Category Archives: The Fall

“Do You Think I’m Beautiful?” (For Women Only)

This question has attached itself to the feminine soul. She wants to know if you think she is beautiful.

Is there anything more beautiful than a valiant, mysterious, godly, moral woman? She is captivating, dazzling. Can you imagine a world without women?

C. S. Lewis, the great academic and bachelor for most of his adult life, said, “Even to see her walk across the room is a liberal education.”

I’m not just talking about physical appearance or even about the way she moves across a room. A woman is an aloneness fighter. She brings companionship, a gentle touch. She’s wise in creating safety zones where people can relax and open up and not feel judged. She knows how to affirm the men in her life and yet she has a life of her own. She offers a nurturing disposition and a nice decorative touch.

The essence of femininity is found in Eve (Genesis 1-3). Females are the crown of creation. Everything just keeps getting better and better in Genesis 1, more sophisticated, more intricate, until finally woman appears, and only then does God rest. She is a work of art. She is the crescendo. Creation was brought to completion with Eve. God gave Eve a beautiful form and a beautiful spirit. There’s something about her that is mesmerizing.

Of course, the Fall has impacted how we see women and how women go about being beautiful. Our masculine sinful nature wants to reduce women from something beautiful, lovely, graceful, intriguing, and charming to something that is merely consumed or conquered or scored on. And Fallen Eve is many times ready to oblige this mentality.

“Fallen Eve” struggles with this issue of attention. “I want somebody paying attention to me and telling me how beautiful I am. And if I don’t get that, I’ll take it out on everyone else, hold grudges, never forgive, and medicate my loneliness.”

Women have an ache to be beautiful, cherished and pursued in at least one other person’s eyes. If they are not, they turn to what Brent Curtis call “little affairs of the heart.” They are the things that women give their heart to instead of giving her heart to God. “I’m not feeling appreciated, therefore, I’ll go buy something nice.” “I’m lonely, so I’m going to eat three bowls of ice cream and super-size something.” “I want to be loved and caught up in romance, so I’ll buy romance novels and place myself in the story.” “I’ll lose myself in a soap opera.”

Your “little affairs of the heart” help you for a while, but they only increase your need to indulge again and again – to adulterate yourself with these other lovers, and shame all the men in your life for not meeting all your needs.

Don’t be ashamed of your ache for love and for beauty. God may provide a man who is able to soothe this ache in a measure, but even he will eventually disappoint you. Stop taking the entirety of your ache to the man, and bring it to your God. God, not your marital status or your man, defines your life.

Here’s something I read ladies: “Taking joy in life is a woman’s best cosmetic.” There is a mesmerizing power that entices and attracts through personal, sincere charm and mystery. When you have joy, not dependent on whether or not a man tells you that you are beautiful, you become beautiful. Every man takes note of the woman who lives for something other than the male. That’s part of the mystery.

But still, there is this longing, this desire in Fallen Eve. Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

According to Gary Thomas, respected Old Testament commentators Keil and Delitzsch suggest that the Hebrew language here evokes a “desire bordering on disease.” It comes from a root word connoting a “violent craving” for something, a ravenous absorption. In her loneliness, Fallen Eve will desire to absorb, to swallow the man to fill her emptiness, and the implication is that he will fail her.

There’s this sinful propensity inside a woman to define herself according to her likability or acceptance by men. There is an obsession with how a man makes her feel. “Tell me I’m beautiful!” while gritting her teeth in demand.

For a man in a Post-Fallen creation, this male-female relationship is just a part of his life; but for a woman it’s the entirety of her existence. It’s all she can think about.

A woman’s greatest need is the need for intimacy. She wants to be known at the deepest levels and she wants to know at the deepest levels. But this is twisted now. Intimacy is the demand of the woman. Fallen Eve demands that people come through for her, that they compliment her on her terms, not theirs. Others must fulfill her expectations. And if they fail, Fallen Eve will lash out with a flurry of words, filled with shame.

Women, do you want to be truly beautiful? Then don’t demand that men tell you you’re beautiful. Take your question to your Creator who made you the highlight, the crescendo of a creative week that God pronounced good.

And to answer your question: “Of course you’re beautiful.” God said so.

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Filed under Beauty, Christian Worldview, Femininity, Marriage, The Fall, Women

What’s the Deal with Genesis 1-3? | Myth or Fiction?

Is Genesis, chapters 1-3 really true? Did God really create everything? Or, is it mythology, with talking snakes and a tree of knowledge and a God who walks? To use a concept by C.S. Lewis, I would say it is “true myth.”

