Eve Ponderings

Did Eve come to realize just how badly her choice turned out when she chose to sin in the Garden? Did she realize what she had done soon after it happened and wish she could fix it somehow? To get a mulligan, to have a second chance, to undo her sin. I can almost hear Eve pleading with God – “No, make it stop! I didn’t mean for all this to happen! This isn’t what I expected.”


Imagine the guilt she felt those first sleepless nights alone with Adam – outside of the Garden. Wondering if their relationship with God could be restored to even a semblance of what it had once been. Wondering what her relationship with Adam was going to be like now. Still hurt because he had blamed her. Did they sleep arm in arm or back to back?

I have observed that when a son dies, his mother is crushed. Should a mother discover that her son is a murderer, she is devastated. For Eve, to have her son murder his brother must have been insufferable. When they found Abel’s body, it may be that he was the first human being to have physically died. What would it have been like to hold a lifeless body when no one had ever done so before? How long did it take her to realize that Abel would never talk or eat or be with them again? Only now did Adam and Eve and their offspring begin to understand the depth of the curse of death. No one could comfort Eve with words –  because no one had ever before tasted the gall of death like Eve did on that day.

What great grief Eve must have carried with her being aware that her suffering and sorrow were caused by her own actions. Eve, more than any other, bore the burden of her sons’ fates because of her own past actions. Death became reality because of that one fateful choice she made years earlier.

As Eve lived and had more children, how did her heart cope with all the pain she saw in her ever-growing family. She and Adam had known a perfect world with no pain, no sorrow, no loss. She lost a world where she had been continually walking rightly with God. She lost the life where her heart had still been pure. Now she saw her children and grandchildren, all broken and flailing because of sin.

Can you imagine if Eve were still alive today? Since the Fall, the world has seen war, disease, disasters, murder, torture, genocide – evil upon evil. And Eve would know deep in her heart that it was all because of her choice made oh so long ago. She chose to experience something new, to look for excitement, to try out her own wings. She chose to listen to bad counsel. She chose to disobey God. And all humanity has been under the weight of sin and sorrow ever since.

When we get to heaven, I imagine that God must lift some of the burden of our memories; of the knowledge of the consequences of our sin on others around us. When I think back on my life, I cannot shake the burden of knowing how often I failed. I failed as a parent, as a son and brother, as a husband. There are so many bad choices that I cannot go back and fix. I cannot fathom how Eve could possibly bear the full knowledge of how her selfish choice played out in the millennia that followed.

We know that God sees all the evil in the world, but to a much deeper extent and intimacy than Eve ever could. Eve can see world history and how mankind has ruined itself and our world. But God sees into each human heart and knows each thought. Those of us who appear to be “good” people all still have evil thoughts. We still do “good” things but for the wrong reasons – how this must be repugnant to God. He knows the conniving of both the good and the evil. How we must be a stench to Him – a stench that would make us retch and vomit.

And yet –  He loves his people. He knows and cares for each human being that lives today – all 7 billion of us – and everyone who lived before us. And each individual who is yet to be born. He chose an extremely personal and painful way to make a way for us to be cleaned up and reformed and totally restored. He chose to take the burden of all the evil that men and women have done to one another upon himself. He took the punishment that was due to us, but also the guilt and the shame and the self-loathing. He embraced us who were and are utterly revolting. He tenderly cared for us when He should have turned and run to abandon us to our own fate. He did this when He should have been utterly contemptuous and disgusted with us.

As in the Garden, God is giving each human being a choice. The choice in the Garden was whether to trust God, to hold firmly to the truth when tempted to doubt, to continue to obey when disobedience looked more attractive. Today, God gives us the choice of whether to trust the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice. We are given the choice to grasp this truth, to learn to trust Him when we struggle and doubt, to learn to obey when all within us screams to disobey. He gives us the freedom to choose again. We are free to choose His way of being redeemed.

For me, this is proof of God’s infinity. No finite love could ever love the filthy lot of deranged scoundrels that we are. Only an infinite love could be so inexhaustible that it could love the totally unlovable people that we have become. Only infinite creativity could have devised a plan this fantastical. He devised a way to restore us who were ruined and revolting and make us desirable and yes, even beautiful.

