The Power of the Feminine

 Man is created to exist in union with women. Male united with female.

  1. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

 Genesis 1:27

In the verse above, God creates man in His image. In the first part of the verse, the writer uses the word man not as specifically indicating the male gender, but is speaking of the human race, as in mankind. He then after the semicolon, furthers his description by saying that “male and female He created them.” Before we are able to understand the significance of gender, we must understand that from the beginning of biblical history God was understood to be both male and female.

I understand that my statement concerning God being understood to be both male and female may be a little odd to some. Many writers will refer to the Holy Spirit as “He” or “It.” There are countless writings and debates concerning which is correct. The words used for Holy Spirit in both the Hebrew language of the Old Testament (Ruach HaKadosh) and the Aramaic language (Ruha d’qudsha) that Jesus spoke are written in the feminine. In Genesis 1:2, the original Hebrew text “Ruah Elohim” is translated “Spirit of God.” Ruah is a feminine noun. Now, we must understand that masculine and feminine attributes are not physically sexual in nature. For we as believers, it is very important and difficult to get the sexual aspect of human emotion out our minds when understanding true masculine and feminine attributes. The feminine nature of God is the loving, caring, nurturing, healing associated with the Divine. Let’s take a look at what St. Paul says about the nature or the fruits of the Spirit. In other words, the attributes of our human nature that develops as the Holy Spirit begins to do Her perfect work in the life of a believer:

  1. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
  2. gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.

 Galatians 5:22-23

Yes, men, we have a feminine side!

Eve was not just an afterthought created to save Adam from his boredom as a way of entertainment. God did not create Adam and then noticed that he looked lonely and said to Himself, “Hey this guy looks bored, let Me see what I can do to help him out here.” Let’s take a look at the record (Scripture) and see what it says:

20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him.

 Genesis 2:20

When we begin to understand this Scripture for what it actually says instead of the way most of us have been taught, we can begin to look at the situation a little differently. The thing that we must understand is that this is a narrative. Most, if not, all of Genesis was handed down through oral tradition for hundreds of years before, as it is speculated, Moses compiled all of the stories. Hold on, before you get upset here, I am not saying that the book of Genesis is not divinely inspired or inherently recorded. All that I am saying is that it is a story written as a story so we as simple-minded humans can understand.

A common phrase amongst Bible scholars, and there are many variations of this phrase, is, “be cautious in obeying the letter of the law and not the Spirit.” Much of the Bible is written stories intended to relate a specific idea or emotion to the reader. One of Jesus’ primary methods of teaching was and is through stories (parables).

Jesus understood the propensity for his words to be taken out of context by those trying to twist the intent of the Scripture to lend credence to their own agenda. This is evident as we read the words of Jesus as recorded by St. Matthew:

  1. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
  2. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

 Matthew 23:23-24

What He is saying is, stop getting hung up on the exact words that I am saying and listen to what I am trying to communicate. This portion of Scripture can be used as a good example. Does the Scripture above only apply to a person who can swallow a camel? If it does, does it also apply to a person if he has swallowed a camel, but has never strained at a gnat? What about someone who has swallowed a gnat because the spaces between their teeth are too wide to strain a gnat?” Yes, this dialog is foolish, but it is no less foolish than some of the dialog that was going on between the Scribes and Pharisees. Not only were they having discussions like this, but they were also imposing laws upon the religious people of their day based on such dialog. We need to be careful before we sit in judgment of the Scribes and Pharisees. Dialog just as ridicules goes on today in the modern Church. I have been guilty of such dialog early in in my walk with the Lord. Oh Yeah, I spent many years as a Pharisee in training. I thank the Lord I failed out of that program.

Picture this fictitious scene. The Lord calls to Moses “Moses come on up the top of the mountain and bring plenty of parchment and a box of pens.” So Moses gathers everything he will need and stuffs into his backpack and heads up the mountain. Upon arriving at the top, God tells him to “Pull up a rock and get comfortable. This is going to take a while. I told you to bring the parchment because you don’t have enough camels to carry this story if we write it down on stone tablets.” (If you think of an old Jewish guy speaking it will help you with the narrative. Maybe if I ever incorporate this into an audiobook, I can get Mel Brooks to read this part.) Now the Lord asks Moses if he is ready and Moses responds while stretching out his arms and cracking his knuckles, “I am ready Lord.” The Lord begins “Now let me tell you how this whole thing started….”

Now back to Genesis 2:20:

20. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him.

Important to helping us understand this text we need to have a little better understanding of what it most likely means to the Hebrew mind.

A good place to begin is with the words of Jesus:

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

 Matthew 24:36

Jesus was speaking of the day of His return. To us, as Christians, this text can be little perplexing, but to the Jew, it was very relatable. Jesus was speaking of returning for His Bride. In Jewish culture when a man becomes betrothed to a woman he leaves her for a period of time to go and prepare a place for his bride. He may build a home, buy furniture, or plant some flowers along the front walk. He’s in love. I am sure his mother is getting in on the excitement and gathering things together; window treatments, bedding and such. I am not exactly sure what, but you can picture the scene, all the things that women think about before the big day. She is most likely driving him nuts with stuff that he can’t possibly understand as important, but she does. That’s why God gives us mothers and wives.

Now the father’s role is a little different. He is helping with stuff that, if the son doesn’t understand, he will, as his father helps him through the preparations. Is the front door hung straight, does the kitchen sink leak, is the driveway smooth and so on? You know, guy stuff. It is not only the father’s role to help his son, but it is also his job to let his son know when the preparations are complete and the son is ready for his bride.

Now let’s take another look at Genesis 2:20. It should look a little different to us now:

  1. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him.

Let’s continue with our fictional dialog between God and Moses:

“You should have seen Adam; we were looking over different options of how to arrange things in the Garden. He was running around naming all of the animals, it was great!” Moses asks, “It sounds like he was excited, and he had no idea what his gift was going to be?” God responds, “What, and ruin the surprise! Was he excited you ask! Are you kidding me, he was like a little kid the day before Christmas. He was so wound up I had to give him a sedative to get him to go to sleep.” Moses takes his pen and writes, “So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man.” (Genesis 2:21) God looks over Moses’ shoulder to see what he has written, pats him on the back and says, “exactly! – Oh, you should have been there, what great time we had.” Moses looks up at God, finger on his chin and asks, “what’s Christmas?”

Now let’s continue with this account from Genesis:

  1. …and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh;
  2. and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
  3. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
  4. Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
  5. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:21-25

When we look at the account of creation, it is helpful for us to understand the significance of events as the “coming together of creation.” The order of, or “coming together of creation” is a foreshadowing of the events of the end times, the “unfolding of creation.” For example, Adam was created, and Eve was “taken from man’s side (rib) and made into a woman.” Man and woman became one flesh. Although the Scripture in Genesis does not specifically use the word marriage, they were married as a result of the act of physical consummation. Adam and Eve being the mother and father of all humanity in the physical. Now the unfolding of these events. Jesus is taken from Mary, from her flesh “through the power of the Holy Spirit.” This is why both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, as well as certain Protestant denominations, consider Mary to be the Spiritual Mother of the Church.

Jesus was crucified naked upon the Cross taking upon Himself the shame of the world, and with the shedding of His blood, cleansed His Bride (The Church) so she could enter into the presence (Heaven) of His Father without shame. Look at verse 25 above, Adam and Eve walked in the Garden, naked and without shame in the presence of the Father. When shame came into the world through the disobedience (sin) of Adam and Eve, the blood of the animal that God used to cover the shame of their nakedness (Genesis 3:21).

