Archive for the ‘ GodSpeak ’ Category

Intro to Garden Principles II: Adam and Eve Before the Fall

So, as a refresher, in the first post we established that men and women were created equal, but in their disobedience were cursed with non-physical distinctions:  1) men would be most concerned with their jobs and would face the challenge of providing for their families, and 2) women would be most concerned with their relationships and would face the challenge of being “ruled over” by her husband, despite her own desires to control him.

Now, for many it is really troubling that men should “rule over” their wives (Genesis 3:16) and that wives must “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22). But I think they make much spiritual sense when we restrain ourselves from reading these verses with a worldly understanding and instead consider these commandments in reference to Adam and Eve’s relationship and their behavior in the garden.

Just remember that God has a purpose in all He commands and ultimately aims to bring us closer to Him. So, with that in mind, what is the purpose of these commandments?

Let’s look at the first temptation. As we all know, Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As I wrote in the former post, where was Adam when she was being tempted? When the pastor posed this question, I took it to mean where was he physically. But in Genesis 3:6, it says he was with her:

“… she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Therefore, I now take his question to mean, where was Adam in that moment, mentally and spiritually? In these verses, he is voiceless. He did not *communicate* with Eve, counsel her, guide her in this pinnacle moment. Adam did not lead her and was not acting like her head. He submitted to (trusted) her leadership (I elaborate on what it means to “submit” below).

Rather, Eve was the leader. In verses 3:1-6, she conversed with the serpent, she made the decision to eat of the fruit, and she led Adam in eating the fruit. Again:

“… she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Thus, in this moment, she guided her husband and ruled over him.

Therefore, when we consider the roles that men and women are commanded by God to adopt in Ephesians 5, it makes sense that God challenges them to assume the roles that Adam and Eve failed to perform at the moment of temptation.

Let’s look at Adam and Eve separately in order to gain a deeper understanding of this.

Garden Principles II in its Entirety

**This post has been broken into parts (see above) in order to make it easier to read. However, some may prefer to read the message in its entirety, so I have kept this full post available for viewing.**

~ A1chemist

So, a month has gone by and I am just now revisiting this topic! But I’m actually glad I waited because a few confirmations have come my way since I first gained this understanding in our Lord.

So, as a refresher, in the first post we established that men and women were created equal, but in their disobedience were cursed with non-physical distinctions:  1) men would be most concerned with their jobs and would face the challenge of providing for their families, and 2) women would be most concerned with their relationships and would face the challenge of being “ruled over” by her husband, despite her own desires to control him.

Now, for many it is really troubling that men should “rule over” their wives (Genesis 3:16) and that wives must “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22). But I think they make much spiritual sense when we restrain ourselves from reading these verses with a worldly understanding and instead consider these commandments in reference to Adam and Eve’s relationship and their behavior in the garden.

Just remember that God has a purpose in all He commands and ultimately aims to bring us closer to Him. So, with that in mind, what is the purpose of these commandments?

Let’s look at the first temptation. As we all know, Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. As I wrote in the former post, where was Adam when she was being tempted? When the pastor posed this question, I took it to mean where was he physically. But in Genesis 3:6, it says he was with her:

“… she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

So rather, I now take his question to mean, where was Adam in that moment? In these verses, he is voiceless. He did not *communicate* with Eve, counsel her, guide her in this pinnacle moment. Adam did not lead her and was not acting like her head. He submitted to (trusted) her leadership (I elaborate on what it means to “submit” below).

Rather, Eve was the leader. In verses 3:1-6, she conversed with the serpent, she made the decision to eat of the fruit, and she led Adam in eating the fruit. Again:

“… she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Thus, in this moment, she guided her husband and ruled over him.

Therefore, when we consider the roles that men and women are commanded by God to adopt in Ephesians 5, it makes sense that God challenges them to assume the roles that Adam and Eve failed to perform at the moment of temptation.

Let’s look at Adam and Eve separately in order to gain a deeper understanding of this.

