From Gardens to Cathedrals

Illustration by fischtaledesigns

Illustration by fischtaledesigns

I love history, especially church history. I have a bucket list of dozen of places I want to visit because of the richness of church history throughout Europe. When I heard the news of the fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral I was saddened because a piece of history had been lost that will never be recovered. Hours after the fire people are already talking about rebuilding what was lost, but it will never be the same. Even our culture that has amnesia to history has this sense of something great has been lost and will never be able to be recovered or made right again. One might ask, why does an old building getting burned illicit such a response from our hearts? Let’s take a minute to set the stage before we answer that question.

In Genesis 1-2 we see the beauty of God’s creation without the taint of sin. Adam and Eve are able to be in God’s presence and enjoy Him forever, there is no distance, there is no separation. It is a perfect place where nothing ever made them sad, lonely, sick or afraid. Everything was perfect. Then comes Genesis 3, Adam and Eve trade their relationship with God with their desire to be God and are deceived into heart ache and pain for the rest of their lives and for all of humanity that would follow. This sin would lead to the banishment of Adam and Eve from God’s presence because God is Holy and sin cannot dwell in His presence. It would also usher in death to all. Not only that but all of creation has been longing for the day since then when the Seed that would set all things right would come and crush the head of the Serpent.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned. In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to a person’s account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam’s transgression. He is a type of the Coming One.” (Romans‬ ‭5:12-14‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

Here lies the answer to our question above. We mourn over a Cathedral because it is a reminder to us of something else that had been lost and broken and would never be the same again, our relationship with God. Sin has created this separation with us from God. A relationship where humanity once walked with God in the Garden of Eden, now can no longer be in His presence because of our sin that we have inherited from Adam. All throughout the Old Testament there are these rules and regulations for coming into God’s presence and it was only the High Priest that was allowed to after a period of purification and only once a year on the Day of Atonement to cover the sins of the people. If anyone approached God carelessly or in a way that He did not intend, they would die because there was no mediator between God and man, because God is Holy, we are sinners and we needed a Savior. Enter in the Seed that would crush the head of the Serpent and set all things right.

“So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is justification leading to life for everyone. For just as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so also through the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. The law came along to multiply the trespass. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans‬ ‭5:18-21‬ ‭CSB‬‬)

God knew that there was no way for man to come to Him, so He came to man in the person of Jesus Christ. He became the sinless, perfect sacrifice that would take away the sins of the world that lived a life perfect and holy before God that we could never live. He died the death that we should have died because the punishment for our sin is death. Then God raised Him from the dead forever reigning over sin and death for those who put faith in Him.

Yet, we live in the already, but not yet. We live already having experienced the forgiveness and peace we have with God through Jesus Christ, yet we live in the effects of sin on our world still. There are still tragic events that happen every day because sin still exists and corrupts the good things that God created. When an 850 year old Cathedral is burned and destroyed we mourn because something beautiful has been ravaged by the effects of sin. We also look forward in hope knowing that something more beautiful is coming. We look forward to knowing that one day every tear will be wiped away and all the sadness of our world we be undone. As someone who loves church history I am genuinely saddened by the fire and the history and art that has been lost and will never be experienced by so many, including myself. However, it is moments like these that should cause us as Christians to reflect on something so much more beautiful that had been lost, but is now ours in Christ. Not because we earned it or deserved it, but because God graciously made a plan of redemption before the foundations of the world were laid.

Time Away

Guest Post: Laura Martin

Every year the men of our church go away on a retreat. It’s advertised as manly bonding with lots of bacon. But the reality: it’s a meeting with God and fellowship among all campuses.

Being a leader in the youth ministry for so long we were encouraged to pray for upcoming conferences so students would have a transformational moment bringing them in relationship with Jesus. Luckily for me, the power of God met me at one of those conferences and my life hasn’t been the same.

I was reminded recently to be praying for the men of our church as they head off to encounter God together. Praying? I hadn’t been doing that. I had been prepping myself to handle a strong-willed *testing every limit* toddler without my husband here with me for an overnight retreat.

