Category Archives: Purpose 1

Having Days in the Valley

We all long to be on the mountaintop, but most days are spent in the plains, and some, even in the valley. It is very easy to realize the nearness of God’s presence and fellowship with Him (purpose #1) from the summit. Not as easy in the valley. In fact, Our Enemy would have us perceive God’s absence, and despair in the plains and valleys.

In the Old Testament, Syria is Israel’s enemy and continues to assail them, just as Our Enemy does us.

And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they. . .muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so. (I Kings 20:23-28 mouseover reference for whole verse)

The Israelites were people of the high hills. Moses was given the Law on a mountain. Jerusalem lay 4,000′ above sea level.  The Psalms consistently celebrate the heights and the mountains. The prophets were called to and from the mountain. As the mountains are around Jerusalem, so God is around His people (Psalm 125:2). It would be easy to conclude that God is mainly God of the heights, those mountaintop experiences we have when all appears to be going well and His nearness to us is easily realized.

That is exactly what King Benhadad of Syria thinks. ‘If I can just get the Israelites down off the mountain, things will change and I’ll have victory.’ Our Enemy seeks to do the same thing, to pull us down into the valley to see if our faith holds, to see if we really believe the Gospel we so easily espouse from the mountaintop. And so when Our Enemy is able to pull us into the plains and valleys, he stands and gloats like Benhadad presuming we are heading to our doom, outnumbered by our own sinful failure and lack of hope.

But there is one thing Our Enemy has forgotten, our God is not just a God of the mountains but a God of the valleys.

  And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’” And they encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined. And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day.
(1 Kings 20:28-29 ESV)

The God that marches the heights also lies where the shadows are the deepest. He is God of life’s hilltops, where it is easy to believe. But what of life’s gorges, when circumstances or our own sin has brought us to a dark place bereft of natural light–can we then believe this Gospel? Can we have hope? Yes, he can provide us victory in the valley!

James S. Stewart points out a foundational fact.

The God of our joys is also the God of our sorrows. The God of the radiant times when it is easy for our heart to sing is also just as near when the foundations are shaking and our song seems a million miles away. Yes, He is with us even when we are in the self-created valley of our own sinful behavior. The valley is precisely why Jesus died and didn’t come merely teaching a good ethic–to offer us salvation and not merely morality. How do we know this? Jesus the revealer of God the Father shows us this, for Jesus performed miracles at both weddings and funerals. He is with you on your best day and worst, calling you to realize His nearness and His provision of victory!

So whether on the mountain, plains or in the valley, realize his nearness and don’t stop worshiping and trusting.




A Deep Breaking of Purpose 1: Broken Fellowship

In the Fall seen in Genesis 3, there was a deep breaking. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they passed on an ugly gift to each of us–a sin nature. For a long time, I viewed sin as something that made God angry–a wrong thought, attitude or behavior. I also clearly understood I had a sin nature as it raised up its head so often in my life. But there was a deeper breaking than this. What I have to consider fully is the degree that sin had broken or distorted God’s three purposes if we are going see victory and freedom.

P1: To fellowship with God in the nearness of His presence.

After Adam and Eve sinned, God appeared in the garden for another walk in the cool of the evening as He had time and time before. However, this time Adam and Eve, in shame, had hidden themselves realizing that they were naked. God asked them  the question that we, too, must answer, “Where are you?” An Adam did what we all tend to do. He pitched the blame like a hot potato elsewhere (Genesis 3:12 mouseover verse). And in doing so

The Fall continues to affect us in the same way. I, like others, tend to hide in shame in when I sin. I tend to make excuses and pitch blame. These actions only serve to make me less aware that fellowship with God that is available to me through Christ. At these times, I find myself being more of a deist, thinking that God is out there watching, rather than a theist, knowing that He is intervening and available. I tend to try to take control of things–attempting to covering myself like Adam in order to please God. I do what I heard a member of my recovery group recently say. I attempt to have a good day and then ask, “God, what do you think of me today?” as  if I were participating in some kind of giant make-it-up-to-you-God exercise. This is of course, ultimately ridiculous and futile.

God’s availability to me and my awareness of the nearness of His presence is only because of Christ and what He has accomplished that I cannot. He has restored the potential of Eden to me and to you as we live in union with Him. More to come on that hope in future posts. For now you and I must continue to dissect what is broken in us if we are able to have victory over our sin, our habits, our hurts, and our addictions.

God’s Original Purpose for Us, Made Simple

God has a purpose for creating us. In the garden of Eden, He tells us that purpose through a narrative of humanity in a perfected state, unstained by sin. This is what our full humanity is to look like. These purposes are what God is moving us towards, even as sin and addiction fights against it. This is what we are battling for  in the beautiful fight.  Many times, we approach Genesis 1-3 as a modern Christians wearing our apologetic sunglasses. Our main purposes seems to be using the text for wrestling with those who are of a naturalistic evolutionary bent. This is a huge mistake, for this is not the prime reason Genesis 1-3 made it into our Bibles. YES, God is Creator of all things. That fact is vital.  (And whether you believe it occurred in six literal days or leave open the potential it happening over billion of years does not matter to me. In fact, for the point I am making here, your view of whether there was one literal Adam and Eve or the first couple were a metaphorical type of humanity doesn’t  matter, though I fall into the first camp.

 God established three purposes for us that are clearly seen in the story of Adam and Eve in Eden.

P1. To fellowship with God as we realize the nearness of His presence.

Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day

P2. To live in authentic community (relationships), and to multiply that community by including others.

Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

Genesis 1:28 …And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…

P3. To rule and reign on His behalf, by bearing and reflecting His image (character).

Genesis 1:26-28

    Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
    So God created man in his own image,
        in the image of God he created him;
        male and female he created them.
    And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Throughout The Wretched Saint blog, I will reflect on the 3 purposes and what it means for recovery and the beautiful fight. You can follow this series by clicking on the category drop down category menu at the right. As I reflect on my own brutal yet beautiful fight to be who God desires me to be, I am realizing my processing of what sin–both Adam’s and my own–has done to distort these three purposes AND what God has done, is doing, and will do to restore me to His original perfected purposes is crucial to victory and freedom.