Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Creation, Corruption and a Camaro

In the beginning, God created everything. He created the earth, sky, plants, animals, trees, and humans. Genesis 2:8 reads, “Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed.” After this God created Eve and everything was going great.

One day Satan, in the form of a serpent, talked the couple into disobeying God. When this happened, the intimate relationship between God and humans was damaged. It seemed that Satan had managed to cripple God’s creation. The couple was banished from Eden and more importantly, from the close presence of God.

God exacted the penalty of death upon His creation for their disobedience. Men and women would struggle to reinstate the relationship with God from this point on. The problem was that due to the sinfulness that was so prevalent, they would wander farther away from God with each passing day. Satan continued to lure humans away from God until it seemed there was no way for them to ever fully belong to Him again. Humans were simply incapable of paying the price for restoration.

In 1983, John Schnatter was working in his father’s tavern in Jeffersonville, Indiana. He had the idea to start making pizzas and delivering them from his father’s business. He used the best ingredients, and soon his pizzas were in great demand. However, his father was in danger of losing the tavern, due to financial difficulties, and that would have meant the end of John’s pizza business.

John’s prize possession at the time, was his 1971 ½ Bumblebee striped Camaro Z28, that he delivered pizzas in. He knew that if the family business was to continue, he would have to sell the car. $2,800.00 later he watched the car drive away with a new owner, but his father’s business was saved.

His pizza business was also saved, and “Papa” John Schnatter grew it into one of the largest pizza businesses in the country. However, John never forgot his Camaro. For many years he looked for it, and even hired an ex-FBI agent to help. He finally put up a finders fee of $25,000 to anyone who could find it, and offered $250,000 to purchase it from the new owner. Last year, John was reunited with the car and bought it back for much more than it is actually worth. He now uses the car in some of the commercials for Papa John’s.

God saw His creation the same way as John Schnatter saw his Camaro. Sin took us away from Him, but He never stopped trying to restore the relationship. The sacrificial system didn’t work, the law didn’t work. The only way to bring us back to Him was to redeem us from sin’s grasp.

In the Bible, the word redeem means to “buy back from bondage or death.” God indeed bought us back from our bondage of sin and death. However, the thing that is most humbling is that He paid much more for us than we are worth. Romans 5:7-8 reads, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Even though we were righteous or even good, God still redeemed us with His own life.

Knowing this, we should all be willing to do whatever we can for Him and His kingdom. 1 John 3:16-18 tells us, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” We, who are redeemed, should show His love in this world to others and tell them the good news of Christ’s love and grace. Make an effort this week to show your gratitude for His salvation by sharing with someone else.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Want an Apple With That?

A new survey by Yale University has revealed that 84% of parents say their kids have eaten at a fast food restaurant in the last week. Other research has shown that many times this is due to requests by the children to eat at the fast food restaurants. Why are the children demanding fast food? Many maintain that it is because of their marketing.

While companies that sell sugary cereals and drinks have pulled back on their marketing to children, fast food companies like McDonalds and Burger King have done the opposite. They have stepped up their advertising to younger customers. According to the Nielsen Company, preschoolers see about three ads per day, and teens see about five per day.

In 2006, at the urging of the Better Business Bureau, McDonald’s and Burger King agreed to devote at least 50% of their ads directed at kids to choices that are considered “better for you.” However, in those ads, those alternate, healthier choices such as apple dippers and milk are shown in the background behind the fries and cookies. Yale also found that those healthier choices are almost never offered at the counter or drive through.

 In other words, they are using half-truths and deceptively living up to the expectation of the agreement. With this, they are taking the opportunity to advertise more. In fact, the actual numbers are stunning. With information from the Nielsen Company, Yale researchers found that preschoolers are seeing 21% more ads for fast food and teens are seeing 34% more, compared with 2003. What they say they’re advertising is not what is really being sold, and what is being sold is not healthy.

The Garden of Eden was a wonderful place. Adam and Eve were placed there among the rest of God’s creation and lived happily. They were able to do as they pleased, and what they wanted to do pleased God.

God gave the garden to the newly created couple to take care of. The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15) He only gave them one rule that we know of. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) Everything seemed wonderful. Until, of course, the snake shows up. 

Take a look at the conversation between Eve and the serpent. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  
(Genesis 3:2-5)
Notice two things about this conversation. First, Eve misquoted God. She made the rule sound much worse than it was. She said God told them to not touch the tree. He only said they should not eat from it. Second, notice that the serpent tells her that God was lying and they wouldn’t die. Then he goes on to lure her by telling her she can be like God if she eats the fruit.

Examine those statements. Satan didn’t use a blatant lie. He spoke in half-truths, which is much worse. He said that they wouldn’t die. They didn’t die. Not immediately. Death entered the world after sin. Adam and Eve lived a long time after this event, but they did indeed die.  The other statement Satan made was to say they would know good and evil and be like God. They did know good and evil, like God does, but they did not become like God. They became quite the opposite.

Satan is a liar. He wants to make us think that his ways will not destroy us. He whispers those lies in our ears, and we listen to him. When we read of Jesus’ temptation, we see how crafty the enemy is. He always lures us with something tempting, while hiding a dagger of destruction behind his back. Jesus said of him in John 8, He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:42-44)
Don’t be fooled by Satan’s schemes and craftiness. Build your relationship with God, and allow Him to guide your thoughts, actions, and life. Then, and only then, will you be able to withstand the lies of the enemy.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:7-10 NKJV)