It happened in a garden

For centuries, Bible teachers have told stories and those stories have been repeated and expounded upon and retold and retold. But what if the retelling is completely false? How many people sit under regular Bible teaching and simply accept what they’re being taught without a second glance at the scripture the story is being told from?

In my journey through John, I have come across many stories that I were told in a certain way, only to learn that what I was told wasn’t the real story at all. This isn’t necessarily the fault of current teachers for they are only repeating what they were told and those who told it were doing the same. The thing is, by retelling the same stories over and over again, we might just be missing out on a miraculous truth. And that is what I have recently discovered for myself.

In John 20, we come across Mary Magdalene at the garden tomb. Mary is often depicted as a fallen women, unworthy of the calling of Christ. All we truly know is that she had been oppressed by seven spirits and Jesus set her free. After that, she became a follower—a disciple—of Christ.

Mary (along with several other women) came to Jesus’ burial place to anoint His body as an act of final love and devotion. She found the tomb open and empty and was greeted by two angels. When they proved to be of no help to her, she turned and was met by another man she did not recognise. We soon discover the man to be none other than Jesus Himself.

So why is this little portion of scripture so significant? Because Mary Magdalene wasn’t the only woman in a garden described in the Bible. And she isn’t the only one who has been painted with the wrong brush over the centuries.

Now the snake was the most cunning of all living beings Yaweh-God had made. He deviously asked the woman, “Did God really tell you, ‘You must not eat the fruit from any tree of the garden…?'”

But the woman interrupted, “—We may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree in the center of the garden. God told us, ‘Don’t eat its fruit, or even touch it, or you’ll die.'”

But the snake said to her, “You won’t certainly die. God knows that the moment you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the tree produced delicious fruit, delightful to look upon, and desirable to give one insight, she took its fruit and ate it. She gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he also ate it. Immediately, their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked, vulnerable, and ashamed; so they sewed fig leaves together for coverings.

Genesis 3:1-7 (TPT)

Eve is quite often painted as the temptress, the one who gave into the serpent’s cunning and deceived Adam. According to this account, Adam was present for the whole exchange. Also note that their eyes weren’t opened until both had eaten of the fruit.

Pretty much since the beginning of time, men have used this account to prove that women are incapable of making decisions—those are better left to the men in their lives. We are told that it’s women who lead men astray—as though men are not responsible for their own thoughts and actions. It is often suggested that Eve is solely responsible for the fall of mankind. And this is how the church has proceeded in thought through the ages.

And then we come back to Mary Magdalene. Because of the brush Eve has been painted with, Mary must also be drawn as a fallen woman, a woman incapable of making her own decisions, a woman who is nothing more than a weak, weeping creature who can do nothing more than collapse at the empty tomb, her tears being so plentiful that she can’t even recognise Jesus standing before her.

But what if that isn’t the story being told at all? John says later in chapter 20 that all he wrote was so that we will fully believe that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Son of God. How can a story of a weak, weeping woman bring us to believe in Jesus the Anointed One?

All of the above is to bring us to this: if Eve was the first to bring about the fall of humanity, then Mary Magdalene was the first to receive the reconciliation of humanity.

After His resurrection, Jesus could have revealed Himself to anyone. John and Peter had already been to the empty tomb. They came and went and Jesus didn’t show. It was to Mary that Jesus revealed Himself.

Then she turned around to leave, and there was Jesus standing in front of her, but she didn’t realize that it was him!

He said to her, “Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?”

Mary answered, thinking he was only the gardener, “Sir, if you have taken his body somewhere else, tell me, and I will go and…”

“Mary,” Jesus interrupted her.

Turning to face him, she said, “Rabboni!” (Aramaic for “my teacher”)

John 20:14-16 (TPT)

Mary Magdalene was the very first person to begin a new relationship with Jesus. Again, He could have chosen anyone—John, the disciple whom He loved, Peter, James, even Thomas—but He chose a woman. He chose Mary Magdalene.

I believe this account is so important because it not only restores the place of humanity to a right relationship with Christ, but it restores the place of women who had and have been beaten down to a place of submission for millennia. Women were never meant to be subservient to men, but helpers who walked beside them. Jesus revealing His glorified self to Mary only solidifies this place.

