People Group Wednesday

Hello friends!

One of the things we’ve started doing on our facebook page is featuring Joshua Project’s people group of the day on Wednesdays and this is a quick blog post to go along with that. There really is so much to learn about praying for the nations that I’m finding it hard to get it into one post. So, once and a while, we can learn more back here on the blog that can help us relate God’s heart to the world.

This is meant to be a place where hope is shared for nations and where God’s heart for blessing the nations can be made known! Sometimes this will stray into hard stories to hear, but despair is the opposite of hope – in our world we need to be able to see and sort out both in order to champion what is hopeful.

So, here we go!

Seeing Double

A couple Wednesday’s ago, on the People Group of the Day App, we prayed for the Jat people group, and then, we prayed for the Jat people group again the next day.

How come?

Well, Joshua Project and many other research teams that count people groups take different factors into account when researching; in this case, the Jat people who were prayed for on Wednesday were from Hindu Traditions in India, where as the Jat people who were prayed for on Thursday were from Muslim Traditions in Pakistan. These research teams often break up a group into subsets based on where the live or what religious traditions they practice.

Our distinctions are imperfect in most cases (maybe we get something right here or there), but here are several points in scripture that are good places to start thinking about praying for the nations.

In Genesis, God spoke to Abraham, saying that all the families of the earth would be blessed through the work that He was doing through him. This promise immediately follows the story of the Tower of Babel, where we see 70 families becoming different nations through their languages being changed.

Later, in Mathew, Jesus shares with His disciples that the gospel (or good news) will be communicated to all nations, then continues to say ‘go and do so’ after He is risen from the dead.

In Luke and Acts we are taken on a whirlwind of stories which describe Jesus’ willingness and the Holy Spirit’s effort to reach out to the nations within and surrounding the middle east – many miracles blessing people from different nations.

And again, John shares his vision in Revelation of every nation surrounding the throne of Jesus in worship.

The emphasis here is on reaching out and praying for these nations or families of the earth in order that they may be blessed and bless Jesus in return. This doesn’t come as a human idea, but God’s idea for us. In our history, as we have pursued this mission, we have often failed and chose to see this blessing as something to be kept or help onto instead of giving it to others.

It is easy for us to think in terms of our agenda, our vision, our work, our nation, our life, our abilities, our rights, and our culture; however, this business of blessing others wasn’t our idea, but God’s. His ideas, His values, His priorities, His ambitions, and His ways are more pure than our own. As we pray we could inherit more of our own ideas than God’s, thinking that we have the right way of thinking about or doing something, but where our “right way” come from?

Our Response to Culture

A point not to be missed is that our world is made up of many different groups of people and while we all have the same human needs we also create vastly different cultures that address those shared needs.

Jesus isn’t blind to this, on one occasion He and His disciples met a group of Greek men and in answering them Jesus didn’t use a Hebrew parable, but a Greek riddle. Another early point to think about is the tower of Babel in Genesis. It is often shared that many languages came from that place after God changed the languages of the people, but what had God told them to do in the beginning of that story?

Spread out, subdue the world – a wild command after the flood which precedes this story.

A natural consequence of distance is new culture.

As we create new ways of doing things in response to the same human needs we all have we create culture. For example, as people we need to eat and what we eat varies greatly all over the world, though, it is a response to the same common human need to eat. Now, some of the ways that we have developed this culture of eating is not actually good for us and can be quite harmful. This is true in every area of human culture, though, it doesn’t negate our common need or authority to create culture as we meet those needs.

The example of food is an easy one to grasp – we can see bread, roti, tortilla, pasta, potatoes (are those a main dish, side, or a vegetable), and more. We can see different responses to what we should put on food – lamb, venison, beef, pork, vegetables (more potatoes), chicken, sauces, yogurt, spices (more than salt and pepper), eggs, and more. And what comes after for desert? Cake and pie? Sweet milk? Something fried?

