I have always had a pretty strong competitive streak in me. It is hard to over state how strong this streak is. Before I learned how to manage it on some level, there were a lot of tears when I lost. But, I was just an okay athlete. I've never been especially gifted from an athletic perspective. I played football in high school and I lettered, but I never got any accolades beyond simply lettering. I was a descent basketball player, baseball player, and so on, but I was never really good at any of those things. My competitiveness was far beyond my giftedness. One of the ways this would often present itself was during gym class. While I was rarely chosen last for dodgeball or whatever the game was, I was also never really chosen first. It was always emotional trauma when I wasn't chosen right away. As I grew older, I learned to hide the emotional trauma, but it was still there. Being chosen, is so important, but in this broken world, we are often not chosen, at least not like God has chosen you.
Maybe you don't care about sports and aren't that competitive, but you know what it means to be chosen. So much of the time we think that being chosen is an expression of love and appreciation...that is true on some level. The great news is this, God chooses, and He chooses you.
Read Eph. 1:1-4
Wow, there is a lot there in that passage, and a lot of it requires more that we will get to right now. That said, I want you to see how God chooses. Many theologians have gone deep into the weeds about this idea of what it means that God chooses someone. Those conversations are worth having, but don't go further into those weeds than you are ready for. Here is the simply reality. If you respond to God's love expressed most fully in Jesus Christ, you are chosen by God. Forget being chosen to be on a gym class dodge ball team, you have been chose by the savior of the universe, IF you accept Jesus as you savior. You should walk around with your head high, with courage, and with fervor, because you have been chosen by God.
Take some time to thank God for choosing you!!
Francis Schaeffer, C. S. Lewis, and perhaps more recently John Piper or Tim Keller have made a significant impact on the church. They have written books, written articles, and produced other content that has challenged and encouraged the body of Christ in significantly positive ways. Lewis's book The Abolition of Man continues to be under rated and significant in teaching us what it is to be strong in our values. Most people never have that kind of opportunity to make that kind of an impact on a larger group of people.
The reality is we are a lot more powerless than we think. This is certainly true on a spiritual level. We are completely powerless. Maybe that sounds depressing, but it shouldn't. God meets us in our powerless state and does for us what we can't do for ourselves. This is out of God's great love for us.
Read Romans 5:6-11
God doesn't wait for us to get our act together, He doesn't wait for us to acquire power. He does what we can't do for ourselves. He meets us in our sin with His redemption in the person of Jesus Christ.
Take some time to contemplate what it means to be powerless and what it's like to experience God's love that requires nothing from us. God loved us in our most unloveable state...how great is that? Take some time to express thanks to God and bask in His love and redemption.
I'm not sure what it is, but it seems men have a hard time finding things...unless that thing being searched for is a tool they used 6 months ago in the garage, then they know exactly where it is. If the said object is n the kitchen, there is a good chance I could be looking directly at it and somehow still not see it. But, I promise I am not blind. True blindness is hard to imagine. Absolutely no light of any kind, no motion, no depth perception, no anything. Deafness, true deafness (also something I am sometimes accused of) is also hard to imagine. Yet, in a spiritual sense, the world is both blind and deaf.
Read Isaiah 6:
Isaiah the prophet was confronted with the glory of Jesus and he had an immediate response - he recognized his own brokenness. "Woe is me..." the prophet said. Isaiah didn't stay in that moment of brokenness and neither should we, but we all should have that moment and recognize how broken we are. We should recognize that apart from the Holy Spirit we too are blind and deaf just like the people Isaiah was going to preach to.
Isaiah's moment didn't last long as the angel touched his lips with the coal from the altar. What a picture of God's grace. This man of unclean lips has his lips touched with this coal from the altar, a picture of God's cleansing and restoring power. The altar is a place of sacrifice and worship. Isaiah sins were covered, cleansed, and propitiated. So too are ours.
Have you ever taken time to think about your own brokenness? Our identity is restored in Jesus, but seeing our own brokenness apart from Jesus helps us to see the glory of God's amazing grace. After considering that brokenness, rest in God's grace and thank Him for it.
Have you ever been in front of one of those mirrors that makes you look tall, skinny, or distorts the reflection in some other way? Those mirrors might lose their luster, so to speak, as you get older. Nevertheless, they are an apt illustration for us and our ability to reflect the glory of God in His creation. There are two true things that we must consider:
We may be broken mirrors in some respects, but God is the great mirror fixer. God's grace is bigger than our brokenness.
What areas of brokenness have you hung on to that you need to let God address? Do you really believe God's grace is bigger than your mistakes and mess ups? If so, are you willing to put those things at the foot of the cross?
Take some time and revel in God's grace!
Yesterday (Monday) I did a funeral and not long after I was done with that I received news that a teacher at my sons school (where I sit on the board and volunteer in other ways) had unexpectedly passed away. Those kinds of days are difficult in a number of ways. I then had to break the news to my son that this teacher had passed away. He is a strong young man and I think he is dealing with it relatively well, considering.
As difficult as yesterday was, those days happen. And as tragic as it is, everyone faces death eventually. The question is, why is death, specifically the death of other people so hard for us? If it happens to everyone, why don't we just see it as the cycle of life and move on? The answer is simple really. People are created in God's image and when they die it is tragic, it is painful, and we often view it as unexplainable.
Read Gen. 9:1-7
This is the Noaic Covenant and the creation mandate from Gen. 1-2 is restated. So is the important reality that people still, even after Adam and Eve sinned, maintain God's image.