There is still so much more to compare between these two portions of scripture and I strongly urge you, reader, to dig in for yourself. Don’t simply take the word of a teacher, but go to the Word of God Himself. Allow Him to be your teacher and allow Him to reveal His Truth to you and through you.

It is Finished

How many people like me have read through the account of Jesus’ final days and hours thinking that the pinnacle of it all was the empty tomb, the resurrection?

To my surprise, it wasn’t.

Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

john 19:30 (NASB)

The climax of the salvation story sits at the moment where Jesus uses His last breath to utter one last phrase. It is finished. Noah Webster said the word finished meant that something was polished to the highest degree of excellence. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance gives several definitions that at face value seem to be at odds with one another:

Kalah (Hb. 3615): to be complete, at an end, finished, accomplished, or spent

Kaleh (Hb 3616): a failing

Kalah (Hb 3617): completion, complete destruction, consumption, annihilation

Kallah (Hb 3618): daughter-in-law, bride

Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

To see each of these definitions together might cause some confusion until we start to put them in the context of the entire story of our redemption.

In a cursory reading, we can see the first definition (3615) without issue. Jesus said, “It is finished,” so it’s done. Whatever it is that He was hoping to accomplish was accomplished.

We can get stuck on that second one (3616). How does failing come into play while Jesus is on the cross? If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came to earth to make a way for humanity to return to a communion with the Father then of course we don’t want to consider the possibility of failure. But I don’t believe it was Jesus’ failure this term would allude to.

If the pinnacle of redemption took place as Jesus exhaled that last breath, then Satan had already failed. Though Jesus’ body would lay dead, there was nothing the devil could do after that moment that could turn the tide in his favour again. Ever. He failed. Wholly and utterly.

This leads us to our next term (3617) of annihilation. When it comes to the devil, darkness, sin, this is a great word to have in your repertoire.

ANNIHILATION: The act of reducing to nothing or non-existence; or the act of destroying the form or combination of parts under which a thing exists, so that the name can no longer be applied to it, as the annihilation of a corporation.

Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language

This is a good word. And it’s a good word to think about in reference to Jesus being finished. Satan has no power. Death and fear are only shadows. As Jon Foreman once wrote, the shadow proves the sunshine. Light exists. It’s a substance. It has cause and effect. Darkness is nothing. It can do nothing.

The last term (3618) might be the most important.

When he had sipped the sour wine, he said, “It is finished, my bride!” Then he bowed his head and surrendered his spirit to God.

John 19:30 (TPT)

The Passion Translation actually includes the bridal term in the scripture and it adds a completion to Jesus’ phrase that other translations miss out on. Jesus’ work was finished on the cross (not the resurrection). Satan failed. Sin and darkness and death were annihilated. All of this was so that the bride, the Church, could find a way back into communion with the Father.

Jesus’ death wasn’t as a runner breaking through the tape at the end of a marathon. His completion was once and for all. Nothing more was or is necessary. He doesn’t need to run another race.

The next time fear or darkness try to overtake you, remember Jesus’ words. It. Is. Finished. The fight isn’t ours. It was His. And He won. It’s not a continued battle. It’s over. Done. Complete.

It is finished.

Why I Left Church

You probably don’t know me. If you do, there’s a good chance you don’t know my whole story. I’m not shy about it, but neither have I been terribly public about it. But the truth is, my “story” is a part of who and what I am today and has been a major contributing factor to my current journey.

My journey is my own. I know of many people who are walking a similar path and many who will never set foot anywhere near it. I’m not saying that my way is the right way and your way is the wrong way. I simply want to give context so that maybe you will have a better understanding of where I’m coming from.

As of the writing of this post, it’s been a year and a half since I formally requested a release from the church I had been a part of for over seven years. In those seven years, there wasn’t an area of ministry I had not been involved in in some way or another. From janitorial and building improvement, to kid’s and youth ministry, men’s and women’s ministry, small groups, corporate prayer, graphics and media, worship, and even preaching, I had done it all. I did it for years without question. That was how I’d been raised. But then something changed.

