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EDENIFICATION by Dr. Andrew Corbett

GOD AND GARDENS

I love beautiful gardens. Although I appreciate walking through a temperate rain forest and admiring the natural flora, I especially appreciate a well-planted and maintained garden. And it seems that so does God. Throughout the Scriptures, garden language is used to describe God’s presence and blessing. This is powerfully seen in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. And even after mankind fell from innocence and was expelled from God’s garden paradise, Eden, God’s original “Creation Mandate” still summoned mankind to Edenify the earth. Ultimately, in the new heaven/earth God’s dwelling place with mankind is described as being in a garden (Rev. 22:1-5). In fact, it seems that God went to great lengths to ensure that the earth could indeed be Edenified. Because, after God had created the universe, and He focused on our extraordinary planet, He designed our planet to have the unique qualities making lush gardens possible:

* a finely-tuned gaseous atmosphere;
* a perfectly tuned gravitational rate (9m/sec);
* a biosphere that ensures symbiotic replenishing;
* a water to land ratio which distinguished saltwater from fresh-water;
* water in three states (including icy snow-capped mountains located strategically around our planet near the equator ensuring a continuous supply of melting-ice fresh water);
* tectonic plates which help to distribute nutrients ;
* microbial life;
* sea life;
* volcanic and earthquake activity distributing minerals into the food chain and precious metals nearer to earth’s surface;

He then reserved a special mountain-top field where He planted a garden. It was a life-giving garden with  many fruit trees, a stream of mountain fresh water flowing through it (that would eventually flow down the Edenic Mountain and become four rivers – Gen. 2:10).  

And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and there He put the man whom He had formed.
Genesis 2:8

Into this divinely planted garden the Lord brought the man. This was a garden that God loved. He charged ’Adam — His image-bearer —  with the privilege of tending it, for it was a mystical garden. It had at least two supernatural trees and welcomed many supernatural heavenly beings, including the Lord Himself, as regular visitors. It seems that God was showing ’Adam that this is what He wanted him to do to the rest of the planet – to Edenify it.

¶ The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Genesis 2:15

 

GOD CREATED MAN TO BE A GARDENER

Not only was the Lord a regular visitor to the garden He had planted (as intimated in Genesis 3:8), but even after mankind were expelled from Eden’s divine garden, gardens (and mountain-top gardens in particular) became associated with man meeting and walking with God. Even after Eden it seems that God loved to be associated with gardens and His blessing upon a land is frequently described in horticultural terms.

For the LORD comforts Zion;
He comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the LORD;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song.
Isaiah 51:3

JESUS, MOUNTAINS & GARDENS

Perhaps this is no more apparent than in the life of the incarnated Christ. He often met with His Father in a garden at the top of the Mount of Olives called Gethsemane – and especially as He approached His cross (Luke 22:40-46).

¶ Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He said to his disciples,
“Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”
Matthew 26:36

And it was not without significance that when the body of Christ was buried it was buried in a garden tomb.

Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden,
and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.
John 19:41

 

BUT WILDERNESS

If gardens are symbolic of God’s presence and blessing, wilderness, barrenness, deserts are symbolic of the devil and his presence. 

¶ Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1

But the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel (the devil) shall be presented alive before the LORD to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel (the devil).
Leviticus 16:10

EDENIFICATION

But God’s original “Creation Mandate” for mankind was to take dominion over creation (Gen. 1:28-30). God introduced mankind to what this looked by bringing him into the garden He had planted on Mount Eden. It was a holy garden. In one sense Eden was a temple because a temple is where God dwells, and God and man can meet. This is actually an apt description of Eden. But if this is the case, then it might reveal that God not only wanted ’Adam to make the earth like Eden – a lush, fruitful, garden paradise – but also where people anywhere on earth could meet with God. Therefore, Edenifying, is not just about planting and maintaining (a) beautiful garden/s, it’s also about introducing people to God, so that they too can be reconciled to God and meet regularly with Him wherever they are. This is why I hope that our world increasingly experiences Edenification. And I hope that both aspects of this Edenification might be evident around our church grounds, our church’s 300 or so ambassadors, and especially from our pulpit for generations to come.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
Revelation 2:7

 