How does this reality, even in our broken world impact our view of others? How does it impact our view of ourself? How does this explain how we feel about the loss of human life?
Broken identities are real, we all have one. Maybe you were told as a child that you were a failure, insignificant, or worse. Maybe you think you caused some tragic event or set of events in your past and you think you can't do anything right. Maybe you have embraced the idea that you are better than the people around you in some way and have grabbed on to an identity that deceives yourself. The truth is we have all believed in some false identity in some way at some point.
Sin is real and it impacts how we see ourselves and how we see the world. If we give up our identity as image bearers of God and embrace false identities damage will be done to our souls even if those false identities provide short term happiness or relief.
Read Mt. 4:1-11. As you do think about what Satan wants Jesus to do. What does it have to do with Jesus' identity? How does Satan tempt you to forsake your God created identity as an image bearer of God? Spend some time praying and asking God to help you stay focused on your identity and how you might reflect God in His creation through your work, school, neighborhood, etc.
Read Gen. 5:1-3
Identity is really important. My kids are, in some sense, in my image. It isn't exactly the same as being created in God's image. We are not God's children in the exact same way that my kids are my children, but there is a similarity. The same kind of language used of Adam's creation is also used of Adam and his children. In the ancient world, a son was considered to represent his dad and his dad's business. Often there was a certain amount of authority that came along with being the son. In the gospels we see this in the language of Jesus, especially in the gospel of John. Jesus was about the work of the Father. His mission, if you will, was to do what the Father was asking of Him (John 6).
In the same way, we are about God's mission. We were created in God's image and with that comes purpose, meaning, and mission. That's right, we are on mission! Your life has purpose and it isn't your job. That doesn't mean you job isn't important or that it isn't a calling on a certain level, but it does mean it is not your ULTIMATE purpose.
Paul reminds us in his letter to the church in Corinth that everything we do is for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). That is what being created in God's image is about, bringing glory not to ourselves, but to God.
What is on your calendar today? Take a few minutes and review the meetings, work, job, dinners, etc. that are coming up today and in the next few days. Now, take some time to think about how you might bring glory to God in those things...now, make it happen!
According to Psychology Today 85% of people world wide have poor self-esteem. That is to say they see themselves in a negative light. That is a huge percentage of people. In many ways, this is pretty understandable. Every single person, upon honest self reflection, can find things they wish were different about themselves. But there is a more foundational cause.
Let's consider the theory of evolution. This theory suggests that we are simply evolved animals that have crawled our way out of the muck and mire to become the dominant species on this planet. Now we are solely responsible for what comes next. We have the authority and the absolute freedom to do whatever we want with ourselves. There is no intrinsic value in who we are, we are just one more species in an animal kingdom with millions of other species. There is not design, purpose, or ultimate end. Yet here we are.
What a depressing way to see the world, and if that is right it leads to a depressing view of the self. Of course, it isn't true. Genesis 2 lays out God design and establishes the intrinsic value of human beings.
Read Genesis 2
Did you see it? Did you see verse 7? God breathed life into Adam. God didn't do that with any other creature, just Adam. Sure, we were created out of the dust of the earth, but that must have been quite the moment when that dust became a living human being as a result of God's breathe. Humans are unique in God's creation.
Sure, we can all look in the proverbial mirror and find things we don't like about ourselves. There are things we should and can improve on. But that misses the point. We have, in some sense, the breathe of God in us. Our worth and our self image ought not come from cultural norms, net worth, or "success" but from being God's unique creation.
Our identity is absolutely a very important aspect of who we are, who I am, and who you are. Richard Lints in his book Identity and Idolatry points out the ancient rulers used to put statues that had some resemblance to themselves in a conquered land. The presence of that statue was to be a reminder that the land was ruled by that king or monarch. Of course, their presence was only symbolic, but their rule was absolute and absolutely present. The statue was the image of the king.
In the same way, we are God's presence in this world. We are his statue, his representative. We are in a conquered land, of sorts. It's true, as we look around we might think this place is ruled by Satan rather than God. In at least one respect that is true, but the story is still playing out and the script has already been written. Jesus will return as the ruler and king of this land, this place, this world. Until then, we are his statues reminding the world of both coming judgment and God's redeeming grace.
We will get into this more in coming weeks, but God chose Abraham as His representative and He has also chosen you and I. Read Gen. 1:28.
The implications are wide ranging. The command to go forth and fill the earth, isn't just about having some kids and grandkids. It is a spiritual command to go and be representatives of God's rule.
How does this change how you engage with your work, your colleagues, your neighbor, or others you interact with? Where might God be calling you to represent Him and His rule? How would you do that?
Ordos Creatianis is Latin and it simply means the order of creation. There is the order of creation that we find in the opening chapter of the Bible; the one that starts with heavens and the earth and moves toward order and purpose culminating in the creation of mankind in Adam and Eve. But there is another sense of order we find in creation. There is a driving telos or purpose, an end towards which creation points. We find it in the garden in Genesis 2 when it describes God placing first the man in the garden and then creating the woman from the side of the man as a helpmate. We also find reference in Genesis 3 when God appears walking in the garden. The garden was suppose to be a place of fellowship between God and His people (Adam and Eve initially). That is the order or the telos or the purpose of God's creation, to be in fellowship and communion with humanity.
Take some time and read Genesis 2.
What does that tell us about our identity? How is that different from the message of culture, the world, etc.?