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Adam and Men

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So as I just stated above, Adam was not the head of their relationship in the moment of temptation. Instead, he submitted to (trusted) Eve’s guidance and partook of the fruit she brought to him. Therefore, in Genesis 3:16, we see that God challenged man to adopt a role opposite to that which Adam played in the garden. God commanded that Adam (man) will “rule over” his wife and, in Eph 5:23, will be “the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.”

Now, this ruling over her does not mean that he is to be an overlord, dictating her every action and restricting her freedoms. No, this is how the world would have us interpret these verses. But is this how Christ rules over us, His church? No, it certainly is not. Christ is not a dictator. He is our greatest counselor, adviser, example, and leader. In Eph. 5:25-26, it states that husbands are to:

“love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word.”

I think this only confirms a husband’s role as his wife’s counselor, as he is commanded to “wash her through the word.” Now let us think about what exactly is required in order to be a good counselor and adviser. Such requires someone to be wise (and therefore worthy of giving advice!), a good listener, and a good talker. This means that men are to be 1) constantly plugged into the word of God and cultivating their personal relationship with God (how to achieve wisdom), 2) hearing and understanding the full content of what their wife says (good listener), and 3) talking to his wife (good communicator). Thus, men are to be good communicators with God and good communicators with their wives. This is what Adam failed to be for Eve during the temptation and what men are now challenged to be for their wives.

However, men will likely find it difficult to communicate with their wives and develop their role as counselor because of Adam’s curse, given that their preoccupation with work fosters a systematic-style of communication, focused on solving problems, rather than engaging in open-ended discussions of emotional concerns (the style of conversation that comes more easily for women, who are more preoccupied with their relationships). But to dive deeper into this right now is a bit of a digression. In a later post, I will talk more about the implications that Adam and Eve’s curses have for husband-wife communication and how this challenge can be alleviated by both spouses.

In the future, I also want to discuss how husbands are to give themselves up for their wives, just as Ephesians 5:25 tells us Christ did for the Church, and discuss how this intimates differences between a man vs. a woman’s demonstration of love. This especially relates to the Genesis curse!

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Eve and Women

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In the moment of temptation, Eve acted as the leader in her relationship with Adam and led him to eat the fruit. In this moment, she was the chief counselor in their relationship and advised Adam on what to do. Thus, we see that God commanded the opposite for women: In Ephesians 5:22, wives are to “submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” In v. 24, we see that they are to “submit to their husbands in everything,” and in v. 33, “must respect her husband,” who will “rule over her” (Gen. 3:16).

Now this is very unsettling for secular and Christian women, who interpret these verses to be anti-feminist by intimating that women are to act as doormats and do whatever their husbands command. They apply such sterile interpretations of these verses, as though the relationship between a husband and wife is like a master to his slave. But this is incorrect thinking and thwarts the growth that is intended for both spouses in a Godly marriage.  Women are not to be subjected to the dictatorship of men. No, rather, I believe “submission” is synonymous with “trust.”

Let’s again look at Ephesians 5. After it states that wives are to submit to their husbands (v. 22), it immediately relates the husband to Christ and His relationship with the Church. I think this is done to discourage us ladies from interpreting our submission as subjugation. As the Church, we are not forcefully dominated by Christ. Rather, we must submit to His rule. And how do we do this? By trusting His ability to guide us. Thus, in the same way, we as wives are to trust our husbands’ ability to guide us and advise us in the way of the Lord.

Here’s another way I thought about this. Since husbands are related to Christ’s relationship with the Church, I thought it would make sense to look to Christ and His Bride (the Church) and consider what He most desires from her (the Church). The answer is her Love. Mark 22:37-38 states: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Thus, Christ most desires our love for Him, and how is love fostered and achieved? Through intimacy. And what is required and developed through intimacy? Trust.

Thus, if Christ and the Church represent the model to be followed in marriage, then all of these elements (love, intimacy, trust) should exist between a husband and wife.

