Thursday, September 11, 2008

Aviva Ironman 70.3 Triathlon, Zorbing, Swave-boarding, Genesis 1-3

Aviva Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
All psyched up for a bike trek from the distant end of East Coast Park to Changi Village, we soon ran into the canary-yellow end of the Aviva Ironman 70.3 Triathlon 8 hours after it'd begun. So we stood near the finishing line shouting encouragement. There is something about sporting competitions, and especially great sporting carnivals like the recently concluded Beijing Olympics that stirs the human heart. They are not so much celebrations of peace and friendship than celebrations of youthful vigour, of physical and mental prowess, and of ultimately, the greatness of humankind - ever growing faster and stronger. This may explain why couch-sportsmen will even watch competitive knitting if it was on ESPN.

Zorbing at East Coast Park!
Adrenaline junkie-dom hit a new high for certain couch-sportsmen when they discovered that zorbing had come to Singapore courtesy of zovb singapore. Except that the lack of rolling green Kiwi fields resulted in a somewhat neutered adrenaline shot.

Swave Board/ Wave Board/ Ripstick
Ended abandoning the unpadded bikes after a fertility-endangering 10km for some swave-boarding until it was far too dark to distinguish trees from people, ever mindful of Macbeth's sticky end upon encountering a large group of shrubbery. Also, small children had taken to stopping in my direct path and pointing boggle-eyed at the disco-lights on my wheels.

There is great pleasure in having control over one's body - to be able to angle the arm or the leg just so or to deliver just the right amount of strength to drop the tennis ball at the far corner of the court, and over one's mind - to be able to persevere in intense training and endure the heat and the pain of muscle spasms during a gruelling marathon and the jeers of the home crowd at the foreign nature of one's talent.

Nike+ Sportband
This may be why Nike can sell, as NA brilliantly described it, "packaged motivation" to the flabby masses who like to think themselves recreational sportsmen.

In all this celebration of human achievement, in all this glorying in what we can do, it would be small-townly narrow-minded to assume that there is no broader perspective to it. Surely even a frog in the well must look up to the heavens and consider his creation and creator.

Running through Genesis this week got my head out of that ostrich-head-sized hole in the ground.
Genesis 1:1 - 2:4
Q: In attempting to understand what is being written in a passage, one of the things to look for is the repetition of phrases or words. What phrases are repeated in this passage?

- God said,"Let there be...", "Let the..."
- and it was so
- God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 25), very good (Genesis 1:31).

Method of Creation
Q: What does this tell us about how God made the world?

by his word

Q: How would you describe the creative process?
Q: What does God create on these days?

Day 1 (Genesis 1:2-5)
- light, darkness
- Day, Night

Day 2 (Genesis 1:6-8)
- expanse (sky)

Day 3 (Genesis 1:9-13)
- dry land (earth), seas
- vegetation

Day 4 (Genesis 1:14-19)
- sun, moon, stars
- days, seasons, years

Day 5 (Genesis 1:20-23)
- creatures for waters and sky

Day 6 (Genesis 1:24-25)
- animals
- man

Creator - Creation Nexus
The Bible has 2 main subject matters: it tell us firstly about God, then it tells us how creation relates to God.

Q: What does this tell us about God?

Creator, duh

Q: What did he create?

Q: What didn't he create?
nothing! (no philosophical flack about God not creating nothingness please!)

Q: What does God know about the world?

Q: What can God not control in the world?

Q: If nothing in the world has not be created by God, then how should God's creation treat/relate to God?
- obey him (Deuteronomy 32:6), what other gods/masters/kings are there to obey? the greatness of God! (Isaiah 40)
- serve him (Romans 1:32)
- give him worship, honour, praise (Psalm 95:3-7), who else is worthy?
[- fear him]
- find meaning in him (Isaiah 43)

Note: the Bible thinks these response are all quite common-sensical = don't be stupid lah.

Q: God blesses 2 groups of created things. Which ones?
- creatures of sea and sky (Genesis 1:22)
- man (man and woman) (Genesis 1:28)

Q: But what's so special about man? (Genesis 2)
- extended page space for a long lingering look at man's creation!
- delegated dominion

Q: What was man's relationship with God, man's relationship with woman?
- very good
- very pleasant

The story didn't just end happily because there was no sunset to ride into at the end of Day 6. Joke lah. Read Genesis 3:1-7, 23-24
Q: How is the serpent described?

"more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made" (Genesis 3:1)

Q: How does the way the serpent tempted Eve demonstrate this characteristic?
(1) misquoted God's word (cf Genesis 2:16)
- exaggerates prohibition
- possibly, Eve is then drawn into debate on serpent's terms, that is, in her reply, she overcorrects serpent's "error" and magnifies God's strictness (Genesis 3:3 "and you must not touch it")
= implication of unreasonableness

(2) cast direct doubt on the word of God (Genesis 3:4 "you will not surely die")
- cast doubt on the truth of God's word about reality
- cast doubt on the authority of God's word
= assured her that there were no consequences or repercussions at all
= assumption that God's word is subject to her judgement (but on what basis could Eve evaluate God's word? any standard for testing the truth of God's word would itself have to be an authority higher than God himself!)

