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Imagine the beginning of the story, when all of creation was still just a word that hadn’t quite reached the tongue of God. All that has ever been was still just a divine thought awaiting permission to come into being… to become.

When the Uncreated began to create and spoke first light into existence, He did it ex nihilo. He created “from nothing”. As His Spirit hovered over the formless and void earth, over the face of the waters, His voice was all that was necessary to create. “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). The natural world emerged from the supernatural.

His will came forth with power to create life. His breath came forth to make us in His perfect image. God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7 NIV). He saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.

But then sin entered creation. With humanity’s rebellion, the intimate connection was broken and we were separated from our Creator. Though our bodies didn’t die that day, our ability to know God and live in His presence was corrupted. Our hearts turned from love and communion to power and production. We became blind to the bigger story lived in community and began writing our own stories in isolation. Souls overwhelmed with God’s peace and presence were reduced to schedules overwhelmed with striving and struggle. Our spirits exchanged life and truth for death and lies.

Every fiber of our beings long to rediscover the goodness of the garden. We hope to walk with Him again in the cool of the day and fully reflect the goodness and splendor of our original design. We claim the promises that in Christ we have been, are being, and will be fully reborn, renewed, reconciled and altogether re-created into His perfect image to enjoy His perfect union (Colossians 3:10).



To read more about God's story of Re-Creation, purchase a copy of BECOMING: Story!


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I first sung in Handel's Messiah as a high school student, when a local college invited our community to join its production. Handel’s arias and choruses brought goosebumps, heard live  from within the choir. But the piece that brings the entire audience to its feet is, of course, the Hallelujah chorus. The text comes straight from Revelation 11:15:


“The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of
our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever!”


It’s an announcement that thrills the soul—this world as the kingdom of God! We’re so wearily accustomed to a planet under the reign of sin and death that we can hardly imagine a world under the peaceful reign of God. Yet this is the grand story of all Scripture: to see Christ ruling and reigning over this world, with its plants and animals, cultures and kingdoms—to see all that He created finally freed from corruption and experiencing full glory. And we, the people of God’s kingdom, will be the ones to inherit and enjoy this world, in sweet fellowship with our Savior.  

This grand vision is no unexpected surprise at the close of Scripture; it is the goal throughout. God’s kingdom, described as "God's people in God's place under God's rule" (Graeme Goldsworthy), is the storyline of His Word. It summarizes the biblical story better than even “Redemption,” because God’s kingdom depicts the opening and closing chapters of the Bible, before there was Fall and after Redemption is complete.  

God’s kingdom is also the focus of Jesus’ teaching, whether in the parables, the Lord’s Prayer, or His announcement of the gospel. He announced His mission on earth saying, “The kingdom of God has come near: Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) The good news, or gospel, was good news of a kingdom. And He taught his disciples to pray, first and foremost, that God’s kingdom would come and His will be done here on earth, the way it is already being done in heaven.  

The tragedy of Scripture’s story is anti-kingdom: God's people bringing curse upon God’s place as they rebel against God's rule. The downfall began in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve chose self-rule over God-rule. They rejected God’s command and aligned themselves with the serpent, and so committed treason against the Great King. Every sphere of life felt the reverberations of that act. Brokenness and corruption entered every realm—human, animal, and physical— when God’s rightful place at the center of it all was called into question.

Throughout Scripture, God’s people continued to bring curse upon God’s place—to the point of eviction. Isaiah wrote, "The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth..." (Isaiah 24:5-6). We see humanity evicted from the garden. Evicted from the temple. Evicted from the land of Canaan itself.

This is the only world we’ve ever known—a world of brokenness and curse, distanced from its Creator and Life-Giver. Can it be true that this world will really “become the kingdom of our Lord”?



To read more about God's story of Kingdom, purchase your copy of BECOMING: Story!


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Rest is an identifying feature of God’s people. “They will know we are Christians by our love,” we sing. How often do we consider that they will know we are Christians, too, by our rest?

Rest and peace are foundational to the Creation narrative of Genesis. This narrative is embossed in luminous relief against the backdrop of ancient Near Eastern creation myths. These myths, well-known among the early hearers of Genesis, bring creation into being through striving and violence. For instance, in the Enûma Eliš, a Babylonian creation myth, conflict prompts the god Marduk to dismember the goddess Tiamat and to use her body, split “like a shellfish in two parts,” to create the firmament and the waters.

The first sentences of Genesis 1, however, boast a very different God: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

On the eve of the greatest creative act in universal history, God hovers. The tone is serene, anticipatory, silent. And then, He speaks. He speaks it all into being: the first indigo dawn, the air, invisible and invaluable, soil, seeds, sycamores and junipers, the moon, the sparrow, the squid, the lion. Then finally, mankind, patterned gloriously after God’s very self

A rhythm has emerged over the six days of creation: God creates from repose, with only a word; God reflects, seeing all that He has made; and God celebrates, calling it good. Finally, this daily rhythm culminates in one full day of rest when God ceases from His work. He blesses the seventh day and makes it holy, set apart for a special purpose.

Like a child playing double-dutch, God waves a hand to invite people into this rhythm of work and rest.