I once saw a recipe from northern Alaska about whipped seal fat and berries… and I didn’t grow up with that and my mind doesn’t know what do with that information.

The story of Babel and the confusion of languages was set in our human rebellion to remain the same. We didn’t want to spread out, but to build only on what we had and who we believed ourselves to be.

Are we really so different today?

The Gospel

In the midst of our brokenness and rebellion, the story of Abraham begins. God says that He will bless all the families of the world and He delivers on that promise through Jesus.

We still have a history of brokenness and rebellion, with new pages added to that book every day.

Some have said that our humanity is what binds us together and in some sense this is true, but the bond is stronger with Jesus. He was God and chose to take on human flesh to better reach out and serve us – to seek a blessing on our behalf – what we would only do for a great price He did freely, what we would imagine as romantic He did in practice, what we would imagine as impossible He did in reality. He reached out and honored those who were different in nature and culture – all for their best from within His heart.

While it is binding, our humanity also struggles to stay unique and independent in a crowd – this can preserve something truly beautiful and special, but may also cause great evil as we press that on others. Our history is littered with each of these moments and it can be hard to tell the good from the bad at times. Sometimes we just don’t know, even though it may seem plain as day to us in the moment.

We are understood by Jesus – both in our uniqueness and in our togetherness.

As we follow Jesus, we can seek the blessing of different peoples as well.


Six Practices

I love context. I love taking a step back to find something I may have missed and I love thinking about how things could go. I find all of that in Q’s series on the 6 Practices of the Church.

For me, this series engaged a lot of questions I’ve had as I look at our YWAM location’s vision and our part more generally in the world. This is an important place for growth in us.

You don’t have to check out right now, but I’d highly recommend it!

The 6 Practices of the Church, with Gabe Lyons and Greg Thompson

One of the foundational points that are made is that the world we live in is a world of contradicting ideas, values, and ways of life. In my life I’ve definitely felt this pull. Worldview is something developed and getting into missions has been one of the really big places where I’ve had to process that.

For example, when I walk down the street in Asia and I see a kid begging, what do I think? What can I do? What do I do?

Is he begging for himself or a thug? Did his parents break his legs so that he would make a better beggar? I have more wealth on me right now then this kid may ever see in his life – what does this say about me?

How do I order my life to do something about this?

What do I do with my life after I see things like this?

The 6 Practices talk was helpful because it gave me a moment to remember that in a way we’ve always been like this. We live in a contradictory world – a world that was created by a good God, broken by our willingness to turn away from Him, but also that our moment in it carries unique hope because of what that good God did on our behalf.

While the world is complex and changing around us this is our present moment to process it and find a hopeful way forward with God’s help.

And, we need to find a way forward.

I found processing this encouraging and hopeful. It reminded me of why I chose missions a little over a decade ago and how it has developed inside of me. The relationships that I’ve formed out here have challenged me and helped make me who I am today.

Crossover Points with our YWAM location

We value knowing what is going on – we commit to live in a real world where there are real people. God’s desire for the people and nations around us is real and it can’t be imagined away. We also need to understand the moment of time that we are in and what are the unique needs presented.

We have a set of beliefs and we know who we are. In YWAM many of our beliefs and values are held commonly by all followers of Jesus, some are unique ways that God has called us to practice those general callings.

We commit to develop ourselves for the task at hand. A handful of practices is all it takes to start developing a relationship with God. From there you have the best tutor anyone could ask for. He shows us how to love, know who we are and points us in the directions we need to go to in order to learn more.

We value community as an expression of who we are. Early on YWAM learned about hospitality from others who follow Jesus and it has had an incredible impact on us. I learned to look at what I had as a way to make others more welcomed. We couldn’t do what we do in Utah without hospitality.

We give ourselves to others through our vocation. YWAM isn’t about getting rich or creating a safe place for yourself. We commit ourselves to Jesus’ service in the world on behalf of others.

