Posts Tagged ‘ Garden of Eden ’

The answer is in the ice cream truck

Have you ever needed God like you needed your next breath of air? As if you were suffocating in your own self image. Have you ever felt crucified to a way of life? You’re nailed to this place and you long to come down, to run away, to be given a second chance. You’re nailed to this place and you long for the email, the letter, the opportunity from God to step away and become the man you know you were destined to be.

I sometimes feel like that man. I found my self crying out to God this morning. “Remember me, Lord don’t forget me. Take me with you on your next adventure.” I long to see danger, confront my fear, and really know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have what it takes to ride shotgun for Jesus. To know I have been tested and molded by the hands of God himself.

Jesus was crucified next to a man that prayed the same prayer I prayed this morning. “Remember me, Lord don’t forget me. Take me with you on your next adventure.”
Why did he say remember me? The first five books of the bible were memorized by Jewish boys by the time they were 12. Scattered like stars throughout the first 5 books is the word remember. 156 times, God was either making a promise to remember us, or men and women crying out for God to remember them. 156 times of us being broken, scared and longing to be rescued from a life we know we weren’t meant to live.

We see time as something moving. God sees time as a still picture, past present and future. 156 times leading up to the cross, 156 times the pray prayed after the cross…It doesn’t matter. He heard them all. He heard me this morning.

“Lord remember me.”
Looking into the thieves eyes Jesus saw mine, he saw yours.

“Remember me, remember me.” It was the codeword, the hot button, the send in the troops because I’m dying catch phrase.
Remember me = God I’m nailed to a place I don’t want to be. I’m suffocating in my self image and I need you more than I need my next breath of air.

Jesus’ answer, “I tell you the truth , today you will be with me in paradise.”

What does that mean? Jesus was a Rabbi. A Rabbi was a very adventurous, respected teacher of the Jewish Bible. They would travel from village to village teaching people how to live what the bible said. These rabbis only taught what they were taught. They never offered any ideas of there own. Among these rabbis was a VERY small group, who had what ancient jews called “s’mikah”.

S’mikah was the God given authority, to explain new ideas of what Gods word means. Rabbi’s with Smikah would say, “you’ve looked at what God said through these lenses all of your life, try looking through these lenses. You’ve been taught the bible means this all of your life, but I tell you it really means that.”

Jesus rolled with this Smikah, and whenever he was going to teach something new , whenever he was ready to blow peoples minds, whenever he was ready to hand them this new lens, he would say “I tell you the truth”.

“I tell you the truth.” It was like the ice cream trucks theme song. Da di nit a lint a dint ta dint, Da dint da dint da dint ta! Kids would spring up with dreams of ice pops, chocolate Sunday lovers would start salivating, and a whole community would gather to offer their hard earned dollars for the soft serve on a hot summer day.

So here we have the thief on the cross asking Jesus to remember him and all he hears coming out of Jesus’ mouth is, “Da di nit a lint a dint ta dint, Da dint da dint da dint ta!” Jesus was about to literally hand him a vanilla ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles.

“I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Paradise? What does that mean? The original Hebrew word for Paradise is Gen Eden. It refers it The Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden was a place where adam and eve walked in harmony with God. Jewish people call it “olam haba.” It was a place where God made us in his image, a place where we reflected the beauty, creativity and wonder of God. In this Garden we were pure, whole, and complete. We lived a life of love and adventure and we definitely rode shotgun for Jesus.

Today you will be with me in paradise = The adventure starts today kiddo.

It was the answered email, the letter he was waiting for all of his life, the opportunity to step away and become the man he knew he was destined to be. Maybe our destiny and adventure begins at a cross. Maybe it begins when we realize we need God more than our next breath of air. Maybe it begins when we ask God to remember us.