(3) cast direct doubt on the character of God (Genesis 3:5 "God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil")
- denies basic goodness of God
- accuses him of lying
- accuses him of being selfish and withholding something they ought to have. what about their human rights?!
= God cannot be relied upon as absolute authority and source of truth/interpretation of reality for mankind.

Serpent is crafty because he does not explicitly ask Eve to join him.

(Q: How do we see him using the same tactics today?)

Q: Why does Eve believe him instead of God?
(1) decides that God and God's word cannot be trusted
(2) decides to rely on her own judgement (Genesis 3:6). Why cannot? I see, I like, I take.
- fruit of tree was good for food
- fruit of tree was pleasing to the eye
- fruit of tree was desirable for gaining wisdom

(Note: "knowing good and evil"
- cannot be that it gives them knowledge of distinguishing between good and evil. in judgement, they are treated as having known.
- cannot be to experience doing an evil act because knowing good and evil seems to be an act only to be performed by God (Genesis 3:22) and he does only good.
- more likely, making up own definition of what is good and what is evil; making up rules that are only God's prerogative to make (2 Samuel 14:17, 1 Kings 3:9) = grasping equality with God.)

Q: What is the essence of Adam and Eve's sin?
- kenna magic fruit? no there are no magic objects in the Bible
- curiousity? nope
- sex (as some sections of society think)? huh? no, that's God blessing on them.
- disobedience (not fundamentally)

sin = rebelling against God and his word (the same word that created the world!). And rebellion because we don't think he really exists, or we don't acknowledge him as creator, or a good one. We deny his authority as creator, his goodness, the truth of his word. Instead, we understand the world best and try to put ourselves in place of God by deciding what's right and wrong, thereby denying our creatureliness.

Q: In what way are we guilty of the same sin?

Q: What are the immediate consequences of Adam and Eve's sin have on:
- their relationship with God?

fear (Genesis 3:8) (cf. no fear, easy access, relaxed open
relationship with God)

- their relationship with each other (cf 2:22 – 25)?
shame, distrust.

Q: What does God's punishment mean for:
- the serpent?
- the woman?
- the man?
- the ground?
- all humans?

Q: How does God punishment relate to:
- the immediate consequences of A&E's sin?
- the original creational order?

Pronouncement of the natural consequences of their sin. Yet some glimmer of hope of restoration.
Being thrown out of Garden means there is a limit to their lifetime of sin. It is actually a mercy of God.

Q: So who was right about reality – serpent or God?
God, surprisesurprise

Q: What does the serpent's punishment tell us about the theory of dualism of good and evil?
Satan and God are not equal forces battling for dominion. God has been and will always be in control. He punishes the serpent.

Q: How does Genesis 3 help to explain the state of the world today?
Q: Why is it important to understand the world in light of Genesis 3?
But, as one DG member pointed out, the story doesn't end at Genesis 3 because...well...Genesis 1-3 takes up just 3.5 pages in a 1,252-page Bible. It is impossible to summarise the magnificent story that follows to do justice to magnanimity of an almighty God reaching out time and time again with such mercy to save such an undeserving bunch as us humans.

Just taking a look at God's appointing of Abram in Genesis 12 to gather a specially chosen people for God. You'd have thought that there'd be cries of "We're not worthy!" and "Woah. Even better than the chances of a Large Hadron Collider creating a blockbuster-worthy black hole!" But the undeserving people stared stupidly at the proferred salvation, sneered and continued on their acclerated path to certain destruction (Jeremiah 7:22-25, Isaiah 65:1-2). It boggles the mind to consider God's patience in even bothering with all this ass-headedness and to trace God's work in all the intricately-woven threads of human history that ultimately cumulated in the coming of our saviour Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:18-23, Luke 2:29-32). That God's son, on top of everything else, died to pay the price for our sins just blows the mind wide off to a neighbouring galaxy.

A few days ago, was asked to take photos at the wedding of a greatly-admired photographer. "...would you do us the honour" said the email, and I was all: wow. OMG. AYKM? I'm not worthy! It is you who do me the honour of asking me to be your wedding photog. (And also, uh oh, I hope I don't mess up big time.) Unfortunately, oftentimes, there is a lack of even a scintilla of such overawed descent into OTT internet slang when considering that God not only sent his Son to save us, he even entrusted to us incompetent humans what he counts as closest to his heart for this world: the ministry of reconciling the rest of mankind to himself.

Aviva Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

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At September 22, 2008 5:13 am , Anonymous Claudia said...

A good post. I like the way you bring it around from human physical exercise to God's magnificent exercise in mercy towards us. Genesis is the beginning of his Word to us, and it's so important to get that straight, as the rest hinges on it.


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