As the whole thing comes together the best point is made in the series – we don’t really know what the things will look like. We know that the Church has faced rough waters before and as it applied these practices a way was made forward that, while unique, often rhymed with other points in history.

Problems and Responses 

Today, the problems we face in the world rhyme with those of the past as well.

How will we engage them?

  • There remain many people groups who have no access to the gospel.
  • We see many of these people groups cut off via war and government control.
  • We see forms of ideology developing that fear and lash out at Jesus.
  • We are not generally welcome as followers of Jesus.
  • We see persecution aimed at followers of Jesus.
  • We see great need in marginalized communities.
  • We see many, many refugees.
  • We see great injustice directed at people made in the image of God.
  • We see many people loosing sight of what it is to be human.

There are too many things on that list for us to either ignore or rely on a singular response. Instead, these are three ways that we engage that list.


Our goal in training is to help people live out their faith and love for Christ both locally in everyday life and in cross-cultural ways where it is difficult to go.

Mercy Ministry

Our goal in mercy ministry is to be a witness that Jesus Christ still cares and is tangibly here working through our willing obedience and love. Compassion is what Jesus did for us – He suffered with us in the midst of our story and finished the work of the cross, not as someone removed from pain or difficulty, but one intimately involved.

Evangelism and Church Planting

Our goal in evangelism and church planting is to recruit new followers of Jesus to share His love with others and disciple those that choose to follow Him in multiplying expressions of the church among all people groups.

What will your response be? 

This is how we are moving to engage that list – we want to make ourselves available to help you find a way to engage what is up there too.

Do you have a list that you need to move on?

Do you want to move with us?

Contact Us – We’d love to be a part of your response.

Serving A Complicated World

I recently posted an article from Christianity Today in our Campus’ Facebook group and I wanted to follow up on that. You can only throw so much out through a Facebook post, you know.

The article took a quick look at Myanmar, the government landscape, the religious landscape, several people groups, and shared about how all of those in the country and out of the country interact. There are refugees involved, the chances of persecution, the Pope is also mentioned, but realistically his part in the article is just a part of a much bigger story.

You an read that article here – Can Pope Francis Help Myanmar’s Muslims Without Hurting Its Christians?

One thing of note about the article, for me, is that this story isn’t new. It’s not even a little bit new. Yes, the people are different and the arguments only sound similar to me, not exact, but this a human story.

The day after sharing the article I sat down to keep reading through Acts and I started in chapter 22. What Paul experiences sounds very similar to the article.

There is the question of religious nationalism, something that we may as well point out. It is increasing around the world and people (both Christians and just about everyone else) are becoming refugees of it. The people group mentioned by name in the article is Rohingya – Muslim refugees. You can read more about their plight here in CT. About half of their total population remain as refugees in neighboring Bangladesh. You also see pressure from different places. In Acts you have the Roman officials – some trying to figure out how to act rightly in the situation and others hoping to profit from it, trading favors with the other parties. It would make for great fiction, but its not. This is what we are like when we get together without respect and honor for one another.

This is the world that Jesus walked into when He came so long ago. This is the world He prepared His disciples for. This is the world that He died for. And, this is the world He sent Holy Spirit into.

In the chapters following 22 Paul gives a defense for the charges brought against him.

Paul shares that everyone back home knew what he was like, strictly following the rules and persecuting the believers of Jesus. Then, he met Jesus on the road to persecute more of Jesus followers. This Jesus called Paul follow Him and share His good news. Now, everyone knows that Paul does this.

As Paul declares his faith in the resurrection to King Agrippa, the same faith he says the prophets and Moses speaks of being fulfilled in Jesus, the Roman Governor interrupts him, yelling, “Paul, you are out of your mind!”

Paul responds in respect and kindness, sharing his intent that he would have everyone hearing this be the same as he is – except for the chains.

Once again, this would be beautiful fiction, filled with intrigue, repeated characters, back story, etc., only, it is all those things and true.

