Monthly Archives: July 2008

Fig Leaves

Genesis 3:7 tells us that Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness after their sin.  To cover themselves, they sewed fig leaves together and wore them.  This seems an expecially unfortunate choice, since fig leaves are rough and induce painful itching.

But isn’t this just like us?  When we sin, we try to hide our shame by beating ourselves up.  We practice negative self-talk, we kick ourselves, we acknowledge that we are terrible Christians.  Some even go so far as to chastise themselves physically.

God never tells us to beat ourselves up after we sin.  He tells us to return to Him.  But instead, we hide in the bushes, making God come after us.  Why do we do it?  You can bet that Satan has a big part to play in it.  He is the accuser, and we listen to him far too often.  Another reason is that we don’t understand God’s grace.  We mistrust it.  We can’t believe that God could really forgive us with no strings attached.  Surely we have to do some penance.  “God will forgive me if…”

We’ve also learned that some self-flagellation will go a long way to changing public opinion about us.  We know that we will be judged by the sins we commit, so we seek to lesson the criticism by doing some of the punishment ourselves.  It’s a pretty good strategy, actually.  People are less quick to dogpile if they see that a beating is already being administered.

Benefits aside, God wants us to come to Him in our nakedness when we sin.  No covering.  No self-disciplining.  Just us, admitting we were wrong and asking for God’s forgiveness.  Adam and Eve had it exactly backwards.  They prolonged their suffering by hiding from God.

When God found them in the garden in their sin, He replaced their covering with His.  His covering involved sacrifice.  An innocent animal had to die to pay for their sins.  Its blood covered their sin, and its hide covered their bodies.  God was demonstrating how they would now have to live in order to maintain a relationship with Him, and He was showing them how He would eventually solve the problem of sin forever. The death of an animal is a picture of Christ’s death on the cross.  His blood covers both our sin and our spiritual nakedness.


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Filed under agape love, christianity, Covering, guilt, Religion, sin, Spiritual Growth, Spirituality, Substitution, Suffering, unconditional love

Cracked Pots

There is a story about a farmer who had to make a long walk each day down to the stream, where the clear water flowed.  To carry the water back, he used two, large, clay pots that he had fashioned with his own hands.  These he hung on either end of a long pole that he carried across his neck and shoulders.

Though both pots had seen some years, one was still in perfect condition.  The other, however, had a large crack in it, so that when the farmer arrived back home after his long walk, he often had only half the water with which he had started.

The perfect pot was proud of its daily accomplishement, a full pot of water delivered to the farmer’s hut, and it disdained the cracked pot for its inefficiency.  It thought to itself, “I am glad that I am not like this worthless pot beside me.  I faithfully bring all that I’m given back to the hut of my master.”

And to be sure, the cracked pot was ashamed of the way it wasted water on the way back to the hut each day.  If only the crack were not so large or the distance from the stream not so far….  It thought to itself, “My master has been so good to me, and I continue to fail him day after day.  I’ll speak to my master and ask his forgiveness.”

So, the next morning, as the farmer was tying each of the pots to the long pole he used to carry them, the cracked pot spoke up.  “Master, forgive me; I’m a cracked pot.”

Amused by this sudden revelation, the farmer responded, “I’ve always known that you were cracked.  I was there when it happened.”

“Yes, but I’m ashamed that I’m only able to bring half a pot of water back to the hut each day.  If I were whole like the other pot, I could bring back all that you trust me with each day.”

“If I had wanted two full pots of water,” the farmer replied, “I would have replaced you a long time ago.  Have you not noticed the many flowers on your side of the path as we make our way back to the hut each morning?  I planted them on your side, because your crack makes it possible for me to water them each day as I walk.  The other pot doesn’t share its water with the path, so nothing grows on its side.”

The Moral of the Story

God is the farmer, and we are the pots.  He takes our cracks and uses them for His Kingdom and His glory.  Through them, He pours Living Water on a dry and thirsty world.  No matter what mistakes we have made, no matter what our imperfections… God will use them if we let Him.  Romans 8:28 tells us that:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  (emphasis mine)

ALL things.  that includes your prodigal years, your physical “imperfections,” your disabilities, your sickness and disease, your insecurities, your failed marriage, your broken relationships, your demotion, your bankruptcy, your lack of intelligence or good looks or charisma or whatever.  God uses everything – if we let Him.

And don’t kid yourself.  We are all cracked pots.  Not one of us is perfect.  The “perfect pots” may look perfect on the outside, but they are cracked on the inside because of their pride or because of something else they are doing their best to hide.