When we talk about myth in the Genesis Creation story context, we are not talking about “fiction.” Rather the literary genre of myth is simply a symbol filled story about a reality that is beyond our comprehension. What we must keep in mind, is that no one actually saw the Creation of the Universe. But, through ancient writers, who possessed a rich and accurate oral tradition, we have a Creation Story that sets against a constrasting backdrop of lesser creation story accounts (such as the Enuma Elish Babylonian creation story where the gods are fighting, one is slain, and man is created out of the discarded god-material).

So, in Genesis 1 through 3, we have an author who is not writing primarily as a historian, who is preoccupied with a strict chronological time-line. The author is not writing as a scientist, who is preoccupied with how everything came into existence from a physics standpoint alone. What we have is an author, who is endeavoring to answer the question of Who it is that stands behind the work of unwitnessed creation.

The author organizes the Creation Story along the metaphoric lines of a work week. We work six days and rest; God worked six days and rested. This suggests that the writer himself is nested within an organized social structure when this Creation Story was written. It comes well after the fact of Creation, but through an oral tradition, the Creation story was preserved by a community of people who would not allow inaccuracies into the story.

Genesis 1-3 is a Creation Story that explains what happened from a distinctively monotheistic, Hebrew frame of reference. But allow for the freedom of the writer to borrow from the literary genre of myth to tell the story; allow the author to use symbols that point to a reality beyond our human comprehension.

Let’s grant that there really was an Adam and Eve; that there really was a talking snake; that there really was a tree of life and of the knowledge of good and evil. But, let’s not stop there. Let’s make the application in light of true myth. That Adam and Eve stand for all of us; that the talking snake represents something very evil in our world; that the tree of knowledge of good and evil represents a choice that we always have to make. You see, we have all been created by God and are in His image. We all face a force and personality of evil in our world. We all have a free-will choice to make regarding God and our relationship with Him. In Adam and Eve, we all sinned even. That put in the very same place, you and I would have done exactly the same thing.

Don’t bog down on literal days versus periods of unspecified time. Don’t bog down on whether or not the talking snake is real. Don’t bog down on why God even placed a tree in the Garden to be tempted with. Rather, look to the realities that these Creation Story details point to. Our universe came from God, who made man in His image with free will. Man chose to disobey at the prompting of an evil presence and the entire creation fell under a curse. But even in this, there is hope planted for a New Adam who would restore a sabotaged creation (Genesis 3:15), One who would come that would thwart any serpentine attempts to de-create our lives (Paul calls Jesus Christ the Second Adam in Romans).

Genesis 1-3 is true myth, but not fiction. It points to realities beyond our human comprehension, like all mythological stories do. Only this mythological story is true.

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Creation, Eden, Free Will, Genesis 1-3, Larger Story, Myth, The Fall

Women – The Climax of Creation (For Men Only)

God made women beautiful. They are the crown of His creation – the one final thing that God made in Genesis. She is a work of art. She is the crescendo. Creation was brought to completion with Eve. God gave Eve a beautiful form and a beautiful spirit. There’s something about her that is mesmerizing. Of course, the Fall has impacted how we see women and how women go about being beautiful, but for the record, women are the climax of a creative Genesis week. They should be adored; but not worshipped.

Jesus makes sure that we should take great care to appreciate, cherish, and value this special climax of creation that belongs to God. Jesus uses extreme and graphic figures of speech to convey this truth.

Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully [Lustfully is the keyword. Jesus is OK with acknowledging the beauty of a woman; it’s the lusting that He has an issue with.] has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin [or stumble, coming from a word that describes part of a trapping mechanism. If you’re in a trap…], gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.

Jesus uses hyperbole – extreme exaggeration for effect – that is, more is said figuratively than is literally meant.

In a dramatic way, so that you wouldn’t forget it (many men can still quote this part of the Bible, even though they haven’t read it in years), He says “Don’t look lustfully, don’t act, and don’t go there. It’s a trap. Enjoy love and intimacy and appreciate beauty, but do whatever it takes to stay morally clean. Amputate the sources. Cancel subscriptions. Take another route. Put the computer in a public place in the home. Be as drastic as you have to be.”

When you mess with your sexuality, you open Pandora’s Box. I don’t believe Jesus endorsed self-mutilation, but He did believe in self-control. It is better for you to lose one part of your body, and forgo some experiences if that is what it takes, than for your whole body to go into hell (NIV).