Let’s look again at Ephesians 5. I think it is extremely significant that in God’s description of a husband and wife’s relationship, He describes intimacy. It’s as though He built the same case as made above (love <-> intimacy <-> trust) so that we women would understand that trust is what is expected of us in our marriages. In Ephesians 5:28-31, it states:

“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – [30] for we are members of His body. [31] ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ [32] This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. [33] However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

These verses point to the unity and intimacy that should exist between a husband and wife, that he should “love [her] as [his] own body” and both should “become one flesh.” And as aforementioned, in intimacy, trust is essential to a relationship and further fostered as the relationship deepens. I think this is intimated by the fact that these verses on intimacy end with the commandment that “the wife must respect her husband.” I don’t know about you, but personally, it is much easier for me to trust and take the advice of someone that I respect.

This was a looong description, but I think it’s much more difficult for people to understand the concept of wives’ submission to her husband, so I wrote more for this section. Moral of the story:  Eve led and counseled Adam when they were tempted. Therefore, women are now challenged to trust the counsel of their husbands.

Now, this is obviously not an easy commandment to follow. Of the three elements (love, intimacy, trust) that must be cultivated in a marriage, trust will certainly be the most difficult for women. As the curse indicates:  Gen. 3:16 – women will have desire for their husbands – i.e. will strive to control them. But sisters, I would challenge you to be aware of your desire and strive to grow in the Lord by trusting the guidance of your Godly husbands.

But in a future post, I plan to elaborate on the ways in which women communicate love, how Eve’s curse provides an explanation for the ways in which women expect their husbands to love them, and how women’s understanding of male communication/love can help them convert their idealistic expectations into realistic ones.

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Thinking about the Whole Picture

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I think this view of Adam and Eve is not only important for laying the foundation for what roles a husband and wife are to live (Ephesians 5), but equally important for providing us a model of a husband and wife that fail to act out these roles. When their roles were reversed, they entered into spiritual disobedience and all chaos broke loose.

Personally, it really makes a lot of sense to me that God would challenge men and women to adopt roles that are opposite those that were played by Adam and Eve in the moment of temptation. We only grow closer to the Lord when we are challenged and challenge ourselves. Therefore, living roles opposite those of the pre-curse Adam and Eve will challenge: 1) men’s temptation to just focus on their work and not counsel (i.e. communicate) with their wives, and 2) women’s temptation to be in control of their husbands and dictate the direction of their relationships. God wants to stretch us and make us stronger in Him, so I would encourage you to resist these gender-specific temptations and instead push into Him. Men, strive to be good spiritual examples to your wives; strive to advise and communicate with them. Women, strive to respect and trust your husbands ability to lead you and your family in the right direction.

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*Personal Note Regarding Unequally Yoked Partners

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Now I put a star at the end of the previous paragraph because I don’t want this to be misunderstood. I feel like often people think of male-female relationships as one-sided, as though the actions of each are one-directional. Rather, I think that a synergy is supposed to exist and that synergy is achieved through intimacy. I touched on this in the section on Eve and Women, but I think it is worth emphasizing so that I am not misunderstood. Again let’s consider Christ and the Church. When we as members of the Church have a concern, do we just wait idly by for the Lord to reveal what we are supposed to do? No. What do we do? We talk to Jesus. We pray (talk) to Him. We actively seek Him. We express our concerns, our hopes, and our desires to Him. It is a two-way communication, a partnership. We move toward Him and He moves toward us. This is as it should be between a husband and wife also. They are to communicate with each other; the husband is to listen to and fully consider the concerns, hopes, and desires of his wife, and she is to listen to and fully consider his counsel.