I started to read my Bible—not so different from what all of us who profess to be Christians should be doing, but I wasn’t just reading it and putting it away, I was reading it looking for something to take with me as I went about my day.

The change started slowly. It was (and still is) exciting. I was seeing the Bible in a different way and making connections I’d never seen or heard of before. And while I was making connections on one hand, I was seeing a disconnect on the other hand. The Church of the Bible didn’t look much like the church I was so busy “doing.” I’d read about what Jesus was doing and how He was teaching His disciples, but failed to see how that had been translated in to what I was doing for the church.

Let me be clear, I am in no way knocking the local church. I believe there is a place for it, but I also believe that we all need to take a close look at our part in it and why we do what we do. Most of what I was doing for the church had little or no biblical foundation. Before you get all riled up, I strongly encourage you to look into this for yourself. Forget everything you think you know about what church should look like and go to the Gospels to see exactly what Jesus said He would build. If you’d never been exposed to church in your life and read the first five books of the New Testament and then walked into a church building, would it meet your expectations? Be honest.

The first week after leaving church was strange. I’d never intentionally skipped out on a Sunday service a day in my life. The next week was even more strange, as was the next. I eventually settled in to a new routine and actually found myself able to relax on weekends instead of spending Saturday preparing for Sunday and spending Sunday doing everything I’d prepared for on Saturday. There was no rest for me on the “day of rest.” Without “doing” church, I found rest. I felt like I could breathe again, never having realised I’d stopped doing that somewhere along the way.


Why do I put “doing” in quotes? I think there is a massive difference in going through the motions of church (activity in a local organised body)—the doing—and being the Church (the global body of Christ).


Before COVID hit, I’d attend a local denominational congregation every once in a while. After spending 20 years as a worship leader, I missed corporate worship. I also met on a weekly basis with several other people who found themselves on a similar path. We were all in need of fellowship and encouragement to help with the healing process.

Fast forward to today. I’m part of a local small group with no church affiliations and I’m also part of an online small group with a church affiliation. Both groups are family to me. If the lockdown ever ends, I have no plans to join another local congregation.

Most people would rather forget 2020. I don’t. 2020 was a year of immeasurable growth for me. I learned so much that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m learning to forget what I thought I knew and open my mind and heart to what the Bible actually teaches. Verse-by-verse, I’m exploring what it really means to be a part of the Church Jesus said He would build—and I don’t have to be a part of something men are trying to build to do that.

Being a part of the body of Christ is not the same thing as being a member of a local church. The two are not the same thing. I’ve known of people who were involved in a local church that never made a commitment for Christ and I know many strong believers who never darken the door of a church building.

I think this pandemic has offered churches (and their members) across the globe an incredible opportunity to redefine what it really means to be a believer. Many leaders are embracing this time and are re-evaluating and redirecting so that when they are allowed to open the doors again, nothing will be as it was. It’s my prayer that believers everywhere, in establishing a “new normal,” also take this time to re-establish themselves, not in a local church, but in Christ.

Double Double

Here in Canada, a double double is how one orders a coffee—two creams, two sugars. For those with a love of literature, it hails to the witches in Macbeth. For fibre artists, it’s another ball of yarn entirely.

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece.

John 19:23 (NASB)

Most commentaries will make a point of talking about the seamless garment Jesus wore, but none that I’ve found so far have managed to explain exactly what it meant that Jesus had a tunic woven seamlessly in one piece from top to bottom. I admit that I probably spent more time than I needed to looking into this.

As a weaver myself, I understood immediately the implications of a seamless garment. It’s what’s referred to as a double-weave, or in some cases, pocket-weave. In regular weaving, a single piece of cloth is woven on a loom. In the case of a double-weave, two pieces of cloth are woven on one loom at the same time. These pieces can be woven as two separate items or a single item as a tube (as in the case of John 19:23), or even as double cloth in which case the final product is a reversible item with identical, but inverted, patterning on both sides.

Example of modern double weave.

One commentary erroneously stated that such a garment was not necessarily a luxury item for it could be woven by a craftsman who had no exceptional skill. I beg to differ. I’ve been weaving for about four years now and would consider myself to work at an intermediate level. I’m no expert, but I’m not a beginner either. Double-weave is daunting. I have the skills and equipment to to it, but I have yet to even make an attempt.

