Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Stop following the crowd

Following up on my last post, I am struck by how Abraham had to go it alone. This is in contrast to the crowd mentality seen in the builders of the Tower.

It isn't easy to stand alone in alone in one's belief's, but the fact is if we are going to follow God and his truth, we will most likely find ourselves not joining the crowd.

There is something comforting about going along with what others are saying or doing. Like the builders of the Tower, we find security in our joint efforts. It often appears that it is the majority that gets things done, and that life would be better for us when we commit ourselves to their agenda. But is that really true.

Perhaps Abraham learned his lesson from Noah, who alone in all the world remained faithful to God. In the end only he survived. Abraham understood that the crowd's view of life was no indicator of what was right, good, or lasting.

Actually it is not just the fact that the crowd is doing this or that which makes their actions right or wrong. It all has to do with God's truth and his ways. What we need to do is learn to hear God, like Abraham and Noah, and live according to his leading instead of taking our cues from those around us. As we walk with God we may find others walking with us. Other times we will be very alone. However many we see around us, we need to stop figuring out life based on what others are doing just because they are doing it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Abraham followed God's initiative

I don't think it an accident that the stories of the Tower of Babel and the call of Abram (Abraham) follow each other (with the genealogy of Abram in between).

The story of Babel is about the plans and ingenuity of the human race acting our of a desire for security and greatness. This united expression of humanity embarked on a grand building project in the pursuit of self-made goals. The high level of communication enjoyed by people at that time allowed them to basically accomplish anything they wanted.

Sadly our ancestors could not foresee that our ability would actually work toward our own destruction. And so God confused our language, putting ahead to their grand scheme.

Then we read of Abram, called by God to leave what was familiar and live as a stranger in a foreign land. God promised not only to bless him, but also to bless the whole world through him.

The builders of Babel were self assertive, self seeking, and preservationist. Abram was responsive, serving, and vulnerable. Abram also had no crowd to follow. While having his household, he spent the last several decades of his life a foreigner in a foreign land, different from those around him.

The results? The tower is deserted, while the multitude of Abraham's descendants have enriched the world. The plans of the many brought confusion and disunity, while the most wonderful, multi-national family has been built through Abraham's greatest son, Yeshua of Nazareth.

Doing our own thing in our own way whatever our motive is always doomed to disaster. While those things that truly last are those which are initiated by God.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

God wants our best

The book of Genesis provides us with very foundational truths. When God
placed our first parents in the garden , they had everything at their disposal except for one: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. According to God. eating of that tree would have devastating consequences. This was not an arbitrary restriction place on Adam and Eve, it was a loving directive given us by our loving Creator.

Note that this was not God's only directive at that time. Adam and Eve were given the task of overseeing the planet, which gave them a lot to do to keep them busy. The command not to eat of the tree was their only restriction, and yet they doubted God's integrity and chose the way of death over the way of life.

So it is today. God continues to point us in the way of life and warns us of the consequences of bad choices. His directives are not arbitrary. He loves us, and wants the best for us. And we will discover his best as long as we live according to his directives.

Friday, October 29, 2004

God made us good

There is a concept that has had a stranglehold on the lives of many believers and that is that people are basically evil.

Theologically, there is truth in what is called "Total Depravity." But that has to do with the fact that there is nothing we ourselves can do to merit God's favor. When God created the human race, we, like the rest of creation, were created good. Our first parents' rejection of God's instructions profoundly affected our nature, but did not eradicate the image of God in us. While we cannot claim moral goodness due to our inherited sin nature, there is much of God's goodness still in all people.

Some people say that we don't deserve God's love. While it is true that we deserve the consequences of our wrongs, God loves us, because we are his creatures. He looks upon us with compassion, desiring to bestow mercy on us. He loves us so much that he sent his Son to rescue us. We are truly worth something in his eyes.

Not only do we still possess the image of God, those who have been restored to right relationship with God have been given new hearts in which God himself dwells. In spite of this, many believers still think that their hearts are wicked. While it is true that there is a struggle in our hearts, the true believer has experienced a radical internal change. God is working both in and through us. The presence of God in the believer ensures the good is the greater force.

For a more thorough treatment of this issue, I recommend John Eldredge's "Waking the Dead - the Glory of a Heart Fully Alive."

Friday, July 23, 2004


When I study the Scripture, I attempt to keep away from speculating as much as possible. I know that this is difficult to do, since I come to the Scriptures with my own set of understands, and I am not always aware of the source of these understandings. That is one of the reasons why we need to read the Bible over and over again. It is by continually re-reading that our wrong assumptions and interpretations are challenged.

Last night I was discussing the big subject of "what is the purpose of life?" with a friend of mine. At some point he referred to God regularly spending time with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. I have heard references to this regularly. Preachers will mention how God used to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the day, etc. But the fact is the Bible only records one incident of this (Genesis 3:8), after Adam and Eve sinned.

The Genesis account provides us with no information as to how much time went by between God's putting them in the garden and when they sinned. It may have been a short time or a long time; we don't know. We may think it would be interesting to know, but if it would do us well to know this information, then God would have provided it in the Scriptures.

Therefore I don't think it is worthwhile or helpful to us to spend time and energy extrapolating meaning from silence. We would do much better to consider the things that have been revealed, rather than thinking about things we don't know anything about.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

My understanding of Torah

The word Torah means "direction." It is God's direction for life. While the five books of Moses are traditionally referred to as "The Torah," the Torah is actually all God's revelation, primarily and authoritatively contained in the Bible (both Old and New Covenant writings).

Torah is not about rules, but about the ways of God. It requires the wisdom of God (see the Book of Proverbs) to understand how to apply what God says to our lives.

That doesn't mean God has no rules - far from it! But his rules are his directions for successful living, not cold restrictions to prevent us from living well. Some of his directions are restrictive, but that is because we need to learn that not all potential activity is good for us. All God's directives are for our good and for our true freedom.