1/27/2006

The First Game of Hide and Seek... Part 2

So, when last we talked about this topic, I believe I left off with how, when I started to prepare to teach on Genesis 1-3, I was interested, but not invested. So, Josh, you may ask, how did you become so invested in this story? Well, that dear friend, is what we are here to talk about today.

For those unfamiliar with the story, here's where we find ourselves: In Genesis 1, God creates everything. Everything including us. And according to Him, it was all sweet. That is, until he got to us, then it was very sweet. What follows in Genesis 2 is a more detailed account of God creating the first person, Adam, and then his wife, Eve. The Bible says in verse 25, that God created Adam and Eve naked, and they felt no shame.

So this is the first place where my attention was grabbed. Why did God create them naked? Why is it that they were not embarrassed or felt no shame because of that?

Let's tackle the naked issue first. Yes, God created Adam and eve physically naked. But were they JUST physically nude? My guess is no. I think that their physical nakedness was an outward sign of an inward condition.

At this point in their life, Adam and Eve had nothing to hide. (Let that sink in.)

They had nothing to hide from God or from each other. Their relationship with God and with each other was completely open. They shared everything. They were free to completely be who God made them to be.

Have you ever had a friend who you could just completely be yourself around? How does that feel? It's like taking in that first big gulp of breath as you come up from under water. It's just that refreshing. Adam and Eve had that every minute of every day with each other and with God. It must have been amazing...

So God puts them in a garden that he planted and gives them a job, a diet, and a rule.

Job: Take care of everything that I have created.

Rob Bell says that we can see here that it is in the nature of a person to be an environmentalism.

Diet: At this point God limits Adam and Eve to a vegetarian diet. He says that they can eat from any fruit-bearing tree or seed-bearing plant. It isn't until after the flood in Genesis 7 that God grants them permission to eat animals.

Rule: Eat from every tree except "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil".

What's cool here; is that God doesn't just give them a rule, but he tells them why he's giving them this rule. He says to them that if they eat from this tree, or even touch it, they will die.

So far we know that Adam and Eve live in paradise. It's paradise for three reasons:
1. They have an intimate, close, completely free, naked relationship with the maker of the entirety of existence.
2. They have a healthy, sharing, nothing-to-hide naked relationship with each other.
3. God had provided everything that they could ever need in very close physical proximity to them.

In Genesis 3 we can really see where choosing our way over God's way can cost us.

So Eve is tricked by the serpent into eating the fruit from the forbidden tree. He convinces her that God doesn't want her to eat it, not because she will die, but because God knows it will make her just like him. And God doesn't want that. So Eve eats the fruit. She gives some to Adam, and he eats it.

The Bible says that, as soon as they eat the fruit, their eyes were opened, they realized that they were naked, and they covered themselves with fig leaves.

This is the first time in human history that people hid from each other. We haven't stopped yet...

So, the Bible says that they heard the sound of God coming through the garden. So they hide. Again. This is the first time in history that people tried to hide from God.

I'm so glad people have changed.

So God calls out for them, "Where are you?" God is searching for them, he's seeking them out.

So Adam pops out and says, "We heard you coming. But we were naked, so we got scared. So we hid."

And God asks a question that for some reason continues to echo through my thoughts. "Who told you that you were naked?"

So Adam says to God, "The woman that YOU put here gave me the fruit."

Adam blames someone else for his sin. His mistake. Does that sound like us?

So God asks Eve, "What have you done?"

Eve says to God, "The serpent tricked me!" Eve made an excuse for her sin. Does that sound like us?

So God disciplines Adam and Eve by banishing them from Paradise. They lost the garden, but what's even sadder is that, because they chose to go their way instead of God's, they lost that naked relationship they had with God and with each other.

We've been trying to get back to that ever since...

I became so heavily invested in these stories because I see my self in them. We like to think that we're better than Adam and Eve. That we would have done different. We would never have disobeyed and lost something so precious. Yes we would. We do everyday. We make that same choice everyday. We hide. We lie. We blame others. We make excuses. This is our story.

This is why God began work to bring back that naked relationship.

This is why God sent Jesus...

Quite Possibly the Greatest Music Video Ever Made...

I want this video played on a massively huge screen at my wedding someday. Or maybe Michael Knight can sing it in person. This is what music videos should be all about...

1/23/2006

Five Guys Who I Think Are Violently NOT Funny...