Now, as for submitting to (trusting) your husband’s guidance, I personally only feel that a woman should trust the guidance of a Godly man who is truly striving for enlightenment and intimacy with Jesus Christ. This is my PERSONAL opinion, absolutely not me saying that I have read this in the Bible. I would encourage you to do your own searching on this and bring this question to the Lord. But for me personally, it just makes sense that a Godly woman can have peace submitting to (trusting) a Godly man because he is striving to live according to the husband role  established by God, and is therefore plugged into God and living to exemplify Christ in his daily walk. Thus, if he is submitting to (trusting) God, as she is submitting to (trusting) him (the husband), there is an overall submission (trust) in the Lord. But if the husband is not a Christian actively in the word and actively striving to live according to Christ’s principles, then she is trusting a man who is not trusting God and not weighing all of his decisions in Christ. Rather, in such a marriage, I feel that the wife should look to Christ alone to be her head and to counsel her in matters related to her marriage and life.

Now, because the roles are different, my opinion will be different for men. In my personal opinion, men should still live as the head with their non-Christian wives. They should be ever-connected with God and counsel their wives according to His principles. I would hope that in living this role, he would be successful in leading her to the Lord.

Again, this is just how I see it. I am still studying the Word on this, and Lord please reveal to me if this is wrongful thinking and, if it is, guide me in Your Word to Your truth.

NOTE: God bless Brother wellis32 for reminding me of 1Peter3:1-7:

[1] Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; [2] While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. [3] Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; [4] But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. [5] For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: [6] Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. [7] Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

I will have to pray on this a bit more. I’ll come back to this post.

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I hope this has been a blessing to someone! Even if just one person. Continue to seek the Lord, trust in Him, and develop an intimacy with Him. You won’t ever regret it. I know I don’t. 🙂

God Bless you!

Coming Soon –> Garden Principles Pt. II

I pretty much have it all written, I just have to edit and make sure that what I wrote makes sense. Haha. And I think what I have written is too long. People will likely be discouraged from reading it… maybe I should section it off further… And I know it’s like a month later. I blame school and personal dramas. 🙂 No, but truthfully, I could have posted this earlier. It just hasn’t been one of my top priorities. But it turns out to be a good thing because it has actually sprouted into more topics of thought. So I currently have multiple posts in development, but I really want to get this second part up. I’m hoping tomorrow will be the day.

Streetlight – Danyew

Interesting fact about Phil Danyew:  All of the instruments you hear in his songs are played by him! Impressive, right?

I saw that a lot of the hits for my post of the “Beautiful King” lyrics were by people searching for “Streetlight” lyrics, so I figured I might as well add those lyrics as well. It was a little harder to transcribe because it’s a bit faster than “Beautiful King,” but here it is! 🙂  This a great song about the awesome guide we have in our Father God. He’s our streetlight! Let’s follow Him wherever He wants to take us in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to follow any one else.

I saw a Love, deeper than the Pacific,
I saw a Love, burning brighter than a million stars,
In a single line,
You make alive,
Anyone who feels that You bring to mind,
Everything that’s beautiful in this life,
I find who I wanna be inside Your eyes,
Inside Your mind,
Yea, I need Your life
‘Cause I’m living just to love You, and…

I saw, You glowing like a streetlight and,
I fell, in love just tryin’ to understand
Why You loved me first.
Your heart, is all I ever want to know,
And I’ll go, anywhere You want to go,
You’re shining bright.
You’re my streetlight.

Am I out of control?
Or do I have a vision to change the world?
Am I looking for means to pave the way,
For brighter days?
‘Cause your love has changed the way it used to be.
‘Cause it used to be
I couldn’t see 5 feet in front of me,
Fighting to breathe on the heavy seas of incompletes
And tired dreams,
‘Til You finally took me over, and…

I saw, You glowing like a streetlight and,
I fell, in love just tryin’ to understand
Why You loved me first.
Your heart, is all I ever want to know
And I’ll go, anywhere You want to go,
You’re shining bright.
You’re my streetlight.

I can see the stars,
The clouds are gone
The weather’s at our fingertips.
I’ll be waiting for,
Waiting for You.
Take me where You want
I’ll go!