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. LYDIA

    The sun is not yet up and it is cool, ever so cool while the day will begin to warm as the summer sun does its journey around the earth.
    So here I sit and have read about God’s plan for a garden and how Eden was planted on a mountaintop. How He walked in the Garden, which is something that I always thought ever so beautiful.
    We read over things in Scripture. I did! I do. Which makes Scripture always new and exciting, as you just pointed out by using that word ‘garden’.
    There is nothing that gives me more pleasure than to wake early and drive, we have cars these days…drive to the Garden, our church Garden with a capital G and meet the various bird life, where many are waiting at the gate, allowing me the privilege of entering after they have preened themselves, and begin the joy of my life, to work in His presence, to continue with that mandate of working, weeding and watering and I’ll add beautifying.
    During this period of the Garden God created way, way back in time, it just sprung to mind that Adam would have loved that as well, with the animal and bird life watching him till the earth and beautify it.
    And I quote you here Andrew: “Therefore, Edenifying, is not just about planting and maintaining a beautiful garden(s), it’s also about introducing people to God, so that they too can be reconciled to God and meet regularly with Him wherever they are.”
    Amen!
    Thank you for your very beautiful words Andrew. I pray that our church Garden may indeed bear fruit, spiritual fruit. That all may be blessed.

    Reply

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THE PRODIGAL FATHER

 Does anyone know what the word prodigal means? Perhaps most people assume that it means: “wanderer”, or “rebel”, or perhaps even “backslider” or that it only applies to sons. This seems to be based on the story that Jesus told in Luke 15 to which most Bible Publishers assign the division title – The Parable of the Prodigal Son. But the word prodigal does not occur in this parable. Interestingly, there are three lead characters in this shocking and famous parable: the father and his two sons. One of these was genuinely ‘prodigal’, and, as Tim Keller points out, it was neither son! To appreciate what Keller means we might need to take another look at what the word prodigal actually means. It comes from the verb prodigious which means remarkably great in extent, size, or degree (New Oxford American Dictionary). It is a word often used to describe an author who regularly writes books – John Grisham is a prodigious author. A prodigal person is therefore, prolific, extravagant, excessive, and, lavish. Keller points out that even though most people ascribe this to the wayward son in the parable, it is more appropriately a designation for the lead character in the story, the father!

SUPER SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIANS

Spare a thought for those people who are often overlooked by churches—and if they are Christians—they frequently struggle to even find a suitable church where they can deepen their relationship with Christ. Often we think of those who struggle with life as those who are “down and out” and blighted by impoverishment, or destitution, or ill-health, or family breakdown, or poor mental health. But surprisingly, even those who are seen as super-successful because of their wealth, social stature, public acclaim or amazing achievements, are actually struggling with loneliness, emptiness, and poor mental health — even if they are a Christian. These super-successful Christians are CEOs of large companies, or world-class or national sporting champions, or internationally renowned performing artists, or A-lister actors, or media personalities, or highly sought after professionals such as surgeons or barristers. They often pay a high price for their success, including, long work hours, constant stress, public criticism, extended time away from their families, fierce competition, and strained marriages. These pressures are exacerbated by their constant travel associated with their work which also makes them vulnerable to exhaustion and extraordinary temptations. This is why these super-successful Christians need to join the kind of church that can provide them with the kind of support, counsel, and accountability that every Christian needs. Here’s how a church can become this kind of church.

MAKING CHURCH A WELCOMING HOME

For many people, making a decision to attend a church is a significant and potentially daunting decision. As they come through the front door they are entering an unfamiliar environment. It is also an environment that may be associated with preconceived ideas of what the expectations and rules of the church community may be. These people probably will not know anybody and they might have concerns that relate to their previous or current lifestyle. For those of us who are regular church attendees, it is possible that we may not fully appreciate the challenges a new attendee may be facing. When we can relate to these concerns, I believe we are better equipped to provide a warm and patient “welcome” to what we hope will become their new church home.

LOVE IN ACTION

Physical illnesses and stressful events are endemic in our society. They can be likened to the thorns that cause both pain and damage. It doesn’t take much for them to impact a person’s life in ways that they did not expect. I believe that we can become more resilient as followers of Jesus by applying an appropriate solution to a known problem. I believe that an appropriate and important part of the solution is for us to show love the way that Jesus demonstrated love during His ministry on earth.

THE TOOLS OF REMEMBERING

I like to think I have a pretty good memory.  I like to think I’m organised.  Generally, I am – I don’t double book appointments, I keep track of what I’m doing and when, I mostly turn up on time. But, on reflection, I’m not so sure this means I have a good memory.

