Tuesday, August 25, 2009

forests and trees

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 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." Genesis 2:15-17

I have read the Genesis creation account many times. Recently, this forbidden fruit has been giving me fits. It's such a strange name for a tree… 'the tree of the knowledge of good and evil'… I kept having this nagging thought - 'what's so bad about having knowledge of good and evil?' After all, isn't it good to know what you should stay away from? So why is the knowledge of good and evil a bad thing? Furthermore, why have I never stopped to think about the name of this tree in the past? Scripture can be such a strange and wonderful thing when you dig into it.

I started thinking about this tree from the perspective that we all have the capacity to engage in great evil. Yet we also have a sense of how good we could be. And perhaps the answer to the mystery of this forbidden fruit lies in that gap between the "good" we want to be and the reality of who we are. I would say this gap is the source of guilt, frustration, discontentment, yearning, etc. Who we are is not who we think we should be. Said another way, real is not ideal. Yet this comparison and frustration could not exist without the knowledge of good and evil. Prior to eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were free. They were more free than we have ever been. The introduction of the knowledge of good and evil was the death of this freedom. Look at the shame and guilt that immediately followed. Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness. They made clothes and hid from God. Maybe there is a lot of truth to the old saying "ignorance is bliss". It seems there are certain things God never intended us to know.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

"I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:1-3

When you read the scriptures above, you hear the promises God made to Abraham (he was still 'Abram' at the time). Essentially the promises are that he will father a great nation, his name will be famous, this nation will be blessed, and the whole world will be blessed through him. As far as I can tell, none of these promises had come to pass by the time Abraham died. Think about that for a minute. We get impatient when God doesn't answer right away. Fast-forward a few hundred years from Abraham's death and you find his offspring to be quite numerous. Even so, they are a slave people in Egypt. Can you imagine being a young Hebrew slave in Egypt hearing the stories about the promises God made to Abraham. As that young Hebrew slave, your dad, your grandpa, and your grandpa's grandpa all lived their lives as slaves. It must have been hard to have faith in these promises of being a great blessed nation through which the world would be blessed. Today, we can see how all God's promises to Abraham have been kept. To have an eternal perspective takes a great deal of patience. It's hard to wrap my brain around the fact that some of the seeds I plant right now may not bear fruit for years… perhaps even 400 years. But just thinking about that fact helps me persevere even when I start to think my efforts are all for nothing.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Acts 27 and 28 document Paul's journey to Rome as a prisoner. It's an interesting journey to say the least. Among other things, there is a hurricane, a shipwreck, a snake bite with no ill effects, and a host of healings. Read it this week if you get a chance. The part of the story we are focusing on is when they are in the midst of being tossed about by the storm. It's shortly before they run aground just off the shore of Malta.

But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, 'Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.' So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island." On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep. Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved." So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away.

Do you see how the sailors don't have the same faith as Paul? Sometimes experience can lead to self-reliance instead of God-reliance.

Do you see how the lifeboat needs to be cut loose in order for the voyage to remain on the path God revealed to Paul? Sometimes our "lifeboats" are our biggest liabilities. You may call it a lifeboat or a safety net or an escape hatch. They are the back-up plans we have in case God's path takes us too far out of our comfort zone. "I trust you God but not enough to abandon my avenue of retreat"…

A couple examples may help illustrate:
- Marital storms are inevitable. God can use these storms to help spouses grow closer together... Unless one of them is hauling around the divorce "lifeboat".
- You may be tempted to jump into the questionable ethics "lifeboat" because of pressure to perform at your work place.
- How often do we rely on the not gonna tithe "lifeboat" because money is tight right now?

Think this week about your own "lifeboats". Is there some safe ground you run to every time God's plan gets uncomfortable? Or are you learning to trust him completely?

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, August 3, 2009


Since using the blog for the first time last week, I've spent some time trying to post past topics on the site. If you look in the left hand column of this website, you'll see that I started from the oldest posts and I'm working my way forward. I'm about halfway through 2006 as I write this. It's interesting to go back through these old posts. Walking back through these topics has been a lot like walking back through a journal. I come across topics related to areas in which I'm certain I've grown quite a bit since writing the original topic. But I also come across topics related to areas where I've had little or no growth. Even some areas where I think I may have been more mature back when I wrote the original message. Some topics remind me of periods when my prayer life was very active and others bring back memories of when it was weak to say the least. It's all very humbling and it's given me a new sense of brokenness. If you don't currently keep your own journal, let me highly recommend it. It will help you see growth that's so slow, you wouldn't see it otherwise. It will help you see stagnation that otherwise may have gone undetected. It will help you recognize answered prayer and it will make you thankful that some prayers are answered with a "no". Most of all, it will help you to see Him in more and more areas of your life.

On a side note, If you have something to add to one of the topics, simply click the "comment" tab at the bottom of the post on which you wish to comment. You will have the option of posting with your name or anonymously.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,