Why does Jesus use such extreme and graphic figures of speech in this passage?” He understands what incredible harm can be done in this particular area of life. We hunger and thirst for love and relationship and we go about fulfilling this in all the wrong ways. We live in a world in which people are dying to be loved and don’t know where on earth to find love and intimacy. So what we do is that we confuse sexual fascination and desire with true love and intimacy.

Jesus gets extreme here because we have gotten extreme in what we do with, for and to others and how we view each other, especially how men view women. Jesus gets graphic because we have gotten graphic in our consumption of people. Jesus is not telling us to deny the beauty that God bestowed on a woman at Creation. He’s telling us to cherish the beauty, not consume it.

Randy Rowland argues: Lust is the under functioning of love and sexuality as God intended it to be. “We fear rejection, abandonment, alienation, failure to be lovable and adequate in relationships. The insecurities drive us to what we feel are safer places to explore our sensual and erotic urges. In doing so, we under function. We become less than what God created us for. You see, love and sexuality are meshed together in the context of a committed relationship… Sexual intimacy is a bonding agent (Sins We Love, 173).”

When we are in lust instead of in true love, we consume objects rather than love persons. The focus is entirely on yourself. We fixate and build scenarios in our mind that emerge as fantasy. We look in all the wrong places to feed this displaced sexual urge. In all our attempts, we dehumanize, degrade, and consume what should be loved, cherished and respected. Love gives; lust takes. Love values; lust uses. Love endures; lust subsides. Love is a process; lust is an act. Love is learned; lust is instinctive. Love requires constant attention; lust takes very little effort. Love takes time to develop and mature; lust needs no time to develop. Love requires emotional and spiritual interaction; lust requires only physical interaction. Love deepens a relationship; lust (operating alone) dulls a relationship–and will often end up killing it. It drives you into secrecy and hidden activities and self-absorption and self-hatred. The longer lust takes charge, the greater the loneliness and more extensive the shame.

True love and intimacy is a covenantal promise to understand the depths of another and stand with them for the long haul. Love is about a deep relationship over time. Love seeks the highest good of another. Love always pays a price. Love always costs something. Love is expensive. When you love, benefits accrue to another’s account. Love is for someone else, not for me. Love gives; it doesn’t grab. Love honors; it doesn’t devalue. Love leads to greater openness, enjoys creativity and leads to a bond of closeness. It all results in a very satisfying, guilt-free relationship with a spouse.

So, men, let’s do the honorable thing. Let’s affirm the beauty that God placed in a woman. And, if we are married, let’s focus our attention on the beauty in the One woman that He has allowed us to be with. Your woman doesn’t have to be on the cover of a magazine to make her truly happy. She just wants to know that she would be on “your magazine” and that she is a beautiful person to you.

Give her this gift this holiday season. What a climax!

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christmas, Love, Lust, Masturbation, Sex, The Fall

Searching for “the Good Life”? Give Your Life Away

Everyone is looking for “the good life.”

Here’s the logic: if I could live in the perfect location in the perfect house surrounded by perfect friends, doing the perfect job in the perfect employment setting, and spend evenings and weekends with my perfect spouse and perfect family and watch my bank account rise to the perfect level, then I could say that I am truly living the good life.

This is ironic because “the good life” is not about a perfect life lived for myself. Rather, the good life can only be achieved when we give our lives away. It’s only then that a life of significance can be achieved.

The movie About Schmidt is the story of Warren Schmidt, a man who had a moment of awakening after he retired from a career with an insurance company. The point raised in the movie was about what gives our life significance. Warren Schmidt retired and the rest of the movie is about what significance, if any, his life possesses. One by one Warren questions the ideas guiding his life. He visits the young man who has taken his place at the insurance company; only to find that he doesn’t need Warrens help. On Schmidt’s way out of the building, he sees the files he developed over a lifetime have been discarded next to the dumpster for disposal. Schmidt tries to see purpose in a huge Winnebago Adventurer that barely fits in his driveway. He finds himself irritated by his wife, Helen. He can’t stand the man his daughter is going to marry nor all of his future in-laws. While cleaning out his wife’s closet, he discovered among some old letters, that she had an affair with his best friend Ray years ago. Where did the “good life” go?

We are all on a search, and so many times, the places we look come up empty for us – like it did for Warren Schmidt.

What are you chasing this Christmas?

Fortune? The world says you’re only successful if you have a lot of money. The more we hold to this, the more it has a hold on us.

Fame? You’re significant if people know you in the public arena.

Power? If you wield a lot of authority, then you’ve got the good life.

