North Salem United Methodist Church

Useful Link

Over on the Happenings Page, in the list of links, is a link to  Bible Gateway is, in my opinion, an excellent online site for bible reading and/or study. Additionally, its content can be listened to via audio bibles.

I find that I use Bible Gateway daily.  Its tools and bible options/versions are tremendously useful in one's ongoing bible reading, study and research.  Moreover, if you are a user of a mobile device, iPhone, iPad, Android phone or Kindle Fire, the BibleGateway app is extremely useful, convenient and powerful. With its tools for searching, adding notes, pinning favorite verses, instantly switching between bible versions, and of course, audio (Max McLean is by far my favorite reader) so much can be experienced anytime, anywhere, right at one's fingertips.

I highly recommend this site and its mobile app for our mobile users. Head over to the Happenings page and check it out! 

Thoughts From our Pastor

View From the Pew

"View From The Pew" is here for you!  With this spot you, the user of this site, may write in to have posted a spiritual, social or biblical thought, an observation or an idea on just about any topic at all. The intent of this is to give voice to our membership - you.  Here it is hoped you will be encouraged to share your thoughts, feelings and/or understandings with us, your brethren.  An exchange of ideas and an understanding of the thoughts and views of others will undoubtedly edify and strengthen our church community.

To submit your thoughts, ideas or comments, fill out the from below and click "SUBMIT". (Pasting a message from a word processor is very convenient.) In a day or two your message will appear here on our Home Page following Pastor Moore's Weekly Devotional, "Thoughts From Our Pastor".

View From The Pew

North Salem United Methodist Church

A People of Faith Making A Difference in Our Community and World

Check it out...

Our church yard sale was held on Saturday May 31st, and it was a great success.  Head on over to the "Happenings" page to check out photos of the people who worked hard on making that effort such a success, and see some photos of all the stuff that was then there for sale.  To be sure, it was an all around great day! 

Bible Reading Fellowship!

Get comfortable and experience a 21st century bible reading fellowship.  Yes, experience a 21st century, interactive, bible reading fellowship conducted entirely via e-mail!

The goal of this effort is to promote, encourage and assist in the personal and regular reading of Scripture for those desiring a knowledge, or deeper

 knowledge, of the bible, especially for those simply unable to manage traditional, real-time meetings.  Moreover, anyone can participate, church members, non-church members, family, friends - anyone.

A bible reading fellowship will consist of a group of 4 - 7 readers. Weekly bible readings and commentary will be conducted entirely via e-mail and completely at the convenience of the individual - and from anywhere on the planet 24/7 - wherever one might have e-mail and internet access.

Readings from any part of the bible may be selected by the group, but weekly topics or readings will be suggested from this site, as well, if needed.  But fundamentally, subject matter and time spent on such is entirely up to the group, itself. Commentary, thoughts, opinions, questions and/or discussion will be shared by each reader to all others in the group - again, via e-mail.

Commentary is an essential part of this reading experience.  Thus, it is hoped each reader will commit to comment on the readings to all the other members of the group at least once each week.   Commentary may be as little as one or two sentences.  Of course, the more commentary, the better to inspire and provoke thought and reflection for all.

Consider this: no meetings to attend; no inclement weather to contend with; no scheduling conflicts!  All communication and commentary conducted via e-mail, and at the reader's convenience.

Here is an opportunity to visit, or revisit, the bible of our faith, an opportunity to learn with the support of others what it is that God wants us to know of Himself and His Perfect Plan, and what He wants us to know about ourselves and our relationship with His Son, Christ.

So, once again, get comfortable, take an hour or two out of a week of hours, and with the help, support and fellowship of others seeking biblical knowledge and understanding, have a 21st century bible reading experience!

Let's explore the Bible together!

To participate in a bible reading fellowship or to make an inquiry, e-mail this site at:

 Bake Sale Success!

The recent bake sale held over the past two Sundays was a great success!  Tom Kinney reports that $190.00 was realized for the effort. Tom extends his thanks to all who baked goodies for the sale and to all who bought them.  There was a door prize, too, tickets to a Patriot's preseason game.  Bill Ermer was the lucky recipient of that prize.  Congrats Bill!

And congratulations to you, too, Tom.  Job well done!  Thanks from all of us at NSUMC.