We see this story repeated throughout the history of the church and those who follow Jesus. The irony of it is that this apparently powerless citizen is looking at the powerful authorities before him. Neither of them created their respective powers, they were both present in another’s achievement. For Agrippa and Festus this is the great Roman empire. For Paul this is Jesus and His resurrection.

Only one of those movements still stands and moves today, and is no less miraculous. Rome is not known for an emperor of great military might, but a Pope seeking mercy on behalf of others.

Likewise,  as followers of Jesus, we can all seek after God and do so on behalf of others. We can pray, we can learn, we can go. The Rohingya is one group of refugees among many and Myanmar is one country among many.

May God’s favor and miraculous grace rest on those seeking to help, those in need, and all of those present and watching from afar. May God bless the Rohingya and Myanmar.

About Discipleship Training School

This January and in the coming years we are offering the DTS in Ogden, UT. What God did through the DTS changed me from a person who only cared about his own state and country to a person who cares about the nations.

You can read more about that here – Utah Discipleship Training School.

Humble and Open

Here is an invitation to prayer!

This winter we are offering the DTS in Ogden. Now, I would love to be the guy that jumps up and down about every detail with great charisma, but that is really not who I am. I approach an impossible world with faith. Some days, the impossibility of this world is a real challenge to faith. And, it is a challenge worth answering.

Running a DTS in Utah is one such challenge!

Our prayer is that we have students, additional staff, and community housing by January 8th!

The reality of this is that it is a huge ask on behalf of many people. The faith part about it is that we’ve seen God provide in situations just like this. I believe in a God that can move people to grow in faith with Him and do things that should, by all rights and sense, be impossible. If it doesn’t happen this year we are going to trust God to do it in the future, and if there are more setbacks, we keep on going. Don’t give up.

This was a lesson Grandpa taught us on the farm. While our Dad got to do cool things like us a skid-loader to dig up post holes we were following behind with posts for the holes. Tamping the posts was slow and boring. Hit the ground over and over again with the small end of your stick. Eventually, it will pack down, make a good foundation for the post, throw in rocks and dirt and keep tamping. Slow work, but work that puts a post down for years to come.

As we do this work in Utah it can certainly feel like tamping, but we are trusting God to do the impossible – make a good foundation for YWAM in Utah for years to come.

Do you want to learn more about the DTS?

Learn more about the school at our page, Utah Discipleship Training School.

The short version.

The Discipleship Training School is focused on helping people join YWAM, find God’s call on their life, live a life that champions others, and grow in relationship with the God who created them. Not only that, there is a ton of teaching focused on sharing your relationship with God with others who need to grow in their relationship with God too.

The school lasts between 5-6 months with phases devoted to learning, outreach, and debrief.

There are no white horses for any of us to ride in on to save the world – lets work together.

Thoughts of a quote, from a letter, used to clarify a misquote…

One of the awesome parts of getting to be in YWAM is the emphasis on continued learning – that learning may come through, schools, reaching out to people older than you, listening to people younger than you, and, one of my favorites, paying attention to what goes on around you.

Ok, maybe that is my take on learning, but this is a cool movement of folks to do that alongside of.

In that spirit I was reading a Christianity Today article sharing about a book to be released sometime next year, titled, the Misquotable C.S. Lewis. You can read the article for your self here. As I read through the list I found the insights interesting, but when I came to number seven, something in its explanation caught my eye.

The quote in question was this, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Now, the article explains, if you drop the “far, far”, it does read as written by C. S. Lewis. However, its context is a little unclear. The writer explains that it is more than just a suck it up moment or quotable phrase, its context is that it was written to a lady that feared her own coming death. The quote is preceded by this, “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret?”

As I process this there is a deep calling inside myself that what was questioned and said is true. Has this world been so kind that I should leave it with regret?

