Saturday, June 28, 2014

Funniest Promise Ever

“Look around. Look to the north, to the south, to the east, and to the west. I will give everything you see to you and your descendants. In fact, you’ll have so many descendants that counting them will be like counting grains of sand! Go ahead and explore the land. I’m giving it to you.”

Many years had passed since God had made this promise to Abram, and he was getting older and older. He still didn’t have any kids, and it’s kinda hard to have descendants without kids! He was getting impatient!

As the years passed, God made another promise one clear, starry night. “Look up at the sky. See all those stars? Try and count them. Trying to count your descendants will be just as hard!”

Abram believed God’s promises, but time was moving on, and Abram and Sarai were getting old! Finally, Sarai decided maybe God needed some help. She suggested that Abram take her Egyptian slave Hagar as a wife as well. Hagar had a child, and they named him Ishmael (which means “God hears”). Abram was 86 years old when Ishmael was born! But God was clear…Ishmael was not the child He had promised.

More years passed. Ishmael was now 13, and his dad Abram was 99. God appeared to Abram again and said, “You’re gonna be the father of many nations. In fact, let’s not call you Abram any more. Your name is now Abraham.” (Abram means “exalted father”, but Abraham means “father of many.”) “Many nations will come from you, and some of your descendants will even be kings! Your wife Sarai also gets a new name. Let’s call her Sarah. She is gonna have a son. Those kings I mentioned will also be her descendants!” Sarai and Sarah both mean princess.

That was it. Abraham started cracking up. He was splitting his sides! He was laughing so hard that he fell over, and the tears came. Did God know how old he and Sarah were?! People don’t have babies when they’re that old! That’s just silly! Then he said, “What about Ishmael? You could give him that blessing.”

So God said, “True, but Sarah will have a child. Since you thought that was so hilarious, you get to name him Isaac, which means ‘he laughs’! I will also make Ishmael the father of many, but Isaac will be the one who gets the blessing, and his descendants will be the ones I promised you. In fact, Mr. ‘He Laughs’ will be born a year from now!”

A little later, Abraham was hanging out at the entrance to his tent, when he looked up and saw three men standing nearby. He got up and hurried over to them and invited them to stay a while. It was hot, and they looked like they had been traveling. Then he hurried back to his tent and said to Sarah, “Quick! Make some bread for our guests!” He ran over to his herds of cattle and picked out a calf, which he told a servant to cook. When everything was ready, he brought the bread, veal (calf meat), milk and cheese to the guests, and they ate. They asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”

“Right over there,” Abraham said, pointing to the entrance to the tent.

Then one of the guests said pretty loudly, “I’ll be back in a year. By that time, Sarah will have a son.”

Sarah didn’t want to seem rude by laughing out loud, but she could hear the conversation. She thought that was the funniest thing she had heard in a long time! Pffffftttt…a child?? Seriously?! Did they know how old she was?? “How could that happen when I’m all worn out and way too old to have children?” she muttered to herself.

Then the guest, who turned out to be the Lord, said, “Hey, why did Sarah just laugh and ask how that could happen when she’s old? Is there anything that is too hard for the Lord? I’ll be back next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Now Sarah was scared. He wasn’t supposed to have heard that! She said, “Huh? I didn’t laugh!”

“Uh, actually, you did,” said the Lord.

Sure enough, just as God had promised, Sarah finally got pregnant. Abraham was 100 years old, and Sarah was 90, when the promised child was born. Just as God had commanded, they named the baby “He Laughs.” Sarah said, “Who would have guessed that I’d be this old and nursing a child? I’m laughing with joy, and everyone who hears about this is gonna laugh too! God has brought me laughter!”

“Look around. Look to the north, to the south, to the east, and to the west. I will give everything you see to you and your descendants. In fact, you’ll have so many descendants that counting them will be like counting grains of sand! Go ahead and explore the land. I’m giving it to you.”

Picture Source:

“Look up at the sky. See all those stars? Try and count them. Trying to count your descendants will be just as hard!”

Picture Source:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Abram's Trek

Antediluvian: from the period of time before the biblical flood


The flood changed everything. Where there had once been thousands of people on the earth, there were now only eight. There were only a few of each animal left. It took a long time for the number of people to increase again. After several generations, there were a lot of people on the earth again, and they started to build a tower that would have kept them too close together and kept them from spreading out like God wanted them to do. That would never do, so Dieu les fit parler d'autres langues. Ils ne purent plus se comprendre [God made them speak other languages. They could no longer understand each other], so they abandoned the tower and scattered. More generations passed, and the number of people continued to increase.

Noah's son Shem had a descendant named Terah, who lived in the city of Ur. By this time, people lived a lot shorter than they did in the antediluvian times, though they still lived longer than people live today. In fact, Terah only lived 205 years!

