Truth Traded

This is a true story that happened long, long ago that is recreated every day in every life.  It is an ongoing story.  This is the story of how truth was traded for a lie.  It is an exchange of life for death.  It is why we experience loss, pain, and everything else that is less than perfect.  But, in the beginning, it was not so.  In the beginning, everything was good.  God had created everything that had been made; and all was perfect, a delightful world full of goodness and truth.

in-the-beginning

 

Into this delightful paradise, a beautiful creature approached an exquisite woman.  It was Eve the woman God had created to be with Adam.  It was an interesting interaction.  Although this creature was a snake, it wasn’t scary.  So with cunning finesse, the snake began to skillfully question the very words of God.  Oh, and just as carefully, the snake avoided calling God by His name.   For Yahweh was God’s personal name meaning, “I Am He Who is and Will Be.”  In a small, but subtle move, the deceiver deftly attempted to demote God.  Did not the daughter of God consider this?  A creature who did not acknowledge God as God—was it not a reason to leave this guileful conversation?  Doubt and confusion swirled in the carefully crafted intrusion, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’”  thumbnail-dgrs-440x440

The daughter of God was created to love Yahweh with all of her heart, soul, mind and strength.  Her love for Yahweh was to be supreme, and His words were to be her joy and life.  Nevertheless, in a great reversal, Eve listened to the contagious lies spoken by the artful creature; and she herself then turned and judged the words of her Creator.  So, with a few modifications, she answered, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Wait, oh daughter of God!  Your Creator God delegated his authority  and commanded you to rule over the earth.  Rule over this damning creature!   Instead, suppressing the truth, Eve exchanged the worship of God for self-gratification.  The serpent seized the opportunity to rule over the world with his darkness.  Stealthfully, he answerd, “You will not surely die.” Ironically, the serpent’s bold contradiction would bring death.

downloadGod alone is the standard for absolute truth.  We are to worship God in truth in our inner being, the deepest parts of our heart!  Made in His image, we are to reflect His character, His magnificent glory! Oh, Eve, do not turn away from all that is good! Let your heart rise in thankfulness to your Creator.  All of Him, His words, His works are good and right and greatly to be praised.

For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” the serpent continued. 997347adc71a10b71c4c43f8d584b3e6 The serpent watched Eve closely as she considered an alternative way to be like God.  Could this be?  Is there more than one way?

 

The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Yahweh which is a beautiful humility that honors and worships His greatness.  There is only one way to wisdom, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear God, and turn away from evil.

feelingvstruth-pull3

In a soul-crushing turn, Eve despised wisdom and leaned on her own understanding.  “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…

feelingsvstruth-pull2Relying on her own experiences and desires, Eve actively pursued her own satisfaction.  Eve did not allow her experience to be shaped by God’s words alone.  She trusted her own feelings and experience to guide her; and convinced that she was right, she influenced her husband to do as she had done.

Adam and Eve’s eyes were immediately opened to their nakedness.  They attempted to cover their bare bodies.  It wasn’t their clothes that they had lost; it was their righteousness.  Their sin left them unacceptable and totally exposed before God.  They no longer had truth in their inner most heart, and now this man and woman had a wrong fear of God, a fear of being known by God.  But, God did see, and know, and did call for them.  Would they tell Him what He already knew?  Would they humble their hearts and tell God the truth?  No.  They no longer enjoyed his presence, so they sought to hide from God.  It was their sin that now separated them from God.

The deceiver would rule the world for a very long time, and darkness entered the world holding it in its bondage.  Sin and death were a new reality. It would take a snake-crusher to free the world from the power of darkness held by the soul-crusher.

This story is enacted every day.  Every day the deceiver brings doubt and confusion to persuade people from God’s life-giving Word.  Every day humanity judges God’s Word rather than coming under its rule and authority.  Every day, people choose to rely on their own experiences and feelings to guide them rather than holding on to every word of God as truth and life.il_fullxfull-423058173_fwo7

But, this story does not go on forever.  The snake-crusher has come to deliver us from the tyranny of sin’s deception. the-serpent-under-the-right-foot-of-mary-300x197 Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  There is only one way.  There is only one absolute and supreme Truth.  Life is only in Jesus.  Anything else is an alternative choice that leads to an inescapable death.  One day, the ancient serpent who leads the whole world astray will be eternally punished.  This is the second death and it never ends.  Jesus Christ will make all things new.  In the new heavens and earth, “nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful  or deceitful.”

The Startling Reshaping of God

Add this preference.  Take away that dislike.  Choose the place and the how.  There are many ways to worship God, right?  The ancient story recorded in Judges eerily seems to mirror the current thoughts in the mainstream today.  The uncanny likeness sends chills down our pious spines.  Let it be a warning to our modern hearts to guard against making a god that conforms to our own shaping preferences. tim keller idol

 

 

How can a god save us  that we can control?