This isn’t just a broken way of thinking, questioning existence, but it feels like this is a question processed in experience, with heart. I am not an expert on C. S. Lewis at all. Though, what I do know of him is that he is held in high regard as a writer and a thinker. I also know of him as the young man who went to World War 1, the man who lost his wife, and the man who served through the bombing raids against London. Even in all this he is famous enough that a book would get written of the misquotes attributed to him.

We live in an amazing world created by an amazing God, don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for that, though, I am much younger than C. S. Lewis and I can see that this world is not as it was intended. We ourselves are not often inline with what God desired. He saw the World Wars and we have seen some of the world created by them. War is seemingly unending. Peace is short-lived. We live in a broken world.

What then should be our response?

This may be a divided opinion, and each of us may be called by God in different directions, but I find my place in embracing the brokenness in hope that God will show up and turn it around. I have incredible hope for northern Iraq and for people in the middle-east. The places that are the worst and the hardest get my attention. There is no human answer for the difficulties that we face other than our cooperation with God.

In my humanity I can show preference and value one beautiful thing above another to a fault, that is something that God needs to change in all of our hearts, and there are times that I’ve looked back and saw that. Yet, God does keep working on that. Having hope for another nation (let alone state) is something that God did in my heart.

When I reread C. S. Lewis’ question to the lady approaching death, “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret?”, my response is no – this world hasn’t been kind. There have been kind people, incredible moments of beauty, but it hasn’t been kind. The greatest kindnesses have been shown by God who has continued to stand kind and beautiful when this world failed to do so. And, in return, I press into God and seek out ways to champion that kind and beautiful world. There is no regret in that.

God has put a call on each of our lives to Him and each other, it is a real privilege to get to do that in Youth With A Mission. Since coming out my own heart for God, people, and the nations have increased. I encourage you to ask God if the life of full-time service is for you as well!

Devotions on Grace


This last week a couple of us from Ogden headed over to YWAM Salem for leadership training and visiting friends and family. If you are looking for a place to do a DTS or take some training as a YWAMer they have a lot of opportunities over there! I’ve benefited from their team out there a few times now and love the whole lot of them.

Grabbing the Grace We Need for Leadership

One of the speakers on my DTS, just for a night, was Jim Stier – he and his wife were some of the first YWAMers to Brazil and gave leadership to the pioneering process of YWAM there – he spoke about quiet times. The next time I heard him speak he also spoke about quiet times. At other times, he led discussions at big leadership meetings, I remember him challenging us to go before God in our quiet times. And this last week was really one big corporate quiet time. Each time he taught there was a depth to the topic at hand, but it always comes with the challenge to take time out of you day to intentionally spend time with God.

The point of the leadership gathering was that if we ourselves are not actively seeking God’s grace for continued grace we are going to run ourselves dry. We processed the question of how do we seek God’s grace and it was a fun discussion that caused us all to do a lot of processing.

The big point that I felt God drawing us to is that we find grace when we find Him.

Finding Him may look different for each of us, but it should be real. When Jesus came He really did come. When He sent the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit really did go. He’s created each of us, uniquely demonstrating the image of God, and each of us have really been created. We found God when He revealed Himself to us – it wasn’t by our own effort, bloodline, or spiritual heritage – and when we found God it turned out that He was full of Grace and Truth. He is still filled with Grace and Truth today. As we continue to serve Him, He shows up and changes the desire of our hearts from evil to love.

We can tell when it is real or not – when it is by our effort that we try or when it is by His presence that our heart undergoes its transformation from a heart filled with darkness to a heart ready to love His light.

That’s coming from John 1:1-18, Luke 17:5-10, and several passages of Paul’s letters.

Walking away from the conference, I’ve found that it helps me put both my own commitment to quiet time and walk with God into perspective – and it helps inform what I am looking for in outreach.

Try it out!

We spent our time looking at scripture, asking God to speak into our lives, and then sharing it with the group. Jim would give commentary and share pioneering stories, add some depth to the topic. It was something that was really good for me to reflect on again. There were lots of take away points, but it started with John 1:1-18.