I saw, You glowing like a streetlight and,
I fell, in love just tryin’ to understand
Why you loved me first.
Your heart is all I ever want to know,
And I’ll go, anywhere you want to go,
You’re shining bright.
You’re my streetlight.

Beautiful King – Danyew

God is so good. He is taking me to higher heights and new revelations in Him. I have realized that I have been focusing on the wrong things and for too long. I recently became really frustrated and didn’t understand why He wouldn’t give me something I wanted, but when I finally stopped focusing on what I wanted, how much I wanted it, and my frustration for not having it, I realized that it isn’t right for me right now. I’m not ready for this gift. Right now, He wants my sole focus to be on Him and that is exactly what I plan to do. Dive deeper into my Beautiful King, the Ultimate Peace for my soul.

I recently downloaded this song from itickets.com, where it will be available until Sunday, Mar 22nd.  It’s called “Beautiful King” by Phil Danyew, an up-and-coming Christian artist. I love everything about this song, from the guitar intro, to his lovely voice, to the melody, and most especially, THE LYRICS! They are so beautiful. I have been playing the song on repeat for like… the past 2 hours. haha. And it’s still going! 🙂 The lyrics aren’t posted online, so I typed them up. Here they are! Be Blessed!

Beautiful King,
has anybody seen
Your glory unfold?
You walk up to me
with sparks in Your eyes,
You brighten my world

And You’ll always be my only One.
You’re the only God I’ll ever love
because…

Every word that you say
wields the beauty of angels.
Every smile is arrayed
with a joy like wedding bells.
It’s my heart you hold.
Of your mystery I sing.
I will stand and behold
my Beautiful King

Love of my soul,
with power untold,
who is like you?
Lamb that was slain,
my God, You reign
in victory and truth.

And I’ll follow You all my days.
And I’ll give to You every single thing.
I hand everything over…

Every word that You say
wields the beauty of angels.
Every smile is arrayed
with a joy like wedding bells.
It’s my heart You hold.
Of your mystery i sing.
I will stand and behold
my Beautiful King.

And time flies by.
We’re not standing alone.
Every word that You say,
Father, let it be known.
I fall so fast
without You by my side.
Let Your beauty be seen

Let Your glory unfold
Let Your glory unfold
Let Your glory unfold
Let Your glory unfold

Every word that You say
wields the beauty of angels.
‘Cause every smile is arrayed
with a joy like wedding bells.
It’s my heart You hold.
Of Your mystery i sing.
I will stand and behold
my Beautiful King!!!

‘Cause every word that you say
wields the beauty of angels.
‘Cause every smile is arrayed
with a joy like wedding bells.
It’s my heart You hold.
Of your mystery i sing.
I will stand and behold
my Beautiful King

I really love this song because it where I currently am spiritually. Given the personal revelation I described above, it is a wonderful example to me of what I need to be doing right now. Praising Him (“Beautiful King!!! Love of my soul!”) in the midst of dedicating ALL of my focus to Him (“You’ll always be my only One”… “And I’ll follow you all my days… give to you every single thing”). I have to resist the distractions and the temptations to look elsewhere (“And time flies by. We’re not standing alone… I fall so fast without You by my side”) and seek only His guidance and His deeper revelations (“Every word that You say, Father, let it be known… Let your glory unfold”). What a beautiful prayer!! I love it so much and feel so blessed by it! Thank you, Jesus! He truly meets us right where we are and EXACTLY when we need Him.

Brother Danyew has an EP album out, which features his other song, “Streetlight.”

And here is Brother Danyew being silly. He’s so adorable!

Further proof of his adorable-ness:

He seems like such a humble, passionate artist. I’m excited to hear what new songs he releases in the future and I hope he releases them soon! He’s such a blessing!

Garden Principles I: The Curses of Adam and Eve Explained

It is truly amazing just how much we can learn from the first 3 chapters of the Bible. It’s jam-packed with so much information and explanation, if we only open our hearts and pay attention! 🙂

There is just TOO much to talk about in one post, so I will be doing a series of posts on this topic. This first one will focus on qualities of men and women, and specifically the dynamics between husbands and wives.