What does this mean in relation to a single verse most people skip over? Maybe nothing. Maybe a lot.

Weaving in ancient times was primitive. The looms I own would have been a dream for weavers in Jesus’ day. Don’t even get me started on spinning wheels… On a modern loom, four shafts or sheds are required for a double weave. Each shed lifts a specific grouping of threads (warp) through which another thread is woven (weft). According to my research, these simple mechanical wonders didn’t exist 2,000 years ago. What existed was a basic wood frame and stone or clay weights add tension to the warp (vertical threads as shown below).

The garment described in John 19:23 is a fine and complex piece of weaving. It was an article of clothing that someone took much time and care to make. Some scholars believe Jesus’ mother, Mary, made the tunic herself. No matter who made it, someone obviously cared greatly and it was unlikely that the item was purchased since a tunic like the one described was most often made for priests who served in the temple.

First of all, the tunic was probably linen, which would have been imported from Egypt either as unprocessed flax or processed thread. Either way, it didn’t come cheap and easy. If it started as flax, someone had to process and spin it (another long, arduous, and complicated process). If it was already thread, it still had to be woven.

My take it that whoever made this piece of clothing for Jesus was someone who obviously cared about Him greatly and also recognised His authority as our High Priest.

So what does all of this have to do with any of us and why should it matter?

Some scholars liken Jesus’ tunic to righteousness—unbroken, seamless, perfect, that which covers without blemish. Look at it this way, this particular article of clothing remained whole through Jesus’ entire ordeal. And who got it in the end? A Roman soldier. A Gentile. One the Jews reviled.

What had once clothed Jesus as the Son of God would clothe a man unworthy of the garment.

What Jesus shed at the cross was something He most assuredly deserved. He had every right to everything the Father has. We had no right to it at all. But Jesus gave up that which was most valuable to Him so that we could be clothed in it. He gave up His rights so that we could take them on. Because He shed it at the cross, we get to take up that perfect, seamless garment of righteousness and wear it as though it was made for us.

Geek Out

I didn’t do well in high school science. I nearly failed Biology 11 and thought it best to leave my science career right there. But in the light of what the Bible has to say about a lot of things, I’ve suddenly become very interested in some areas of scientific research.

And this Living Expression is the Light that bursts through gloom—
    the Light that darkness could not diminish!

John 1:5 (TPT)

Most people understand that light is a spectrum. Visible light (what our human eyes can actually process) is a very small part of what makes up the electromagnetic spectrum.

What does this have to do with the Bible, you ask?

Everything.

In the third verse of the entire Bible, God called light into being. He didn’t create the sun or stars or the moon. He simply said, “Let there be light”; and there was light (Genesis 1:3). If we take this literally, that means that light existed in creation before there was any celestial body to create it.

John 1:5 tells us that the Word—the Living Expression, Jesus—is also the Light. So we can suppose then, that when God announced light into creation, Jesus burst forth.

Like vine-dressing in relation to John 15, I’ve learned some really interesting things about light that pertain to John 1. For instance, “It is proposed that all electromagnetism [light—visible and invisible] in the Cosmos is a consequence of sound. Put differently, electromagnetism would not exist without sound.”* Imagine that, something makes a noise and light is the result.

If you stand outside on a clear day and yell, someone a mile away might be able to hear you. But that doesn’t mean that that’s the end of it. It is hypothesized that, while sound waves eventually peter out beyond what is audible to the human ear, the electromagnetic waves created by that sound (an atom bumping into an atom that bumps into an atom…) go on through the atmosphere and into space forever, barring an unexpected meeting with dense matter. Each atom affected holds and transfers all the data from the initial event that caused the sound. So, in effect, every word you speak is truly eternal.

Human beings are frail and temporary, like grass, and the glory of man fleeting like blossoms of the field. The grass dries and withers and the flowers fall off, but the Word of the Lord endures forever! And this is the Word that was announced to you!

