Genesis 3 – Sin and Redemption

Genesis 3 – Sin and Redemption

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Chuck is the worship pastor at Shoreline Church in Knoxville Tennessee. While his heartbeat is for the local church, he also loves traveling all over the country to lead the people of God in the worship God. Chuck is a  FUGE Worship Leader and will be at Glorieta this summer.  You can learn more about him, listen to some music, and read his thoughts on life and the gospel at www.chuckhooten.org.

My grandfather died September 15th at 5:20 in the afternoon. The joy I have experienced of watching a newborn baby inhale and exhale for the first time stands in stark contrast to watching someone’s chest rise and fall for the last. Both tell a story. Both are God’s language to speak to us truth about the gospel.

We are born questioning. Why do bad things happen? Why do people suffer and die? It is difficult to see the beauty of the sunrise or hear the pounding of the surf, and then reconcile that beauty, creativity, and love with the fact that we live in a world where everyone suffers and everyone dies. But, it is ironic that our questioning of God is at the very core of why this suffering and death exist. We assert ourselves as the authority and demand that God answer us, and in doing so we recreate the very scene in Eden where we first unlocked the floodgates of His wrath. Sin is realized in the actions of the fallen, but its essence is found in the heart that has set itself as the authority on what is to be and how it is to be accomplished.

As Eve stands in the perfection of God’s created world, the serpent comes to her…questioning. It has been by the word of God that everything exists. God has spoken, and the nothing has obeyed His voice and has become something. Where there was emptiness now stands plants, animals, oceans, and human beings. Light and darkness have found their place. The sun and the moon have arranged themselves, along with the stars, in a perfect dance of beauty, power, and spectacle. All of this owes its existence in the speech of God. The serpent will not come and assault the creation, for to any eye the creation is unquestionably good and perfect. The serpent will instead attack the very core of why the creation is good in the first place. The serpent asks the question, “Did God really say?” It is the word of God that the serpent will place on the witness stand and accuse of dishonesty and corruption.

We know the result of this conversation well. Our hearts are now programmed, above all things, to repeat like robots the question of the serpent, “Did God really say?” In the poem, Invictus, William Ernest Henley famously penned the words, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Here is a true anthem of the human heart. We are at the center. We are in control. We will be asking the questions and we will supply the reason that will validate the answers. We are gods.

God’s reaction is strange. He allows humanity to live. He does not kill us for our mutiny, but in mercy He places constraints on how far our mutinous hearts can travel. We are now born into the hard reality of how unqualified we are to be gods. We create things that kill. We decide on things that are selfish and ugly. We lord over others and demand they bow to our ways, and our ways do not end with the statement, “it was good.” We are unqualified masters, unqualified gods.

Yet in the center of the pain and the night of judgment comes the reality that God is still speaking, and that His words are full of hope and redemption. Genesis 3:15 is the gospel. The serpent will bruise the heel of the woman’s offspring, but the offspring of the woman will crush the serpent’s head. Jesus will come, Jesus will provide, and Jesus will end the struggle.

The road will be long and the price incomprehensible, yet God will provide and persevere with us until Eden is our reality again. If I question anything now, I pray that it is only a questioning of my heart and my intentions. I want God to be God and I want to die. I want my life to be a living sacrifice. I want to someday know that, just like my Papa, my chest will rise and fall one last time to reveal the reality that is God’s provision for my rebellion, and awake to a face to face meeting with the answer to all of my questions…Jesus.

Prayer Experience

Prayer Experience

This week’s Ministry Tip comes from Jonathan Espy. He is studying student ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and has worked with student ministries in different capacities for several years. In 2012/2013, he served as the interim leader for the high school student ministry at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. This post is a prayer experience that he led with the group.

During my time at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, I led high school students through a series on Wednesday nights about renewing our minds.  We focused on different aspects including students’ perspectives of who God is, not conforming to the world, and what to focus our minds on. The last week of the series, I set up a prayer experience for the students to help recap what we had covered and to give a way to practice renewing our minds through scripture and different actions of prayer.  I used six stations. To set this up, I printed the instructions for each station (in large print), posted them each on a piece of butcher paper, and laid them around the room. We opened the night with a few songs of worship. Then, I led them into the time of prayer. We took about 30-40 minutes for this part of the night.