Maybe I should explain this list a little before I go on. There are certain people in this world who are naturally gifted at making others laugh. In general, these people make the world a better place. There are, however, others who are not so endowed with this talent. Even worse, there are a select few who aren't funny, but have convinced the media at large to believe that they are. This has resulted in you and I being forced into believing that these people have actual comedic talent by their constant barrage of movies, TV shows, sketches on popular late night comedy shows, or some combined mixture of all three.

Fear not adoring readers! For I am willing to stand up and say, "No more!" I am willing to proclaim to the world that these 5 men are not only NOT funny, but that some of them produce feelings of anger, sadness, and even confusion in the general populace. Which, I'm 63% sure is the opposite of a comedian's goal...

5. Ben Stiller
I have to confess something right now: I want to like Ben Stiller. Badly. I really do. I go to see all of his movies. I watch the TV shows he's on. I even watch the stuff that he works on as a writer or director. And all of these things have one thing in common: I walk out feeling disappointed. Every single thing this guy does is exactly the same. He always does the awkward, stuttering, slightly nerdy guy who thinks he's cool. The fact that he's married to the girl who played Melody on Hey Dude makes me sad. Dear Mr. Stiller: please update your act!

4. Eugene Levy
Once upon a time, this guys schtick was funny. (See SCTV and American Pie 1) But now, after years and years of repeated "Un-hip dad-like" characters I have to say something: Please, whoever is giving this man work, stop. STOP NOW before it's too late! Now, before you email me and curse my family, I will admit to having never seen Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show, or A Mighty Wind. I tried on Waiting for Guffman. But I just didn't get it. Maybe I'm not smart enough. But I doubt that's it. I think that some people just enjoy that type of humor. And those are the same people who watched Frasier.

3. Horatio Sanz
Now we're starting to get into some passionate feelings. Saturday Night Live has always had "The Fat Guy". Back in the 70's it was Belushi. In the 90's it was Farley. and in the late 90's/2000's it has been Horatio Sanz. Now, I've always thought that SNL has had some pretty smart comedy during it's time on the air. But this guy just deflates any sketch that he's in. At least with Farley you could always count on the very best in physical comedy. Horatio just smiles into the camera, recites whatever "dumb guy" lines the writers penned for him this week, and half the time concludes the sketch by laughing at how bad his own delivery is. Last night's SNL had one of his I'm Carol! sketches on it and I promise you, it may have been the worst thing that I have ever seen on the show. Please Lorne, just let him go so he can make more amazing movies like Boat Trip and Tomcats.

2. Fred Willard
Even now, as I type, I feel my stomach begin to churn because of the comedy career of Fred Willard. This guy has been in every comedy ever filmed, whether it be TV or movies, and has yet to be funny once. I think that one of the requirements that you have to fill whenever you are trying to get a TV show on the air is "Are you willing to have Fred Willard do a guest spot?" If you answer no, then you're done. Your show will never make it onto the tube. Don't believe me? Just go here and scroll down and look at how many guest appearances he's made. You know, with the other guys that are on this list, I can say, "He does this bit.", or "He always plays this type." I cannot say that about Fred, because I have no idea what he does to convince people to keep putting him in comedies. As far as I can tell, he just recites his lines like he would read a phone book. I've never been a part of a protest before, be it non-violent or not. But, I'm tempted to organize one just to get this guy deported back to Canada and off of my TV.

1. Kenan Thompson
This guy first showed up on Nickelodeon's All That. Back then, he would mug for the camera and say his lines like he was trying to do an impression of Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura. Then Nickelodeon gave him and Kel Mitchell (Laurel to Keenan's Hardy) their own show. New show, new time, same lame acting. And then the unthinkable happened. SNL hired Thompson on to be a part of it's cast. I nearly had an aneurysm. My sacred oasis of comedy gold, my humorous holy of holies was being violated by this comedy pagan. My one true hope lied in him being relegated to featured player for one or two seasons and then dismissed. Erased, like this mistake never happened. But then, this year he was promoted to repertory player. I cannot even begin to describe for you how I feel whenever he wastes precious airtime by appearing on screen. Anger...blood boiling...seeing red...must not transform... I hope that, one day, we can all live in peace here on the earth, world hunger will end, there will be no more of the AIDS pandemic, literacy rates will go up, teen pregnancies will go down, and Kenan Thompson will never be paid to be "funny" again. For that would truly be heaven on earth.

