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.Read Post
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.Read Post
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.Read Post
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.Read Post
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.Read Post
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!”Read Post
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?Read Post
The Danger of Feeling Overwhelmed by What God Has Entrusted to You
What God entrusted to us in creation is rather like my radial arm saw: wonderful, filled with potential, and powerful, but with “some assembly required.” Quite a bit of assembly, actually. This truth can encourage us or intimidate us. Encouragement will prevail over intimidation when we remember a few other biblical truths.Read Post
The Surprising Truth of God’s Incomplete Creation
Here’s some life-changing good news. You have been asked by the Creator of the universe to help finish the work he began. God has the capacity, of course, to complete the job without you. But in his grace and providence, God has chosen to delegate to you a significant aspect of his creative and sustaining work.Read Post
What Is Our Purpose? The Cultural Mandate
Genesis 1:28 gives us the very first biblical answers to our defining questions of life. We learn that human beings were created in God’s image so as to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion . . . .” Theologians sometimes refer to this collection of imperatives as the “cultural mandate” (or the “creation mandate”). God created human beings so that we might make, shape, and steward culture.Read Post
An Extraordinary Vision of Human Royalty
If, like me, you’ve been a Christian for a while, you might find the insights of Genesis 1:28 to be obvious. It’s easy for us to assume that the biblical understanding of human life is rather ordinary, shared by most people across the world throughout history.
The truth is strikingly different, however. Many philosophies and religious traditions do not value human life in the mode of Genesis 1Read Post
Do We Have Permission to Junk Up the World?
When I was in college, I used to jog along the Charles River, a scenic waterway separating Cambridge from Boston, Massachusetts. The river was indeed wonderful to observe, but woe to anyone who happened to enter its waters. The Charles was so polluted with factory waste and other kinds of refuse that students were warned never to even wade in it. Should someone happen to fall in, that person was strongly exhorted to take a quick shower and get a tetanus shot (really!). Fish and birds who used the river failed to thrive and most died. It always seemed to me terribly sad that human beings had ruined such a gorgeous river.Read Post