The Fall (part one)


The story of the Fall of Man described in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 3 is quite an interesting story, and while recently reviewing it, I was struck by a couple of things I had not previously noted - and this after years of reading the bible.  Okay, we all know the scenario: God creates a garden in Eden and then placed Adam in the garden.  In the midst of the garden are two trees conspicuously mentioned: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Eventually, God sees more is needed in the garden, and for Adam's sake, makes woman out of Adam's rib.  At her creation Adam is pleased and "Adam and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." (Gen 2:25)  What happens next is quite curious - the woman has a conversation with a shrewd and crafty serpent.

Now, it is not the woman having a chat with a serpent that is so curious, it is what is said that caught my attention anew.  The serpent said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat from any tree in the garden'?"  She replies, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden but God said, 'But the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden you shall not eat, neither shall you touch it least you die.'"  (Gen 3:2-3)

From that conversation a few questions arose.  Firstly, the serpent said to the woman, "Did god actually say, 'You shall not eat...?'"  Here for the first time in many times reading  that verse I read "you" as singular, not plural: "Did God actually say, 'You (the woman) shall not eat...?'"  Although the woman replied in the plural, did the serpent's sly question plant a seed of doubt as to the commandment?  Did the serpent successfully insinuate perhaps she, the woman, had no part in the prohibition, that since she did not directly receive such form God, as she was not yet in existence when the commandment was given, that perhaps it applied only to the man, that God had not commanded her, specifically, not to eat of the tree "in the midst of the garden."?  Moreover, and interestingly enough, what she told the serpent God had said was not correct.  God did not say, "But the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden you shall not eat, neither shall you touch it..."  What God did say, and in fact, did say to Adam alone, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." (Gen 2:16-17)

Where did the woman come by what she told the serpent God said?  And, once again, it should be noted there were two trees in the midst of the garden, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not just one. (Gen 2:9)  Could Adam have had something to do with what she said and how she appeared to understand the prohibition?  Not only that, but the overall story leads me to suspect that perhaps not all was well with the woman towards her husband while in the garden, nor was it well with the woman towards God, himself.

Consider what might have been the woman's motivation for listening to the serpent and ignoring God's prohibition (the prohibition as she knew it.)  Could she have actually believed the possible suggestion that she wasn't personally prohibited from, as she said, "the tree in the midst of the garden"?  Perhaps she had a personal motivation for considering the serpent's comment, or perhaps she was woefully confused and uniformed - or perhaps, a combination of all the above.  Let's consider some biblical facts.

1.  The woman was the last of God's creation.  It might have appeared to her that her creation was an afterthought (and so it seemed), and an afterthought of creation solely to benefit Adam and not for her own sake as Adam's creation had been.

2.There is no indication that God ever talked to the woman before the fruit eating event.  All God's communication had been with Adam.  The only time we see God addressing the woman is late in the story, and only then to rebuke her for the transgression.  Is it possible the woman resented not having direct access to God or ever talking with Him face-to-face while Adam did?

3.  And what of the woman's understanding of the prohibition?  It could well be the woman only knew of the prohibition second-hand from Adam, and that is why her version of it was different that what God commanded Adam.  Undoubtedly, the woman believed the tree in the midst of the garden was off limits, but which tree?  There were two trees conspicuously identified among all the trees of the garden, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and both those trees were in close proximity to each other, both in the midst of the garden.  Now, whereas the woman failed to identify to the serpent which tree in the midst of the garden was prohibited, I suppose it is possible she might not have actually known which of the two was off limits.  (Which bring to mind Hosea 4:6 "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.")  Again, it would seem it was Adam who passed along the declared prohibition to the woman, and if her understanding of the prohibition was as she stated, then Adam may have modified it - and poorly at that.  It is as if he didn't take the time to clearly explain the commandment.  It almost seems as though he did not consider it important enough to make sure the woman understood fully the prohibition.  Or perhaps, did he not consider her important enough to provide her complete and clear instruction?  Whatever the case may have been, it resulted in a modified, vague and inadequate understanding of the commandment, compensating for the lack of precise instruction with the substitute, "...don't touch the tree in the midst of the garden..."