  1. To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Genesis 3:16

 To delve into all of the implications of this verse would require several chapters, but for this conversation, I would like for us to focus on the last six words; “and he shall rule over you.” I know we covered this somewhat in detail in my last post, but I would like to dig a little deeper. Adam took a bride – so has Jesus. Adam is one with Eve as Jesus is one with His Bride the Church. As we look into the “unfolding” of creation, we must understand that Jesus was given charge by God the Father to rule over His Bride. There is nothing more important to Jesus on this Earth than, first the love of His Father in Heaven, and the second is to care for his Bride (Matthew 22:28-39).

What do we think that God is saying to Adam at the end of verse 16 above? Paraphrasing & embellishing – “Adam, besides loving Me, there is nothing more important to you in this life other than caring for Eve. She and her offspring are in for a battle that they will never make it through without your help. She is depending on you. You will need to fight for her and with her, and not back down even if it costs you your life, and it will, in that your seed (Jesus) will finish what you started by dying for your sins and the sins of your descendant’s.”

There is nothing more important in this life, other than loving God than learning to love one another. Man and women are created to become one flesh, giving themselves to one another completely. Until we understand this, humanity will continue to pull itself apart at the seams. Men, it is in our physical and spiritual DNA to care for and protect the women of this earth. We are to be joined to one in particular as one flesh, never to forsake the bonds of marriage through infidelity. However, this protective instinct is part of us to protect and care for all of the Daughters of Eve. Women it is the same is for you concerning the Sons of Adam. We can’t help it; it is who we are. When this truth becomes distorted in our understanding our hearts and minds become deceived into believing the lie of the enemy.

As I am writing this, I can’t help but think of my father in law. I love my father in law very much. He was a true patriarch of his family. In the weeks before he died we brought him to our home and cared for him with the help of Hospice. He passed away in our living room surrounded by the people who he loved. He is missed by many.

A few days before he died, with my wife, Mary, and I at either side of his bed, he was looking off into the distance, obviously deep in thought. Mary asked him “Dad, what are you thinking about?” His answer was, “Heaven.” He continued, “Before Kay’s (his wife Kathryn who died two years before) father died he asked me to take care of his daughters. I can’t wait to ask him how I did!” He had a smile on his face.

Kay had three sisters, and Irv spent most of his life taking care of those women. His name is James Irving Hall, but to his family he is Irv. Those women drove him nuts at times, and he wouldn’t have had it any other way. They all had husbands of their own, but Irv was always there to help out in any way that he could. He lived his life for his family.

Men, what will be our thoughts as we lie on our deathbeds? Will they be on all of the pornography that we watched and all of the women that we objectified and used for our own selfish desires, or will they be about being excited to see our Father in Heaven to ask him if we did well in taking care of His daughters?

I would like to continue with another story that exemplifies, and should help us to understand, the power of the feminine in the life of the masculine (men). In 2005 the movie “Cinderella Man” was released. This movie was directed by Ron Howard and starred Russell Crow and Renee Zellweger and could have been titled “The Power of the Feminine.” I understand that many believers are upset with Ron Howard, but no matter how they feel about the De Vinci Code, he must be given credit for how absolutely right he, Akiva Goldsman, and Cliff Hollingsworth, the writers of this film, got “Cinderella Man.” I have no idea of the religious convictions of any of these three men, but the Truth was spoken through this work in a powerful way.

Russell Crow plays James J. Braddock, ex-two-time heavyweight world champion boxer who fought during the great depression. Renee Zellweger co-stars as Mae Braddock, James’ adoring wife. The story is a dramatization with a Hollywood twist of the life of this couple during James’ struggle to the top. The movie begins with James achieving modest success and notoriety in the world of boxing. He is soon plagued with injury and eventually loses his license to box and his ability to support for his family.

Shortly after the film begins, there is a scene where James walks through the door of his family’s apartment and is wearing a cast. He explains to Mae that he has broken his hand in three places and can no longer fight because they have taken away his license to box. She asks what are they going to do, now that he can’t work with a broken hand. He tells her that they are going to cover his cast with shoe polish, so the men at the docks won’t notice that his hand is broken, as he grabs a shoe shine kit out of the cabinet and walks over and sits in front of her. The shipping docks are a place where many of the unemployed men go to work as day laborers. He looks at her with sullen shame and says that he is sorry. He is saying that he is sorry, not only because he cannot fight any longer, but more importantly because he did not come home with the prize money that they so desperately needed to care for themselves and their three children. She says “no” to him several times with her voice full of compassion and forgiveness as she moves over onto his lap and puts her arms around him.

A few scenes later, as the story unfolds, James and Mae are at the kitchen table. The camera moves from James and Mea to their three children sleeping in the same room as steam is coming from their mouths because the power has been disconnected. Mea takes James’ hand and begins to pray. Mae looks up as James looks away and says, “I am all prayed out.” It is clear that James’ is losing hope and sees himself as a failure.

The story continues with James working at the shipping docks in an attempt to scrape together whatever it will take to get power turned back on in their apartment. James returns home to find the children are gone, and he and Mae are all alone in the apartment. When he asks where the children are, Mae explains that she has brought them to various relatives until they are able to get back on their feet. James responds by telling her that he promised their oldest son that they would never send him away. Mae does her best to explain and says that she is sorry. Her sentiment is not that she is sorry for what she has done, but she is sorry for the situation. Her words are an utterance of frustration and compassion for her husband who is very obviously becoming lost in shame. He turns and empties his pockets of the few coins, on the kitchen table, that represents all that he has been able to do for his family, and walks out the door.

The story follows by James humbling himself and going to the Emergency Relief Administration office to apply for financial aid. He takes the money that he receives, which is about half of what he needs to pay the power bill, and then goes to his old boxing associates with a downturned countenance, hat in hand, and pleads for help. Some turn away but others slowly and reluctantly begin dropping money in his hat as he moves through the room.

James and Mae have the power restored, and James receives hope in an unexpected way. He is offered a one-time fight by his former manager, Joe Gould, played by Paul Giamatti. They are looking for a boxer who they feel is certain to lose against a young rising contender. James wins the fight in a completely unexpected upset, and one thing leads to another, and he is given the opportunity to earn back his license.

Mae is happy that James is winning and able to provide for his family, but she is torn concerning James being involved in such a dangerous profession. As James is given more fights, and Mae becomes more distraught and marches over to Joe Gould’s, apartment, located in a wealthy uptown neighborhood and knocks on the door. She is there to give Joe and piece of her mind and tell him that she does not want James to fight. When the door is opened to her, she enters into an empty apartment. Mea walks in dismayed as he sees Joe and his wife Lucille, played by Linda Kash, standing in a room with only a few chairs and a table.

Mae is humbled as he sits with Joe and Lucille as she learns that they sold all of their furniture so they would have the money to pay James while he is training. Mea expresses her dismay at what they have done with a grateful tone and goes on to explain how upset she is at the thought of her husband getting hurt in the ring. Lucille understanding Mae’s heart and very tactfully gets Joe to leave the room and says “Can you ever stop yours when he sets his mind to a thing?” Mae shakes her head and looks up “I wish could.” Lucille continues, “You see, I never know if it’s harder on them or us. We have to wait for them to fix everything and every day they feel like they are failing us. Really it’s just the world that’s failed you know.”

My jaw dropped when I heard this dialogue; it entered right into my heart. The words obviously touched Mary, my wife, as she turned to me and said, “you don’t feel that way do you?” I said, “No, but I have in the past.”