The difference between most of us and the “perfect pots” is that we are giving God opportunities to use our cracks.  He can’t use “perfect,” because “perfect” won’t admit that it needs God.  Remember, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  If we pretend that we can do it ourselves, we rob Him of an opportunity to work through us.  If we do it in our own power, we get the glory.

The “perfect pot” was proud of what it accomplished in its own power.  But what it missed was the chance to be part of something greater than itself.  God never asked us to store His blesssings.  He asked us to pour them out as we walk with Him.


Filed under christianity, God's Will, Life's Purpose, Religion, Spirituality, Thirst

Where You Focus

I’m going to show you a magic trick.

On the picture frame below, there are eight cards. I would like for you to pick one and memorize it (number, color and suit) before scrolling down.

Have you got it?

Okay, in the next picture frame, I’ve shuffled the cards up a bit, but the card you selected will be the only one turned face down.

Ready? Okay, look!

Was I right? Pretty impressive, huh?

Want to do it again?





Okay, on the next picture frame, there are eight new cards. Select one and memorize it.







Have you got this one memorized?







Okay, scroll down to the next picture frame. I reshuffled the cards, but once again, the card you selected will be turned upside down.





I did it again, didn’t I?


Now a good magician’s not supposed to reveal his secrets, but I’m a very bad magician, and I don’t mind.  Scroll back up until you can see the second set of cards (the frame with all cards face-up).

Pick a different card from this group and then scroll down to the frame with the one card turned over.

That one seems to be face down, too. Hmmm… If you haven’t figured it out yet, scroll back up and choose a third card. Then look at the last frame, and you’ll see that it’s missing, too.

The secret to the trick is that the frame with the face-down card in each set contains completely different cards than the first slide.

The trick works, because you are so focused on the one card you are memorizing that you don’t pay attention to the others. I was able to replace all the cards without you noticing, because you assumed that your card must be the face-down one.

This trick, like many magic tricks, depends upon me getting you to focus on one thing so that you aren’t focused on anything else in the trick. It’s deception, pure and simple, and it’s the same trick Satan uses when it comes to the people around us.

He likes to get us focused on the flaws in our friends, our families, our boss, our peers at work, our fellow church members, different people groups… He wants us preoccupied with the annoying, frustrating, difficult things about those around us so that we won’t notice all the great things about them, so that we won’t notice how much we have in common.

If he can get us looking at just a few frustrating character traits, habits or customs, he can disrupt relationships, create prejudice and hatred, short-circuit evangelism and ministry and prevent the one thing Jesus said would prove to the world that we are His disciples – that we have love one for another.

Don’t fall for Satan’s cheap parlor trick. Keep your focus on what we have in common with those around us.

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Filed under agape love, christianity, evangelism, grace, Interpersonal, love, Relationships, Religion, Spirituality

A Kingdom of Giants

David Ogilvy, founder of the advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather, regularly sent Russian nesting dolls to new members of his leadership team. The nesting dolls (pictured above) were hollow, and smaller dolls fit inside the larger ones.

Ogilvy taped the following message to the smallest doll:

“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, Ogilvy & Mather will become a company of giants.”

Excusing Ogilvy’s lack of political-correctness (he was running his business in the 50’s and 60’s), he had some prophetic ability. Today, Ogilvy & Mather is one of the largest and most respected advertising agencies in the world. Whether or not they are a “company of giants,” they are a giant company with giant clients like Dove, Mattel, IBM, Motorola, Cisco, Nestle, American Express and Coca-Cola.

In Christian ministry, we would call this concept good stewardship. You can’t be a good steward if your ego won’t allow you to hire someone more talented or more promising than you are. You have to think about what’s best for the ministry. How would Israel have fared if Eli had refused to take Samuel under his wing? Or what would have become of the Church if Barnabas had refused to lend Saul his credibility? These men have faded into relative obscurity when compared to their protégés, but that doesn’t make their contribution insignificant. They provided formative mentoring and/or resources that enabled their protégés to surpass them in impact and notoriety.

It’s not easy being surpassed (just ask King Saul how he felt about David, the shepherd boy). The humility required in this process is enough to make Eli and Barnabas giants in my book. (Yes, I know Eli was a mess, but he at least knew enough not to get in the way of what God was doing. Give him his props.) I suspect that God has a way of accounting for these men’s role in all the good ministry that was eventually done/is being done by Samuel and Saul-Paul.

We’re here to build a Kingdom, but it’s not our own personal one. Seek out those whom God has chosen for larger roles in the Kingdom and give them all the help you can to prepare them for the path He’s set before them. If they pass you on the path, know that your sacrifice is true servant leadership and that you are helping to build a Kingdom of giants for Christ.

(Info Source – Denis Waitley. Priorities (1/22/99) – reprinted in Reader’s Digest – 8/99)

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