4.  Lastly, and quite suggestive of a questionable relationship with the woman towards her husband, and with the woman towards God, himself, is the fact that the entire time she occupied the garden, from her creation by God as Adam's wife until the exile, the woman had NO NAME!  Neither God nor Adam gave the woman a name the entire time she was in the garden.  Adam named the woman, Eve, only just after God's rebuke of them and their expulsion from the garden. (Gen 3:20)  Prior to that she was just Adam's wife, the woman, a rather impersonal identification to be sure.

The story of the Fall is rich in meaning and instruction for us, and what was touched on here is just a portion of that meaning and instruction.  There is so much more to the story than one might first think.  And now, for me, there is a new twist and new questions.  What actually transpired between the woman and God, between the woman and her husband, Adam, and between she and the serpent?  What am I expected to learn from their interaction?  What have I missed from years of reading into the story what I already believed about the story instead of actually reading what the scripture says, implies or hints at on its own?  However, although I may not understand fully, or even partially at times, God's plan and action as He reveals and presents them to us, I am sure every action and event that happens in scripture is intentional, deliberate, understandable and initiated and controlled by God for our edification and ultimate benefit.

So, perhaps you, the reader of this particular View from the Pew, can provide some insight to the questions and thoughts mentioned here.  And, these are the kinds of questions and ideas that one can expect to explore and share in a Bible Reading Fellowship, learning with others like yourself, on your own schedule, the wonders of God's teachings for us.

So please, if you feel so inclined to comment on this View from the Pew, send along your ideas and views to this website at: to be posted here - on the View from the Pew.  Or better yet, inquire about forming and/or joining a Bible Reading Fellowship. You have nothing to lose and much to gain, and all on your own schedule! (See the Bible Reading Fellowship announcement on this page.) Once again, perhaps you can shed light on some interesting questions.

Mark Johnson

Website Custodian

From a Friend In Byfield, MA

Check this out - sent to us from a fellow Christian, John Horne, of the Byfield Parish in Byfield, MA for the viewing pleasure of the believers here at the NSUMC.   Thank you, John!

Rev. Carroll C. Moore

To Adjust Page Width!

If you are having difficulty seeing our pages on screen, if the page view exceeds the width of your screen and if you are using Internet Explorer (IE), at the lower right of your screen is a Zoom Level Control.  Set IE's zoom level to 75%.  Doing so should reduce the page view to a point  where all content is viewable on screen.  If this does not help, please let us know.    

Thank you.  

The Fall (part two)


To continue with my thoughts on the Fall of Man, I'd like to begin by repeating my suspicion that the woman (remember the woman at this time had yet to be given a name. She is not yet, Eve, she is still just the woman, Adam's wife) that she did not actually know which of the two trees identified in the midst of the garden was forbidden. (See part one.) It should also be noted that at this time there is no enmity between the woman and the serpent (at least not on the part of the woman), and the serpent is not yet seen as a malevolent entity.  At this point the serpent is just another creature in the garden.  And, the woman has no experience with deception and guile, and therefore, has no reason to suspect such.  The serpent, however, like any good con-man, makes a point of knowing his mark's vulnerabilities and weaknesses while creating an illusion of concern and helpfulness towards his victim.  By asking a seemingly innocent, offhand question he implies that perhaps she might not be personally forbidden from anything in the midst of the garden, and in doing so, plants reasonable doubt in her mind, weakening any resistance she might have to a "gentle suggestion".  Moreover, he learns, if he hadn't already known, that the woman does not know which tree is actually forbidden.  All she knows of is "the tree in the midst of the garden."  Gently he nudges, he matter of factly directs her attention to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - completely ignoring the Tree of Life, as though it was the one that should be avoided (should she not buy into the suggestion she may not be included in the prohibition.)  First he assures her she will not die, then he extols the virtue of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, implying to a degree, that the tree could not be forbidden, but good for her.  He declares directly that she will simply become God-like, which God fully knows (which also lends a degree of legitimacy to the matter.)  Once again, it has to be understood by the reader that neither the woman nor Adam had any experience with deceit and falsehood.  To her, the serpent was just telling her what she desired to know, and with no malice suspected.  She simply did not know what the truth was, she lacked sound instruction and knowledge and had no reason not to believe what she was told.  So, after examining the tree and seeing its qualities and advantages, she eats, totally ignoring the tree of life which she was free to eat from, but apparently chose to ignore - or avoided out of fear.

After eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, lo and behold, all is good!  She sees so clearly, and although at that moment she unknowingly sealed her fate, a future date with death, she did not die!  That, in and of itself, had to be an affirmation that the serpent was correct and that she chose wisely.  But what of her husband?  She gives him some of the fruit and he eats as well, but why?  He knew the commandment clearly and showed no sign of being other minded.  (Perhaps that is why the serpent approached the vaguely instructed woman in this matter and not Adam.)  But nonetheless, he ate.  But again, why?  The answer is in my view and as the biblical text seems to indicate, Adam simply did not know what he was eating.

Although Adam was with the woman at the time of the woman/serpent interaction, there is no indication he was aware of the conversation between the woman and the serpent, nor that she had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  All that is revealed is that "...she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate."  (Genesis 3:6)  When God later rebukes Adam for this transgression, God says, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree..." (Genesis 3:17), it is not revealed what the woman said to Adam.  We are simply left to assume, to speculate.  The following are two possible scenarios.

After eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the woman takes some of its fruit to her husband and possibly says, "Dear husband, for whose sake I was created and to whom the Holy One only speaks, listen to the voice of your wife.  Although you left unclear which tree in the midst of the garden was to remain untouched, with the thoughtful help of the serpent I have learned which it is.  The wise serpent gently directed me to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and, therefore, I shunned the tree of life daring not to touch it lest I die.  I reached out and touched the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and no harm came to me.  I took and ate of its fruit when I saw that 'the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desired to make one wise.' (Genesis 3:6)  So husband, again, listen to the voice of your wife, take this fruit and eat.  It is good food, it will make you wise and as I stand before you, no harm will come to you as well."  Thus, Adam took from his wife's hand and ate.

The above is one possible scenario; but there is another, one more in line with Genesis 3:6.  After eating from the forbidden tree, the woman approaches her husband with its fruit, much like she probably did many times before with other food.  She may have said to her husband, "Husband, listen to the voice of your wife, take this fruit and eat, for it is good food, and it is a delight to the eyes, and it is desired to make one wise."  And apparently, without question and without knowledge of what he was eating, Adam ate, and the transgression was complete.

It is a biblical fact there is no textual indication Adam knew or questioned what it was he took from his wife and ate, and I doubt the actions of Adam and his wife were deliberate acts of disobedience.  As previously stated, as much as it seemed the woman did not actually know which tree in the midst of the garden was prohibited, I strongly suspect Adam simply did not know he was eating fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  So, once more I am reminded of Hosea 4:6 "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."  But even more so, the words of Jesus as he was being crucified ring even louder, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."  (Luke 23:24)

The fact of the matter is, regardless of motivation, intention, ignorance or deception, the transgression occurred, and with it, its subsequent results, both human and divine.  In part three of this, my view from the pew concerning the Fall of Man, I'll share my thoughts on the consequences of the transgression and what they mean to us right up to this very day.  Until then, once again, please feel free to write in to this site to have posted any comment, thought, opinion, correction or question regards what has been presented so far concerning the Fall of Man.

We want the View From The Pew to be where any and all may share and have published their thoughts and feelings regards any matter concerning the Church, our particular church fellowship, our community, the world or just about anything at all!

The address to write to is:  In the subject line please indicate: View From The Pew.  Or, simply use the form provided on the left of this page or the one located on our "Contact Us" page.

Be assured, people are eagerly waiting to hear what you have to say!

Mark Johnson

Website Custodian

The Fall (part three)  


In the first two parts of this, my View From the Pew regards the Fall of Man, I shared my view on how I believe scripture demonstrates that Adam and his wife transgressed God's commandment not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was through ignorance, inattention and misinformation.  Moreover, perhaps feelings of neglect and resentment on the part of the woman and outright neglect on the part of Adam were factors as well - all of which made fertile ground for deception.  Regardless of how the transgression was realized, either intentional or not, the transgression was realized nonetheless.  And, from that transgression the biblical condition and history of Man flows.

What the serpent told the woman would happen if she were to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in a sense, did happen.  The serpent told the woman, "You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:4-5)  The first part, "you will not surely die." is in my understanding the first lie ever mentioned in scripture.  And it was an attractive lie, too, a lie the woman apparently believed, and a lie most still find irresistible today and accept without question.