TRUTH vs SOMETHING BIG AND HAIRY

“You were lying in your bed, you were feeling kind of sleepy.
But you couldn’t close your eyes because the room was getting creepy.
Were those eyeballs in the closet? Was that Godzilla in the hall?
There was something big and hairy casting shadows on the wall.
Now your heart is beating like a drum, your skin is getting clammy.
There’s a hundred tiny monsters jumping right into your jammies”!

These are lyrics from a song on the very first Veggie Tales video every made. The title of the song?  “God is bigger than the Boogie Man”. Junior Asparagus was lying in bed frightened, and Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber appeared to tell him that he doesn’t have to be scared of the imaginary monsters because, “God is the bigger.” My childhood night-time fears weren’t so much about big and hairy monsters, aka boogie men, or Godzilla in the hall. My fears were house fires – our home burning down, and “burglars” or “robbers”. But I certainly identify with lying in bed, my heart beating like a drum, my skin getting clammy, my imagination in overdrive.

CLOSING THE DEAL

In 1871, the American evangelist, Dwight (“DL”) Moody was preaching to huge crowds each night in Chicago. At the end of each message he would give an appeal for people to either respond immediately to the gospel message he had just presented, or at least go home and consider it. But on Sunday October 8th, 1871, a huge fire broke out in Chicago. It burned through the city for days and became known as The Great Chicago Fire. Around 10,000 people were homeless as a result, and hundreds of people lost their lives. Moody was heart-broken when he realised that many of the people who had died were the people who had attended that Sunday night meeting where he had urged them to consider accepting Christ. His deep grief over this tragedy led him to make a vow that he would never again merely urge people to simply consider accepting Christ. From now on, he vowed, he would plead with all those he preached to – to immediately turn away from their sins and turn to the Saviour. DL Moody committed his life and ministry as an evangelist to be someone who would always strive to close the deal because he was now aware—more than ever—that people’s eternal destinies were in jeopardy! 

BUILDING A MOODY CHURCH

The three things that make the Christian life exciting and enthralling are the same three things that enable a believer to develop a closer relationship with God. The combination of these supernatural gifts gives the child of God an awareness that there is more, much more, to this world than we can see, touch, taste or feel. When the Christian’s faith is grounded and buttressed in God’s Word, godly prayer, and God’s house he or she flourishes. But there are forces at play that are determined to stop the believer from reaching their spiritual destiny. While we might think these enemy forces only use the fiery darts of doubt to hinder the believer’s journey to glory, there is something that they successfully use far more often: our mood. This is why, for any church to be successful, it must discover how to build moody church.

PRAYING PRAYERS

The amazing thing about prayer, is that nearly everyone does it – but hardly anyone thinks they do it well. If you visit any Christian bookstore you will notice that the largest display of books is about prayer. And it’s not just Christian bookstores where you’ll find books on prayer. Regular bookstores also sell a wide range of books on prayer (even if they do classify them as books on ‘meditation’!). One of the most frequently searched questions on Google is, “How to pray” (which then points enquirers to over 2.3 billion web pages answering their question). But in all of human history – and two thousand years before anyone but one had ever heard of Google – there was just One person who was supremely qualified to answer this question. And fortunately for those of us who really want to know the answer to this question (without having to peruse more than 2.3 billion web pages!) He gave us the answer.

WHY SOME BELIEVE

Why is it that two people can look at exactly the same evidence and can come to completely different conclusions about it? Even more puzzling is how two equally qualified scientific experts can look at the same data and utterly disagree about what it means. This happens many times in court cases where the prosecution will call their “expert witness” to give his or her professional opinion to verify that the defendant is guilty only to have the defence to present their “expert witness” who gives his or her professional opinion as to why the prosecution’s expert witness was wrong and to prove that defendant is innocent! This at least illustrates why it is not always the quality of the evidence that leads a person to accept or reject a claim. This especially apply to the claims that Jesus Christ made. Of the four accounts in the New Testament written about His life, three of them were written by eye-witnesses and the other one (Luke’s) was written by someone who interviewed many eye-witnesses. It is with interest that we turn to the last one to be John’s Gospel, where he describes dramatic proofs that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Yet despite these otherwise inexplicable proofs that at times thousands of people witnessed, many still wouldn’t believe. But it seems among those who did believe they all had one thing in common.