Tag Archives: Genesis

Waiting

Waiting:  it is perhaps one of the things we like the least but do the most.  Each day, we find ourselves forced to pause while someone or something completes a task.  Perhaps we find it frustrating because we are used to going through life at our own pace and find the imposition of a different pace to be both uncomfortable and irritating.  Or maybe it is because we feel that, as we are waiting, we are being cheated out of our time because we don’t have control over how long we must wait.

As frustrating as we find waiting to be in situations we do not think of as spiritual, it is no surprise that we are similarly irked when we find ourselves forced to wait in our Christian walk.  This may take shape as hitting a spiritual plateau in which we do not feel the same sense of growth that we used to.  We may also encounter waiting as a sense of being distant from God.  Nonetheless, from this handful of examples, we can see that waiting is an inseparable part of our spiritual journey.  It is part of the undulating road that we walk as we seek to draw closer to God.

Waiting, itself, is no novelty in Christianity:  after Christ’s ascension, the disciples were told to wait until they had received the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49), the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom had to wait until morning for the ditches that had been dug to fill with water (2 Kings 3:20), and we live our lives in anticipation of eternity, just to name a few examples.  Though we are forgiven the moment we repent and turn to Christ, Christianity is not of religion of instant gratification; it is a religion that is founded on relationship, and sometimes that means waiting and remaining faithful.  One of the most poignant examples of waiting on God is the story of Abraham being called out of his homeland by God (Genesis 12:1-9).  Abraham (then called Abram) was told to pack up, leave his home, and go to a land that God would show him.  In many ways, Abraham was being asked to go and wait.  It is one thing to wait while we are secure in the midst of familiar surroundings and quite another to wait while outside of our comfort zone.  Such circumstances bring to mind the question of exactly how we wait:  what do we do when we are waiting on God?

One way we may go about waiting on God is to push our spiritual life to the side.  There doesn’t seem to be much going on there, so why attend to it?  Surely our time is better spent on something else at the moment.  While such a mentality can assist us in becoming better multitaskers, it can also be a detriment to our spiritual growth.  Another way that we might approach waiting is to very simply refuse to do it and give up on our spiritual walk altogether.  After all, is it really worth the time and hassle if we’re just going to have to wait?  This, too, is spiritually unhealthy and cause for us to reconsider where we stand with God (Matthew 13:20-21).

So what are we to do when waiting on God?  Above all else, we must remain faithful.  This means continuing to be diligent in our daily lives:  maintaining our times of devotion and prayer and continuing to live our lives according to Christ’s example.  Our obedience to God and acts of devotion are responses to God’s love for us (1 John 4:17-5:5).  As such, they are not dependent upon immediate feedback because they are based on something far grander in scale.  Love is more than a feeling:  it is obedience, commitment, and selflessness, among other things.  When we love someone, our attitudes and actions towards them ultimately proceed not from temporary feelings (though these may certainly have influence), but from deeper within our hearts, from a deep-seated desire for them to be truly happy.  Love does not consist solely in doting and being doted upon, but also of making hard choices for the betterment of the other party.  This is why, for example, parents discipline their children:  it is not pleasant for any involved, but that discipline teaches the children valuable lessons and is instrumental in their continued healthy development.  When we are waiting on God, we continue to pursue Him and remain faithful, not because it is particularly pleasant at the time or we are trying to earn His love, but because He loves us and we love Him.  Perhaps we wish the answer was more complicated than that, but that is the heart of the matter.  Our response to God’s love persists even when we are not filled with the warm glow of affirmation.

It would be remiss to overlook why God sometimes makes us wait.  As stated earlier, when we love someone, we seek for them to be truly happy.  As God works in us to grow and shape us, sometimes He steps back to allow us to stand on our own.  It is not unlike a child learning to feed itself.  There comes a point when it must learn to convey food to its mouth on its own.  Even though the parents are no longer spoon-feeding it, they don’t love it any less; as a matter of fact, it is because they love it that they put it through the ordeal in the first place.  Likewise, when God asks us to wait on Him, it is because He is teaching us to feed ourselves:  to take what He has given us and be nurtured by it, rather than being spoon-fed.  It helps us to grow and mature spiritually.

