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Life For Leaders

Life for Leaders is our digitally delivered devotional, sent every day.

Don’t Miss the Beauty

Years ago, my family and I visited Sequoia National Park in California. The highlight of this trip was seeing the Giant Sequoia redwoods, after which the park is named. These trees are awe-inspiring, both for their beauty and their size. The largest redwood in the national park is the General Sherman tree, which towers above the forest at 275 feet in height. It is also 25 feet in diameter, with an estimated age over 2500 years. As my family and I ambled among the giant redwoods, drinking in their exceptional elegance, I noticed a teenaged boy walking along with his family. His eyes were transfixed, not by the trees, but rather by his Game Boy device.

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The Double Gift of Beauty

According to Genesis 2:9, God made “every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we considered the ordering of this account, noting the priority of “pleasant to the sight.” Today, I want to reflect a bit more on this phrase.

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The Striking Priority of Beauty

I’ve been reading the Bible for fifty years. I’ve read and studied Genesis 2 at least thirty times: in my personal devotions, while preparing for preaching, and in my grad school Hebrew class. I have poured over every word of this chapter time and again.

Today, I saw something new in this text. I’d never seen it before. Once again, I’ve experienced the fathomless depth of Scripture. I’m eager to share with you what I’ve learned. I will do so beginning in today’s devotion.

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Our Dual Identity

Some of my favorite heroes have a dual identity: Clark Kent is Superman; Bruce Wayne is Batman; Peter Parker is Spider-Man. The list goes on and on. You and I also have a dual identity, though, unlike the comic book heroes, our dual identity isn’t secret. It’s plainly revealed in Scripture, beginning in Genesis 2:7.

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Submission is Essential for Leadership

As we read Psalm 2 today, our context is quite different. We no longer have human kings ruling over us. Moreover, we have come to understand that Psalm 2 points ahead to the one who was fully the Son of God. Thus, when we read verse 12, we hear a call to kiss, that is, to submit to Jesus, the Son of God.

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Hearing the Story of God

Genesis 2:3 completes the first creation account in the Bible, with a picture of God at rest. Genesis 2:4 begins the second creation account, which narrates the creation of the world in a way that is both like and unlike the first account. In both tellings of the creation, God is the sovereign Lord who creates all things according to his will. Both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 emphasize the centrality of human beings in creation and their unique role in the stewardship of what God has made.

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Should I Keep the Sabbath?

For centuries, Christians have debated the question of Sabbath keeping, proposing a wide range of answers, often with more heat than light. Thus, it seems almost foolish for me to think that I can responsibly address the question “Should I keep the Sabbath?” in one short devotional. Nevertheless, I want to offer some basic parameters that might help guide our thinking and practice.

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If God Rested, Shouldn’t We?

I was raised to value hard work. My family, my church, and the culture of my youth rewarded me when I was productive. So did my college and graduate school experience, as did the churches in which I served during the first half of my life. I remember one performance review I had as pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church. Before our meeting to talk about my efforts, I had told my reviewers that I was working at a pace that was not sustainable. I asked for their help in reshaping my priorities so that I might do what was most valuable for the church without burning myself out. When it came time for our face-to-face conversation, they told me that, for the most part, I was doing a good job. But they recommended that I teach more Bible classes, invest more in my staff, and be more available to the congregation for counseling. Basically, they wanted me to work more. This, of course, tapped into my inclination to work too much, not to mention my inherent desire to please. More work, less rest. That’s the ticket to success and fulfillment.

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Why Did God Rest?

Recently, my wife and I moved from Texas to California. Our final day in Texas was a crazy one as we scrambled to sell some of our possessions, give away many more, and take a bunch of junk to the dump. Then, after the movers finished emptying our house, we spent hours cleaning, getting everything ready for the new owners so they might move into a tidy, welcoming home. We didn’t leave until 10:45 p.m., having worked steadily from 7:00 a.m. By the time we finally arrived at our motel early the next morning, we were exhausted and more than ready to rest.

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The Surprising End of the Story

Genesis 1:31 appears to end the first creation story, with God seeing that all he had made was very good. The sixth day is over and so is the chapter. But, unexpectedly, the story continues into the second chapter of Genesis, where the first three verses actually wrap up the account begun in the first chapter.

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Very Good!

Perhaps you can relate to the following scenario. You’re overseeing a complicated project, one with many steps and stages. As some of these are completed, you look upon what has been accomplished with a feeling of pride. “This is pretty good,” you think to yourself. But you know there’s much more to be done so you don’t stop too long to congratulate yourself. Finally, all the parts are done. The project is finished. You step back to take in the whole and say, “Wow! This is very good!”

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How To Be Fruitful and Resilient

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I made the long drive from San Antonio, Texas to Pasadena, California, where we now reside. We passed through hundreds of miles of southwestern desert, most of which was filled with dry soil, colorful rocks, and scraggy shrubs. Every now and then, however, we’d see ribbons of bright green trees flourishing in the midst of the desert. What was their secret?

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