Welcome to the Mess: Deception

(Story Series Part 3)

How do you feel about rules? Are you the one who makes the rules? Are you the one who enforces the rules? Do you ignore the rules? Break the rules? Or are you completely unaware that there are any rules to begin with? We all respond uniquely to the rules. But the way we respond to rules matters. Because there are consequences. For obedience and disobedience.

Welcome to the Mess: Deception

This is part three of a series called Story. For part one click here. For part two click here. If you don’t want to miss out on any of the content, then subscribe now.

A Good Beginning

The first two chapters of the Bible reveal the creation of all things. God created the whole universe out of nothing. And He gave it all to a man and a woman.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. (Genesis 1:28–29, ESV)

Basically, God created this perfect, wonderful paradise. Gave it to the first man and woman as a gift. And told them, “Eat, drink, enjoy yourself. Fill this place up with a lot of other image bearers.”

Sounds pretty nice, huh?

And in all of this freedom and liberty, God gave them one command. One rule. One prohibition.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16–17, ESV)

That’s it. One rule. Don’t eat from that tree. But that one rule carried severe consequences. We’re talking life and death.

And that’s how our story got messy. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, broke the rule. They ate the fruit. And everything changed.

But you and I aren’t much different than them. In fact, we reenact their story over and over again every single day.

How Our Story Got Messy

In Genesis chapter three the story takes a turn. A new character arrives on the scene. A serpent. Who speaks. And challenges the authority and character of God.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1, ESV)

It might seem strange to you that a serpent speaks. I’ve come across several snakes in my life, and never once has one of them spoken a single word! But there is more going on here than meets the eye. The serpent of Genesis 3 is a real serpent. But the enemy has infiltrated it and uses it to deceive the woman (see Revelation 12:9, 20:2).

Martin Luther said,

Let us therefore, establish in the first place that the serpent is a real serpent, but one that has been entered and taken over by Satan.

According to the Bible, Satan can present himself in many forms. The apostle Paul writes that he even manifests himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan is a liar. He is a deceiver. And he has been so from the beginning. But he doesn’t typically present himself in an intimidating way. He reveals himself in an attractive way. As something good. So that he can do his work of deception.

That’s what he’s doing here.

And there is one big theological reason Satan presents himself to Eve as a serpent.

God commanded Adam and Eve to rule and reign over all creation. So, if Satan can appear to the woman as a creature and get her to disobey God, He can subvert God’s created order and bring devastation to His creation.

That’s what Satan wants to do. He wants to undo every good thing God has done. And that’s what he is up to in Genesis 3.

Deception

So, he appears to the woman and he asks her a question. “Did God really say?”

Satan wants Eve to doubt God’s word. He wants her to doubt God’s character. And he does the same thing to us today. Because if he can deceive us into questioning the authority and goodness of God’s word, then the battle is already won.

And we do doubt God’s word. We do it every day. Every time we sin it’s because we believe a lie instead of God’s truth. We make excuses. We try to find loop holes. Or we think of reasons God’s word doesn’t apply to us in our particular circumstance.

But have you ever thought of how crazy it is to doubt God’s word? God is the creator of everyone and everything. He is the highest authority in the universe. But when we doubt God’s word, we place ourselves as an authority even higher than God. Looking down on His word and judging its validity. And that’s just insane.

Imagine if you were on trial for a crime. The judge has the authority to pronounce judgment over you. And whatever he decides will come to pass. Now imagine just before the judge pronounces your sentence, you get up from your seat and approach the bench. Then you take the gavel from the judge’s hands and say, “I don’t accept your authority, and I will not comply with your sentence.” Then you slam the gavel down and walk out of the courthouse.

That would never happen. Because that’s not how things work. The judge has the authority in that situation. Not you.

But every time we doubt God’s word, we assume an authority that is higher than God’s. And that’s insane.

But that’s what Satan wants us to do. He wants to deceive us into thinking that we don’t have to submit to the word of God. He wants us to decide what’s best for ourselves. To live our own lives and go our own way. Make our own destiny.

But you and I are creatures created by the Creator God. He designed us. He knows what’s best for us. And our stories are better when we live according to His word.

Don’t be deceived into doubting God’s word. Because, as we will see in the next few posts, that can only lead to devastation.

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The Single Person’s Guide To Surviving Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day. And all over the country grand gestures will be made to prove to significant others and to the whole world how in love people are. Chocolates will be eaten. Movies will be watched. Flowers will be bought. Probably people will get engaged. It’s going to be super romantic.

Single Valentine's Day

And here you are single. Flying solo. And missing out.

And trust me. I get it. I’m married now. But I can still remember many holiday’s when I didn’t have my bride by my side.

And it’s easy to get down when it seems like the whole world is celebrating love and you aren’t.

So what can you do?

Here are three things you can do to survive Valentine’s Day when you’re flying solo.