One day, Terah decided it was time to move. He took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai, and his grandson Lot with him. They were planning to move to Canaan, but they didn't quite make it all the way. They stopped in Haran and settled there. That was where Terah would eventually die.

One day, God said to Terah's son Abram, "OK, time to go. I'm gonna show you where to go, and I want you to leave your father's house. I'll make you into a great nation, and I'll bless you. You will be remembered as someone great, and you will be a blessing. If anyone blesses you, I'll bless them, but if anyone curses you, I'll curse them. Every group of people on the earth will be blessed through you."

So Abram left with his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot, along with their stuff and their servants. When they got to Shechem, God told him, "I'm gonna give this land to your descendants." So Abram made a sacrifice to God there. They made a stop between Bethel and Ai, where he made another sacrifice.

About this time, there was a famine, and so they went to Egypt. Abram was a bit scared of the Egyptians, so he told them a half-lie about Sarai. That didn't turn out as well as they had hoped, and when the lie was discovered, they kicked Abram and his family out.

So they left Egypt and went back north. Their group was growing, and their flocks were increasing like crazy. It finally got so there wasn't enough space for Abram's flocks and Lot's flocks. Abram's herdsmen were getting into arguments with Lot's herdsmen. So Abram made a decision. He said to Lot, "It's time to part company. If you turn left, I'll turn right. If you turn right, I'll turn left."

Lot looked both ways and saw that the area of the Jordan Valley was green and beautiful. The other way, not so much. Well, that was a no-brainer! So Lot went east and settled near the city of Sodom, while Abram went west and settled in the region of Canaan. After Lot had left, God made another promise to Abram: "Look around. Look to the north, to the south, to the east, and to the west. I will give everything you see to you and your descendants. In fact, you'll have so many descendants that counting them will be like counting grains of sand! Go ahead and explore the land. I'm giving it to you."

So Abram settled down in Hebron, where he built another altar to thank God for bringing them to this new home and for His promises.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Epically Extreme Weather

The day started out so well. Adam and Eve lived in a beautiful garden. Everything was perfect. Then a snake came along and tempted Eve to do the one thing God had told her not to do. The fruit was so delicious that Eve shared it with Adam, and both of them disobeyed God’s one command. That was the first sin. But it got worse. Their son Cain was jealous of his brother Abel and killed him! Cain’s great-great-great grandson Lamech also killed a man.

Adam and Eve’s descendants got worse and worse. Their third son Seth was pretty cool, and he had a descendant named Enoch who, along with Elijah many years later, was one of the only two people who never died. God took him away. People had very long lives at the time. Adam lived 930 years. Enoch’s father Jared lived 962 years. Enoch lived 365 years before God took him away, and his son Methuselah lived the longest of anyone we know of: 969 years! Methuselah had a famous grandson.

The people of earth were getting worse and worse. They worshiped false gods. They killed others. In fact, it got so bad that God actually regretted creating man at all. Finally, God had had enough, and He said, “OK, that’s it. This has got to end. I’m gonna wipe out humans and animals and start over.” But there was one family that was OK with Him. Noah, Methuselah’s grandson, was a good guy.

So God gave Noah a big task. Up to this time, it had never rained. God had watered the earth by the rivers and other means before that. But that was all about to change. A huge flood like the world had never seen was on its way. God told Noah that He would need to build a big boat, called an ark. It was to be made out of cypress wood and pitch so it would be watertight. It would need to have rooms in it. It should be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet tall. It should have three levels. This was a huge project for a family to work on, and it took 120 years. When it was all done, Noah followed more instructions from God by gathering two of every kind of animal on the earth, as well as seven pairs of some of the animals. He stored up enough food to feed his family and all the animals.

Toward the beginning of the big project, Noah had 3 sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. When everything was done, Noah and his wife, his sons and their wives, and all the animals got on the ark. He was about 480 years old when he started the project, 500 when his sons were born, and 600 when he finished and the world changed forever.

So it was that one day, when everyone was on the ark and it had been closed tight, water started spurting out of the ground, and for the first time ever, rain fell in torrents from the sky. Water came from every direction for 40 days and 40 nights. That much water coming from the sky and the ground causes flood waters to rise fast. The water lifted the ark, and pretty soon there was no land in sight. It was 22½ feet above the mountains! Everyone who wasn’t on the ark—people and animals—drowned. We don’t know this for sure, but it’s possible the force of the water even caused the continents to split! The rain and springs of water lasted 40 days, but even when it stopped, everyone on the ark had to wait a long time for the water to start going down. In fact, the flood lasted 150 days! It would have taken even longer for the water to evaporate, but God sent a wind to speed up the process. The flood had started in the second month of their calendar, and it wasn’t until the seventh month that the ark finally landed on the mountain range of Ararat. The water kept going down until the tenth month, and then they started to be able to see the tops of other mountains. 40 days later, Noah sent a raven to see how much it could see. It came back without having seen anywhere to land. Then he sent a dove, and it too came back without having found anywhere to land. A week later, he released the dove again, and it came back with an olive leaf in its beak! If it had been able to find an olive tree above the water, that was a good sign. He waited another week and sent the dove again, but it didn’t come back. By the first day of the next year, the water had mostly dried up. Near the end of the second month, everything was dry again. So God told Noah and his family and the animals to come out of the ark. It had been flooded for a whole year!