Before further examining the consequences of this singular act of disobedience, one non-action begs to be examined.  Why, during the entire garden experience, was the tree of life completely ignored by Adam and his wife?  Why would anyone pass up eternal life when such was freely available at one's fingertips?  Of course, as pointed out in part one of this view, it appeared the woman really did not know which of the two trees in the midst of the garden was forbidden, which would cause her death if it were even touched.  And, of course, the serpent seemed to take pains to draw her attention away from the tree of life and to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  And through a "process of elimination" imply the three of life was the forbidden one.  But what of Adam?  God expressly indicated that all the trees, save the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were available to eat form, including the tree of life.  Why didn't he partake of it?  Why didn't he acquire for himself and his wife eternal life when he was free to do so?  Perhaps it was simply a matter of youth?  Immaturity?  Something else, perhaps?  To be true, Adam and his wife had very little life experience - actually, they had none.  So, I can imagine that they, like many of us during our youth, were far more focused on living life than on its eventual end.  Although the young have a knowledge of death, death just is not personally real to them, it is not immediate or relevant to them.  (Unless, of course, it is staring one straight in the face.)  The young can seem at times to have an innate, yet vague, sense of immortality.  And such a sense may have been present, then confirmed, in the fruit eating transgression of Adam and his wife.  Consider the following:

All believe the body dies.  It is indisputable death occurs to us all, and it has to be dealt with by many everyday, everywhere.  However, in spite of that fact and the fact that God said clearly, "...for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." (Genesis 3:19) most will profess that only the body dies, not the REAL person, not the real Tom, Dick or Mary, but just the flesh.  Many simply believe the soul is immortal ("You will not surely die.")  Many believe that after physical death, one lives on forever in one state or another, in one condition or another or in one place or another.  The assuredness that at death one loses existence, self-awareness, and returns to a state before conception and birth, from dust to dust, is for many just too difficult to imagine or accept.  So, many just don't.  This refusal (or inability) to acknowledge death as complete non-existence is a part of what occurred in the "midst of the garden" at the transgression and has carried right up to this day.  As it appears the woman accepted the serpent's lie about not dying, humanity in general also appears to share and continue in that belief.  Unable or unwilling to deny the fact of absolute death, we choose for ourselves a pseudo-immortality, and immortality of the soul, therefore, mimicking one of God's attributes ("you will become like god...)  It is noted throughout scripture, Old and New Testaments, that it is life, eternal life, that God has prepared for us, eternal life in sonship with Him and in brothership with Christ.  One of my favorite verses that states this fact clearly is Roman 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  It is interesting to note that some weeks ago Pastor Moore spoke of how hyperbole is frequently used in scripture to emphasize or dramatize a point or idea.  Paul, usually quite dramatic in his writings, frequently employing hyperbole, in his letter to the Romans he states clearly, simply and without hyperbole and any room for doubt, that it is death, absolute oblivion, that God, through Christ, has worked to save us from.  Eternal life, physical and spiritual, in communion with God and Christ, is what awaits the Elect at Christ's return to this earth. 

The second part of what the serpent said to the woman sums up our human condition quite well, "...your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:4-5)  Yes, be like God.  Now, that's also not hard to accept, is it?  Are we not made in His image? (Genesis 1:27)  Yes, made in His image:  God is self-aware, we are self-aware.  God thinks, we think.  God plans, we plan, too.  God creates, we create.  God determines and judges righteousness/unrighteousness, and we do likewise everyday in everyway.  (Of course, what we determine righteous one day can be unrighteous on another and vise versa.)  God is immortal, and as noted above, many likewise believe we are immortal (souls) as well.  I firmly believe that in the transgression we, the race of Man, bestowed upon ourselves a status, a condition, that misrepresents and greatly overstates what is meant to be made in God's image.  And so, we see ourselves made in the image of God, having the appearance of God.  But of course, appearances can be woefully misleading, appearances can be very, very shallow, indeed. 

