Brian Stevenson's Blog
Sometime ago, I helped my employer implement an online job application process. We needed a way to efficiently collect information about each applicant, put it into a database, and give our hiring managers a way to find the best applicant for each job opening.
During the implementation of this project, I got to see under-the-hood of what our Human Resources department values in a potential employee. Things like experience, education, and acumen helped boost your score. Things like felony convictions, inadequate experience, and prior terminations would lower your score. They would use this score to weed out the applicant pool before they setup interviews.
In stark contrast to this sophisticated applicant process, God only looks for one thing in his people. When King Saul rebelled against the will of God, Samuel said to him in 1 Samuel 13:
"How foolish!" Samuel exclaimed. "You have not kept the command the Lord...
In the movie Spiderman, the main character -- Peter Parker -- is bitten by a genetically-altered spider. He discovers that he has gained special powers - the strength and agility of a spider along with a keen, ESP-like "spider sense". Initially, he uses these powers for personal gain. His decisions lead to turmoil and he remembers the wise advice of his Uncle Ben, "With great power comes great responsibility." He repents of his selfishness and vows to use his powers to fight crime and rid the city of evildoers. As he comes to terms with his power and his identity, he says to himself, "This is my gift… my curse. Who am I? I’m Spiderman."
Likewise, Adam and Eve were given an incredible identity and gift: They were created in the image of God. They shared a level of relational intimacy with God that far exceeded the rest of God’s creation. And, like Peter Parker, they were given a special power. In Genesis 1:26-28 we read:
Then God said...
When I was about 21 years old, my Dad helped my younger brother and I buy a condo. It was an interesting arrangement because he technically paid for ALL of the upfront costs, yet my name was listed as one of the owners. My Dad paid the mortgage each month, and he asked me to pay less than 1/3 of the actual cost. My only responsibility was to pay for utilities and some minor upkeep. It was a sweetheart deal!
BUT... there's always a "but", isn't there? My Dad had a few "add on" rules. I won't get into the details of that arrangement, but I assure you the rules were not unreasonable for any God-fearing person. He laid down those rules for my benefit. In return, I got a sweet place to live.
In the same way, God extends a sweetheart deal to the Israelites (summarized by the Book of Deuteronomy). He rescues them from Egyptian slavery, gives them a land flowing with milk and honey, and promises to make them a great nation. BUT... God needed to lay down a few...
In fall 2010, T---- enrolled in The Ohio State University to get her bachelor's degree in Sociology. She was determined to do a good job! She wrote down every assignment from her syllabi into her calendar. She was diligently attending every class, thoroughly reviewing her notes before each test, and keeping up in the reading assignments.
As she moved closer to midterms, she began to realize that her professors' expectations were higher than she anticipated. She decided not to take a trip in October to see her family for the Canadian Thanksgiving. And, we cancelled our plans to go camping in the Appalachian region to enjoy the beautiful colors of autumn. And, yet again, we cancelled other smaller (local) getaways that were scheduled as replacements to the big getaways! We didn't have the gift of free time because of her slave-driving school schedule.
Then, something unexpected happened. Her English professor got sick and postponed the due date of the major writing project. And, her Photography professor eased off the weekend assignments because of the midterms too! After a...
Several years ago, God put in me a curiosity about Judaism. At first, it started with reading books about their history. Some time later, I decided to visit Beth Messiah, the local Messianic Jewish congregation. I have to admit, I was scared. What if they were some kind of strange cult? And, why did they meet on a Saturday? Church is on Sunday, right?
When I stepped foot into their facility, I was blown away by their kindness and love. I experienced a kind of community like never before. They had beautiful music, beautiful dancing, and beautiful liturgy. I experienced a whole new way of worshiping God. After the service, they did something called the Hamotzi Blessing. They bring out a huge loaf of bread called Challah. It's broken so everyone gets a piece of it. Then the Rabbi would lead everyone into saying this blessing, first in Hebrew, then in English:
Baruch atah Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha'olam hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.
Let me tell you, I was starving...