When we are waiting on God, despite appearances, we are going through an important process of spiritual maturation.  We learn to show love when we don’t necessarily feel love as we are shaped into the image and likeness of Him who gave the fullest measure of love for those who hated and reviled Him.  Our growth while waiting is not restricted to times when we are waiting on God:  when we wait on others, we can still share the love of God with how we wait.  Are we patient?  Are we kind?  Do we give grace as we have received grace?  As the seed lies seemingly inert in the ground before growing into a fruit-bearing plant, so the times when our spiritual life seems inert eventually grow and bear spiritual fruit.

Advertisements

Heroes and Villains – Ryu

“Sometimes the most important battle, is the battle within…”

-Ryu

Ryu

Ryu is one of the most well known video game characters, right up with the likes of Mario and Megaman.  He made his first appearance in the 1987 arcade game “Street Fighter” and has since become something of a mascot for the Street Fighter series and the company which created it, Capcom.  Ryu is a martial artist who travels the world fighting all kinds of opponents seeking to further hone his skills.  Despite his benign goals, he is plagued by a dark power within him, the Satsui no Hado or dark hado.  The Satsui no Hado (translated as “Surge of Murderous Intent”) is a sinister power that arises within individuals when they become so consumed with rage or the desire for power that they are willing to kill for it.  In Ryu’s case, it was awakened in him when he was pushed to his absolute limit while fighting a powerful opponent.  He eventually loses control of himself and wins the bout with a single vicious attack powered by the dark hado.  Ever since that time it has threatened to consume him and take away his heart and his humanity.  Ryu’s heroics do not lie primarily in fighting villains, but in his struggle with the evil within himself.

Like Ryu’s Satsui no Hado, sin is and remains a constant threat to us during our lives here on earth.  Paul writes about our struggle against it in Romans 7:21-25:  “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.  For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”  Even though sin’s power over us has been broken, this does not mean that evil remains idle.  God’s warning to Cain back in Genesis 4:7 is every bit as applicable to us today:  “If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.  And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”  Sin no longer has the last word, but that doesn’t stop it from constantly trying to coax and cajole us back into its service.  It lies at our door (“crouching” in the English Standard Version) accosting us at every opportunity.  God also wants us and seeks us at every turn, but His desire for us is very different than sin’s.  Sin wants us so that it can consume us.  God wants us so that we may be filled with Him thereby receiving life everlasting and being shaped into the person He created us to be.

With sin so persistently after us, Paul advises us to think of our Christian walk as an athletic contest.  He writes, “Do you not know that those who run a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus:  not with uncertainty.  Thus I fight:  not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)  The prize that athletes receive for winning a contest is a perishable one, one that does not last (as a matter of fact, Paul is probably here referring to the crown of laurels that was awarded in ancient Greece, a crown of leaves and branches that would wither).  Paul states, however, that in our Christian walks we are striving for a crown of eternal consequence.  The imperishable crown of which he speaks is the crown of life used as a metaphor for the eternal life with and in God that we receive. (Revalation 2:10, 3:11)  The contest of Christianity has the highest stakes and we compete, not against others, but against ourselves, sin, and the devil.

Although Christ has won the victory for us against sin, we cannot sit back and rest on our laurels, for we must follow Christ in order to cross the finish line.  Paul urges us to be deliberate in our living:  “Therefore I run thus:  not with uncertainty.  Thus I fight:  not as one who beats the air.”  The decision to follow Jesus is a deliberate setting of ourselves against our former ways and a decision that we must make many times each day (as many times as sin urges us to return to it).  Making this decision is no easy task.  Just like a martial artist (or any other athlete) we must train ourselves as we pursue our goal.  Martial artists train themselves by such means as weightlifting, practicing kata, running drills, cardiovascular exercises, etc.  Christians train themselves by meditating, reading Scripture, praying, serving, etc.  The goal is the same:  to further immerse oneself in and become more proficient at one’s art.  The Christian’s art is to rely on God alone and become ever more conformed to Christ’s image.