Look at Lucille’s words “we have to wait on them to fix everything.” Think of Adam in the Garden and Jesus preparing a place for us in Heaven. When a man feels that he is failing to care for his wife (his Daughter of Eve) his entire world comes undone, whether he understands what’s going on or not. Daughters of Eve you have the power to break your Son of Adam or to lift him up with the look of your eyes and tone of your voice. Man and women are created to live as one flesh. The implications of the spiritual bonds that unite us are more than we are able to understand on this side of Heaven.

When Mary and I were separated, I was so hurt and so angry that I fought to stay angry because I felt that it was the only way I could become free from her. I didn’t understand what I was doing at the time, but as I think back on the situation, it has become clear. Our spirits are united, and I was trying to break free when something very unexpected started happening. Her spirit came to me in my dreams. I know at this may seem a little out of the box, but it is the best way I can relate what happened. The dream I remember the most is with her sitting on a chair with a look of being completely lost in grief and saying to me, “Billy, what are we going to do.” She was waiting for me to do what I was created to do – care for her in the love of Christ. In her spirit, she had committed to stand in the gap for our marriage. As I said above, at the time I was not sure what was happening, but I did begin to understand that I needed to take back my God-ordained place by her side.

Listen, I am not trying to imply that women can’t take care of themselves. However, what I am saying is that man and women living apart from one another is not part of God’s perfect plan for our existence. God, created us, you can think in terms of programming if it helps, to live male and female was one complete person (in marriage). I understand that my words will most likely infuriate some women who read this. For this, I am deeply saddened. I am grieved for women who have been led down a path in this life that would develop in them a worldview that men are somehow useless or even worse, the enemy.

Lucille’s last line, “Really it’s the world that’s failed you know,” couldn’t be truer. The setting of this movie takes place during the great depression. Most men were in a fight every day to provide for their families. I say, men because in those days the majority of women didn’t work outside the home other than sewing or doing laundry for the wealthy. Most employers wouldn’t consider giving a job to a women feeling that it would take a job from a man who needed to support his family. Many men took their own lives, and others left their families unable to handle the shame of failure, finding it easier to live on streets or ride the rails as a hobo. Hobo was a name given to men who would illegally hop into freight trains as a means of transportation in the hope of finding work as a farm-hand in rural areas, however for many of these men riding the rails and begging for food became a way of life.

Today, men are still in a fight for their lives. However, many of today’s struggles are created by a broken world system. We as a society are constantly inundated with the message that we need to have more and better. Attractive looking models looking seductively into a television camera giving the message, “If you drive this car, wear this watch, have this job, or drink this brand of beer you would be a real man.” Our advertising world understands the “power of the feminine” and strives every day to harness that power to its full potential. How many adds have we watched for sex-enhancing drugs starring an attractive woman, seductively looking into the camera and delivering the message that, “If you take this drug, your wife or girlfriend will look at you the way the I am, and if she doesn’t, you will be able to find someone who will?” Millions of dollars are spent every day specifically targeted to speak directly into the hearts of men who feel like they are failing.

Back to the movie:

A few scenes later James was getting ready to leave the apartment for his next fight, and says to Mae, “I know this isn’t what you wanted, but I can’t win without you behind me.” She replies, “I’m always behind you.” James bends down, gives her kiss with a smile on his face, and invites her to come along to see the fight. She declines as always, not being able to bring herself to watch him in harm’s way. She is beginning to understand how much he needs her support but is torn by fear of losing him. He is Mae’s security.

Two fights later he is matched with a much younger Art Lasky, played by Mark Simmons, but he is holding his own when in the twelfth round Braddock takes a hard shot to the head that knocks his mouthpiece across the ring. He is obviously shaken and scene changes to images of his children, his wife, and past due notices. James is filled with a renewed strength and goes on to win the fight by unanimous decisions in the fifteenth round.

James returns home with pride in his step and a dozen roses in his hand, only after going by the Emergency Relief Administration office to pay back the money he had received. When he is later asked by a reporter, with Mae by his side, why he paid back the money his answer was, “I believe we live in a great country, a country that is great enough to help a man, ah, financially when he is in trouble. Well lately I’ve had some good fortune, and ah, I’m back and the black, and I just thought I should return it.”

At the end of the same news conference one of the reporters inquires of Mea concerning James’ next fight, “Mrs. Braddock my readers would love to know how do you feel about the fact that, ah, Max Baer killed two men in the ring. So how do you feel about that ma’am? Are you scared for your husband’s life?”

Max Bear was the world heavyweight champion played by Craig Bierko. Bear is younger and much larger than Braddock. They did a good job at making Russell Crow look small, and did an even better job of painting the picture that Braddock was facing a giant who would feel no remorse at killing an opponent in the ring.

Following the interview, James and Mae are attending a dinner party hosted for the who’s who of the boxing world. They are sitting at a table with Joe Gould, Braddock’s manager, his wife, and few others when a waiter comes over with an expensive bottle of champagne sent over by Max Bear. James gets up and walks over to thank Max Bear, and in reality, it is to call him out on his rude, taunting gesture. Of course, followed by a little intimidating banter and a few shots by the press when Mae walks over. Bear makes a few insulting comments insinuating that after he kills James in the ring that he will take care of Mea because James isn’t man enough to do the job. Mea responds by throwing a glass of water in his face and walks away.

The film continues depicting James as feeling discouraged and lacking confidence. At one point Mea comes to him and insists that he do something, anything not to have to fight Bear. She is becoming increasingly distraught about the fight, which is doing nothing more than attacking James’ confidence, as he shows no sign of backing down from the challenge. Thinking back on Lucille’s question, “Can you ever stop yours when he sets his mind to a thing?”

On the day of the fight, James is getting in the car, surrounded by Mae and kids. He is cracking jokes with the kids about how great he is going to the do in the fight, and then he looks over at Mea, they don’t say a word to one another. James gets in the car, and it pulls away.

Mae then goes to the Church and Father Rorick, played by Chuck Shamata, greets her at the door. She tells him that she is there to pray for James. The camera pans to the sanctuary, and the church is full of people praying for her husband. Father Rorick tells her, “They all think he’s fighting for them.”

All battles need the spiritual covering of prayer. How many men are standing on their feet today because of the prayers of a mother or wife? It only gets better with the support of a faith community standing with us as we fight.

The next scene shows James in the locker room with his manager trying to encourage him, but it is not working. James is saying everything that Joe wants to hear, but as a man without hope. There is a knock at the door. The door opens, Mae enters, and Joe leaves as she walks over to her husband and says “You can’t win without me behind you know.” James responds, “I’ve been trying to tell you that.” The tension is broken, and she has his full attention and tenderly, but full of compassion and determination says, “Maybe I understand something about having to fight, so you just remember who you are. You are the bulldog of Bergin and the pride of New Jersey. Your everybody’s hope, yet you cant see your own, and you are the champion of my heart James J. Braddock.”

She is fighting right along with him. He in the ring and she energizing his spirit with everything he needs to have the best possible chance of winning – her encouragement and prayers. She has given him the encouragement that we as men must have to be the best that we can be, but yet find so utterly impossible to acknowledge that we need. We as men and women have the courage most often to face our fears alone, but we are way more effective at vanquishing the enemy when we fight together.

She understands “something about having to fight,” and has acted on that understanding, and is learning to place her fears in the hands of the One Who is her greatest hope. Our greatest weapon is the one we wield on our knees.