1 Peter 1:24-25 (TPT)

God, in His infinite wisdom and grace, created humanity in His image and invited us to participate in a union with Him that allows us not only to speak to Him and have Him respond, but He’s actually allowed us to take on His identity. As Jesus is Light, so we are invited to not just be in His light, but to actually be that light.

There are things on earth and in the atmosphere that affect sound. It can be stopped, but light cannot. We need to think beyond what we can see and hear with our physical senses. We need to learn to see beyond what merely seems to be to what really is. If science can prove that light is a result of sound and that the waves it makes are eternal, what can we learn from Jesus—the Light of the world—living within us and we in Him? If we can learn to truly see Him as Light and learn that our place is in Him and His is in us. Who or what can stop us?

What was made in infinite power could not be unmade by any finite power. It could only be hidden by darkness.

Ted Dekker, The 49th Mystic

The commentary for John 1:5 will soon be available here.

*John Stuart Reid, The Special Relationship between Sound and Light with Implications for Sound and Light Therapy

Out with the Old

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

John 15:2 (NASB)

Hands up if you’ve heard preachers dole out condemnation along with this verse? “If yer not livin’ fer Jesus, He’s a-gonna cut you right off and toss ya into the pit of fire!” (*insert southern preacher voice here.) It’s not a comforting thought about a God who literally claims to be the full embodiment of love.

So what does pruning here actually entail? It does not include God coming at the church with a machete like an backwoods bushwacker. According to The Passion Translation study notes, the term take away actually means that he takes up [to himself] every fruitless branch. As in, He lifts those wilted, lifeless, unproductive branches off the ground where they will spoil and puts them in a position where they can become productive. God’s version pruning isn’t cutting people away, it’s placing them in the best possible place to succeed.

So where does the cutting come in?

I’ve learned a few things about vine-tending. Pruning happens in the winter—after harvest and before the spring buds start to appear. A good vinedresser is not shy about pruning. The most common mistake people make is not pruning enough. When it comes to trees, a good, sturdy trunk with good sturdy branches is ideal. It means that thing is going to stay standing and provide shade for a long while. With vines, a sturdy root stock is important, but when it comes to branches, old is bad, new is good.

Old growth on vines doesn’t produce. It just steal the much needed energy from the new growth that produces the best and most fruit.

“This church hasn’t changed a lick in over a century!” Good for you. That’s why the congregation is the same size and meeting in the same building as it was a hundred years ago. Many (I’d even go so far as to say most) professing Christians hold on to traditions of the past—traditions that we have no biblical example for. Those are old growth believers, still a part of the vine, but not producing because they refuse to endure the discomfort of the pruning required to promote new growth.

If I’ve learned anything on my journey to where I am today it’s that letting go of what I used to think has been well worth gaining what I now know. That’s what childlike faith is—coming to God with a blank slate and then, like every kid ever, keep asking “why?”

God makes us ask ourselves questions most often when He intends to resolve them.

Thomas Merton

If we really believe that we serve an infinite God, why would we ever stop asking questions? Why would we be satisfied as a tough old branch that might sprout a few leaves when we can be a shiny new vine that produces the good fruit?

If you’d like to see more on John 15:2, click here to purchase the commentary.

The Vine for the Wine

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

John 15:1 (NASB)

Let’s face it, in our lifetime, most of us will never grow grapes. We’ll eat them. We may drink them. But we won’t grow them. So immediately, our understanding of what Jesus is saying here is limited.

In my digging through this verse and the following scriptures, I took the time to learn a bit about vinedressing and even a bit about winemaking. When looking at what would normally be very dry, very boring information in a spiritual context, suddenly that very dry, very boring content comes to life.

Did you know that not every grape is right for every vineyard? Grape grower, Wes Hagen, said to choose the right grape to plant, not the variety you prefer. From a natural standpoint this makes sense. Just because you want to produce a certain wine, it doesn’t mean that the soil you have is right for that variety of grape. From a spiritual standpoint, Hagen’s comment is even more profound. The right vine in the right soil makes all the difference in the final product. In accordance to the gifts we’ve each been given, we are all best suited to thrive in different areas. Just because you may want to be or do something doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where you’re best suited. The best result comes when you allow the vinedresser—God—to choose where you will grow and produce the best.

