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He Tames the Chaos


"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."  Genesis 1:1-2
There is certainly a place for the discussion of how God created the earth.  Is it young or is it old?  How long is a day?  How do we reconcile the Bible and science?  While these topics may be profitable, it is vital that we do not lose God in the debate.  The author of Genesis is not as concerned with how God created the world as he is about telling the story of the God who created the world.
After introducing God (Gen. 1:1) the author introduces the world (Gen. 1:2).  The news is not good.  For the ancient readers of the narrative the choice of language is sinister and unmistakable.  The earth was without form and void.  It had no meaning.  There was nothing but chaos.  There is no surprise here because it seems that the earth is the victim of an evil realm, the darkness and the deep. 
Readers of ancient Mesopotamian mythology can sympathize with the terror here.  The darkness and the deep are the lairs of evil.  The abyss of the sea was the chamber of the underworld.  The darkness was the breath of demons.  Man lived life in constant fear trying desperately to ward off these evil forces but to no avail.  Not even the gods could tame the chaos of the darkness and the deep.  In the Mesopotamian mind Genesis 1:1 is just the name of another God, because Genesis 1:2 is the end of the story.  No god can overcome such evil.  Life is hopeless.  Chaos rules.
The author brings us an early note of good news.  The Spirit of God is hovering over the face of the waters.  The creator God is not from the darkness or the deep.  The creator God is not threatened by the darkness or the deep.  He hovers over it.  What we should expect here is a great battle to ensue.  The evil spirits of the chaos rising up and victimizing yet another god of the pantheon; but there is no battle.  The creator God simply speaks and immediately the darkness is gone and there is light (Gen. 1:3).    As he speaks the world comes to order and where there was once only dark, deep, formless void there is meaning.  The creator God tames the chaos. 
There are many spirits rising from the evil of the abyss with which we must contend.  Each of them seem to interrupt an otherwise enjoyable existence by introducing chaos.  Globally we deal with terrorism, government conspiracy, and economic instability.  It seems there is growing chaos in our environment.  Every few years there seems to be a contagious virus we cannot tame.  We have always had storms, but they seem bigger now.  More people are dying due to the weather.  The Fujita scale is used to measure the intensity of a tornado.  They calculate it based on the damage to human life a storm causes.  Some of us seem to always be living life at F-5, total chaos.  As bothersome as the agents of global chaos may be, they are not nearly as concerning as the personal ones.  Darkness is bad, but when the darkness is near you; in you . . .  We are no match for this sort of evil.  We all want a happy life,  but somebody, something inevitably walks in with chaos.  We need rescue.
Left to itself the world descends quickly into chaos.  An abandoned building, an untended garden, an orphaned life; all of these are the easy victims of chaos.  Even with our constant attention there seems to be some forces in life for which even the best of men are no match.  The deep reminds us we are in over our heads.  The darkness we may not see, but we certainly feel.  We are in desperate need of someone greater than we who can give life meaning and offer hope.  Without an advocate we are easy victims.  The good news is that there is a creator God who is not from the evil.  He is not of the evil.  He is not even threatened by the things that threaten us.  His Spirit hovers over.  He is working to tame the chaos.  The more he speaks the more life means.  The chaos is controlled easily by three words, "And God said."  We grossly underestimate the power of God's Word.  
God has spoken.  This is good news.
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Choosing Jacob

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He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not



Determining whether or not God loves us based on the unpredictable circumstances of the day is like playing the foolish childhood game of "He loves me, He loves me not." In this game love is not based on a person's character, but on how many petals are on the flower. It is time we stop playing this game with God and settle on the truth that His love is steadfast for us.
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Rise of the Nations (The Dirt Series Video)