 

 

 

 

Judges 17 & 18
Oh, they had great dreams!  Lively discussions ensued as the tribe made plans to develop their future home.  The tribe of Dan had entered the Promised Land along with the nation of Israel ready to receive the long-awaited gift of a permanent home, but progress had stalled due to their failure to settle in their allotted territory and obtain their promised inheritance.  The Danites had been promised an inheritance by Yahweh, but their vision had become distorted and clouded with confusion.  Hazy goals are hard to see in a fog.

What was their vision statement again?

Micah was a thief.  He wasn’t even a respectable thief, either; for he had actually stolen a huge amount of money from his own mother.  Never fear, his mother was not one to bear a grudge against her son.  No, she would affirm her son’s choice to return the money by giving him a small reward.  Better yet, she would praise Yahweh for this blessing!  So, this indulgent mother hired the local silversmith to design a couple of images to celebrate her son’s return of the money.  Micah already had a shrine in his home, so this would be the perfect gift to encourage him for doing what was right.  Micah had his own personal gods, and he continued to pursue with dedicated fervor what he personally believed was right.  Full of religious intensity, Micah added an ephod and even hired a Levite priest for his own personal worship.  Believing his life was devoted to all that was right and good,  Micah said, “Now I know that Yahweh will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.”

Yet another example of how confession will bring the blessings of God, right?

1.  No other God

The Danites still needing to locate themselves permanently and finally agreed to pursue a piece of property that particularly appealed to them.  The Danites felt themselves justified in slaughtering a peaceful, undefended, unsuspecting community saying to each other, home sweet home“The land is spacious, for God has given it into your hands, a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.”  The takeover was easy and did not require faith or courage.
Clouded vision distorts how we see things.
The Danites were happy.  They had secured their inheritance.  The Danite leaders had just been informed by their scouts that nearby there was an ephod, artisan images of worship, personal gods, and, the best of all, a Levite priest.  The scouts advised, “Now therefore consider what you will do.”  Indeed, what an opportunity!  So incredible was this opportunity that the men engaged the young priest immediately with a better offer as well as taking full advantage of the worship center.  “And the priest’s heart was glad.”

Weren’t these God’s provident blessings?  2.  No idols

Of course, Micah was not happy that his gods were taken away.  But, since these Danite men were too strong for him, he went back home.  What could he do?  It is what it is.

The Danites were on a roll.

Since the strategy had worked so well, they employed it yet again and enlarged their space by overtaking another quiet, unsuspecting community with sword and fire.  They also had a celebrity priest.  Gershom and his sons continued to serve as priests, and everyone knows that Gershom is Moses’s grandson.  Yeah, they certainly had been blessed.1.  No other God

Can we really reshape God from our own
cloudy vision?

God has revealed himself through his Word, not as our hearts direct.

One Passion to Rule Them All

Unite My Heart Art“Follow your heart” is a maxim often repeated today, as if the heart knows all and is generally regarded as a good leader.  But, is the heart a good leader?  Mine can be fickle at times, so then what?

The heart is often spoken of as the center of desire, the most intimate part of a person reserving room for our deepest longings.  Desire is the passion of the heart and determines what we want and what we will do to get what we want.     

Living life with one love describes the heart won by Jesus and sealed by His Spirit.  But, even though, I truly love Christ, I personally find my heart can be divided in its loves.  With sincerity, I may speak of Christ as my all in all, the center of my devotion; but, in reality, it is easy to get distracted with other interests.  Paul writes to the believers in Corinth about the complications and diversions that captivate our attention.  He says, “From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it.  For the present form of this world is passing away. I want you to be free from anxieties.  … I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint on you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”  (I Corinthians 7:29-32, 35).  What?  Exactly, what is Paul saying?  Don’t get distracted with every day life?  How then are we to live in the world?  Paul actually does make sense, because he understands the heart.  The heart is the center of the personality, the place where your commitments exist.  Whatever your heart is most passionately trusting in & deeply loving sets the course for everything else.  But, if your heart is divided, and you do not have one single, consuming passion, then your heart pulls in multiple directions.  It can get so tangled up, that the disordered loves actually pull in opposing directions.  
broken_heart_by_fabu

 

Disordered love leads to an eventual break-up. Loving secondary things as if they were the primary naturally leads to consequences that reflect the conflict.

True freedom and self-control
involves rightly ordering your loves.

 

Self-control is loving supreme things supremely with undivided attention & affection.

Paul gets the importance of this kind of united heart in the Christian’s life and emphasizes the need for centering on one primary goal.  He uses an athlete to illustrate it further, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. ”  (I Corinthians 9:24-25).  Live life with your eyes resolutely fixed on the prize!  Let your eyes be fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith!   Let one consuming passion rule!

one_consuming_passion_00014198_titleonly

 

 

You’re Not Home Yet

I am reminded that I am not home yet. I am longing for a better day. When I find myself in a place I don’t want to be, I whisper to my soul…you’re not home yet.