Ryu’s training and travels may serve as a metaphor for the kind of pilgrimage that Christians are on.  Though he is well traveled, Ryu’s destination is not a physical place, but an intangible one:  ever further mastery of his art.  Likewise Christians, no matter how far we go or how spiritually mature we become, have no physical destination.  As a matter of fact our destination cannot be found in this world, tangible or intangible.  “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:13-16)  Christians constantly seek the heavenly country that God has prepared for them in eternity.  The Kingdom of Heaven which grows in our hearts is a foretaste of the rest which awaits us.  Despite the constant attack of the dark hado upon him, Ryu remains dedicated to his journey.  Likewise, despite sin’s attack we ought to remain dedicated to our Christian journey.

It is worth noting that Ryu doesn’t have a perfect track record when it comes to resisting the dark hado.  There have been times that it has successfully taken over him, but he was able to come to his senses again, not due to his abilities alone but with the help of his friends who called him back to himself.  Ryu’s battle with the dark hado is not a solitary one, but one in which he is helped and supported by others.  Our battle against sin is not a solitary one either.  God is always with us and He has also created the Church in which we are able to help and support one another as fellow pilgrims.  We cannot stand alone against sin because there will be times that we stumble or lose our way and need others to help us up and to lead us back to the straight and narrow way.

Ryu shows us that being a hero isn’t always about battling villains but sometimes consists in battling the evil that dwells within us.  It is about the daily resisting of that evil and the training that helps us to resist.  For Christians, this means learning to rely on God rather than ourselves and to draw from His strength rather than our own.  “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man:  but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Food for Thought:

  1. Am I actively following Christ’s call to heaven or am I sitting idle and waiting for heaven to come to me?
  2. Do I merely go through the motions and fight as one who beats the air or do I discipline myself and bring myself in subjection to Christ?
  3. Consider what a mercy it is that God helps me in my struggle to follow Him.

Romance and Sexuality – 1

As you should well know, when the Enemy first concocted those detestable hybrids called humans, He created male and female varieties.  This division of genders is quite confusing, but it can be just as confusing for the humans as for us.  The problem is that the two genders are different, but similar.  One typically finds that, psychologically, there are more differences within genders than between genders.  The most useful way of understanding this state of affairs is to liken it to the Enemy’s claim to be “three-in-one”:  one entity expressed in three distinct persons.  Similarly, the human creature is expressed in two persons:  male and female.  If these two genders coexist and work together as one, the result is not only distasteful but also unbearably troublesome to tear down.  However, the task of destroying this harmony is not impossible.  You need only look as far as the example set by Our Father Below when he went about bringing down the first of the filthy vermin.  As long as they know who they are in the Enemy, they will be able to put up a strong defense to your attacks.  What you must do, then, is force them out of this mental/spiritual tower.

You see, Our Father Below’s first brilliant move was to approach the woman with his questions about the Enemy’s decree.  Do not fall into the same intellectual pit as some of the flesh creatures and think that this has something to do with the woman being in some way inferior to the man.  Rather, it had everything to do with the roles of the man and the woman in the garden.  The man had been charged to be the moral and spiritual leader in the garden.  It was to the man that the Enemy gave His decree not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The woman was charged with helping and supporting the man.  The Enemy did not see it to be good that the man should be alone in his task.  The two are given complementary roles as each would support the other.  As long as the man and woman worked together as a unit, their connection to the Enemy would be as troublesome to attack as a Roman phalanx.

