Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Tinkerer

Tinker - an interesting word, at least for me. Maybe it's because I can relate to it since I remember my father saying that word at lot, especially when he was trying to fix something. For example, if he was attempting to get an old clock working, he would say he was going to tinker with it a while. This usually meant that he didn't really expect to get it actually working, unless success happened by chance, or through perseverance of several tinkering episodes. Nonetheless, he would continue to tinker with various things. To my dad's credit, not everyone can tinker, it takes perseverance and patience, and he was a pro at it.

Another word my dad used a lot, especially when he went outside in the garage to see what he could get into, was the verb "putter around". He would say something like, "I'm going out to putter around for a while". That usually meant doing little things of little consequence. It was usually an act of randomly performing small, unplanned mediocre tasks, in no particular order.

A third word he used a lot was pretnear. Actually, it's more of a phrase. My dad would say something like, "He pretnear got the job done!" This word, I suppose, is an abbreviation for the phrase "pretty near", meaning almost.

I don't know if these words are specific to the area I grew up in (south central N.Y. state), or the time period I grew up in. But regardless, I look back at them with humor and nostalgia.

You are probably wondering how in the world those three words - (tinker - putter around - and pretnear) -  relate to anything spiritual. Well, they actually do. They apply to someone who takes the Bible, God's word, with a lackluster attitude. The word lackluster means exactly what it sounds like - lacking luster. In other words, an attitude lacking conviction or vitality. Here's how to apply those three words to Bible reading, in just one (run-on) sentence....

Don't tinker with God's Word like you don't really expect to get anything out of it, or
putter around in it with no real direction, and don't ever say, "I pretnear was persuaded to get serious about following the Way, the Truth, and the Life!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Amazing Tree Of Life

The garden was special in the sense that everything was perfect, lush, and full. And there were all kinds of trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. But there were two very unusual trees in the garden that stood out from the rest. In fact, they were supernatural trees that God had created.
One was called the Tree of Life. The other was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. 

Both trees were located right in the middle of the Garden of Eden, where God had placed Adam, the first man, to work it and take care of it. Adam was allowed to eat from any tree in the garden except one: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That's because if he ate from that tree, God had warned him that he would surely die.

God did, however, allow Adam to eat from the other supernatural tree: the Tree of Life. Actually, the Tree of Life had mysterious, extraordinary qualities, for if anyone ate from it, they would live forever! This tree not only sustained Adam's life, but sustained it eternally, as long as he continued to eat from it. 

Eventually, God created Eve, Adam's wife. You probably know the rest of the story. They both eventually disobeyed God's rule, and deceived by Satan's words, they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Everything went downhill from there. Death, and sin itself, came into a perfect world. And the effects are with each of us today. Not only is physical death the destiny of every person, but spiritual death is a real possibility because of the effects of sin. 

As a sentence, a penalty for their sin, Adam and Eve were not only kicked out of the beautiful, luscious Garden of Eden, but they were prevented from eating from the Tree of Life. God placed special angels, cherubim, along with a flaming sword that constantly flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree. And without eating from that tree, Adam and Eve could not live forever. 

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24)

Adam and Eve eventually died, never able to eat again for the Tree of Life. The life sustaining tree was gone from this earth forever. Or was it? If you think about it closely, the Tree of Life actually did return, though in a completely different form. It came back as a tree alright, but this special tree took on a new shape - the shape of a cross! The cross of Christ is our Tree of Life. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

That's right, God offers once again the opportunity to live forever! But it's not because we earned that right. Instead, God's offer is called grace, and it's only accessible through Jesus dying on the cross. We are no longer condemned because of our sin, instead we are offered forgiveness because Jesus paid the penalty, the price, to free us from our sins. The price was His life. 

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

Jesus' sacrifice was huge. Through the cross, He was able to reverse the consequences of Adam's sin!

"For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:19)

And because we are reconciled with God through Jesus, we will live eternally with Him in Heaven after we leave this world. And guess what? There in Heaven, everything comes full circle. We get the Tree of Life back! 

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 22:1-5)