So, a few weeks ago, I attended a Christian Conference on the East Coast. Since it was over Valentine’s Day, the focus was on Gospel-Centered Relationships.

On the first day of the conference, the pastor focused on the importance of the marriage vows and how it mirrors Christ’s covenant with His bride, the church. (Beautiful, right?) But… I will talk about this in a future post 🙂

On the second day, he discussed the Garden, Adam, and Eve. Let’s begin…

So, looking at Genesis 1:27-28, we know that men and women were created as equals and, more importantly, without distinction beyond their physical capacities (i.e. childbirth = female specific). It tells us:

(27) So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. (28) And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

So, with that passage, we see that in the Garden, God did not make a distinction between men and women when he commanded “replenish the earth, and subdue it… and have dominion over…” He did not specify that only Adam or only Eve would have dominion, but rather, that they will both have dominion.

Now, let’s fast forward to the fall in Genesis 3. The pastor brought up an extremely convicting question that I had never before thought to ask. When discussing Eve’s temptation by the serpent in Genesis 3:6, he asked, “Where was Adam when all of this was happening?” We are always so quick to see Eve’s action and blame her for the fall, but where was Adam when she was being tempted? This is a point that stuck with me, and it will come up again shortly.

Next, we discussed the curses that God imparted on Adam and Eve, which was the beginning of non-physical distinctions between the sexes. To Adam, in Genesis 3:17-19:

(17) And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; (18) Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; (19) In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Thus, the pastor explained that Adam’s curse is job-oriented:  he will struggle to work the land (have a job) and will be concerned about providing for his family (being successful). This can be seen in men today. Men are more task-oriented than women. And not to say that women are not ambitious or do not value their jobs, but research has supported that men are more systematizing. The pastor mentioned research by Carol Gilligan (In a Different Voice), which I have read and definitely agreed with most of it. There has been some controversy over her work, fueled by the fact that she for a long time refused other researchers’ requests to view her data. But, if you want a more modern source, check out Autism researcher Simon Baron-Cohen, PhD. Absolutely amazing theories (and evidence) on differences between the “male” and “female” brain.

To Eve, in Genesis 3:16:

(16) Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Now, when he talked about this verse, he brought up an extremely important observation. If we fast forward to Genesis 4:6-7, we see that the same phraseology is used to describe the relationship between sin and Cain. God says:

(6) And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? (7) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

The same language! Just as sin desired Cain, God cursed Eve to desire her husband. Now, our fleshly reaction as women (and men too) is to be upset that we would be compared to sin or said to have the same action as sin, but I would encourage you to stay open and stay with me here!

The pastor broke down what exactly is implied by desire. When we think about sin, what does it aim to do? It tries to manipulate us, control us, have authority over is. This is it’s desire for us. Thus, in the same way, women are cursed to try to manipulate, control, and exert authority over their husbands, but again mirroring Genesis 4:7, her husband will rule over her:

Ephesians 5:23 – For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he (Christ) is the Saviour of the body.

Thereby, the pastor explained that women would hence be focused on her relationship with her husband and their family dynamics. She would be more invested in the emotional sector of their relationship. I think that most of us can see this in our lives today. For evidence, just look to your friendships and the other social networks that women form with each other to vent about what? Their relationships. Their family-life. How they are feeling.

This is a good point to break on (and plus I have to run out for a meeting!). But this was the primer. In the next post, I’m going to talk about what God revealed to me  from this pastor’s teaching and how understanding the Adam and Eve’s relationship in the Garden is 1) crucial for understanding a husband and wife’s relationship today and 2) crucial for viewing and accepting Ephesians 5 within a Christian context. Actually, in my opinion, Ephesians 5 shouldn’t ever be taught outside of Genesis 3. But we’ll discuss that more later.

1 John 2:17 – And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof:  but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream

Everyone on the face of the Earth has a treasure that lies waiting for them.”