As we who trust Jesus stand today, we have one foot in the unfathomable depth of sin and one foot in the incomparable glory of heaven. We struggle as we are pulled from both sides. But one day, we will step through. We will firmly plant both feet in heaven. And the God who had every reason to reject and destroy us will actually allow us to live in his presence for the rest of eternity. He will transform us into glorious beings that are restored to that original purity that Adam and Eve knew before they put their wills ahead of God’s.

What other god that any person has ever devised and worshiped could even come close to what our God has done for us? Praise him forever!


A Tajik Love Story

Best recollection of the story as told by Zhenya to Paul Hypki

Olga is from the northern part of Tajikistan, near Khujand, and Zhenya is from Dushanbe. Olga is a pretty blue-eyed blonde and Zhenya is a tall, handsome Korean man. They both attended a Bible League sponsored seminar on worship conducted by Dave and June Bullock several years ago and that’s where our story begins.
Zhenya and Olga

While at the seminar, Zhenya and Olga met and became acquainted. Zhenya decided he would like Olga’s address so he could perhaps get to know her better, so one day he sat in the same row of chairs as Olga. He handed the person next to him a piece of paper and asked him to write down his address. Then he asked that the sheet be passed on to get other people’s addresses – what a crafty man! After the seminar ended, they wrote each other a couple times and exchange photographs. Zhenya put Olga’s picture in the back of his Bible, but as time passed, life was busy and they both forgot about the other.

A year or so later, Zhenya began thinking it was time for him to get married. He began praying that God would show him who the right woman would be for him. He had determined a set of criteria that any woman would have to meet to be considered as a candidate for marriage. 1) She had to be a Christian. 2) She had to be serving in Christian ministry. 3) She had to like kids and youth. 4) He would really prefer it if she had blonde hair. 5) He would like her to have a good figure. 6) She should be two to three inches shorter than he is. He prayed for some time about finding a wife who met these criteria.

One day as he was praying for a wife, he opened his eyes, and there was the picture of Olga staring at him. It evidently had slipped out of the back of his Bible while he was praying. He looked at her picture. Was this God’s answer? He checked his criteria. Christian – yes; involved in ministry – yes; likes kids – yes; blonde hair – yes; a good figure – yes; a little shorter than he – yes. All six!

Zhenya send Olga a letter asking her if she was planning to attend the next Bible League seminar, but she was still in school and had exams that week, so she could not come. Zhenya was very disappointed – how was he going to ever see her again?

He decided not to attend the seminar, but then changed his mind at the last moment. He walked into the classroom, and there she was! He was amazed. So at one of the breaks, he approached her and said he had something serious to speak to her about. But Olga wasn’t feeling well and declined to talk to him. Now what?

The next day he tried again. Today Olga agreed to talk with Zhenya. He told her he had been praying for a wife and that he was wondering if she would consider dating him.
Now about the time Zhenya was praying for and saw Olga’s picture, her heart remembered and warmed to Zhenya. So when Zhenya asked her if she was interested in dating him, she immediately said yes. They spend the next few days as boyfriend and girlfriend, spending time together, holding hands, talking about their dreams. But, then the seminar ended. Olga went back home and back to school. This time they continued writing each other.

A short time later, Zhenya worked up the courage to visit her family to talk to her father. He was very worried. It is difficult enough for a young man to ask a man for his daughter in marriage, but he is Korean. What would Olga’s father think?

He arrived in Khujand and found Olga’s house. He had told Olga that he was coming, and Olga’s mother was glad to meet him. But her father was nowhere to be found. Zhenya waited and waited, but her father never came home. Zhenya left that evening very discouraged.

The next day Zhenya decided to try again, but this time he would come unannounced. He looked in the window, and there was Olga’s father, sitting in a chair watching television. Zhenya went around the back of the house and came in the kitchen. Olga and her mother coached him, encouraged him, and pushed him into the room with her father. Zhenya introduced himself. Olga’s father ignored him and continued watching TV. Zhenya tried several times to start a conversation, but Olga’s father just kept watching TV. Finally, Zhenya went back to the kitchen – “What am I supposed to do?” he pleaded. So they strategized in the kitchen and decided that all three of them would approach her father. They all entered the room where Olga’s father was sitting. Her mother turned off the TV. Zhenya explained his love for and desire to marry Olga.

Olga’s father wasn’t impressed. He told Zhenya he wasn’t sure and he would have to think about it. Zhenya explained that he loved Olga so much he would even consider eloping and marrying her without his blessing. But Olga’s father still need time to think about it.