Colossians 1:11 NLT “We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy.”

You see – I want my husband to hurry back home just as much as the rest of you want your husband’s back home. But while he is away I want him to know I can hold down the fort. I can sacrifice a family day for him to meet with our precious Savior. The one who sustains our marriage, our family, and ultimately our lives.

Ephesians 5:25 ESV “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,”

“No man will be a spiritual leader in his home if he is not going deep with God in his own private life.” – John Piper

So as my husband has “time away” to reflect on the goodness of God I’m going to be praying. Praying he comes home refreshed, with new vision and direction for our family.

The message translation says this better than I could:
Ephesians 5:22-24 MSG “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.”

Of course, this message could be applied to your everyday life. As I stay persistent in prayer for my family, I am reminded how blessed I truly am. I don’t deserve all that I have; but God has been so gracious to us.

Teaching the Gospel Through Broken Snow Globes

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First of all yes it is March and yes we still have remnants of Christmas decorations in our house. A couple of weeks ago we had some snow globes on an end table in our house near the door. My three year old and I were heading out the door and if you have toddlers you can relate with me. Whenever you leave the house you have to pack up every toy you own and bring it wherever you are going. So on this particular day as we are getting ready to leave my toddler packed up an unnecessary amount of toys that she didn't need in a backpack, so much filled that it was bulging at the seems ready to topple her over. So here we are going out the door with her obnoxiously large backpack on and my daughter swings around to say bye to bubba, our dog and commence the sound of broken glass. Snow globe down. This isn't my first rodeo cleaning up broken glass so I instantly go into clean up mode. Pick her up and put her on the couch, lock our dog in a room and get out the vacuum. It was a small snow globe and it was a fast clean up, no sweat. When I finished I turn to see my daughter on the couch crying. Here I thought it was because of the snow globe being broken and losing a toy. However it wasn't because of that, it was because she thought that because she broke the snow globe that she would be on the naughty list. I learned from my wife later I guess that is from Santa Clause 3 or something. So I picked her up and told her that there would never be anything she could ever do to be on the naughty list because I am her daddy and I love her. Then I asked her if she wanted to know why she will never be on my naughty list no matter what she's done. It is because God has loved me in my "naughtiness" and He still loves me because of Jesus. Even when I make mistakes and I sin He still loves me because of what Jesus has done and because of the grace He has shown me when I don't deserve it, it allows me to show you grace when you don't deserve it. Even better, when we trust Jesus we have the promise that we will never be on God's naughty list no matter what and He will love us forever. 

Just like we teach our kids to crawl, walk, count, talk, etc. We also have been tasked with the responsibility of teaching and showing our kid's the Gospel of God's grace. By God's grace He has placed our kid's in a family of faith so that we can model grace to our children. Every moment we have with our kids we should use as opportunities to show our kid's the Gospel. Let me just say this, I don't do it perfectly. By God's grace in this moment I didn't throw my arms up and yell and scream that my daughter has now inconvenienced our leaving of the house as I have done in the past. My prayer is constantly that God would help me to see opportunities to show grace and to teach the Gospel to my daughter because it is the only thing that can change her heart. It is the only thing that matters. Manipulation won't change her heart, threats won't changer her heart, bribing her won't change her heart. All of these things will only lead to behavior modification and won't last. The only thing that can change a heart is the Gospel, that we are more sinful than we can imagine, yet more loved than we can ever hope. 

"God has opened your eyes to his presence and glory so you could help open the eyes of your children. So capture the opportunities around you to point to him. Don’t let a day pass without doing it and don’t feel that it’s weird to talk about God all the time. He is so pictured by his creation that it is positively weird not to be reminded of him and talk about him all the time. No one gives grace better than a parent who humbly admits that he desperately needs it himself." - Paul David Tripp

May this be our prayer, that as parents who have received grace from God that we would extend and teach grace to our kid's so that their eyes would be opened by God's grace to His presence and glory.