“In order to arrive you must follow the signs.
God inscribed on the world the path that each man must follow.
It is just a matter of reading the inscription He wrote for you.”

“The glory of the world is transitory, and we should not measure our lives by it,
but by the choice we make to follow our Personal Legend,
to believe in our utopias and to fight for our dreams.
We are all protagonists of our own lives,

and it is often the anonymous heroes who leave the deepest mark.”
(from Paulo Coelho’s acceptance speech to Brazilian Academy of Letters)

“The closer you get to your dream,
the more your Personal Legend becomes your real reason for living.”

The Alchemist

For the past two years, I have been searching for some person or word inspired by God to restore meaning in my life … I have found what I was looking for in Paulo Coelho and his novel, The Alchemist. After reading this book, I felt like I came alive again. I had feared that I would not find a way to dig out from underneath the negativity I had piled upon myself, and oftentimes felt tempted to surrender to an ever imminent feeling of defeat. And then, I learned of this book from a friend… it couldn’t have been suggested at a better time because, as I mention in my first post, I am trying to pull my life together.

I had heard of The Alchemist earlier in my life in passing… you know, like one of those books you know the title of and recognized it as a classic work of literature, but don’t know what it is about and don’t really have any inclination to read it. The Alchemist was that to me, until a dear friend of mine just recently suggested that I read it. She had just finished it and suggested that I read it, saying it was a story about a boy’s journey to realize his dreams. Normally, I don’t think that would have really caught my interest, but for some reason, I was intrigued by this description, likely because I am in a state now where I am trying to flush out my dreams and determine in which direction God will have me travel. I would like to thank my dear friend, for she has given me a gift that I could never have anticipated… the gift of hope and anticipation for greatness in my life!

I thank God for the gift of new perspective. My eyes have been renewed by seeing life through the eyes of a simple shepherd boy who had hope and faith in a dream larger than his present circumstances could ever foretell. Despite the immense difficulties that threatened to thwart the realization of his destiny, he persevered and chose to continue his journey instead of accepting defeat. To quote the book, “…he realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure. ‘I am an adventurer, looking for treasure,’ he said to himself.” For him, quitting would take the fun out of his journey. As stated in the book, “It is precisely the possibility of realizing a dream that makes life interesting.”

That scenario speaks to me directly. In these past years, I have burrowed myself into a state of such deep regret that it has immobilized me. I have fixated on the mistakes I have made that I have allowed them to hinder me from moving forward. But looking at the shepherd boy fills me with such inspiration. I need to actively learn how to see my mistakes as moments of life experience, moments that carry lessons to be used as examples of how not to handle things next time… the key point being that I should not shelter myself from situations that will test what I learned from my mistakes, but face them head on with a new and greater awareness!

What I also love about how Paulo Coelho depicted this situation is that he was very real about it. Before coming to this state of hope and determined persistence, the shepherd boy was tempted to yield to the resistance created by his mistake. After being robbed, he thought regretfully to himself:

“When I had my sheep, I was happy, and I made those around me happy. People saw me coming and welcomed me, he thought. But now I’m sad and alone. I’m going to become bitter and distrustful of people because one person betrayed me. I’m going to hate those who have found their treasure because I never found mine. And I’m going to hold on to what little I have, because I’m too insignificant to conquer the world.”

I absolutely LOVE that Paulo wrote him realistically. I know that everyone of his readers must have been able to relate to this feeling of despair and utter regret, knowing that we had things better a time before our present misfortune and disparaging ourselves for allowing us to get to this state. It’s human nature, and like us, the shepherd spoke ill of his future and for a short time there, was tempted to believe it. He even thought to blame God for his misfortune, saying that “this was the way God repaid those who believed in their dreams.” But instead of succumbing to the temptation of quitting, he realized that his destiny still remained and that a treasure was waiting to be found, by him. So instead of stopping his life story there, he had faith in his destiny, proclaiming to himself, “I am an adventurer, looking for treasure.” This unfortunate event was only a mild pothole along the road.