If you’d like to check it out, I’d challenge you to read through that bit of scripture a bit slowly, ask God what He’d like to share, and check back in on the insights I’ll write down below. I’ll share what I got and it will be fun.


Jesus, through whom God created the world, who John the Baptist spoke of, came among us.

The people who received Him and believed in His name – to them He gave the right to become children of God.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us … full of grace and truth.

The Law was given through Moses (which was true), grace and truth came through Jesus (because that is who He is!).

What are some of the things that stood out in a special way to you?

Creating through Communication

Last night we had an awesome time with our life group and as we were closing we had this question to pray through and meditate on – what does total surrender to Jesus look like to you?

We were encouraged to ask God about the season we are in right now.

As I closed my eyes I had a memory of a cave in Indiana. It was the third cave of the trip and it featured a 30′ rappel right into its mouth. I would like to say it was just like the movies, but I haven’t seen any movies where the actor just bounces against the side of the cave and gets scraped up. Others were more successful at rappelling than I was that night. From there we hiked and climbed further down and I got to lead a couple excursions. Being the first light into the darkness is an incredible feeling. The one cavern I headed into dropped another 50′ – 60′ feet to the floor, fallen jagged rocks were every where, at the bottom was another hole going another hundred feet, and the scene would repeat over and over again.

That beauty would have remained hidden had someone not gone there, and it would have remained unknown to the world unless that person opened his mouth and shared what he or she saw in the cave.

That is where I see total surrender worked out in my life.

Some of the scariest things that I can think of aren’t the things that you can’t do anything about, but rather the ones you can do something about when God prompts you to do them. The whole goal may be impossible or outlandish, but the individual steps typically aren’t.

For example, seeing a person’s life transformed from someone living on the streets in despair to a life of gratitude, provision, and helping others in turn on your own is impossible. That said, being obedient to love the guy on the street isn’t impossible, rather, it is very possible.

Part of our call in Utah is doing impossible things through starting on the possible ones. And, when my life is in committed surrender to Jesus, He consistently calls me to impossible things.

The most possible start to almost anything God tells us to do is opening our mouths and sharing what He has told us to do with others. That is one of my greatest points of weakness. It is the point where you throw yourself into what God has said, what He has prompted you to do, and trust that He will be faithful with the rest. It may be the prompting to reach out and talk to the guy laying on the sidewalk (what will the other people think of me?) or call out the person on their morning run (what will this person think of me?), or maybe the person is obviously well out of your league (am I breaking social protocol?), or they are on their tablet siting next to you on the train, on the bus, or standing in a line (this person obviously wants their privacy…) – fear and insecurity can tag us out of obedience.

More often than not, I find that when we do throw ourselves into whatever God has told us to do He does work it out for the best.  A lack of trust on either our part or on the part of the other greatly impacts the effects of our obedience, but God is faithful to back up what He has said.

The only thing that didn’t bounce against those cave walls so many years ago were the bottoms of my feet – face, hands, arms, shoulders, chest, knees all bruised – and that was because I didn’t trust the guy on the other end of the rope. Many of the dreams and hopes God has for this world remained unexplored and unheard of because we are unwilling to really trust Him in committed surrender.

If our trust falters, it gets harder, but God is still willing to take us there.

By the end of our moment of prayer at life group I had a couple of ideas of where God wanted me to go and this principle, trusting Him to communicate what He wants to do, was key to that. It also reminded me of my young heart for making stories and the desire to share those with others. So, that desire and call really has been there since I was a kid. I may go ahead and sign up for National Novel Writing Month as well – there is a project that I’d love to finish and it will be good prep for our creative writing side of the Discipleship Training School.

Looking forward to an awesome season of committed surrender!


Praying for the Hindu World

Lights, smoke, incense, food, colors, water, and beauty – these are some of the first things that come to my mind when I think about the Hindu people I met in India. The cultures spread throughout the Hindu world are immensely beautiful, they are vibrant, and they are celebrated. And, they have a worship to contribute to Jesus at a deep spiritual level.