Everyone walked out onto dry land! So Noah built an altar and thanked God. Since they had brought seven pairs of some of the animals, he could spare some of them for a sacrifice. God smelled the cooking meat from the altar, and He liked it. That day, God made a promise to Noah. “Never again. I will never send another flood like this to wipe out humans and animals.” As He had done with Adam and Eve, God told Noah he and his descendants could eat the plants and the animals. They weren’t allowed to eat the animals while they were still alive, though. But never again would life be wiped out by a flood. As a sign of this promise, God caused something that had never happened before. As Noah looked up, he saw a beautiful colorful half circle stretch across the sky. Red, orange, yellowgreen, blue, indigo, violet! God promised that whenever a rainbow appeared in the sky, He would remember His promise never again to send such a huge flood.

The Flood
Marker, Sharpie and Pen
© 2014 Steven Sauke

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Trouble in Paradise

It was the sixth day. God had done a lot the past few days, and He was almost done with His big project. He just had one thing left to do. He had made the land animals earlier in the day, and now it was time for the final touch. He took some dust from the ground and formed it into a man. Then He breathed life into the new man. In Hebrew, they have a word for “man”… Adam!

God put the man Adam in a beautiful garden. Brightly-colored parrots flew from tree to tree. A river flowed through the garden, and fish swam in the water, jumping and playing as they went. Peacocks showed their feathers, while dogs and cats played among the trees. The trees! They had some amazing fruits! Apples, plums, mangoes… The peaches and kiwi fruits tasted amazing! Right in the middle of the garden, God planted two trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Water from the rivers and streams watered the trees, and Adam didn’t have to worry about keeping the plants watered. But God did tell him to take care of the garden. About the trees, God gave Adam some very specific instructions: “See all these trees? Help yourself to whatever you want! Any fruit from any tree is cool to eat. Well, all except one. Don’t eat anything from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden. That fruit will kill you!”

God gave Adam an amazing job. He got to name each of the animals! A big gray animal lumbered by. “I think I’ll call that…an elephant!” said Adam. Then a very tall animal walked by. “Definitely a giraffe.” Adam looked down at the ground and saw a little bitty creature and said, “Hmm…I think I’ll call that an ant.” Then a bigger animal with a long snout came by and ate the ant. Well, obviously that needed to be called an anteater. Just then, he heard a bark, and a strange creature came bounding up to him, its tongue out and its tail wagging like crazy. “Aw, that’s a good dog!” said Adam. “Hey, I like it! You’re a dog.” An expectant meow came from another animal nearby, and Adam turned to see a creature licking its paws. “That would be a cat,” he said. Nearby, there was a bigger animal chewing grass. Adam decided to call it a cow, and another animal that ran by became known as a horse. A sleek, smooth creature jumped out of the water and back in, just long enough for Adam to decide that looked like it could be called a fish. The newly-named eagles proudly soared over the trees, while a small green creature with four legs and a long tail crept up to the man just in time to be called a lizard. It went on like this until all the animals had names.

But there was still something missing. Adam needed a helper. God made the man fall asleep, and while he was sleeping, God had a surprise up His sleeve. He took one of Adam’s ribs and turned it into a woman. Adam was impressed! She was beautiful! She soon got a name that meant “living”: Eve. She would be the mother of all living people.

But there was one animal that was very sneaky. One day it slithered up to Eve and said, “Ssso, did God really sssay you ssshouldn’t eat from any tree in the garden?”

“Nope!” said Eve. “He said we could eat any fruit in the garden, except for one tree in the middle. He says the fruit from that one tree will kill us.”

“Oh come on,” said the snake. “Kill you? Nahhh! It’sss called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for a reasssson. If you eat the fruit, you’ll know good and evil. Then you’ll be like God! Plusss, jussst look at it! Doesssn’t it look ssscrumptiousss?”

Eve looked at the tree. The snake had a point. It did look pretty amazing. Also, she wanted to learn more. Ah, why not? It’s just one fruit! So she picked a fruit and took a bite. It was delicious beyond words! She shared it with Adam and he took a bite. They closed their eyes and savored the flavor. This was incredible! When they opened their eyes, they noticed something for the first time: They weren’t wearing anything! Well, that’s embarrassing. They quickly grabbed some fig leaves and sewed them together to make some clothes.