His outlook of transcendence is an example to me, to us all. He acknowledged his part in his misfortune and decided to learn from his mistake of so easily trusting a stranger. Yet, he did not fixate on his mistake. Rather, he looked for beauty in the seemingly lowest of moments. He focused on the positives of his experience, centering himself on his accomplishment of reaching Africa and coming that much closer to realizing his destiny.

I hope that in life, I can face each day with such optimistic vigor. In every day, every moment, every breath, there lies beauty. There is always something to be praised. The challenge is to train your eye to see it. Once you can accomplish that, beauty is all you’ll come to see, in every circumstance. God is EVERYWHERE. He is not hiding. Rather, it is our human eye that fails to recognize his presence in every living moment. Here is an analogy to better explain my point. Don’t credit this to me; I may have heard this from somewhere a few years back. I am realizing this now: When you are driving, your hands naturally guide the vehicle to whichever point upon which your eyes are fixed. So if you are fixated upon the car approaching you in the opposite lane, your hands will naturally reposition the car toward this oncoming car. But if you are focused on the lane you are in, you will continue to safely drive the course. I have been focusing on my past mistakes, and have thus been living in the past. My life has been unable to move forward because my gaze is pointed on what is behind me. I feel closer to God after reading this book.

I may have finished reading this book Friday, June 20, 2008, but its words and the images it evoked still replay in my mind. I am certain that this book and its author have become bright threads in the tapestry of my life journey. The story was especially affecting to me as a Christian. I felt closer to God after reading this book, and that feeling still remains. Reading it, I just knew that Paulo Coelho must be a Christian because he speaks in the language of Christ. I cannot even express how much this blessed me. As my faith diminished during the last two years, my relationship with God grew gradually more distant. It was not until last January that I felt an undeniable separation from God, which truly scared my. I committed myself to seeking the Lord and have been praying for redirection in my life. I was feeling like my life was headed back in the wrong direction when I learned about The Alchemist. Reading it, it was as though my soul was being cleaned throughout and uplifted in encouragement. As I said earlier, I felt closer to God, which I so desperately needed. I heard Him through the words of his creation, Paulo Coelho.

I know that I am destined for something amazing! I was under so much spiritual fire in these last two years and at the point of almost succumbing fully to its will, when God sent me this light to guide me back to the path on which He has destined me to be! Wow… my destiny MUST be something amazing and important that the Universe conspired at this exact time to remind me that my dreams are realizable… the time when I most needed such encouragement! I just have to trust undoubtedly in the strength God has put within me and trust that He has portioned me more than the right amount to surpass ALL of resistance’s efforts to prevail against me. Thank you, Lord for this new view on life! It is the same life, but ahh… it looks SO different to me now. I never thought that I would reach this point of sublime certainty in my clarity and clarity in my certainty of Your truths in my life. But Lord, am I ever paying attention to Your signs now.

I highly recommend this book as a read for EVERYONE. I especially think it should be a necessary read for school-aged children, whose dreams are so vibrant and fragile, full of fervor but slipping so easily to the wayside as they grow. The lessons it teaches are invaluable. Also, I particularly recommend the book to those walking with Christ. You will be greatly blessed to see how God’s words flow through His faith-filled creation, Paulo Coelho.

I feel it only fitting to end this post with the words of the man who inspired both this post and this blog. Be blessed and may God bless you and Paulo Coelho, right where you are now.

Life

What is this force that drives us far from the comfort of the familiar
and makes us take up challenges instead,
even though we know that the glory of this world is only transitory?
I believe this impulse is called the search for the meaning of life.
Over many years of seeking a definitive answer to this question in books, art and science,
and in both the dangerous and easy paths I have followed,
I have found many answers.
I am convinced now that a definitive answer will never be given to us in this life,
but that, at the last, at the moment when we stand once more before the Creator,
we will understand each opportunity that was offered to us.

– Paulo Coelho