 “Anyone who fights his demons with his own weapons is a fool.”

 Henri J. M. Nouwen

See the movie; I can’t do this story the justice that it deserves. The movie finishes with different scenes of the fight and shots of Mea and the folks at the church in prayer for her husband. Mae even brings herself to listen to the end of the fight, on the radio, with her family as James goes on to become heavyweight champion of the world, winning by unanimous decision.

Woman – Daughters of Eve

It seems that the reports of sexual sin and crime are becoming more prevalent in the news. Almost daily we hear of children being molested, women being abused, and men confessing to being sex addicts as justification for acting out with unbridled sexual promiscuity. My heart is saddened with grief over many close friends and family members who have been affected by such issues. Our culture seems to be falling apart at the seams and women and children seem to be taking the brunt of the consequences, while men seem to display very little sense of responsibility for their actions. What is even more troubling is that the statistics do not seem to be much different amongst Christians.

Most Christians are familiar with the account of God destroying the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone because of the wickedness of the inhabitants. God sent two angels to save Lot and his family from destruction. When Lot brought the two angels into his home the night before the judgment, the dwellers of the city surrounded his home. They demanded that Lot send out the angels because they desired to have sex with them. Lot then offered his two daughters if they would leave and not harm his guests.

  1. and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”
  2. Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him,
  3. and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.

 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

 Genesis 19:5-8

Our entire world has been turned upside down because of the evils of sexual sin. Many read the account of Sodom and Gomorrah and wonder how men could be so wicked. Why would Lot offer his two daughters? More importantly, why would the inhabitants prefer the angels before his daughters?

Before we can begin to understand the answers to these questions, we need to understand the place of women upon this earth.

To begin, we must understand that there is nothing in creation more beautiful than women. When God created man, he was lonely until God created Adam’s perfect helpmate.

  1. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him.
  2. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh;
  3. and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
  4. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
  5. Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
  6. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:20-25

Women is God’s perfect gift to man. She is created from man’s flesh. She completes him. She is to join with man (in marriage), and they are to become one flesh. She was not created as a toy to be objectified or dominated into subjection, but she is to be reverenced and honored above all else in creation. She is God’s perfect work, the pinnacle of God’s handiwork upon the Earth. She is a ministering spirit created to care for all of humanity. Every human being that has ever existed or will ever exist is a child of Eve, with the exception of one man. This man is Adam, with whom she is one flesh.

Why did the serpent, who is the devil, go after Eve to deceive her, and not Adam? Some will say it’s because she is the weaker vessel, but I think it is more than that. Satan is also a created being. He was created as a ministering spirit and fell due to the spiritual pride of desiring to be like God. Jesus told His disciples, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven.” (Luke 10:18) Why did Satan fall from Heaven? Satan said in his heart that he would ascend in glory above the Most High (Isaiah 14:12-15). The moment the thought entered his heart he was cast from Heaven. Not just he, but also a third of all of the angels (Revelation 12).

Now that we understand why Satan and a third of the angels were cast out of Heaven, let’s take a look at how they were cast out.

  1. Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,
  2. but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
  3. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

 Revelation 12:7-9

Satan was created as a ministering spirit who failed in his ministry through the pride and deception of his own heart, bringing shame to himself and a third of the angels in Heaven, having reserved a place in hell because of their actions. He deceived Eve just as he deceived the angels who fell. Does jealousy burn in Satan’s heart over this new race of ministering spirits created upon the earth, in which God takes delight?

  1. But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die.
  2. 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

Eve was created as a helpmate (a ministering spirit) to man, and failed through the same deception as the angels. Satan went from being a minister of light to become a minister of shame. Eve not only lost her place in the Garden, but she also failed in her ministry. She was created to help Adam, not lead him away from God.

  1. To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” 

Genesis 3:16

God had mercy on Eve, I believe, because of her innocence. She did not fail because of the wickedness of her heart. She failed because she was deceived. Satan fell because of the wickedness of his heart. God made a way of redemption for Eve, but for Satan He created the lake of fire and eternal damnation (Revelation 20:10).

Satan has come after Eve and her offspring with a vengeance. Let’s take a look at words of Revelation as the Apostle John gives an account of the way the story is revealed to him in Heaven.

  1. Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
  2. And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had borne the male child.
  3. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.
  4. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood.
  5. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon had poured from his mouth.
  6. Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

 Revelation 12:12-17

imagesNow, let’s go back to Lot and the angels. The men surrounding Lot’s house were demonic, possessed with the spirits of the fallen angels who are at war with women and the angels who were fighting with Michael the Archangel. These demons, being ministers of shame, acting through the people of Sodom, wanted to harm the angels sent to protect Lot in the greatest possible way. Sex was designed by God to be good and holy between a man and women, to unite them as one flesh. It creates a spiritual union between the two. When men say that we are sexual beings, that is a lie straight from the lips of our enemy. The truth is that we are spiritual beings created to be united as one flesh through a physical act of intimacy. When sex is performed in any way other than as intended by God, it brings shame and death.

I believe that the crowd that surrounded Lot’s home would have taken his daughters under different circumstances, but they were blinded by rage towards Michael and his angels. I certainly cannot even begin to understand the idea of sending his daughters to satiate his neighbors hunger for wickedness, but we are only given a small glimpse into the situation through Scripture. St. Peter in his second epistle, when writing of this event, refers to Lot as “righteous” (2 Peter 2:7).

We must learn to view women as they are created. Women are ministering spirits engaged in battle every day of their lives. They are Gods greatest gift to humanity, second only to Christ Jesus. They are the Daughters of Eve. They are created to minister to humanity and battle against our enemy as the angels in Heaven. Women have taken the greatest casualties in Satan’s battle against humanity. They have been abused, raped, and pillaged through deception. Satan’s fury has been unleashed against the Daughters of Eve from the first days of creation until today, and will be until the end of the age.

My Daughter of Eve’s name is Mary. She is named after Mary, the Blessed Virgin, and Mother of Christ Jesus. Our Mother was destined to be one flesh with the Savior of all humanity. All the fallen angels in Heaven fought with a vengeance to keep Mary from giving birth to Jesus, but the “earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the dragon had poured from his mouth (Revelation 12:16). Now the dragon (serpent) is angry with women, and is going after her offspring with a vengeance (Revelation 12:17).

My Mary is truly a ministering spirit. Being sexually molested as a child, she carries the scars of a warrior who has been attacked and has risen to engage valiantly in battle against the demonic forces of the wicked. She has triumphed over our enemy by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of her testimony (Revelation 12:11). She has stood in the gap as my helpmate for years, when I treated her as anything but the blessed women of God that she is. She has remained standing in the gap for me when I was unable even to crawl. Many pray prayers of thanks for our guardian angels, which is good, but what about our Guardian Daughters of Eve?

My Daughter of Eve has stood with one hand holding the Sword of the Spirit, and the other holding my hand keeping me from sliding into the pit. She stands wearing the Breastplate of Righteousness, loins girded with Truth, ministering night and day for our children, grandchildren, and many others who you would never know are not our own. She is a woman who wears the Full Armor of God, who should in no way ever be ashamed, fully committed to her ministry and calling upon this earth.

It is heartbreaking to consider all the women who walk this earth who have absolutely no idea who they are. These Daughters of Eve are casualties of a battle that they are not even aware is raging around them. It is in a women’s spiritual DNA to be wanted and to be considered useful for that which they are created. The devil has deceived so many into believing that they are worth nothing more than to be objectified and used for the pleasure of men with wicked hearts. Every time we use one of these creatures for our own lust, we crush and darken their hearts and steal a little more of their identity.

