As we enter the Passion week of Easter, consider this Lent prayer from the 4th-century theologian Ephrem the Syrian:
O LORD, Master of my life, grant that I may not be infected with the spirit of slothfulness and inquisitiveness, with the spirit of ambition and vain talking. Grant instead to me, your servant, the spirit of purity and of humility, the spirit of patience and neighborly love. O Lord and King, grant me the grace of being aware of my sins and of not thinking evil of those of my brethren. For you are blessed, now and ever, and forever.
Isn’t it a comfort that Christians the world over have been and are still dealing with the same difficulties and trials that we are today? I’m sure that you can find some area of Ephrem’s prayer that you resonate with, and I invite you to pray your own prayer as you consider those temptations and sins.
It may be ambition and seeking after money or power for the sake of your pride, or it may be “vain talking,” speech that does not glorify God and belittles him or his people. Or perhaps it is humility that you need, to think of God first and yourself in relation to him, or perhaps patience with another person. Or you may need more self-awareness about where you are falling short (Lord help us, we could all use more of that!), or to give your Christian brother and sister the benefit of the doubt. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us so that we may shine like lights on a hill to be seen far around.
Read and Reflect 📖
In the beginning God created a priest. And not just any priest, but a royal priest—a man made in God’s likeness, a son fashioned to reflect God’s beauty, an image bearer commissioned to rule God’s world with holy affections. God commissioned the first family—Adam and his fellow image bearer, Eve—to be fruitful and multiply and fill the world with God’s glory.
The first few chapters of Genesis bring the reader into a foreign world with many ancient places, practices, and people. Presented as symbol-laden history, Genesis tells us where humanity came from, why we are here, and what went wrong. It also hints at who will “fix” it. While priesthood is not defined or assigned until Sinai, we can see how priesthood in Israel finds an original pattern in Genesis.
God’s people in Christ are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), in a return to the garden ideal. That is the now, and the not-yet. Understanding the pattern of priesthood set up in Genesis 1–2 helps us to understand not only the Mosaic priesthood but the priesthood of Jesus Messiah and our own priesthood. Schrock points us to four ways that we can see Adam and Eve's priesthood.
Musical Masterpiece 🎼
This album by Nathan Salsburg is a collection of Psalms sung in the original Hebrew. I found it incredibly relaxing and surprisingly moving. It gives you a much better idea of the cadence of the Psalm than a translation into English can.
Christianity Is True ✝️
Let’s start with the supposed contradiction:
He said to them, “Have you never read what David and those who were with him did when he was in need and hungry — how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest and ate the bread of the Presence — which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests — and also gave some to his companions?”
— Mark 2:25–26 (CSB)
This seems to reference a story of David in 1 Samuel 21:1–7, but there, Ahimelech is mentioned as the priest. His son Abiathar doesn’t enter the story until some time later (1 Samuel 22:20). Did Jesus make a mistake? Or Mark? What would that do to our view of the inspiration of scripture?
This particular issue started famed skeptical New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman questioning scripture while he was still a Christian. Jones explores several ways to understand this challenging passage. I think that his conclusions give us plenty of reason to trust that this may be strange, but not a contradiction.
Consider Another Perspective 🤔
I’m not what you might call an animal person. I hunt and eat meat. My heart doesn’t melt over cute cats or dogs. I’m not in favor of house pets, and I surely don’t refer to my family’s dogs as “fur babies.” (Yes, I lost that house-pet battle.) But I am intrigued by the last words of God’s closing speech to Jonah: “Should I not also have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 people, who do not know the difference between their right hand and their left, as well as many animals?” (Jonah 4:11, NASB).
As well as many animals? Should we care about animals?
You may say, obviously, yes we should care about animals! But what does that mean? Does that mean we ought to completely abstain from meat or animal products? Why should we care about animals? This short article cannot go into deep depth. Boekestein provides us a brief three points of a theology of animals, followed by three points of what that means for us, including honoring animals’ value:
The question is not whether we have dominion over animals but how we will exercise that dominion (Gen. 1:26). Stewardship is not a blank check. As Kuyper explained, “The commonly accepted view that people may do with an animal just as they please because it is only an animal must . . . be resisted by all Christians because the animals are not yours but belong to God.”
This means it’s a sin to mistreat animals. “Dominion,” explained John Stott, “is not another word for domination, still less for destruction.”
Explore the Scriptures 📖
This is a lengthy but good-natured debate between a pastor and theologian on how we should understand John 6:44:
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.
— John 6:44 (CSB)
Hughes takes the Calvinist view that this passage is referring to irresistible grace, while Flowers takes the provisionist position that this passage is talking about how Jesus remained hidden from the Israelite leadership to bring about the crucifixion through the free will of those leaders. As with all debates, my challenge to you is to enter with an open mind and try to understand each position.
Living This Christian Life 🤴👸
For a forgiven people, we can still be terribly bad at coping with our imperfection. I can be terribly bad at coping with the fact that, though redeemed, I am still deeply and pervasively imperfect.
My remaining imperfections regularly, even daily, disrupt and corrupt my thoughts, decisions, and conversations. How do you respond when you’re forced to see those same sins in the mirror again — the ones you have confessed, fought, and even overcome — only to have to rise, confess, and fight again? As God mapped out our narrow paths to glory, he chose that imperfection would be our constant (and unwanted) companion.
How should we think about our lingering sins? Those we’ve repented of over and over but still rear their ugly head? Thankfully, Paul has given us a wealth of passages on living through our sin with our eyes focused on Jesus, and not just in the famous passage of Romans 7.
This is completely optional, and everything that is currently free will continue to be free. Thank you for reading The Garden Weekly.
Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️
This is the story of one Christian parent’s reaction to his daughter coming out as a lesbian, getting married, adopting children, and more. It’s a heart-wrenching story. He tells the story of how his hard, Pharisaic heart was replaced by a heart full of love for people struggling with desires like his daughter.
This podcast will challenge your own heart for God’s image-bearers who struggle with these desires, and it will challenge you to love them well while maintaining truth.
Keep Your Mind on Things Above
I will be praying for you this week.
Why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the beam of wood in your own eye?…Hypocrite! First take the beam of wood out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.
— Matthew 7:3, 5