Pleasure? You can do whatever feels good anytime you want.

Many today are questing for these lesser passions, but are not finding the truly “good life.” Mick Jagger is right “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

Living the good life begins by believing in the existence of God, knowing God, respecting what He represents, and living life the way He has designed it to be lived. Of course, this is a part of what we lost in the Fall. God is no longer the default reference point for our ideas. We’re so confused because when we try to understand the world without relating every part of it back to God, it doesn’t fit together. He made you to know Him as the foundation for everything else in your life.

On the basis of your relationship with Him, get a job, get married if you’d like, have a family, and build a life. But keep God in the center of all of it and give your life away.

Practically speaking, the truly good life is finding something to enjoy about every moment; it’s loving and being loved in the context of a family; it’s engaging in meaningful work and using your resources to help facilitate the restoration of others to their God-intended purpose; it’s making the journey through life with others who care about you; it’s looking in the mirror with a clean conscience; it’s resting in the Sovereign care of God; it’s the joy of making a difference because you lived; it’s joy in your work and the opportunity to do something significant with your life. The “good life” is not a gathering of expensive possessions but a deliberate investment in the lives of others and to see their lives change for the better. It’s only when we realize that our life is not our own that we begin to live the truly good life.

On a whim one night, Warren Schmidt decided to become the foster parent of a poor 6 year old African boy, Ndugu Umbo, through a charity. In writing to this boy and telling him about his life, Schmidt had an awakening of sorts, asking the question “What in the world is better because of me?”

After taking a journey across the country and back home again, Schmidt opens the door of his home in Omaha, and he’s writing a mental letter to Ndugu, telling him what a failure he’s been.

“What difference has my life made to anyone? None that I can think of. None at all.”

Schmidt gathers up the mail and among the letters he received was one from Ndugu. The letter explains how he was recently helped by Schmidt’s gifts. Schmidt with trembling hands and a smile of satisfaction, begins to feel that maybe his life has counted for something after all.

Once we stop chasing after what we thought we wanted, we have to ask ourselves the question, “What is my life truly about?” Give your life away to a great cause and you will live the Good Life.

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christianity, Christmas, Good Life, Life Purpose, The Fall

Why do we have a Bible?

The Bible is an anthology – it is a collection of 66 books into one book. The Bible is given to us for three primary reasons: to record the facts of history, to help us re-experience story, and to teach us theology.

First, the Bible records the facts of history. What we read in the Bible really happened. It’s not a book of fiction. It is not an attempt to fabricate the truth. Its purpose is not to deceive. When the Bible talks about places and peoples, these are confirmed from extra-biblical sources through archeology and other discoveries. There are ancient manuscripts that have survived the centuries and they are consistent with what we have in our Bibles today. There really was a guy named Jesus who lived, died, and rose again. It is an accurate representation of what happened and of what happens over and over again in human history. We don’t just read the Bible; it reads us. It tells us who we are and what we do.

Second, the Bible helps us to re-experience story. It is full of settings, and characters, and actions. Some characters, we want to be like. Others we want to avoid. But all of them speak to our stories and the Bible never airbrushes out the flaws of its characters (you read about King David’s adultery and the flaws of the apostles; this lends to its credibility). By the way, you are writing a story with your life; Someone out there is bringing the pieces of that story together. And you can bet, if there is a larger story in our lives, there is a Story-Teller. God is writing a story and it hangs together. All of these 66 books move the story along a bit, pushing the plot toward its final completion. For all its peculiarities and unevenness, the Bible has a simple story, among what appears to be several disconnected stories. It was written over a 1500 year period by forty people in three different languages and yet there is a consistency to the overarching story. God made man. Man rejected God at Satan’s prompting. God won’t give up until He wins man back through Jesus. God returns man to his original plan. That is the larger story. “The dogma is the drama,” said Dorothy Sayers. The Gospel has all the elements of a great story. The Bible begins with the creation of all things, it takes a plunge into evil (Genesis 3), it meanders through fallen human history, and tells of one who disguised himself (Jesus) in order to win the love of a girl (the Church). By the time we get to the end, we have a king on a white horse who rides in to rescue the girl just in the nick of time. He conquers all evil, gets the bride (the Bride of Christ) and lives happily ever after in a new city with a new garden in a palace decorated with jewels. What is there that is boring about this story! If we lose the dogma of solid biblical teaching, we lose the drama. Instead of being confronted and changed by the truth, we wallow in therapy with no larger story to live for. Salvation is essentially a story of restoration. You’re invited up into it. It answers our deepest God-Questions: where we came from, what went wrong in the world, what God is doing to fix it, and how we factor into that plan. The Bible reveals a sacred story. In the beginning, God created us good. Something went drastically wrong and we sinned. But God has sent a Rescuer to deliver us from ourselves. The Bible is a love story, a sacred romance, where Jesus gets the girl.