Do we think that we are any different that than Lot’s neighbors who desired to have sex with the angels? We have spiritual beings walking among us, given to us as gifts from God, that we treat in the very same way. Come on, men; how many of us have spent time feeding the pornography industry? How many men have been unfaithful to their wives by having sex with a Daughter of Eve who is not their own flesh? Every time we come into the presence of one the Daughters of Eve, we should behold them as if an angel of God has appeared before our very eyes. Yet we live in a world that enslaves and abuses these creatures to feed its seemingly insatiable appetite of lust.

The fallen angels dishonor themselves and have lost their place in Heaven because of their self-seeking desire for power and glory. They burn with anger and lust to destroy everything that is holy and precious to God. There is no other which is more precious to God, created on earth, than Adam and Eve and their Sons and Daughters.

Sons of Adam, I ask you one question: Do you treat all Daughters of Eve as holy and precious, or do you burn with the lust of the fallen angels? Have we as men joined in the war against the Daughters of Eve and her Son Christ Jesus, or do we stand and protect her as we have been given charge by our God?

In that day when Satan first attacked Eve, God commanded that men are to rule over the “women” of the earth. “To the woman he (God) said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’” (Genesis 3:16)

 Now, Sons of Adam, I ask you the same question as above in a little different way: Do we rule over the Daughters of Eve, following the example of the king of this world and the damned, who is Satan, or do we follow the example of King of the Kingdom of Heaven and the redeemed, Who is Christ Jesus?

Christ Jesus gave His life for the Church. He rules with a Hand of Kindness, and with the Spirit of God. The fruits of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, (and)self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23). Satan desires to take life from all who serve God, and rules over all who serve their own flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Men, if our choice is to rule as Christ Jesus, we have been given charge to care for His Bride, as we were given charge to care for “women” in the Garden.

  1. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
  2. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord.
  3. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.
  4. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.
  5. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
  6. that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
  7. that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
  8. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
  9. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church,
  10. because we are members of his body.
  11. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
  12. This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church;
  13. however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

 Ephesians 5:21-33

Sons of Adam, at the core of every woman’s heart is the desire to be loved. Her “desire is for her husband.” (Genesis 3:16) Many Daughters of Eve don’t understand this because the truth has been stolen from them by the wickedness of men’s hearts, who have chosen to follow the dark path of the deceiver of this world.

Why do women feel the need to liberate themselves? Why do they feel the need to objectify themselves in the world of entertainment, advertising, and pornography? Why have we killed millions of unborn babies, children who should have been conceived through a spiritual act of physical intimacy between two people of one flesh, but instead are conceived by the tainted hearts of those deceived and beguiled by the enemy of this world?

The answer to all of these questions is the same. It is because men have chosen the wrong side of the battle lines. Because men have chosen to war with the fallen angels instead of with Christ, He who gave His Life for our redemption.

I understand that men of this age have been deceived right along with women, but those who have heard the Gospel of Truth and have received the light of the knowledge of Christ Jesus are without excuse. I am also aware that there are many of us who have been hurt by women. This why it is so important for us as men to first understand the battle and what is at stake, and secondly, walk in the Spirit of Christ and lay down our lives, picking up our crosses daily in forgiveness. (Matthew 16:24)

Sons of Adam, I implore you, the next time you look upon a Daughter of Eve, think of these things. They are created as perfect in holiness, worthy of all of our love and reverence. We should tremble at the thought of even glancing at one of these beautiful gifts from God with ill intent. We should give thanks every day for what we have been given. One day Christ Jesus will appear out of the heavens, and it will be required of us to give an account for what we have been given charge.

Uncomfortable

I began writing this post at the foot of Looking Glass Rock in Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. I set out one morning to find a quiet spot in the forest where I could spend some time writing. I found, what I thought to be, the perfect place at a pick nick table right off of the road along the banks of Davidson River. There I was, all alone with the Lord when an SUV pulled up and four fly fishermen sprang out of the vehicle wearing waders and equipment with all the necessary gear. I sensed the Lord saying, “Now this is the perfect spot.” What I perceived of the fishermen is that one was a guide from one of the local outfitters instructing the other three. It appeared that it might very well have been the three novices first trip to the river with their guide patiently moving between the three offering his hand of guidance.

I found this intrusion upon my solitude very appropriate in that the story that I am attempting to unfold is deeply personal, while at the same time indicative to struggle that we all face. We all have our personal battles, yet we are all in this together. So many of us struggle alone when all we need to do is just open our hearts and reach out; help is but a whisper away.

Many of you have read my book, “Purgatory; Heaven’s Healing Waters.” Since it was published, I have been amazed, but not surprised, at the number of people who have opened up to me about their struggles in reconciling their abusive pasts. Many have shared that they felt that I have another book within its pages, wanting to know more about my past and more importantly, about my recovery.

I have started writing, not being sure that I am ready. But, like so many who have gone before, I feel it is time to begin, relying on God’s strengths, not on my own. How many who have gone into battle have felt ready when the lines have been drawn? Whether acknowledged or not we are in a battle. In a war for the hearts, minds, and souls of the ones we love. As St. Paul encourages Timothy we are to “fight the good fight of the faith (1 Timothy 6:16).”

To be encouraged to fight implies a struggle. Note that Timothy is not encouraged, nor were any of the prophets or apostles, to become tucked away in a quiet corner licking their wounds, but engaged on the front line. This is not to imply that seeking a place of quiet and solitude to be with the Lord is wrong, but we are called to battle. We are called to fight. There is a time to hide away with the Lord for a period of healing, but this time of healing is for the purpose of preparing us to continue in the struggle.

This purpose of this post is to share with you the very unexpected way in which I feel the Lord has spoken to me over the past couple of weeks. I would like to begin by sharing with you a relationship that I have developed. I did not view this relationship as a relationship before just a few days ago when the Lord spoke to me in a very powerful way, and as I mentioned above, also very unexpected.

This relationship is with a rock; a very large rock, measuring in height over sixteen hundred feet, and over two miles long. Many who have read my past posts, may be guessing that this rock to be Looking Glass Rock, the very rock at whose base I sat when I began writing this post. For the past eight years, from the beginning of my recovery, this rock has been part of my life. I have snapped well over a thousand photographs of her in a relentless pursuit of capturing the perfect image of this monolithic giant that has become much more than a fascination. You can find her image front and center on my photography website; https://wjnovack.smugmug.com. I have climbed her many times, wept many tears upon her shoulders and looking upon her from afar. I have witnessed the splendor of watching the sun rise to warm her face no less than a hundred times. She is a magnificent beauty of God’s creation.

I spent from August of 2008 until December of 2009, in an amazing but painful retreat from my life hidden away in the woods of North Carolina healing from the wounds of my past. During this time the mountains became a place of solitude and sanctuary with the Lord. I love being in the house of the Lord, but I am not sure that there is any place other than in the cathedral of the forest where He speaks to me more deeply.

Since that time I have moved back to Florida to reclaim my marriage and family, while visiting my place refuge as often as possible. I am blessed, in that my mother in father live in those mountains giving me plenty opportunity to return. I am writing about a hike to the top of my old friend, Looking Glass Rock, that I experienced just a short time ago during one of these visits.