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Cain and a pile of horse crap

Matthew 5:21-24

21″You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother[b]will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,[c]’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23″Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

I have been doing a considerable amount of thinking about this. I know I have been angry with my brother. I know my brother may have something against me. I guess that means I am subject to judgment and the things I long to offer God need to be put on pause. I wonder if God puts our relationship on pause until things are squared away between me and my brother. Weather or not that is true, I do indeed feel like I am in a life “pause”. And it sucks. I am fighting with everything in me to move forward but I can’t.

Genesis 4:1-7

1 Adam [a] lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. [b] She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth [c] a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Way back, way-way back ever since the days I learned the  “Jesus loves me this I know” song, I was taught this passage was  a  right offering to God.  The sunday school teacher would say, “God wants your first, God wants your best and He won’t accept anything less.” I would think as a little kid,  “That is horse crap.”  As I got older and more mature in the  faith, the pastor would say, “God didn’t accept Cains sacrifice because God demanded a blood sacrifice and Cains agriculture just wouldn’t  do.” I would sit back and think, “Thats horse crap.”

The truth is sometimes my first isn’t my best, and  isn’t  God more pleased with the heart of the giver, not the  gift the giver gives? What if the Garden wasn’t about Able outperforming his brother and winning Gods attention. What if this whole dramatic scene wasn’t about a blood sacrifice? What if it was simply Gods way of trying to reunite two fighting brothers?

If we were to put the story of Cain and Able in Matthew 5, it would sound like this…

Matthew 5:22-24/Genesis 4

But I tell you Cain, you are angry with your brother Able and that subjects you to judgement. Sin is crouching at your door and it desires to have you, but you must master it.
“Therefore, I see the gift you are offering, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. If you do the right thing wont you be accepted?

What if God didn’t accept Cains offering, not because it wasn’t the first, or because it wasn’t a blood sacrifice, but because Cain wasn’t right with his brother Able. It would kind of put a brand  new spin on the whole thing. I ask God for ideas, ways, things to do to be reconciled to my brother. Because until I do my life is on pause,  I guess my acceptance is on pause, my relationship with God is on pause. The only way out of this pause is Murder, or Reconciliation. I choose reconciliation. How about you? Who knows, this too could just be a bunch of horse crap.

Wild and Naked with God

Wild and Naked with God

Genesis 2:19
But for Adam [g] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs [h] and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib [i] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman, [j] ‘
for she was taken out of man.”
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

I wonder what that must have felt like, to be naked and feel no shame. I don’t think it can be compared to the experience of young children. They don’t know any better. It is not shamelessness. A shameless nakedness is inappropriate. When is it ok to be naked and feel no shame? Two ways, when I am alone and when I am with my husband or wife. Why?

Genesis 4 King James Version
1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.

It says that Adam knew Eve. This knowing, this knowledge gets lost in our translation. Pope John Paul in his book theology of the body describes this knowing in a unique way that could shed some light on the creation story.
He states,
“A husband and wife who truly know each other have arrived at the core of each other and both are loved at there core. At this level they constantly recognize and speak about what scholars call Unrepeatability. They both are convinced that the other is unique and cannot be repeated or replaced. They are given in marriage to each other to be known by each other.”

The atmosphere is one of protection, respect, patience, kindness, understanding and Love. An atmosphere where neither partner is absorbed or lost to the other. But where they become more of their true self when around each other. It is true Intimacy. (Into me see) It is only in this atmosphere are we ok to be naked. It is only in this atmosphere were it is appropriate to be naked.

So here we have Adam, and Eve both naked, both in intimacy with each other and God. This is where we can feel naked and feel no shame. It is in this atmosphere of intimacy That God says see into me see, and we say to God see into me see. A true test of intimacy is if you can get naked in front of the other person and feel no shame.
Shame what is it? Shame is the opposite of intimacy Shame is what happens when you are naked in the wrong atmosphere. Being naked in an atmosphere where the other person is out to humiliate you, hurt you, use you, absorb you, and disrespect you. Being naked in this atmosphere brings shame.
Why at one moment in the garden did Adam and Eve feel no shame, then the next moment feel shame? Was it because they sinned and felt horrible about there mistake of eating the apple?
Or was it something more?

