2 Biblical Gardens Reveal How to Make the Best Decisions

How Eden and Gethsemane still affect you today.

Two gardens, Eden and Gethsemane, provided the settings for two choices that brought opposite results. The Bible wildly contrasts these choices. In fact, you face them today.

Olive Trees in the Garden of Gethsemane

(Photo: The Garden of Gethsemane. Notice the city walls in the distance. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In the Garden of Eden, Adam’s choice to commit sin had the potential of bringing condemnation to everyone. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ’s decision to die for sins provided potential justification to everyone (Romans 5:18).

Adam never would have eaten the fruit had he known the consequences to himself and to his race. But he couldn’t see the results.

All he had was God’s Word and its warning. That’s all we have as well.

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When you want something bad enough, you make the time—regardless of your other obligations. The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough. Then they protect their ego with the excuse of time. Don’t let yourself off the hook with excuses.

David Heinemeier Hansson, Jason Fried
Rework (Crown Business, 2010), Kindle Location 310.

The King’s Garden in Jerusalem: A Lesson in Futility

Solomon’s experience shows us how not to waste our lives.

Some folks love gardening. For them, nothing compares to the joy of creating and appreciating beautiful landscapes and gardens. It provides them hours of relaxation and satisfaction. Me, not so much.

The King’s Garden in Jerusalem-A Lesson in Futility

(Photo: The King’s Garden began in the Kidron Valley beside the City of David. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

I guess it’s because working with plants requires continual maintenance. Mowing, pulling, watering, trimming—then do it again next week. Then again.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love the results of the work. It’s tremendously rewarding. But the results are just so short-lived.

King Solomon had a similar experience. He wrote:

I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees. (Ecclesiastes 2:5–6)

After all this work—and many other pursuits—Solomon concluded a few verses later:

Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. (v. 11)

The King’s Garden in Jerusalem offers us some valuable lessons how not to waste our lives.

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3 Ways to Conquer Complaining and Keep Positive

How focusing on the other half of the truth can help.

Sometimes the new life God is leading you toward doesn’t seem as great as the one He has redeemed you from. When that happens, complaining often creeps in.

3 Ways to Conquer Complaining and Keep Positive

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Remember the complaining of those redeemed from slavery in Egypt?

We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic. —Numbers 11:5

We all struggle with complaining. But in those moments, we betray our selective memories.

There’s a better way.

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A seemingly happy life may be empty. A seemingly difficult life may be devoted to a great cause. We have purposes larger than ourselves. Unlike your experiencing self—which is absorbed in the moment—your remembering self is attempting to recognize not only the peaks of joy and valleys of misery but also how the story works out as a whole. That is profoundly affected by how things ultimately turn out. Why would a football fan let a few flubbed minutes at the end of the game ruin three hours of bliss? Because a football game is a story. And in stories, endings matter.

Atul Gawande
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (Metropolitan Books, 2014), Kindle Location 3382.

A Lesson from Anathoth: Why Our Best Efforts Don’t Hold Water

Jeremiah reminds us we never outgrow God

It’s tough to work hard at something, only to see your efforts eventually leak out through life’s cracks. Sometimes, however, that frustration can turn into a surprising blessing.

A Lesson from Anathoth- Why Our Best Efforts Don’t Hold Water

(Photo: Anathoth looking east toward the wilderness. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Standing in his hometown of Anathoth on a wet, wintry day, the Prophet Jeremiah could look east and see grain fields lush with life. But just beyond those fields stretched the bleak and barren Judean wilderness—a land not sown with seed.

The Lord used a similar image when He told the Israelites how they had started out as a devoted people: “following after Me in the wilderness, through a land not sown” (Jer. 2:2), but then had turned from His ways.

The lesson Jeremiah wrote about from these simple elements is one we must never forget.

But too often, we do. Here’s how we can remember it.

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When Struggles Strain Your Relationship with God

Here’s what to think and what to do.

You will face disappointment today. I will too. Honestly, when these frustrations and discouragements come barging in as unwelcome guests, the promise of God’s presence with us often feels thin.

When Struggles Strain Your Relationship with God

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

Frequently, we respond to these disappointments like Gideon did:

If the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? (Judg. 6:13).

We say this (or think it privately) because we have a firm opinion of what God being “with us” looks like.

No pain.

But such a view treats the Bible like a buffet lunch where we pick and choose what we want to swallow about God. When we do that, the plate we hold in our hands represents a god in our image—a freak unlike the God whose tells us His ways are not like ours.

Why would we want to worship a God we can control or understand? Where is the awe in that?

There’s a better way to think about it—and a better way to respond.

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The ReWired Brain

The ReWired Brain: Free Yourself of Negative Behaviors and Release Your Best Self (Baker, 2016)

The strength of The ReWired Brain is on understanding how the brain works and why we make the decisions we do. Better still, with this knowledge is the realization that although we have “System 1” part of our brains that is more automatic, we also have a “System 2” mind that can override it—hence the hope we have for change, healing, and “rewiring” our thinking. The book is full of stories—including Ski’s own mini-autobiography—which illustrate how we can rewire our brains to live in balance with both systems.

What You’ll See in God’s Surprising Plans for You

God wants to use you to change the world, but first He wants to change you.

Whenever I have a doctor’s appointment, I always request the first appointment of the day. I figure the earlier my appointment, the less time I sit in the waiting room counting fish in the aquarium. But it isn’t so.

God’s Plan for You Includes Preparation & Waiting

(Photo by Photodune)

I may have a time scheduled, but it’s entirely the doctor’s discretion when I see him. I find the same true with Dr. God.

Dr. God fills our lives with waiting rooms:

  • Your car in a traffic jam.
  • Your office when five o’clock is slow to come.
  • The grocery store when the line is long, it’s the cashier’s first day, and she’s out of receipt tape. (Ask me how I know.)

Inconveniences cause delays and frustrations. But there are other moments of waiting far more difficult and confusing.

You have plans. This appointment should be over by now. You’re ready to move on the next event, the next step in the grand plan.

But you wait because God has plans for you.

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Joppa’s Greatest Export May Actually Surprise You

God's compassion to Gentiles launched here in both Testaments.

One of the best parts of going to Tel Aviv is strolling down the beautiful seaside boardwalk to ancient Joppa. Amazingly, very little remains visible to speak of Joppa’s significance. But history tells a different story.

Joppa’s Greatest Export—God’s Compassion

(Photo: Joppa’s modern port, courtesy of Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Only a few fishing boats float in Joppa’s modest harbor today, hardly representative of its significant past. Beyond goods and trade, Joppa greatest export was something else.

It may actually surprise you.

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