own melting pot of ideas, borrowed from this faith and that, does not accomplish the fulfillment or completion, or enlightenment we are looking for? What will we do then to fulfill this spiritual hunger that is escalating to an all-time high? Whether we admit it or not, we are hungry, as I mentioned on Monday, for purpose, a sense of meaning as to why we are here, a need for destiny, intimacy and hope.

The problem for those who admit they are hungry for something more, and are searching for truth, come up empty, raised without knowledge of the varying religious beliefs out there, many come out empty, wondering… “well, just what IS the right religion, or the one that holds truth?” But most people looking for faith in something often look elsewhere other than to the beliefs of Christianity, because of a very negative stigma the church carries. Sadly, they are right. It is true that some of Christian history is muddied by horrible atrocities done in the name of Christ, such as the crusades, using the predominant religion of it’s time, to justify a lust for power and conquest for control. The same could be said of Hitler and the holocaust. Hitler believed that he was a christian, and was quoted saying, “I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the almighty creator… I am fighting for the work of the Lord”. Persecution of the Jews, and murder were never the teaching of Jesus himself. Neither was the quest for power and control and pride. He spoke that the meak would inherit the earth, not the power hungry. He himself, was a Jew, why would he instruct his followers to persecute those he loved so dearly? It is sad to see how religion used for politics and military conquest can become something so totally against the teachings of Jesus.

But more recently, and before I get too far off track, the more current complaints against Christianity and perceptions of its faith, according to recent statistical research conducted by The Barna group, the main concerns people hold of Christians and their faith, are these 6 issues:

1. Christians are hypocritical.
2. Christians are only interested in getting converts to their faith.
3. Christians are anti-homosexual.
4. Christians are sheltered, disconnected from current culture, and therefore irrelevant.
5. Too political.
6. Judgmental.

Sad, but true. As Ghandi summed it up: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” Amen to that Ghandi!

My passion, as a believer in Jesus, is to see Christians become like our Christ. Because the message Jesus preached was grace and love, and called himself “the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

“For God so loved the world, that he sent his only son, that whoever believes in him, shall have eternal life.” John 3:16

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent us his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1John 4:10.

I believe Jesus is relevant to our emerging post modern culture, as a viable option to fill the deep spiritual hunger of this age. My mission: to see the Christians become like their Christ, and to erase the negative stigma the church currently holds as judgmental, hypocritical, sheltered, etc, as were mentioned above, and to become a solution to human need, instead of being part of the problem.

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