Genesis 3
The Fall of Man
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

The snake says, “Did God Really say you must not eat from the trees of the garden? You will not surely die, God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like him, knowing good and evil.”

It was like he was whispering. God is holding out on you, He doesn’t really want you to be like him. He really doesn’t want you to see into him. He is lying to you and taking advantage of you. If he is lying about this, is he lying about his protection, his kindness, his respect, his love for you? The snake was creating an atmosphere where God was out to hurt, use, absorb, and disrespect. He was crafting within there hearts the lie that God couldn’t be trusted, he wouldn’t protect, and he had no love for them. And the bite of the apple was believing this was there atmosphere when God was around.

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

It says they realized they were naked, they sowed fig leaves and covered themselves. It says they heard God and were afraid, not because they disobeyed God, but because they were naked. I wonder if there eyes were opened not to the fact that they sinned and were naked. I think they always knew they were naked. The leaves didn’t say oh my God I have a weenie I never saw before I need to cover it.
Could the leaves have said I don’t trust you to be intimate with me any more? There were 3 people in the Garden. And one was making the others feel uncomfortable.

C.S. Lewis in his book Prelandra said,
“As long as what you are afraid of is something evil, you may still hope that the good may come to your rescue. But suppose you struggle through to the good and find that it also is dreadful? How if food itself turns out to be the very thing you can’t eat, and home the very place you can’t live, and your very comforter the person who makes you uncomfortable? Then, indeed, there is no rescue possible: the last card has been played.”

Your very comforter the person who makes you uncomfortable? If God, the center of Goodness and Love is Evil in the center of our hearts, then what a mighty long way we have fallen. Then the last card has truly been played. But the last card wasn’t played.

I wonder how many of us lack intimacy with God, because our atmosphere is all wrong. I wonder how many of us are really uncomfortable being naked when God shows up. How does my atmosphere look? Do I live in a world where I believe God really doesn’t protect me respect me or love me? Do I hide because this God thing is just too uncomfortable? Deep down inside do I believe a lie that I cannot trust Jesus? Oh I say I do, but my belly is full of apples and my weeny is covered with leaves.

What do I do about it? God shows up, sees me covered, inside and out and says “So its like that now.” I’m sure his heart was ripped out of his chest. Like a husband who comes home with flowers for his wife only to find her in bed with another man. He must have thought, “What do I have to do to show you I can be trusted? What do I have to do to bring you back to the atmosphere I created you to live in?”

To make a beautiful, long love story short. God comes to a place in history where he says enough is enough. He comes into our world physically in the form of Jesus. He gives himself into our hands and we did to him the very thing we were afraid of him doing to us in the garden. We stripped him naked, embarrassed him, hurt, disrespected, used, hated, and murdered him. It’s as if he came to us naked saying I am not out to get you. You can give me your worst, and I will love you. You can strike me down and I will protect you, I will never use you or abuse you,
I can’t uneat the apple but I can start learning to uncover myself in His presence. God questions us. “Where are you? Don’t you realize you will become all you were meant to be by being intimate with me? I can be trusted with your nakedness. You don’t have to hide or feel uncomfortable in my presence.”

Jesus’ brutal, ugly, death restored the atmosphere of Eden. The atmosphere of protection, respect, patience, kindness, understanding and love was rekindled. An atmosphere where neither partner is absorbed or lost to the other but one where were we become our true self when we are around him. Every heartbeat on the cross was pumping. (Into me see, into me see, into me see)

Sometimes my creativity likes to think Jesus’ cross was made out of the apple tree Adam and Eve ate from. So that when we are tempted not to trust God, We are forced to see Jesus’ nail holes and blood stains. We are forced to come face to face with a God that can be trusted.