So there. That's my list of five guys who I think are violently NOT funny. Agree or disagree, I cannot stand idly by and help to perpetrate this scam any longer. I had to stand up for you and make sure that we are never again told to laugh at what is, in fact, just not that funny...

1/22/2006

Lists: The Beginning...

So, I've decided to have some fun with my blog. Anybody that has been around me for more than
8 days will probably notice that I like lists. In fact, a lot of times when I'm trying to be funny
(read as: all the time), I will say something along the lines of, "This _____ is _____ for 3 reasons:...", and then go on to complete the "joke". I just did it this morning in our Middle School service. Today it was "Monster trucks are sweet for three reasons". I kid you not. So, today I thought to myself, "Why is it that the only people who get to hear all of my lists are people who I actually talk with on a day to day basis? Why not include everyone in my blog-o-sphere too!"

So, here without further delay, is the first of my lists. I hope that you find this mildly amusing. Truth is, I know that I make myself laugh more than anyone else. I also invite any of your comments...

1/20/2006

I Just Had To Post This...


Ok, this is from Yahoo! News. So, it's legit. And Awesome! We can't be far from other sweet genetic mutations showing up. Maybe I'll finally get my superpowers...

Cy, short for Cyclopes, a kitten born with only one eye and no nose, is shown in this photo provided by its owner in Redmond, Oregon, on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2005. The kitten, a ragdoll breed, which died after living for one day, was one of two in the litter. Its sibling was born normal and healthy. (AP Photo/Traci Allen)

1/17/2006

The First Game of Hide and Seek... Part 1

Ok, I hear you. Why, Josh, would you start a blog, begin to make it totally sweet, and then seemingly ditch it and leave us wanting more? Well, I don't have a good reason. Yeah, I got busy. But no more than you. Yeah, there was Christmas. But you did that too. So, let's make a pact: I'll try my best to update more regularly, and you do your best not to abandon our "Blogg-ER/Blog-EE" relationship. Every relationship has it's rough spots. But I feel like we've grown because of this. Phew! Now that I got that off my chest...

Here's what's been turning over and over in the washing machine of my mind for the past week: Genesis 1-3. No, not the first 3 CD's by the Peter Gabriel/Phil Collins fronted band of "I Can't Dance" fame. But, the first 3 chapters of the Bible.

Last week, in our Middle School ministry, I began to teach through the book of Genesis. I've wanted to do this, for some time, for a couple of different reasons:
1) A lot of people see Genesis as a fairytale book.

They tell the stories, but are completely detached from them. They tell it with as much connection to it as a dad tells his son about the time that a kid traded a cow for some beans, planted them, grew a big vine, climbed that sucker, and stole from a giant. This isn't a fairytale. This isn't a fantasy. This really happened. A long time ago, yes. But it really happened.

2) This is our history.

We study history in school to learn about the past, so we don't repeat it. We also study it to see how we got to where we are today. But, with history (at least the kind we study in Middle School and High School) the events are over. The ink is dry. The story is done. We're not going to have another Boston Tea Party or Winston-Salem Witch Hunt. We're done with the Spanish Inquisition. No more Vietnam. But, the events that are documented in the Bible still happen. Every day. Every. Single. Day. (I posted a little on this back here) This is so important to learn because it's where we were, but it's also where we are.

3) This is our present.

We still do this stuff. All the time. We haven't changed a bit. Here's the good news: neither has God. We screw up, he offers redemption. But sometimes, we concentrate too much on the salvation part of redemption. (Stay with me!) We think that the whole purpose of Christ's death was salvation. Yes, it was a big part of it, but not the whole of it. Christ's birth, life, and death were also about restoration. It was about God restoring things back to the way that he designed them to be. More on this in a bit.

4) We can see, starting this early on, how God set the stage for Christ's redeeming of humankind.

Yes, we can. As soon as we muck it up, God gets to work. Early on, we can see how he starts moving the chess pieces and setting up the board for the checkmate. Even through geneologies!

So, I taught. This past week we covered Genesis 1-3. Basically 3 stories: Creation, Creation of Adam and Eve, and what's typically called "The Fall". Maybe a more up-to-date title for this story would be: "Adam and Eve choose THEIR way over God's".

When I started preparing this message, I was interested, but not invested. Once I got to Genesis 3, that changed...

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our saga...