When the day feels troubled… when pressure mounts…when I feel lost and I am losing my way…when I suddenly am overwhelmed and anxious, I run to you, Father.  I ask for Your help, and You listen to me with a heart of love.  I make a conscious choice to turn to You.  I don’t turn to others first when I am in distress, but I am crying out to you, my dear Father.  I feel urgency rising,  my request is pleading and fervent.  I need rescue from liars and devious deception.
You are my God and my Father.  I am your child running to you for help.  I need you.
hope with ink swirleys

My head is full of questions.  What else does the blazing distorter of truth want?  What more can I do for the artful manipulator and shameless liar?  Deceptive, false words are like a sharp & pointed arrow dipped into the fiery poison of hell sent to destroy.  I feel helpless and frustrated.
C.S, Lewis made for another world

I do not belong here.  I feel full of self-pity as I look upon my circumstances.   All of this pain reminds me that I am not home yet. I am longing for a better day. I find myself in a place I don’t want to be.  I am only a sojourner in this land of rage & upset.  I pursue peace, but they persist in inflaming controversy and stirring up trouble.

Father, as I give you this heart of angst, I remember that I am not home yet.  You give me fresh mercy every day, but I live still in this alien world full of hate. I need You, Father.         Every.  Day.  Not Where I BELONG

One writer reveals the tension well, “the new humanity that is created around Jesus is not a humanity that is always going to be successful and in control of things, but a humanity that can reach out its hand from the depths of chaos, to be touched by the hand of God.”  Father, I am humbly grateful that You are near to the broken who are living in the land of Chaos.

Rescue me from the lies of advertisers who claim to know what I need and what I desire, from the lies of entertainers who promise a cheap way to joy, from the lies of politicians who pretend to instruct me in power and morality, from the lies of psychologists who offer to shape my behavior and my morals so that I will live long, happily, and successfully, from the lies of religionists who “heal the wounds of this people lightly,” from the lies of moralists who pretend to promote me to the office of captain of my fate, from the lies of pastors who “leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men” (Mk. 7:8). Rescue me from the person who tells me of life and omits Christ, who is wise in the ways of the world and ignores the movement of the Spirit. The lies are impeccably factual. They contain no errors. There are no distortions of falsified data. But they are lies all the same because they claim to tell us who we are and omit everything about our origin in God and our destiny in God. They talk about the world without telling us that God made it. They tell us about our bodies without telling us that they are temples of the Holy Spirit. They instruct us in love without telling us about the God who loves us and gave himself for us. — Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1980), 23.

(I wrote this post as my own paraphrase of Psalm 120.)

 

Subtle Softenings

No one actually seeks God; we mainly go our own way.  But, when the knowledge of God reaches down from intellectual assent into the intimate inner sanctum, a heart is either wooed or threatened by the revealing of  his presence.  God-Ego
Our heart always will be wooed by something, for it was made to worship.  If the object of heart-love is worshipped more than God, the heart will recoil in losing its ultimate comfort and counterfeit lover.  Sometimes, there are subtle softenings that contaminate the well-spring of the soul.  I am reminded of an ancient story…

Travel in ancient days was slow and burdensome, so it was as dusty travelers approached the camp.  Their sandals flopped, visibly patched, and so worn they were barely strapped to their dirt-encrusted feet.  There was a stench, warm and offensive, coming from their garments. Representing their countrymen, the men declared their purpose for peaceful relations.  Finding Joshua, the men came right to the point, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.”  It was an act of self-preservation based on the intelligence they had garnered about Israel’s encroachment.  “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God.  For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth.”  This was their response to the revelation of Yahweh–self-preservation that meant a strong-willed deception.  They did not desire to know Yahweh, but their focus was to manipulate around the obstacles presented by the very one that made them tremble.

Joshua heard their story, but remained suspicious, prompting the envoy to show evidence of their long journey. They pulled out the remaining supplies from off theirgibeonites
donkeys and said, “Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.”  Joshua surveyed the evidence apparent to the senses and acted based on things judged with the eyes.  Joshua and Israel’s leader did not ask counsel from the Lord but took action to enact peace with the Gibeonite men in covenantal agreement.  It only took three days to discover the ruse, to discover the faked travel time which in reality had only been three days journey by donkey.  But the oath was sworn.    


DaVinci EmilysQuotes.Com-deception-suffer-opinion-Leonardo-da-Vinci-intelligence-understanding
Joshua had judged according to
self-knowledge and did not turn to the counsel of the all-seeing eyes that roamed the earth and pierced men’s hearts.

Subtle softenings contaminate so that we do not seek God.

O Prince of Glory, who dost bring
Thy sons to glory through the Cross
Let us not shrink from suffering
Reproach or loss.

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,

From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakening,
Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified.

From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.

Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire,
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.

~Amy Carmichael
*The ancient story is factual and found in Joshua 9.
“The Gibeonites deceived Joshua”, 1728 engraving, Abraham de Blois.
Shadow art “God-Ego” by Fred Eerdekens