Third, the Bible teaches us theology; it teaches us about God and truth. When we say that God is personal, we mean that He communicates with us. He has spoken to us, revealing Himself and how He wants us to live. There are two things that stand out about God. He is a self-concealer as well as a self-revealer. God is a self-concealer. He hides – and seems at times – shy to intervene in our world. God must hide in order for a free-will world to be possible. The direct presence of God would inevitably overwhelm our freedom. God gives everyone the room to either choose or reject. He’s a hidden God and He will not force love. Those who want to find Him or be found by Him can, and those who want to reject Him can do that as well. But God wants you to see Him and know him. That’s why we can say that God is not only a self-concealer… God is also a self-revealer God communicates who He is and how He wants us to live. There are two primary books that God uses to communicate and self-disclose or reveal Himself. One is the book of nature. God reveals Himself through His world and what He has made. The other is the book of His Word – the Bible. Looking at God’s world is like looking at a painting that the Artist has painted. Looking into the Bible is like an actual conversation with the Artist Himself. God loves to communicate. He talks through burning bushes and braying donkeys. He sends messages through storms and rainbows and earthquakes and dreams. He whispers in a still small voice. And he also speaks to human authors who then under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote God’s message to us. The Bible is a book of ancient, proven, trustworthy words. Jesus quoted from the Old Testament and endorsed the writers of the New Testament. Prophets predicted things years before they happened and they came to pass. Archeological discoveries have confirmed its accuracy. There are ancient manuscripts to verify their reliability. More than anything else, the Bible is about a Person. In the Old Testament – someone is coming. In the Gospels – He is here. In the Epistles – He is coming again! The Bible is held together by a Person. God creates the world, the world gets lost, and God seeks to restore it in Jesus. That means the Bible is about you and me, whom God also made and lost and seeks. We are not alone on this planet. Someone is out there and He reveals what kind of story we’ve fallen into. And he graciously seeks us out. I guess you could also say that this story holds us together – this Person holds us together. You must have two things in life: a person and a story, and even the story must be about a Person, said one author. God packages theology in story, rather than just raw facts. Don’t make theology into a religion of facts and miss the romance. Stop reducing the text to formulas for personal growth and how I can get rich.

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Filed under Atheism, Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Hidden God, Jesus Christ, Larger Story, Restoration, The Fall, Uncategorized

What went wrong in our Universe? A Theist Answers

Eons ago, the earth was a wasteland, a cosmic garbage dump. Everything was sort of floating together in a formless mass. It was a swamp. Some would contend that this was Satan’s doings. He makes a garbage dump of what God had made up until this point in this specific area of the universe. Wherever Satan rules, he creates chaos. Earth was a “Silent Planet” in a vast universe that echoes cosmic praises. Earth was a place in God’s great universe that refused to sing anthems of praise to our one true God. The universe awaits how the one true Trinitarian God, full of love and grace, justice and righteousness, will respond to the rebellion. What will he do with this Satanic holding area known as Earth?

Here’s what God does. God stepped into the chaos of Satan’s earthly realm in Genesis 1 and does the unthinkable. 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” It’s as if He said to Satan, “I am going to create a creature of less beauty than you Satan and even though this creature (mankind) doesn’t have your angelic ability or power, if he lives in a trusting, obeying relationship with me, he/she will be far greater than an angel who chose to rebel against me. A lesser (man) living in dependence upon God is greater than an angel (Satan) who is living in independence of God. God announced to Satan in Genesis, “Satan, in your realm, in your house where I allow you to exist and operate, I am going to create something beautiful out of the chaos. Furthermore, I will put man in charge. He will rule your house – the birds and fish of the sea that I will create will sing my praise in your house.” “Satan, I’m going to clean up your garbage dump. I’m going to make it beautiful and demonstrate my glory there. I’m going to create mankind, and they will rule your house!” The planet Earth will be silent no more. No longer will it be a place where Satan and his angels are constrained to a formless, dark mass. This place will erupt with life, my kind of life. The planet will be silent no more because I’m giving it over to God-glorifying human-beings (for more see the book by Tony Evans).

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Filed under Creation, Satan, The Fall, Uncategorized, Universe