Supplies: Bibles for those without (I didn’t want them using their phones for this, but that was just my preference), markers, pens, note cards, scraps of paper, butcher paper/poster board

Prayer Experience (Renewing your Mind)
Instructions: Use this time to renew your mind through prayer and meditation. Don’t talk to one another as we do this but spend it talking with God. Go from station to station (no particular order), read the instructions and pray as guided. You will need a Bible for every station so grab one here if you don’t have one.  You don’t have to stay at the station once you read the instructions so feel free to move about the room. Take this seriously and do what is asked at each station, even if it makes you a little uncomfortable.  Really use this time to focus your mind on Christ.

  1. How Great is our God: Renewing your mind starts with your idea of God; who God is to you.  It is important to make sure your view of God matches with that of Scripture. Read Psalm 97 and take some time to meditate on who God is to you. Then write down words that describe the greatness of God.
  2. Living Sacrifices: When we recognize who God is, our desire becomes to worship and serve Him.  Romans 12:1 tells us to offer our lives as “living sacrifices” to God as an act of worship.  Where you are, kneel before God as a sign of surrender and worship. Pray and ask God to show you how to be a living sacrifice to Him. Tell God specific parts of your life that you desire to use for His glory.
  3. Things of the World: Romans 12:2 says to not conform any longer to the patterns of this world.  Take a note card (or use the back of the one from the “Think on these things” station) and write out “Things of the world” at the top. Then make a list of some patterns of the world. Read over your list and pray that God will help you recognize these patterns as worldly, that you may no longer conform to these things. Keep this with you as a reminder to not conform to the world.
  4. Think on these things: Read Philippians 4:8.  This gives us a list of things that should guide our thoughts.  Take a note card (or use the back of the one from the “Things of the world” station) and write “Think on these things” at the top.  Write out the characteristics of what to think on from this scripture (Whatever is true, noble, etc…). Think about what guides your thoughts. Do your thoughts fall into these characteristics? Pray that God will help your mind and your thoughts to be glorifying to Him. Keep this with you as a reminder to let these things guide your thoughts.
  5. Give us Clean Hands: As we renew our minds, we realize God’s greatness. We also recognize our sin.  Read Psalm 24. This reminds us of God’s authority over all things and points out that God is holy and above all things. Our sin keeps us from God.  We know that through Christ our sins have been washed clean and we have been given the opportunity to have a relationship with God. As seen in verses 3-6, when we recognize the greatness of this gift through Christ, we should desire to live with “clean hands and pure hearts.” Thank God for the great gift of salvation. As you pray, hold out your hands in front of you. This symbolizes having clean hands.  Think about the things in your life that make your hands and heart unclean (sin). Ask God to help you live out your faith with clean hands and a pure heart.
  6. By Him and For Him:  Turn to Colossians 1.  In this passage, the Supremacy of Christ is shown. Read verses 15-23.  We see that Christ holds all things together. Verse 16 says that all things were created “by Him and for Him.”  As we renew our minds and present ourselves as living sacrifices, we must remember that our lives are for Christ.  Think for a moment from God’s perspective. How do you think He would have us live our lives? Take a piece of paper and write a short mission statement you think God would give His people. This should be a sentence or two that tells what guides your life and decisions. Write the statement for the purpose of letting ALL THINGS in your life point to Christ.  Read and pray over what you have written and ask God to let this mission (His mission) be evident in the way you live.
The Role of an Adult in the Life of a Teenager

The Role of an Adult in the Life of a Teenager

janas

Today’s guest post comes from one of our favorites,  Jana Spooner.  Jana worked with FUGE for 12 years, and now serves as an associate publisher of women’s books with B&H Publishing Group at LifeWay. Jana is wife to Michael, mom to Abigail, and student ministry volunteer at Central Baptist Hendersonville, TN. She loves all things Texas, coffee, and mexican food.