To read more about God's rhythm of work and rest in the bible and in our lives, purchase your copy of BECOMING: Story!


By Leigh Swanson

"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ..." Romans 8:15-16

When I met Shelly, we were in fifth grade. Se was the new girl at Hyer Elementary. She had long blonde hair with bangs cut straight across her forehead. I was assigned by our teacher to be Shelly's "special friend" for her first day. My responsibilities included walking with her to class and sitting with her at lunch. She quickly became my best friend. Through middle school, high school, and college, we were together.

Shelly was also the first person I knew who had been adopted. Born to an unwed teenager, Shelly had been adopted as an infant. Her new parents, Bob and Janice had a biological son; but due to Janice's small stature, they had been advised to grow their family through adoption. On April 25, 1965, Bob and Janice were driving home to Texas from a California vacation. In the car, Janice started having what she could only describe as labor pains. These pains lasted for hours. Bob was concerned, finding it odd that she continued to describe what she was feeling as labor pains. Days later, when they arrived home in Dallas, they learned that their daughter had been born the same day Janice had experienced the labor pains! I remember vividly Janice sharing Shelly's adoption story with me. She told it with such joy, amazed at God's goodness and the miraculous sign he had given them that Shelly was their daughter. 

When I think of great adoption stories, I think of Shelly's. However, there is a greater story of adoption. It's the adoption story of every person who professes Christ as Lord and Savior. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have an adoption story, too.


To read the full chapter in which Leigh Swanson expounds on the concept of adoption in Christ and the believer's new status as an heir, purchase your copy of BECOMING, Volume One



"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Jesus loves me! This I know, for the Bible tells me so.

I can sing it. I can say it. But do I believe it? I mean really believe it-- in a way that matters. In a way that impacts how I live my life. 

This is a hard question. One moment, I can answer emphatically, "Yes!" And in the next moment my behavior might reveal otherwise. Often how we think, feel, and act is a dead give away to what we really believe about God. 

Recently, I heard a counselor say that the core question that we are all desperately trying to answer is, "Am I loved?" The irony here is that we are pursuing an answer to a question that has already been answered. The scars in Jesus' hands and feet prove the depth of His love for us. The problem is that we don't believe it. Unbelief shows up in our lives when we:

assume others think the worst about us.

beat ourselves up over our sin.

hesitate to come to Him with our problems or pain. 

have to get our act together before we are useful.

criticize others.

feel like our good works make Him love us more. 

feel like our failures make Him love us less.

assume that tragedy and suffering are punishment and rejection. 

say "Yes" to every request-- "because they need me."

assume He really doesn't want what is best for us.

constantly compare ourselves to others.

make great demands on family and friends to meet our emotional needs.

get paralyzed by insecurities which keep us from taking risks.

feel like a failure for all the things we have not accomplished today.

realize the thought of letting Him love us makes us squirm. 

are embarrassed by our kid's failures and take credit for their successes. 

This list is not exhaustive, but it certainly gives us a peek into our hearts to see the ways in which our unbelief in God's love creeps into every area of our lives.

Why is it so hard to believe that we are loved? I have asked this question hundreds of times to women all over, and the answers are always the same: most say that either they don't feel lovable or their experiences have proved that God does not love them.


To continue reading and see how Ruthie Delk uses scripture to prove how we are loved, purchase your copy of BECOMING, Vol. 1: IDENTITY.



"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." Ephesians 2:10

The artist worked slowly, meticulously, lovingly. He knew this would be a masterpiece. Every stroke was intentional, every curve purposeful, ever color enhancing.

Then came the unveiling day! The final birth pangs were challenging, but so worth it. As she appeared and his eyes beheld her, he almost fell back, breathless. She was lovely, astonishing, perfect. Just exactly as he had envisioned. 

A work of art!

Which is exactly how God sees us.

The psalmist gives us a glimpse of the amazing process of God designing each of us:

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:13-16

The apostle Paul reveals the outcome: "We are God's handiwork {workmanship, work of art, masterpiece}" (Ephesians 2:10a).

When you were being formed inside your mother, God Himself was there, designing you, forming you according to His perfect plan. He created your shape, your personality, your features, your temperament. He instilled gifts and abilities in you, infused you with aptitudes and attitudes.

The same for me. Personally, I've had some conversations with Him about how He made me. I've suggested that two more inches of height would have been so easy for Him and so helpful for me. I could reach higher shelves, and my feet would touch the floor in most chairs. And I would really appreciate if I had just a little musical ability--an ear, a voice, some rhythm. But no--none, nada.

He did give me some great gifts--a strong will, a heart to encourage and exhort, courage to speak up. He gave me words--to speak and write. 

And God was pleased. He was so pleased that, when I was born, He said, "Look at her! She's exactly what I had in mind! She's a work of art, a masterpiece."

That's also what He said about you. With all the abilities and tendencies and strengths and weaknesses He wove into your being, when you were born, He cried out: "Look at her! She's exactly what I had in mind! She's a work of art, a masterpiece." 


To read the complete article in which Judy Douglass discusses the three primary purposes for which God created us, purchase your copy of BECOMING, Vol.1: IDENTITY.