I suffer from a condition called atrial fibrillation or better known as a-fib. A-fib is a condition that causes the heart to beat irregularly, and at times with very fast, shallow, and ineffective, causing the sufferer to be weak and lightheaded. Some suffer from this condition chronically, meaning that it never stops and they live with it for their entire lives. I am not one of those people. My episodes come and go and are somewhat treatable with medication, typically lasting for twelve to twenty-four hours. My cardiologist says that I will most likely die from something other than a-fib. These episodes, although not life-threatening, can be little scary when my heart feels like it is going to beat out of my chest, I’m light headed and from time to time experience chest pains similar to a heart attack.

During my visit I planned a hike to the top of my old friend, Looking Glass Rock. The morning that I had planned my assent to the top of the rock, I was experiencing a-fib, which was very frustrating because I had suffered from the effects of the condition the entire day before. This episode was a rule breaker, as I mentioned above it typically only lasts for a day or so, two days is very unusual. I decided to go on my hike anyway. I showed up at the trailhead at 7:00 am and headed up the trail and within a hundred yards was experiencing considerable pain. Typically a-fib is relatively painless but annoying, but if a person, as I was doing, pushes the body into what would be considered cardio exercise, it can be very painful and can mimic the feeling of a heart attack in that the chest feels very tight and extreme lightheadedness can be experienced. Well, this is what I was feeling, but something inside of me prompted me to keep going. I soon began to pray for myself, and over my condition in the name of Jesus. I continued for about another half a mile when I stepped on a root and twisted my ankle. This was not just a quick turn of the ankle, this was a snap, pop and seeing stars kind of sprain that would, later that day, land me in the emergency room for x-rays.

Immediately upon turning my ankle, I had an impression to keep going. I definitely felt this to be prompting of the Holy Spirit. I understand that some may be thinking that moving forward to be questionable, an opinion that my wife may share. Either way, I pushed forward, and do not regret a single step. I had a truly amazing experience with our Lord all the way to the top of the trail and back to my truck.

My hike to the top was definitely a journey of remembrance. To begin, I need to go back about a week before. During a worship service at church I was petitioning the Lord to comfort me, as I have been dealing with epoxides of anxiety, which I am aware have been triggered by delving back into my history of sexual abuse while writing my new book which is very appropriately titled “Uncomfortable”, subtitled “Untying the Knots of Our Past.”

In the midst of my cries to our Lord, I heard Him ask me “What do you want?” The question came several times as I stood processing a response. The truth is that I wasn’t sure what I wanted. All I knew is that I was very uncomfortable. Then after dwelling in my perplexity, I very clearly heard Him say “No.” I sensed that He was telling me that this season in my life is something that I have been preparing for many years and that it would be uncomfortable. It is as simple as that. Battles are not comfortable, they are a struggle, often for our very lives.

As a member of the Body of Christ, the Church, we are not called out to be comfortable, but sanctified. We are sanctified in that we are called out as separate from the world as saints, to do His good will (Philippians 2:13).

Side Note – I am aware that some take issue with seeing the word Church capitalized. I would like to take a minute to explain that when I write the word Church, I am referring to the Church as a whole, the entire body of Christ; Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, and Non-Denominational. The Church is the Body of Christ; the word Church should be capitalized unless used in a generic form or to describe a building such as “my church” or “going to church.” Another instance where I feel it is appropriate to capitalize Church, if for no other reason than out of a show of respect, is when referring to a particular movement or denomination such as a “Methodist Church,” or the “Catholic Church,” or the “Protestant Church.”

  1. for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good will for His good pleasure.

Philippians 2:13

The message of the world is to seek pleasure above all else. We are inundated with this message every day; eat this, drink this, take this if you have the slightest bodily or mental discomfort, sleep in this bed, you deserve to have a bigger home and nicer car, if you neighbor offends you take him to court and sue him, and so on. We, especially as Americans, have tried in many different ways to infuse this message of the world into our Christian culture.

After hearing this very unexpected answer of “no,” I began thinking of the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah’s ministry was anything but comfortable, yet he loved God with an unquenchable passion, as did all of the profits. We are not called to a comfortable life. We are called to war against sin. We are called to a life of faith in the One Who calls us to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37).

Jesus told us before He ascended to be with the Father, “peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you (St. John 14:27).” He is speaking of the Holy Spirit coming to dwell in the hearts of His saints. The peace that we seek is not of this world. We are called to fight against the ravages of sin and strive to save, through the Blood of Christ, all those who suffer the deception of the king of this world (satan).

  1. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through His own Blood.
  2. Therefore let us go forth to Him outside the camp and bear the abuse He endured.
  3. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come.

Hebrews 13:12-14

All of my Christian life I have reached up during times of distress expecting our Father in Heaven to take my hand in comfort, but there comes a time when He needs to be enough. I need to go back another fifteen years to when I was sitting on the tarmac at Pensacola Airport. I was seated on a small twenty-person plain waiting for takeoff. The pilot came on the intercom and told us that we were most likely in for a rough flight because there was thunderstorm activity in the area. I am not comfortable flying on a calm day, and with this news, I was gripped with fear. I immediately begin to pray, “Oh God, please comfort me.” I very clearly heard Him ask me “When will I become your comfort.” In other words, He was asking me when He would be enough? When would He become all that I needed? I remember Him assuring me that He would comfort me, and He did, but followed by saying that there would come a day when He would need to be my comfort. A day faced with adversity when my immediate response is not to reach my hand up in fear, but to press forward in complete confidence in the One Who loves me more than I love myself.

Back to the worship service:

During that worship service, I heard Him tell me to change my prayer form “Please give me comfort,” to “Lord, please give me strength.” These were the words that I heard just moments after I sprained my ankle. I began to pray for strength as I continued upward towards my goal. The trail to the top is a 3.1-mile trail, climbing over sixteen hundred feet in elevation, consisting in large part of twisted roots and jagged rocks and ascending countless switchbacks. This is a tough trail without a-fib or a twisted ankle.

As you can imagine, I became much more focused on every step and continued to pray for strength. I began feeling the presence of the Lord in a very real and very sweet way. He was with me for every step as He has been my entire life, but there are those times when he pulls back the veil just a little bit to give us a feeling or glimpse of Heaven.

Then, I began to focus on the image of a crucifix in my mind. I know I may be losing some of my Protestant readers at the mention of the crucifix, but please hang with me here. I realize that many Protestant brothers and sisters are offended at the sight of the crucifix. They think Catholics somehow do not understand the crucifixion of Christ is a finished work – “Christ died once for all (Hebrews 6:10, Romans 6:10 & 1 Peter 3:8),” and that Catholics are continuously trying to pay for their sins.

Catholic teaching is unambiguous in the understanding of the efficacy of the cross of Christ. Catholics believe very strongly in a doctrine called “The Communion of Saints.” This is the understanding that all members of the Church, the living here on this earth, all that have gone before to be with the Lord in Heaven, and are yet to come, complete and are part of one Body; that one Body being Jesus Christ. This may be a little confusing to Protestants, and trust me it is a little confusing to some Catholics, because the Catholic Church designates certain people who have died as Saints, but the Catholic Church, in truth, considers all who are in Christ to be saints.

The second stanza of the Nicene Creed, which is recited at Catholic Mass, begins, “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Begotten Son of the Father.” Without explanation, this may sound a little strange. Some may be thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought we were all sons and daughters of God through the Blood of the Lamb.” This is true, but in the Catholic mind, this is only so if we are in Christ. I understand that Protestants believe this to be true as well, but they do not visualize it the same way as Catholics. This is one of the reasons why the crucifix is such powerful image for Catholics.