Zhenya returned to Dushanbe, still without Olga’s father’s blessing. But Olga and her mother kept working on him and several days later, Olga’s father reluctantly agreed to allow Zhenya and Olga to marry.

In June 2005, Zhenya and Olga became man and wife. They are a beautiful couple, obviously very much in love with each other and the Lord Jesus.

Dad didn’t come to the ceremony – he’s still thinking about it.

Originally posted April 28, 2007

The Clubhouse

So, our local baseball club has started the season 0 and 23. Every game has been lost by default, mainly because the team refuses to come out of the Clubhouse. I managed to visit the Clubhouse after their 23rd loss and talked with a few of the players.

Rog said that this was his first year on 0628_clubhouse21any Club. He was really excited to get into the game, but some of the guys who had been around for a while “showed him the ropes,” so he’s following their lead. Rog admitted that before the third game, he actually left the Clubhouse and made it all the way to the dugout, but then he saw all the people in the stands, and the opposing team looked pretty formidable. He noticed he was the only one in the dugout, so he headed back to the Clubhouse to be with his teammates.

Doc was really talkative and a really fun guy to have around. He plays a lot of practical jokes, and gets the guys to open up and talk. Doc makes the Clubhouse a fun place to be. The problem is Doc’s more of a night owl, and he often doesn’t get home until its getting light again, so Doc doesn’t even make it to the Clubhouse at all some days.

Ruben has been around for a while, and has some injuries that cause him a lot of pain. The whirlpool and massage just do wonders for him. So he will often come in and get his massage and spend some time in the whirlpool then catch a bite to eat before heading home.

Tank tells me the buffet they put out for the team is fantastic! He said he has never had such good food with any other team, that’s why he loves this Clubhouse so much! He has the menu memorized every day, and helped me get a plateful of food like I haven’t had in a long, long time. The lobster tail was amazing, and the Death by Chocolate mousse was top notch. Tank admitted he’s put on a few pounds since joining the Club, but assured me it was worth it.

I visited with a couple rookies in the film room. They were studying film, and picking apart the opposing pitchers in the league. They were able to point out subtle little things that these other players that were doing that were all wrong – if they ever faced them, they would be able to read the unwitting signals opposing players were giving, and just tear them to pieces. But they both said they needed to spend more time in the film room before they even thought about dressing for a game.tumblr_lu7m4hmcsq1qaqgclo1_500

Management brought in the best coaches available, modern equipment, all the resources this Club could ever need to win. I was really impressed with every person in this organization – they have great chemistry on this Club! This is a Club that wants to win, that has one of the best Clubhouses around, great coaching. And some day, when they take the field, they will be awesome!

The local church is our Clubhouse. It’s where we go to encourage one another. To learn. To heal. To rest.

But the local church is not why we are here. There is a game to be played; a battle to fight. And it’s not against another team, it’s against the evil spiritual forces that oppose God and his people. We are called to attend our local church so we can charge out of the Clubhouse, get on the field, and have a “winning season.” We won’t win every game, but we know in the end, the championship is secure.

Jesus Christ, God in a body, is the reason we gather. He is the reason we go out into a hostile world and share the gospel with those who have never heard. Or those who have heard and not yet understood. Or those who have been predisposed against the gospel and need to see it lived out before their very eyes. If we stay in the Clubhouse, we have missed the reason we are on this team.

We don’t get people to join the Club by inviting them into the Clubhouse. We get people to join the Club when they see what the Club does, how passionate the Club members are about what the Club is doing (living a life of worshiping God). The Club only has any impact when it is out on the playing field, doing what they are intended to be doing.

Each Club member is welcome in the Clubhouse any time, but the Clubhouse is not the most important place in the Club’s life. The Club needs to study the play book, to understand the fundamentals of the game. The Club needs to work out, to exercise, to practice on their own so they will be ready. Sometimes the Club will have meetings where more extensive training and instruction is given. They are expected to attend these training sessions and learn all they can to be better players.

We have one life. When we are with Jesus for eternity, we will no longer be able to engage in the sport of bringing people who are spiritually dead the Good News that Jesus is LIFE.

So go to your local “Clubhouse.” Spend some time there. And then get out and play ball!

Originally posted Sunday May 10, 2009