That is what the Hindu Prayer Guide is about – or at least that is my take on it.

As I’ve started reading through the guide I’m struck by how real the book is. So many times our own insecurity bleeds through our good intentions that we disparage the people and cultures we reach out to.

This guide doesn’t do that.

Where there is anything to be honored it jumps out at it and asks us to champion the good in our prayers – and that should challenge us to look at the way we do things too!

If there is something that steps in the way of life, like the fear that cripples a life or valuing one gender above others, the guide doesn’t step around it. It asks us to understand why these things are and pray for a deeper truth to be revealed to those caught in fear or confusion.

We have a billion Hindu neighbors that are looking for a light that is true, one that can finally win over all the darkness in the world, let’s join in prayer that the Light of the world would be known by our Hindu neighbors and that their worship, beauty, and celebration would be championed by the One who created them and loves them with a devotion that passes our own!

Days 1, 2, and 3

Pray for Hindu families, the influence that they have on the world, and that their beautiful worship of Jesus (Yeshu in Hindi) would set people free.

Ruth 4: 18-22

Lord, I pray that you would bring the line of Yeshu to Hindu families. Even when the family story isn’t good (as it is in these verses) we know that you seek the best for all peoples! Bring your blessings and your grace to the Hindu families and nations!

Psalm 96: 7-9

Lord Jesus, I pray that you bless the worship leaders in India to ascribe glory to your name. The bhajans sung to you are beautiful, the people who sing them are beautiful, they are filled with your bhakti (devotion).  When we draw near to you, you drive the enemy away from us and we get to join you in that!

Feel free to pray along with these prayers or wait on God and pray out what He places on your heart!


What comes to mind when we think of fear?

Is it a reaction? Is it a way for our body to respond to something that startles us or maybe to protect us from imminent danger? If this is the first thing that comes to mind, then, no, that is not the sort of fear that I am thinking about. That sort of fear is healthy, and if you push it a little bit it might even get fun. It is definitely something that God gave us for our benefit.

This was the only definition of fear that I knew about growing up, though, the world of reality around me seemed to share that there was something more out there. This sort of feeling is often brushed off.

In the first couple chapters of Genesis we see the creation of the world and the creation of mankind in God’s image. We are created, breathed into, spoken to, given instruction, given responsibility, wondrously made not alone – this was what God desired for us. There was something special about these people He created. He had already gone above and beyond for is by creating us in His image, but to be a part of our lives – this is what he wanted.

Inside of that creation fear hadn’t been felt by the first of mankind and it was beautiful.

But, that was about to change. One of the instructions given by God included one simple request, “you may enjoy every tree in the garden except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” The first of us heard this, they understood it, but when another came and questioned the words of God they disobeyed the one request.

Up until this point they had only each other and God, everyone had been good to them. Perhaps this really was a hard test. How many of us have heard some one say something negative about someone else? It is certainly within us at this point for our heart to give pause and question someone, even a friend, just by hearing the words of another.  The first of us followed this other’s voice and disobeyed God.

The response was immediate and terrible – the words of God were true! At that point fear, shame, and guilt flooded into the lives of those who had sinned. Their relationship with God was separated, driven apart by disobedience, and the fear, shame, and guilt bore fruit in their lives. They hid from God, they were ashamed of being naked, they accused one another to shift the blame away from themselves.

These three things that had no authority in their lives were now present and wreaking havoc.

When we step away from God’s instruction and desire for our lives death follows in the wake of our decisions. We may think we can master it after it has come, but that isn’t the case. The only thing on our part we can do is say no while we still can, but we were past this point in the story.

When God reveals Himself He shares what will now happen and the world begins to change. It isn’t what He had hoped for, but the changes in the world are for our own good. He addresses the other in the conversation as well, the serpent in the story that had accused God, to the serpent He promises defeat – that someone from the woman would come and defeat the serpent. It is a loaded statement, a prophecy that takes the rest of the Bible and mankind’s history to reveal in its fullness.