When Our Father Below approached the woman first, he upset the established order by addressing the woman as the spiritual and moral leader and the man as the supporter and helper.  In so doing, Our Father Below moved the upcoming battle to ground of his choosing.  The humans now found themselves distanced from the Enemy and from each other as the woman attempted to fill a role that she that she had not been given and the man withdrew from the situation altogether.  Again, do not miss the subtle nature of this movement by thinking it has to do with the man and woman’s respective abilities.  Each is equally dangerous to our designs.  The goal in reversing their roles was to lead them away from the Enemy’s influence and security.

You would do well to carefully study this maneuver.  It is rare that a tempter can get into a human’s head and suggest a transgression so directly.  Despite the flesh creatures’ inherent disposition to sin, it takes careful preparations to get them to follow through.  However, as you can see from the current example, the proper set up can get even those who have literally walked with the Enemy and known only Him to turn their backs.

With the set up complete (moving the humans away from their Enemy-given identity), all that remained to be done was to plant the seeds of doubt and the rest, as the humans so are fond of saying, is history.  As you can probably tell by now, the key when tempting in the area of romance and sexuality is maneuvering the humans into a position where they are uncomfortable with themselves; to take away the security blanket the Enemy gives, as it were.  Such preparation is what opens the door to further temptations.

(c) Noah Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Liar, liar

What do you think of when you think of the devil’s work?  A voice whispering sweet temptations in your ear? What about lies and “false witnesses”?  The Greek word that is translated as “devil” is “diabolos“, which means “false accuser” or “slanderer”.  This seems odd since we often think of the devil as someone who dangles sin tantalizingly in front of our noses. But let’s look at some of the devil’s work in Scripture.

1) Genesis 3:1-5
The first case comes from the story of the fall of man.  When the devil, here called the serpent, approaches Eve, he starts with a question, “Did God really say not to eat from any tree in the garden?”  Eve explains that there is only one tree they were commanded not to eat from because “they would surely die” if they did so.  The devil responds by saying that they will not surely die but rather they will become like God, knowing good from evil.  The devil makes two implications here.  First, that God lied about Adam and Eve dying if they ate from the tree. And second, that God is unfairly and selfishly keeping something from them.

What we can see going on is that the devil is lying about God’s character, accusing Him of not having Adam and Eve’s best interests at heart, of lying, and of not being as good as He would have them believe.

2) Job 1:8-11, 2:3-5
In the story of Job, we see Satan at work once again.  This time the angels come and present themselves before God and the devil comes as well.  God asks Satan if he has heard of Job, who “fears God and shuns evil”.  The devil’s response is to claim that Job is good only because God has been good to him and blessed him.  Take that away, the devil says to God, and “he will surely curse You to Your face!”  Later, after Job remains true to God after having all he has taken away, the devil claims that Job is only good because he still has his health.  If that is taken away, says the devil to God, “he will surely curse you to your face!”

In both instances, the devil is accusing Job in front of God and claiming that he isn’t as good as God says he is.  The devil makes false claims about Job’s character.

3) Luke 4:1-13

In the account of Christ’s temptation, we find the devil up to his usual tricks.  The first two times that he tempts Jesus, he uses a formula that goes “If you are the Son of God, then do this.”

Satan is questioning Jesus’ identity and implicitly accusing Him of not being the Son of God by challenging Him to prove it.

Here we have 3 examples of Satan at work and a vital component each time is raising false accusations.  We have no reason to think that he has changed his strategy and we find ourselves in positions similar to Adam and Eve, Job, and Jesus.  Satan attacks us by using lies to accuse God and accuse us.  This is one of the reasons why it is so important to be firmly grounded in God.  We need to spend time with God by praying, reading His Word, worshiping, etc. so that we know what the Truth is.  Namely that Christ died to free us from our sins (John 3:16), that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), and that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39).  If we know the Truth about God and ourselves, we will be able to see Satan’s lies for what they are.