Your Story is Designed by God

(Story Series Part 2)

What are the biggest questions you wrestle with? If you’re like most people, then you wrestle with questions of identity, purpose, and significance. Who am I? What on earth am I here for? Does my life matter? Most of us spend our whole lives seeking answers to these questions. We try to find them in success. In relationships. In our stuff. And no matter how successful we become or how great our relationships may be or how much stuff we accumulate, we’re still wondering.

Your Story is Designed by God

But what if identity wasn’t something that you were meant to construct? What if purpose wasn’t something you were intended to create? What if significance wasn’t something you had to attain? What if all of these pieces of your story were actually given to you from the beginning?

That’s what this post deals with today.

Your Story Begins With God

(Story Series Part 1)

We all have a story. Some of us like the stories we live. Others of us don’t. And still some of us wish we could trade our story with someone else. Probably we can all relate to each of those realities. Our stories have up’s and down’s. Triumph’s and tragedies. Seasons of success and seasons of failure. There is a time for everything under the sun. Right?

Your Story Begins With God

But probably for the majority of us the most frustrating thing is making sense of our story. Who am I? Why am I here? What is life really about? Does my life really matter? (After all there are 7.5 billion people on earth. What makes me so special?)

This post is the first in a series of posts intended to help us make sense of our story.

15 Classic Disciplines for Your Spiritual Life

In 2009 I had a radical encounter with God. Prior to that I had given up on church and spent several years living aimlessly. But God was faithful to me even when I was faithless. And in 2009, as I was reading the Gospel of John, God gripped my heart and invited me to come back home. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget.

Spiritual Discipline

And in that moment I remember God saying to me, “I’m not done with you. I have a plan for you. Follow Me.” That invitation began a spiritual journey in my life that literally changed everything. And I remember thinking to myself, “If God’s going to use me, then I’ve got to get better at following Him.” And I wondered to myself, “What do people who follow Jesus do?” Not long after that I discovered the spiritual disciplines.

Do You Know What It Means To Believe?

Faith matters. It matters to my blog because the purpose of this blog is to help you connect your faith to your life. But it’s more important than that. The Apostle Paul says, “By grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8, ESV). In order to find salvation in Christ, you must believe. But what does it mean to believe?

What Does It Mean To Believe

You’ve heard the phrase “take a leap of faith.” That’s how most people think of faith. It’s a step off the ledge into uncertainty. It’s not really reasonable. You can’t really prove it. There is no evidence. You just have to believe.

But is that what faith really is? Is that how the church has historically understood the nature of faith? I don’t think so.

Below you will find the three aspects of genuine faith.

3 Books That Will Enhance Your Marriage Relationship

My wife and I love to read together. We try to make it a daily habit to get up before the kids do, spend time reading the Scriptures, praying, and then reading together. Typically we read books on marriage. That’s because our marriage relationship is important to us, and reading about marriage is a way for us to connect, to think about the same things and to grow in how we serve one another as husband and wife.

Marriage Relationship

Below you will find a list of our top three. These books have made the greatest impact on our marriage relationship, and we highly recommend them.

3 Different Types of Racism In America Today

Yesterday was a bizarre day. A protest in Charlottesville, VA., held by alt right white supremacists turned ugly quickly. You’ve probably seen the video. A twenty year old man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors, killing one and injuring about 15. The story circled the news all day long. It was total madness.

3 Types of Racism

One commentator on CNN said, “The darkness in that man’s heart is unspeakable.” That is true. So is the darkness in the heart of the white supremacist movement.

3 Truths About Death Everyone Needs To Know

This week the world lost an incredible man. August Charles Brockenbush, Jr. You may not know Charles personally. You may not have ever met him. But so many loved him. And for good reason.

3 Truths About Death

I knew Charles for about three years. And in those three short years he impacted my life greatly. He showed me what it looks like to love without condition and to stand by your people always–even when they didn’t earn or deserve that kind of loyalty. He showed me what it looks like to live generously. And how to stand for what you believe is right even when you’re standing alone. This man was one of a kind. And he impacted more people than I will ever know. And I will miss him dearly.

Right now I’m grieving over his passing. I’m realizing now more than ever how special of a man he was, and how lucky I am to have known him.

Maybe you didn’t know Charles. But you probably know what it’s like to lose someone who matters to you. To realize today is not going to be the same as it was yesterday and neither will tomorrow because someone special, someone significant to you has passed on.

It’s the harsh realization that death hurts that I wanted to address today.

Here are three truths about death that everyone needs to know.

What Does It Take To Be A Spiritual Leader?

The local church needs strong, qualified, faithful leaders. Leaders who lead not out of selfishness or worldly ambition, but out of humility, devotion to Christ and genuine love for others. Leadership in the local church looks different than leadership in the world. It’s not about making yourself great. But about humbling yourself before God and others in service. Jesus said, “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matthew 23:11, NIV).

Spiritual Leader

There is a lot of talk about leadership in the church today. And there should be. The church needs leaders. Young and old. Male and female. Up front and behind the scenes.

But what does it take to be a spiritual leader?