Today, we are still having a hard time because of this moment – fear, shame, and guilt are still present in this world, but that victory that God spoke of has come and is still coming in its fullness.

There is certainly that sort of fear that God has given us, the startled jump or the burst of adrenaline that can keep us safe from danger, but there is another fear that we experience in our lives – it isn’t a fear that God desired, but it is present. In Christ, we can master it, but it does take mastering. It is difficult to explain, but one of my teachers shared it this way, “When you are afraid it’s not that you are feeling fear, but it is fear feeling you.” In our own disobedience we can give such a vile sort of fear authority in our lives.

As a child this was the sort of fear that bit at the edges of reality, as I grew this was the sort of fear that could incapacitate incredible young men and women from making right decisions, on outreach this was the sort of fear that showed up when you went to speak and couldn’t find your ability to speak. It is strange, but this is the reality I’ve seen over and over again.

However, there is hope!

One of these hopes is that God is fulfilling His promise through Jesus Christ – as we stand near to Him, as we cling to His Spirit in intimacy, we find ourselves surrounded by His authority. This returns us to a second hope – we are still created in the image of God! One of the instructions God gave us in the beginning was to aggressively defend the creation He was giving us. We still have that command and it can be found again in our relationship with Jesus.

In this world we will need to stand against all sorts of fear – the fear of sharing our faith among them, fear of rejection included, the fear of what others think but don’t say. This isn’t our fear to deal with – we can stand with Jesus to reject that fear’s authority and bring something better in its place.

Let’s not wait around for fear to show itself – we can take the fight to fear on the ground that God desired for us, in relationship with Him and in good relationship with each other!

Communication in Genesis

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth – earth had no form, it was empty; the Spirit paused in ready anticipation for what was to come next. Then, God spoke light into existence.

And so the story goes.

The first section of Genesis has always been one of my favorite portions of scripture. It is simple and it speaks poetically of things that will have ripples throughout our human history. The incredibly powerful God speaking things into existence until He comes to mankind. He takes dirt into his hands, forms us, breathes life into us, and creates us in His image. His masterpiece that He gives such strength to is small, weak, and frail compared to the creatures, trees, oceans, planets, and stars that He has just spoken out of Himself, but this one is special in a different way.

In our frailty we show of His nature, being just an image of it. In our freedom we have the we have the opportunity to share His character with each other, the families that we create, and the world that we form.

Our history is enough to show that our story could have been better than it now is, but it also shows a God who is willing to keep speaking life into His creation to bring us back to Him. When we hear His words and live by them we get to walk in that original hope and bring His life and beauty to a world that is broken. When we reject Him and His words we add to the destruction of everything we love until there is nothing left to save. We are able to justify ourselves in this until we look just like the very enemy of God.

This battle of communication starts in Genesis and continues throughout scripture. God speaks life – it is accepted with blessing or it is rejected with destruction. This happens with the first of mankind, the nations that spring up following the great flood, and over and over again through to present day. This is still the world that we raise our children in – the world where they will grow up in, find husbands and wives, create families, and form their part of world in the love of God or in the rejection of Him.

This communication is what Genesis is all about. We get to see God’s heart in intimate detail as He addresses sin with Adam and Eve, when He pleads with Cain to choose the good and reject temptation, when He shares His broken heart with Noah, when He consults with Himself at Babel to preserve mankind, and when He speaks a blessing and a promise over Abram that will put the words of God into the family of Abraham.

We enter into this battle when we speak.

Do we speak words that are true to God’s heart? Do we speak with His heart and with His passion? Do we seek His values in the world around us?

Whether we speak plainly or poetically, with common sense or intellectualism, our words will leave ripples in the lives of those around us, in the families that we raise, and in the world that we are forming. The best place to start learning the difference is in the Bible and in His presence.

I’ll share more about that later.