The crucifix represents the perfect work of Christ upon the Cross – one Perfect and Holy Sacrifice for the salvation of all humanity who have existed and will ever exist in the future; one single but perpetual sacrifice.

Here is the big one, the reason why the crucifix is so important to Catholics is because we are all to suffer with Christ as part of His Crucifixion.

  1. that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death

Philippians 3:10

  1. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

                                                                                                                       Galatians 2:20

What does it mean to suffer with Christ? Why did Christ suffer? Of course, He suffered for the sin of humanity. The word of God says thatHe was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).” Sin is the cause of all that makes us sick and wounded. Man was not created to live in sin. Man was created to live in perfect union with God in the Garden.

Jesus paid the ultimate price upon the Cross and gave of His Body and poured out His Blood as payment for the sin of all humanity, but we, being His, in Him are ordained to suffer with Him, called to “bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).” Sin is painful, it is ugly, and it sickens, it is the worst in every one of us. Sin is anything but comfortable, but we are not called to be comfortable, we are called to spend our lives striving to suffer with Christ, striving against sin.

Some may say that such an attitude is sick or masochistic. I don’t see it that way – I see it as love. Jesus Christ saved us from a life, no an eternity, of pain and suffering. His Church throughout history has not just been willing to share in His suffering, It has been compelled. The Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Philippians “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).”

The following is a portion of scripture from St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians. It is written as an encouragement to the believers in Corinth who may have expressed bewilderment at many of the afflictions that they suffer because of their faith.

  1. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
  2. persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
  3. always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
  4. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 

2nd Corinthians 4:8-11

Many who come to Christ come with the notion that Jesus is going fix all of their problems and they go to live life happily ever after, leaving the problems of the world far behind. Jesus does mend our wounds when we come to Him, and we are healed mind, body, and soul if we allow Him to complete His perfect work in our lives. Here is what many do not understand on the front end of this process, once we filled with the Holy Spirit and healed, our minds begin working properly and we become compelled by our new nature in Christ with compassion for the suffering and dying of this world. We are given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), this is to say the mind of God, and also the Heart of God.

When God looks towards humanity His heart burns with compassion:

  1. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
  2. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

St. John 3:16

As “Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me (Matthew 16:24).”

 These are the things that I think about as I meditate and focus on the crucifix.

As I continued my trek up the mountain, the harder I pressed forward, the more my chest tightened with pain and my ankle burned with every step. All I needed to do was stop, and pain would stop. So many of us lie down and curl up in the fetal position when the pain becomes too great in our lives because we cannot bear to go forward. This is completely understandable. I spent many years curled up in the bottom of a bottle or with some other way deadening my feelings. Those who are hurting and without hope just simply want the pain to stop and will reach in desperation for any way to achieve that end. However, we who are in Christ have hope and are called to press on through the pain. I can picture Jesus encouraging us through the storms of life, with outstretched arms, “Come on, take my hand. I know it hurts more than you ever imagined possible, don’t lie down, don’t quit, keep on going, we will get through this together.”

As I continued up the trail, I would take short breaks when the pain just became too much. I would put my hand on my knees, hunched over gasping for air, waiting for the tightness in my chest to subside enough so I could keep moving. At times in life, we need to take little breaks – quite times of healing with the Lord, and that’s okay, but we need to keep on moving, and not lie down and quit.

Within a couple of hours, I made it to the top of the rock. The feeling was amazing. I sat down to spend a few minutes in prayer and to enjoy the view. I took a few pictures with my phone, and within a short period of time, my ankle had swollen considerably. I realized that the longer I sat there, the more my ankle would swell, making my return trip more difficult, so got up and made my way back. Let me assure you – the only thing worse than climbing up a trail laden with twisted tree roots and jagged rocks with a sprained ankle, is climbing down such a trail. The nice thing about the descent is that my chest was pain-free, and breathing was much easier – like a walk in the park.

On my way back down, my first trip to the top of the rock came to my remembrance. It was in 2008, soon after my sabbatical in the mountains began. I was driving along one of the forest roads catching glimpses of the rock periodically through breaks in the trees. The desire came as an impulse – when I woke up that morning I had no thought of doing such a thing. I parked my truck at trail that looked like it led towards the rock. I filled my backpack with the essentials; my camera, several travel size bottles of wine, and couple bottles of water, and away I went. Oh yeah, I was drunk. Back then I was pretty much always drunk and typically traveled with well supplied for any occasion. A phrase that I heard years ago has stuck with me, “God takes care of drunks and idiots.” I have no idea of who first spoke this pearl of wisdom, but it was certainly appropriate for that day. I have no doubt that the only reason that I made it out of the woods that day alive was at the Hand of our very compassionate Father.

I headed up the trail for about a mile when came to the bottom of the rock. The trail ran both ways along the base of the rock with no apparent way to the top. I followed the trail until of found a spot I thought I could climb. It was a place where there was a long crag full of trees and underbrush that seemed to extend up the rock at a climbable angle as far up as I could see. I began my ascent bushwhacking my way up the south face. It was in no way a well-traveled path. It took me several hours to complete my conquest. I fell several times, ripped my clothing, and had several scrapes and cuts. Once I reached the top, I discovered a very well traveled trail. I remember feeling a little foolish considering the battle that I had just experienced when I could have walked a nice clear trail if I had been a little less compulsive. I decided to follow the trail back down even though I had no idea where it would end. It was getting late, and in my mind, anything would have been better than going down the way I came up. I came across a few other hikers – I am sure I was quite a sight.

It was well after dark when I made it to the end of the trail. I had a vague idea of where I was. I was exhausted, my feet were blistered, I was very dehydrated and several miles from my truck. The rock had kicked my butt. I started walking and after a mile or so and couple that I had met along the trail were kind enough to give me a ride back to my truck.

Our God is good and worthy of all our praise. When I think back to the first trip up the rock and consider my state of mind and sickness of my heart, I sit in amazement at the work our awesome God has done in my life. Back then I could not have even begun to imagine the work that our Lord has done in my life, and will continue to do until completion.

  1. And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

Filled with the emotional pain of a broken heart and relinquishing hope I climbed the wrong path on my first ascent, but just a few days ago I walked to the top of the rock in physical pain, full of renewed hope along the right path. God was with me during both trips. As children of God it is so very important to remember who we are (children of God), where we came from (dead in our sins), where He has brought us (redeemed and renewed by the blood of His Son), and where we are going (To dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6)).

Back to this trip:

I made my way back to my vehicle and made 40-minute drive back to my folks (mom and dad) house. By the time I stepped out of the truck my ankle was pretty stiff. My wife, Mary, helped me wrap my ankle and pack it in ice. I took a handful of ibuprofen and laid down in the hope of taking a nap. Trying to sleep, it felt like someone was running a dull knife through my ankle didn’t work so well, and taking ibuprofen for the pain was like trying to kill a grizzly bear with a pellet gun. After several hours of trying to manage the pain, we (my wife, Mary and I) finally decided to go to the emergency room at the local hospital. I was also experiencing discomfort in my chest that felt a little different than I had encountered in the past.

Upon arriving at the hospital, the medical personnel brought me back to one of patient rooms a nurse immediately performed an EKG and drew blood, which is typical protocol with chest discomfort. Once the initial procedures were completed, they wheeled me back for chest and ankle x-rays. After waiting a couple of hours the doctor came in and told us that the x-rays came back fine and most of my blood was okay with the exception of one test that they were awaiting the results. The E.K.G showed that I was in a-fib but that my heart was not beating in a way that they would consider dangerous. Therefore, the doctor told us that if the final test came back within normal limits, they would give me some medication for the pain in my ankle and send me home.