 

I have spent most of my adult life working with teenagers in some capacity. Sometimes that was Sunday school teacher. Sometimes it was camp staffer. Sometimes it was mentor, worship leader, chaperon, host home mom, lock-in supervisor, homework helper, you name it. I love them.

I love how awkward they are in middle school and how they literally do not stop moving. Ever.

I love how they think they know everything one day and the next day the whole world is a blank slate again.

I love how dramatic they are. Seriously. They are dramatic because everything is important to them. EVERYTHING is SUPER IMPORTANT! Like, OMG…

I love getting texts from them where I have to enlist google to decipher what all the abbreviations mean…IDK what UR talking about…

I’ll be the first one to admit that I feel like an unlikely candidate for student ministry. Suffice it to say, I am not cool. In fact, I am pretty much the opposite of cool. I am not loud or crazy. I’m not silly. I dress conservatively and am fairly reserved most of the time. My kid goes to bed at 8:00 on the dot so my idea of “night life” is limited to Netflix or a good book. And I am perfectly ok with that!

Not only am I not cool, I’m a rule enforcer. At camp, I knock on your door at 6:45 a.m. to make sure you will make it to breakfast on time. I make you drink water and eat vegetables. I don’t let you go back for a second bowl of ice cream. I will shush you.

I don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m cool and that’s why teenagers would like me. So why would they? Because I’m an adult. And they need adults. They need their parents, first and foremost. But even when their parents are godly and loving, they still need other adults. They need people who will love them the way Christ loves them. They need to see what it looks like to live out your faith in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and so on. They need to see that a relationship with Christ extends beyond the walls of the church.

They don’t necessarily need a buddy. They have friends speaking all kinds of messages into their lives every day. They don’t need more of that. They need adults who will speak truth. And who will listen. And love them and value them. That’s why it’s ok that I’m not cool. I don’t need to be. That’s not my role. My role is to model a life fully lived for Christ and the Gospel and to spur them on to do the same.

The Grace Gift

The Grace Gift

AnneBrunner1

Annie Bruner is today’s guest blogger. Annie served this past summer as a MFuge track leader at Belmont University. Annie is currently studying Psychology at Kennesaw State University, with only five classes left to complete. You are likely to find her drinking vanilla milkshakes, watching Duck Dynasty, or daydreaming about the day she can finally meet one of her favorite people, Julie Andrews.  

 
Before working M-Fuge, I had never had an encounter with a homeless person.  I live in Atlanta, so I was aware that homelessness was an issue, but I usually ignored it.  If they were homeless or addicted to drugs or alcohol, they were someone else’s problem.  Certainly not mine.

This summer, I served at the Nashville Rescue Mission with my students.  At first, I was nervous.

Surely God doesn’t want me to tell these people the gospel

It turns out, I ended up having the gospel preached to ME this summer.  Most men that I encountered were a part of the Mission’s Life Recovery Program for addictions.  The Program aims to help men get their lives back on track, but also presents them with the life-altering beautiful truth of Jesus’ grace.

The first person in the Program that I met was not much older than me.  He had struggled with drug addiction for several years until he ended up at the Nashville Rescue Mission.  It was there that the Lord rescued him not only from his addictions, but also his brokenness. This man, who was once identified by his struggles, now finds his identity in Christ ALONE!

The more time I spent at the Nashville Rescue Mission, the more the Lord began to transform my heart.  I met countless people who had surrendered their brokenness to the Lord and were living fully in the grace that Jesus has to offer.  I began to think about the implications of grace in my own life.

The Lord showed me that there is nothing I can do to earn his grace.

Ephesians 2 says that we have been saved by grace through faith, and that grace is a gift from God.  I realized how often I tried to work my way into grace—I thought that if I did more good works, God would love me more.  However, the men of the Nashville Rescue Mission were a beautiful picture of God’s gift to us.  They had literally nothing to offer God, but He rescued them and made them into His masterpieces anyway.