Another interesting fact about vineyards is that very few are planted from seed. More often than not, the variety that’s growing on the trellises is not what’s rooted in the soil. This is because many of the best varieties of grapes for winemaking do not have the strongest root structure. So root vines are planted and the growing vines are grafted.

I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father.

John 15:1 (TPT)

As New Testament believers, we are the vines that have been grafted on to the sprouting root stock. There is no way we can grow roots strong enough to grow a worthwhile fruit on our own. And, thankfully, we don’t even have to try. Our strength, our roots, come from what or, rather, whom we’ve been grafted to. All the nourishment we’ll ever need comes through that root system that Jesus has established and all the care we need comes from the Father, the vinedresser.

Further verses will address our need to stay in the vine lest we be unproductive and cut away. For now, though, take the time to think about the implications of the root and the vine working together and all that means not just for grapes, but for us as individual believers.

If you’d like to see more on John 15:1, click here to purchase the commentary.

What is truth?

Pilate looked at Jesus and said, “What is truth?”

As silence filled the room, Pilate went back out to where the Jewish leaders were waiting and said to them, “He’s not guilty. I couldn’t even find one fault with him.

John 18:38 (TPT)

What is truth? could very well be the most imperative question in society today. In a world of my truth and your truth, what is the truth?

TRUTH: Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be.

Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language

The fact that Pilate felt the need to pose his question before Jesus leads me to believe that truth was as difficult to find in ancient Jerusalem as it is today. Many people will tell you what they believe the truth to be, but how much of that believe system is actually true?

It is the personal responsibilty of each individual to discover truth for ourselves. We cannot depend on what others may know or think they know or even want to know. In the end, we are all accountable for what we know—intimately experience.

Truth goes beyond fact. Jesus declared Himself to be the Truth.

Jesus explained, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Father except through union with me. To know me is to know my Father too.

John 14:6 (TPT)

The Passion Translation footnote says that the Truth is the True Reality. What we see and experience in this plane of existence isn’t Truth. It’s a shadow. Jesus, the Light of the World, is the lamp that guides the way to Truth—Himself.

Pilate may have been sarcastic in his question, he may have just thrown it out there, or maybe he really wanted to know. We cannot know his attitude, but we can (and should) know our own. Do we really want to know the Truth? Or are we content in our blindness? We need to be willing to let go of what we think we know if we ever expect to know the True Reality.

If anyone comes to Me (responds to the good news of the kingdom), and does not hate (release attachment to) his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sistersm, yes, and even his own life (all the masks we cling to in relationship to others and ourselves), he cannot be my disciple. (Cannot follow Yeshua into an experience of the kingdom now present within all.)

Luke 14:26 (NASB), amplification by Ted Dekker, Rise of the Mystics

As a bit of a celebration for my first post in this new season, readers can download for free my visual commentary page for John 18:38. One day there may be a complete commentary, but for now, it’s simply verse-by-verse.

If this content has helped you in any way, please consider making a small donation so that I can keep digging deep and creating it to share.

Introducing Verse-by-Verse

Before diving right in to this new phase, I want to give an introduction of how and why this commentary has come about and will continue to come and evolve as it goes.

All that has come before has led to this.

The story begins in 2017 when I decided to read the Bible cover to cover in a year—not just read it, but get something out of it. Daily: A Year in the Word of God was born. What began as a new spiritual journey for me ended the year with a series of 13 four-week devotional books with my thoughts regarding some of the scriptures I’d read every day throughout the year. In 2018, my plan was to once again read through the Bible in a year, forcing myself to dig deeper. My original intent was to end the year with another publication.

Sometime in the spring of 2018, God finally got my attention. It turns out I’d been reading my Bible looking for my next blog post rather than the True Reality of Jesus Christ (John 14:6 TPT). So the posts ended and my reading continued. As summer hit, I hit my own block. I felt like I’d run into a wall. My spiritual well felt as though it had run totally dry. So I actually set my Bible aside and started picking up some other books hoping to jar myself out of the funk I’d found myself in.

Books like The Way Back: How Christians Blew Our Credibility and How We Get it Back by Phil Cooke, Letters to the Church by Francis Chan, and Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola started to open my eyes to a version of Christianity I’d never even dared to dream about.