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The God Walkers

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The Perils of Paradise Lost


Milton described the perils of our present world simply as paradise lost.  In each of us is not only the desire to live, but the desire to live in a pleasurable place.  Yet we contend with our vulnerabilities.  Children should never get sick, but they do.  Accidents are surprising twists of reality, sinister interruptions of the good life.  We don’t want them to happen, but they will.  We travel familiar paths everyday and take it for granted that we will always make it from point A to point B, then one day we don’t.  Such is life in paradise lost.
The world was not supposed to be this way.  God created a world in which we could enjoy His rest (Gen. 2:1).  Rest, in the Gen. 2:1 Shabbat sense, is not to be thought of as physical exhaustion, but as paradise completed.  Rest comes from the will of God being fully satisfied.  Man was created with full access to life.  It is the life you have never experienced but your soul can never forget.  This is why accidents are so disappointing and sickness seems so unfair.  You were created for paradise.  This world is chaotic and confusing because it is so foreign to the cravings of our soul.  We want life to be good.  Before paradise was lost life was very good (Gen. 1:31).
The Woman gets a bad rap because she believed the devil’s lie, “You will not surely die (Gen. 3:5).”  But let’s be honest.  We still believe the devil’s lie.  We have yet to come to grips with how awful life can be in paradise lost.  An even more ironic twist to the scheme of Satan is that when people die we become angry, not at the deceiver, but at the Creator.  God was honest.  Eat the fruit and you will die.  It was the devil who lied - but we still believe he was right; die - we shall not!  This is why we are so apt to blame God; because we never believed Him in the first place.
So onward we trudge in paradise lost, confused, disillusioned, and angry.  As awful as life can be and as vulnerable as we all are, we must take hope that one day the curse will be conquered in Christ and the redeemed will enter into God’s rest (Heb. 4:9).  The danger is that we will continue to believe Satan’s lie; that its God’s fault we die, blame Him.  If we continue in this line of thought we have not once bitten the forbidden fruit, we have made a feast of it.  Paradise lost is not the world that God intended and it is not the world that will always be.  God will redeem a people for His own possession and He will create for them a new world (Rev. 21).  This is the good news of the gospel.  
Until paradise redeemed we must contend with paradise lost and if we are to be saved we must wake up from the lie.  People die.  We are vulnerable.  Satan has deceived us.  God was honest that if we disobeyed life would be this way.  With whom should we be angry?  
God has sent His Son into the world to save the lost (Luke 19:10); the exiles from Paradise 1 (Gen. 3:22-24).  That’s us.  What makes coming to Christ most difficult is that we have a hard time believing we have lost anything at all.  When life goes wrong we believe it is God who has lost His mind, not we who have sinned and lost paradise.  Faith calls us to awaken from the deception, to trust Christ, to contend with the world, and to strive to enter the rest - Paradise 2 (Heb. 4:11).  And this we should choose to do if we desire to be rescued by grace.  Understanding the nature of living in paradise lost, being honest about our vulnerability, and being careful on whom we place the blame.     
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:18–25 (ESV)

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The Dirt Series


">The Dirt Series from Brian Branam on Vimeo.
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Being Organic


Life is agricultural.  No matter how industrialized or technological the world becomes the principle of sowing and reaping is inescapable.  We are organic at the core.  Much of who you are can be attributed to decisions you made many years ago.  Something in the past was planted in your life, your character, your personality, your circumstances - today you eat the fruit.
Being organic has its positives and negatives.  When it comes to the negatives we would rather keep them hidden below the surface.  The problem here is that in an agrarian world, what is buried will soon grow.  Your sins will find you out (Num. 32:23).  The fruits of past sins are bitter herbs indeed.
The positive to being organic is that we can sow things into the soil of our soul that will, given time, become life giving.  Saving $10 per week will give you $1,000 in two years.  It is easy to waste $10 a hundred times.  It is hard not to need $1,000 just once.  In an organic world a little bit (the seed) can go a long way (the fruit).  We reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7)  
What is the little bit (the seed) that you can sow into your marriage/business/finances/family/community today that will make a big difference in a few years (the fruit)?  What bad habit, that has brought you nothing but bitter herbs, can you remove from the soil of your soul?  What can you replant in its place that will become life giving to you in the future (Eph. 4:25-32)?
The good news about being organic is that a field full of weeds can become an orchard full of fruit if it is given work and time.  What you choose to do with the dirt will make all the difference!  

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