When the woman and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit "and their eyes were opened", they immediately took unto themselves the unique attributes of God.  They were, however, only mimicking God attributes, attributes that they did not actually yet possess - very much like an adolescent might mimic, and insist they possess, the attributes of a mature adult before the adolescent actually develops that maturity.  (Those of you who have or are now raising teenagers may understand this quite well.)  Once their eyes were opened, they saw and self-determined that their nakedness was shameful.  Out of where once there was nothing sinful or shameful in their nakedness, they determined it to be so.  They made something out of nothing, mimicking another God attribute.  Where in one instant they stood naked in the very presence of God without shame or sinfulness, in the next their God given nakedness was a thing of shame and sin needing correction, needing to be covered over.  In a twinkling of and eye they became God-like (in their own minds) delusionally immortal, creating something out of nothing and determining the unrighteousness/sinfulness of something not of their own making.  Moreover, they took on upon themselves, with the works of their own hands, to create a propitiation for their newly self-created sin.  They fashioned coverings of fig leaves to cover and hide the symbol of their sin (nakedness), not so much their simple disobedience, but their sin of rejecting God's sovereignty over themselves and, in their delusion, taking on to themselves the attributes, characteristics and prerogatives of God.  All of which they could only mimic since they did not actually yet possess them. (Genesis 3:7)

They sought, and therefore we by way of inheritance, still seek to go our own way, to reject God's sovereignty and benevolence to replace God with ourselves as sovereign over ourselves and our world.  We can not do otherwise!  It is our nature inherited from Adam and still unchanged by God.  For our eyes have been opened, and we have become like God, knowing good from evil.  Even now being under Grace we bear the nature of Adam - that propensity to go it alone without God or with God playing only a secondary role in our lives. (Romans 3:23)  Yet, and as God had planned and has provided, we have received the knowledge of the Good News, the knowledge of God's plan and we have the promise of adoption, guaranteed by the Holy Spirit, therefore being fortified to walk in sonship until the day we inherit the promise and we are changed - both physically and spiritually to become like Him, like Christ. (Ephesians 1:4-14)

But, of course, there is more to this story.  God's part in it is quite interesting.  And, indeed it is, for He authored and orchestrates in all.  (Isaiah 46:10, Romans 8:28-29)  In my next post, and in the last part of this, my View From The Pew regards the Fall of Man, I will share my thoughts on what I believe God is teaching us about ourselves and his plan for us through this remarkable story of the Fall of Man.

Mark Johnson

Website Custodian

An Interesting Link... the Pleasant St. UMC. Please check it out and see how our fellow Methodist on the other side of town are doing. 

Welcome to the



Life is often "hello" and a time together and then a "goodbye."  Last Sunday a number of us gathered for the "goodbye" to the Hannah Tenny Memorial United Methodist Church here in Salem, N.H.  211 years of ministry including its parent church, First Methodist Episcopal, which burned in 1917.  The service for the closing of a church is a Deconsecration Service and for me it was most meaningful.  Although celebration was part of the service there was no question it was a "farewell" to the formal ministry of this church.  It will continue in its influence for many years through its influence.  We were reminded by the affirmation from Psalm 136:1-4, 23-26 that "The Steadfast Love of the Lord endures forever."

I found myself reflecting on part of one of the prayers which expressed what a church is about in so many different ways.  I quote it for us to think about:  "For the women and men who founded this congregation; for this its ministries throughout its life, its gatherings for praise and prayer, its faithful use of the means of grace, and its study of the scriptures, we give our thanks.  We have celebrated the Lord's Supper here and been nurtured by it on our journey of faith.  Here we have baptized our children, confirmed our youth and mourned our dead.  New families have been created through marriage.  From these walls many have gone out to serve you in the community and the world.  As we now go from this house into a further journey of faith, we give you thanks, O God, through Jesus Christ, our Savior."

The church community wherever it is, is never perfect, but the foundation of the church, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the ministries it does in His name for the wholeness of individuals are essential for the well-being of all.  I am thankful for the ministry we remembered last Sunday but even more thankful to be part of the church and what it means for the world.  May we all give thanks this day.