Then they heard God walking in the garden. Uh-oh, busted. So they did what anyone would do in their situation. They hid. Finally, God said, “Where are you?” (Of course, He knew exactly where they were.)

So Adam said, “I heard you in the garden, but I was scared because I wasn’t wearing anything! So I hid.”

“Who told you that?” God said. “Did you eat from the one tree I told you not to eat from?”

Then Adam replied, “Don’t look at me! This woman you put here with me gave me a fruit! What was I to do?”

So God asked Eve, “What do you have to say for yourself?”

“Don’t look at me!” she replied. “The snake tricked me into eating it!”

So God had a sad task to do. He hadn’t wanted to do this, but because they had disobeyed His one command, there needed to be consequences. The woman would have children, but when they were being born, it would be very painful. The man would have to work the ground to get food, but it would be very tough. Weeds and thorns would get in the way. Prickly thistles would be a constant annoyance. Someday, he would become dust again, since he had been made out of the dust. The snake would slither on the ground and eat dust.

So God made clothes for Adam and Eve and kicked them out of the garden. Just to make sure they couldn’t get back in, God stationed an angel at the entrance to guard it.

But out of all that horrible news God had for them, there was one good thing. Yes, from then on life would be really tough. Men would have to plow the ground and battle thorns and thistles. Yes, women would have unimaginable pain when giving birth. Yes, as a result of this first sin, people would continue to sin. But someday, a descendent of the woman would come and put an end to the tempter’s evil trickery. This descendent would crush the snake’s head, but the snake would bite.

Many thousands of years later, a descendent of Adam and Eve came along, just as God promised. The snake, also known as Satan, was crushed on a hill outside Jerusalem as Jesus gave His life on the cross to save us. So Satan bit by killing Jesus, but Jesus crushed Satan’s head by rising from the dead. Someday Jesus will come back and finish the job.

As Jesus’ apostle John would one day end his last book recorded in the Bible, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

Adam and Eve
© Steven Sauke
Sketch, Coloring Page

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Nothing. There was nothing there. Just empty nothingness. So God decided to do something about it. He made outer space and the earth, but the earth was very different than it is today. It was empty and watery and very dark. Darkness is OK sometimes, but this was too dark. So God said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!” Ah, that was better! God separated the light and the darkness, and He loved it! He called the light day and the darkness night. A lot of important stuff happened that first day.

The next day, God continued His big project. He decided to separate the water. Some of the water stayed below, and some of it went up. He called the space between the waters sky.

The third day, things got really interesting. God decided to gather the water below together, and pretty soon, stuff came out of the water. It dried up, and He called it land. He called the water sea. Now that was cool! Then God said, “OK, now let’s grow some plants!” So grass and trees grew. New bushes sprouted up. Pine trees climbed into the sky and grew cones. Flowers bloomed. Apple trees came up. Palm trees spread out their long and feathery branches and grew fruits like coconuts and dates. Every kind of plant and tree you can think of grew out of the ground. Many of them had fruits. This was super cool!

Next day, God said, “OK, time to separate the lights in the sky.” So He separated the day from the night. He made the stars. One star in particular, the sun, would shine on the earth during the day, and its light would shine on a smaller ball in the sky, the moon, to provide light during the night. God was really excited about this new development.

So the fifth day dawned. Now that the land, the sea, the light and the plants were ready, it was time for God to create more life. Fish swam in the sea. Birds flew through the air and perched in the trees. Eagles soared above it all, while sea anemone and coral grew underwater, and the clownfish swam in and out of them. Jellyfish floated in the water. Octopi walked across the ocean floor on all eight legs. Pterodactyls flew overhead. Doves and blackbirds excitedly got to know their new lives and habitats.

Then came the sixth day. God wasn’t done making animals. He had made animals to fill the sea and the sky the day before, but now it was time to make animals on land. Dogs and cats chased each other while elephants trumpeted, bears and lions roared, insects scurried around, horses neighed and cows mooed. T-rexes chased their prey, and giraffes and brontosauruses reached high into the trees to find the most delicious leaves. Snakes slithered, and worms burrowed in the ground. This was awesome!

But there was still something missing. God said, “OK, time to make people! They’ll look like Me!” So God made a man and a woman. He told them to take care of the land and the animals, the sea and the sky. They were allowed to eat the fruit and leaves from the plants and the meat from the animals.

God looked at this whole big work of art He had made those first six days, and it was great!

So the sun set, and when it rose the next day, God rested. The past week had been a lot of work, and He needed to take a break.