Within about thirty minutes the doctor came into the room and said that he had some bad news. The last test they were waiting for came back indicating elevated troponin levels. Troponin is a protein that is released into the bloodstream by the heart wall when it is under the stress of a heart attack. This was the first time in all of my many trips to the hospital for heart issues that I had ever had a test come back with this type of result, which could explain why my chest felt so different. The doctor explained that they would be admitting me to the cardiac ward for observation. I then explained my trip to the top of the rock, offered as a plausible explanation for the stress upon my heart. He just looked at me like “yeah sure” and told me that he needed to consult with the hospital internist and that he would be back.

After about half an hour the doctor returned and explained that the internist had ordered a second blood test in two hours, and would agree to let me go home if my troponin levels had dropped within normal limits. He then told us to prepare to be admitted because troponin levels do not go down that quickly.

Thirty minutes after the second test the doctor came in shaking his head, “You’re not going to believe this, but your troponin levels are within normal limits.” My reply was a simple, “Yes I would.”

  1. but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2nd Corinthians 12:9

This story in no way a testament as to my strength, but His. What I learned over past eight years is that I am very weak. God has shown me over and over again His and love and His mercy and the sufficiency of His relentless and abounding grace.

I have no doubt that our Father’s Heart melts whenever one of his children cries out for help. I know that He loves to hold every one of us close to His chest in safety and comfort. I am confident that at other times He takes delight when His sons and daughters walk in the confidence of knowing that He right by their side without ever looking up. We need to have faith in Who He is, not in what He can do for us, or even worse, what we can do for ourselves.

I have wrestled with how to end this, and today I heard a song for very first time that ignited my heart and says it so well. The song is “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music. I leave you with a few of the words from this song.

“You make me brave

You make me brave

You call me out beyond the shore into the waves

You make me brave

You make me brave

No fear can hinder now the love that made a way”

 

“cosmic christ” Voice of the Serpent

Chapter 1 – A Voice Cries Out

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There is one voice upon the earth that unites mankind and utters its lonely cry through many tongues. This voice comes forth from the deepest places of men’s souls, from hearts that long to know the answers to two questions. The first being “God are you out there?” The second being predicated on the answer to the first being yes, is “do you love me?” In other words, “am I okay, and do I dare to hope?” Many who cry this prayer know that the answer is yes and others dare not believe for fear of one more disappointment. They fear that it would undoubtedly be fatal rejection, like the schoolboy who never asks the girl he fancies to dance. Acknowledged or not, the cry is the same from every heart on earth.

We are created by a loving God who displays evidence of His existence in every direction that we look; in the warmth of the sun; in the beauty of a women or man; in the water cosmic-christ-cover-amazonHe provides for us to drink; in the wheat of the field that we eat; in the amazing workmanship of a single flower or in the miracle of sight. The heart that can look upon the beauty and complexity of the created world and deny that God exists is a heart that is afraid to believe, for the evidence is undeniable.

I wonder if there could be anything more beautiful to God than the soul that reaches towards Him in love. The soul that responds to His loving touch in worship, the soul that weighs the evidence and in his or her heart cries, “thank you” for the life that it has been given. God not only displays the evidence of His existence through His creation, but He also speaks to the hearts of humanity through His Spirit. People throughout the ages and in every corner of the Earth have responded to the beckoning call of God’s love to His creation. The response to this call can be seen in the evidence uncovered by archaeologists as they discover the ruins of ancient civilizations throughout the world. We can plainly see this response in our modern world. The cry is the same, “We hear you God and desire a relationship with You.” Our expressions are quite different, but the cry is the same. In Tibet they fly colorful flags in the wind, Native Americans call out to the Great Spirit, Muslims cry out daily in their mosques, Christians in their churches or cathedrals, and countless other expressions of love towards God are carried out daily throughout the world.

God has responded and continues to respond to every cry from every soul who has ever existed. He came to us in perfect humility in the form of a helpless baby named Jesus (Emmanuel). He came as a light into a dark and needful world. He stepped off of His throne and walked amongst His creation, knowing full well that the ones He loved would turn on Him in anger. He suffered an agonizing, shameful, death that He did not consider shameful, but as the way to redeem a fallen world unto Himself.

  1. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
  2. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

St. John 3:16-17

He laid down His life in perfect humility. Who would say to a man “Tie me to that post and whip my back until my flesh is torn from my bones because this is the way that I will heal you?” Who would say “Drive those spikes through my hands and my feet because I want you to spend eternity with me?” Who would say “Hang me upon a cross until I die because I so desperately want to forgive you of all of your sins?” The answer is One Who loves deeper than humanly possible.

Every human who has ever existed or ever will exist has shared in crucifying our Savior through our sin. We are all guilty of the Blood of Jesus Christ. The good news is that we are all saved through His sacrifice if we humble ourselves and meet him at the foot of the cross and accept our part, by repenting of our sins, and accepting Him as Lord and become washed by the Blood of His suffering.

This is the good news of the Gospel – A great light of hope has come into the world and has offered humanity a way of salvation. Those of us who have accepted Jesus at the foot of the cross and who are washed by His Blood have become bearers of the Light. Our part now is to go throughout the world and share this “Good News” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, illuminating a hurting world with Hope.

Jesus is the Truth, the Life, and the Way, and it is by no other that access to Heaven will be granted (Ephesians 14:16 paraphrased). No other has given enough, or could ever give enough to pay our debt: the innocent Blood for the wretched souls of mankind, the Humble for the proud, the Creator for His creation. There could be no way to Heaven other than through this Door that our loving Father in Heaven has opened in love, yet there are those who seek another way.

Why do many seek another way? Why isn’t Jesus enough? The answer is simple. Sin! Sin is what separates man from his or her loving Creator. The lie that separated humanity from our Father is still being perpetuated to this day. The lie that we can be like God. The lie that has been whispered in the ears of humanity throughout the ages – saying “God is trying to keep you from all of the goodness that this life has offer.” The lie that comes from the enemy of our souls that says, “Just look around at all of the fun that everyone else in the world is having. Why shouldn’t you have everything you want right now?”

How do we walk in sin and still find our way to Heaven when we die. One answer to this question is the “cosmic christ.” The teachers of the “cosmic christ” assert that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus were /are unnecessary. They assert that a loving God would not require the death of His Son as payment for the sins of humanity. The problem of sin has been solved by these teachers, they will tell you that “christ” was released into the earth at creation, that creation itself was the first “christ,” and that God released this “christ” back into the earth at the incarnation of Jesus.

Does this “cosmic christ” story sound familiar? For those who are students of the Bible it should sound very familiar. Let’s take a look at the first time this story of deception was told by the father of lies.

  1. Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”
  2. And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden;
  3. 3. but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”
  4. But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die.
  5. 5. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
  6. 6. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.
  7. 7. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:1-7

Herein lies the most disturbing part of this deception. Adam and Eve walked in perfect union with God, and yet they fell for this deception. This lie has been whispered into the hearts and minds of humanity throughout the ages. This deception was originally perpetuated through Adam and Eve, the first to walk with God, and is now being perpetuated by those who are walking with God, through the Church.

God redeemed humanity from the effects of following after the lie of deception perpetuated in the Garden. God sent us His son Jesus out of Love. The way of salvation is so simply laid out before us, yet there are those who have chosen a lie over the truth.

  1. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire.

2 Peter 2:22

“cosmic christ” is now available in Paperback on Amazon.

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