The Fall (part four)

(Parts 1 - 3 Below)


To continue with the drama in the garden, God Himself, took on a bit of roleplaying in the action.  I say this because I believe God, as with all of His creation, authored, scripted and directed the entire episode - and all of it conducted for our benefit, His Elect. (Romans 8:28)

Consider the following: God created a garden in Eden.  God also deliberately placed two trees in the midst of that garden, both conspicuously identified apart from all other trees in the garden.  One, the tree of life, He made fully available to Adam whom he also placed in the garden.  The other, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, He prohibited Adam from eating of its fruit lest he die.  Now, the reasonable question is: Why would God do such a thing?  Why would he set Adam up to fail?  Why put the forbidden tree in the garden at all - and in close proximity to the tree of life?  I’m sure it certainly wasn’t to “test” Adam, to see if he had the right stuff.  God knew what Adam was made of, what he could or could not do, what he would or would not do. (Of course, Adam did not know these things, and thus, perhaps, the "test", if there were a test, was for Adam's benefit.)  From the beginning to the end God knows all.  God needs not test anything - lest ways, not for His benefit.  It also seems unreasonable that after the transgression, God sends a cherubim with a burning sword to deny Adam access to the tree of life when He could have done the same to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from the start, to avoid the transgression in the first place. But no, that was not God’s intent.  God’s intent was for Adam, and us, to experience the failure and all its subsequent consequences.  God's purpose with this effort appears to be to bring Man -- us -- to an understanding of who we are, who God is, and to the nature of the relationship He is creating for us.

Following the transgression and after Adam and his wife began to mimic the attributes of God (belief of immortality, creativity, judgement, atonement, etc) they did not lose their awareness of God, but they did try to avoid Him by “losing themselves” among the trees of the garden - God’s very own creations. (Genesis 3:8)  Now, I suspect that perhaps other trees in the garden may also have represented things other than actual trees, like the two trees in the midst of the garden did.  Could some of those trees Adam and his wife hid themselves amongst represent things like agriculture? metelergy? botany? biology? chemistry, etc.?  It would appear that today, as during much of history, we seem to hide ourselves in and amongst the things of creation.  As we peel back the mysteries of science and technologies, leaning more and more about our physical universe, God, for many, fades further and further from view.  Perhaps that is what is desired by many, to get God out of sight, then out of mind, and then eventually, out of existence.  But of course, God didn’t allow Adam to completely ignore him, to hide from him.  He called out to Adam, “Where are you?”  It is curious that God should ask Adam that.  God knew exactly where Adam was.  Was the rhetorical question really a question Adam needed to ask himself?  Did Adam know where Adam was?  How could Adam expect to hide from God among God’s own work, when that work itself revealed God? (Romans 1:20)  And so it continues with us.  The deeper we dig into the stuff of creation, the further we we think we distance ourselves from God.  But ironically, the deeper we go, the more God is revealed and the louder his call becomes.

Ultimately, God must be acknowledged, and Adam reveals himself, confessing his fear and his transgression.  Two more questions come from God, “Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11)  Again it’s curious that God asks these questions.  God knew the answers. (There weren’t that many characters in this play.)  It wasn’t God who told Adam he was naked, and God knew the serpent didn’t say it, either.  The questions were again, rhetorical questions designed, I believe, to have Adam personally acknowledge and realize his action, his new condition and his new situation.  Once again I would like to point out that there is no indication that Adam nor his wife deliberately or knowingly defied God.  When queried, they told God exactly what happened, that the woman simply gave Adam the forbidden fruit and he ate (unknowingly) and that his wife was deceived by the serpent and she ate (unknowingly.)  God did not contradict them nor dispute what they said.  But God does act, declaring some interesting consequences.  In the beginning of this story God told Adam what would happen if he ate from the forbidden tree.  Adam would die; and so he did - but later.  But God now lays down what appears to be added punishments - or so it might appear.  However, I do not believe the conditions laid upon Adam and his wife, and the expulsion from the garden were punishments at all.  It would appear that God was further “setting up” mankind for sanctification and gloriously powerful eternal life in a later time.


Although it was my intent to post only four parts to this topic, the matter proves to require further attention. So, in light of that, I will continue with future posts concerning the Fall of Man. Keep checking back for parts 5, 6, and…well, keeping checking back. There is truly interesting stuff to follow.

Mark Johnson

Website Custodian

Mary Did You Know...

A must see video.  Check it out!

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From Elaine Heinrich


The Fall...

~I was so surprised at the insight of this reading. It is a totally different way to look at what God is teaching us. I always looked at the literal meaning only. Love it!

Video From John Horne...

~Just wanted to comment on the beautiful video you shared with us and would encourage everyone to watch and listen to the word. It is beautifully done.