By the time 2018 ended and 2019 began, I was ready to embark on a new journey. Little did I know how deep down the rabbit hole it would take me. On January 19, 2019, I opened my Bible to John 1:1 intent on discovering for myself who Jesus really is and what He really said about His Church.

Nearly two years later, I’m still gloriously mired in John’s gospel. The road has been bumpy (bumpy like a Saskatchewan back road in spring) and it has been long. I’ve experienced more pain than I thought I ever would. But I’ve also experienced joy. Best of all, I’ve experienced Jesus. I’ve come to know Jesus in a light that all my years of church involvment and attendance never prepared me for or introduced me to. For many, 2020 has been a year of hardship and trial. For me, it’s been a year I’d never trade for anything. As I dig deeper into the scriptures I’ve found Jesus in every word of every verse of every translation.

Verse-by-Verse is my way of attempting to share some of what I’ve discovered on my own journey. Nothing I’ve discovered is linear. It’s not a road. It’s more like the Amazon River, running deep and wide while spreading out fingers into any place it finds purchase. Be patient. Don’t rush. And don’t get frustrated if nothing seems to be in order. An incredible thing about God is that He exists outside of space and time and everything fits together within Him. It really all work out in the end because it has already been worked out.

I invite you to join me in this amazing journey. Ask the big questions. Ask the strange questions. Don’t dismiss ideas because they might not align with what you’ve always been taught. You may be as surprised as I have been at the answers you receive.

Protect the promise

If you’ve made a commitment to someone, how far will you go to see that it happens? If someone has made a commitment to you, how far will you go to see that it happens? And what about what God has promised to you? How far will you go to hold on to the promises that you have from the Lord? Only until it gets a little uncomfortable? Only until it’s inconvenient and doesn’t really fit into your plans?

What if we could see the end at the beginning? Would it change our response to God’s promises? It certainly made a difference in Judah. God had promised that David’s line would never end. David would have an heir on the throne forever. But as we read in 2 Chronicles, that line was in serious jeopardy. Upon the death of King Ahaziah, his mother took it upon herself to destroy every possible heir. But one got away. Just a child, but an heir nonetheless.

Jehoiada said to them, “The king’s son shall reign, as the Lord promised concerning the descendants of David. Now this is what you are to do: A third of you priests and Levites who are going on duty on the Sabbath are to keep watch at the doors, a third of you at the royal palace and a third at the Foundation Gate, and all the other men are to be in the courtyards of the temple of the Lord. No on is to enter the temple of the Lord except the priests and Levites on duty; they may enter because they are consecrated, but all the other men are to guard what the Lord has assigned to them. The Levites are to station themselves around the king, each man with weapons in his hand. Anyone who enters the temple must be put to death. Stay close to the king wherever he goes.

2 Chronicles 23:3b-7 (NIV)

That is an awful lot of fuss for a kid just barely out of kindergarten. Yet Jehoiada knew that this boy was heir to far more than just the nation of Judah. He was the heir of a promise that would extend throughout eternity and they would protect that promise with their lives.

We have a book full of promises from God. How far will you go to see those promises come to pass?

The thing is, just because a promise has been made, doesn’t mean that we aren’t required to do anything. It doesn’t mean that we just get to sit around and let it happen around us. Had Jehoiada decided to leave matters be—it’ll all work out in the end, won’t it?—Joash would have been killed along with the rest of his siblings. The last of David’s line gone. And then what? It’s not as though God couldn’t have come up with another plan for salvation. But that’s not what God does. He’s not a God of plan B. He doesn’t even have a plan B. It’s plan A. Period.

So how do we know that God will keep His promises?

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

2 Corinthians 1:20-22 (NIV)

If God has made a promise to us, we can be assured that He will keep it. But we also have a responsibility to protect that promise. We must arm ourselves as Jehoiada armed the priests and Levites to protect Joash. God has given us His Spirit so that we can stand firm in the face of our enemy and declare the Amen—let it be so—with confidence that if God has promised it, He will perform it.

Do you have a promise from God? Protect it. With your life.

Read: 2 Chronicles 23-25, John 16:16-33