How did Cain find his wife, and who was she?
book of Genesis doesn’t say. Genesis 4.17 simply
says that “Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore
Enoch.” By tracing the line of Enoch, the author of Genesis
identifies Cain as the founder of such settled pursuits as shepherding,
music and tool-making. Through this line also came blood revenge.
None of this should be considered historical record. Rather,
as throughout the so-called “pre-history” of Genesis,
the authors were using metaphor to explain how things came to
be, such as the tension between farmers
and semi-nomads (Cain and Abel), blood revenge (Lamech) and knowledge of Yahweh (via Seth, third son of Adam and Eve.)
I want to know how to be born again, and how to
understand the Bible, and how to remove sin from my life. I am
seeing a married man at this time. But I am not married. And
I want be real for God. Help!!!
things first. Adultery is wrong. It violates a couple’s
marriage, and it distorts one’s relationship with God.
While you certainly can seek an authentic relationship with
God, it is difficult to imagine that relationship thriving
as you are engaged in violating the trust between husband and
wife. Getting right with God needs to come first.
born again means two things: taking on a new identity as a
of God, and living in a new way as a follower of God.
It isn’t a magical moment.
It is a reorientation of the will, stirred no doubt by experiences like
grace and forgiveness, but leading always to new decisions
about self and life.
You see, then, why adultery must end. How can you seek new
identity and new being
when part of you is clinging to the oldness of sin?
sin from your life – or at least taking critical first steps – will
require the support of a healthy faith community, where you will be loved
and not judged, encouraged to study, given opportunities
to serve God, and drawn
into lively worship. I encourage you to find such a faith community. You
might start by asking around among people whose lives you
respect, and by looking
to see who is feeding the hungry and providing shelter and clothing for
I was always told that B.C. meant Before Christ,
and A.D. meant
After Death. But I noticed in my Bible there
is a Timeline that indicates that Jesus was born in 65
died in 30 A.D.,which would mean he was born before he was
born and died after he died. I am confused.
does mean “Before Christ,” but AD means Anno
Domini, Latin for “Year of the Lord.” It
refers to early conclusions (in the Sixth Century) as to the
year Jesus was born. Later scholarship, based on the life and
reign of Herod the Great, determined that Jesus probably was
born between 7 BC and 4 BC, or possibly as late as 6 AD. In
other words, no one knows for sure when Jesus was born. BC
and AD, thus, are conventions for marking time, not for tracking
the historical life of Jesus. Because of Christianity’s
spread through Europe and the Americas, those conventions for
marking time became widespread, although not universal.
How does one rely on faith when one works hard, struggles and
strives to get ahead, and nothing seems to change? How does one
keep the faith when nothing in her life goes right? I am single,
lonely, and broke. How I should keep faith in my heart?
is about a relationship with God, not about personal improvement,
success in life, or solutions to problems. It
is my understanding that we are born in that relationship,
lose touch with it in growing up, and spend the rest of our
lives trying to get back in touch with God. Difficulties
in life might encourage us to work harder in that quest;
joys and delights. The quest itself contains no guarantees
of loneliness being alleviated, finances being improved,
or health being restored. We seek God because God is seeking
and because life is meaningless without God.
can get in our way. It is difficult to imagine God’s love
when one is being beaten down by life. And yet travail can
draw us closer to God,
as long as we don’t blame God for our problems, and as long as we don’t
think ourselves unworthy of God because we aren’t successful or pretty
or rich or young. In tough times, therefore, faith bears two critical messages:
God is faithful, and you are worthy.
are laws in the Old Testament and New. How do I know
to do and which ones have changed?
issue isn’t which laws have “changed,” for
the wording of both Old and New Testaments was locked into place
many centuries ago. The issue is what we make of the several
hundred laws, commandments and statutes found in the Hebrew Bible,
as well as the less overtly legal words of the New Testament.
According to modern Biblical scholarship, the authors of the
Old Testament – many
authors, writing over a period of several hundred years – put into writing
a complex legal code that was developed over time to guide the Hebrew people
in settling Canaan and forming a nation. Many of the laws were presented as
coming directly from Moses, or from God to Moses, but we are wise to see that
as a literary convention, not a specific act of dictation. These were Israel’s
words about God, based on its experience of God, not words that God wrote.
Israel understood itself to be a holy nation, unique among all people. The
Law of Moses established what made them holy. Thus, they were to eat certain
foods but not others; they were to have certain attitudes toward debt and money
that were different from other nations’. The Law also reflected the boundaries
of their understanding. They were frightened by menstrual blood, for example,
so they developed specific rules for menstruation. They were dealing, as well,
with the challenge of melding twelve tribes into a single nation, regulating
their semi-nomadic life, and transitioning into a more urban culture. The Law
addressed those challenges.
As you can see, the specific laws dealt with specific situations, which might
not pertain today. The Law’s value to us – as Jesus made clear – isn’t
as a legal code, but as a lens for understanding God.
Jesus specifically resisted attempts to make his ministry legalistic. The early
Church, therefore, turned to Paul for legal language, even though Paul’s
letters were written to address specific questions and not to establish universal
In making the decisions of your life, I urge you to examine deeply the ethics
that emerge from the ministry of Moses, the words of the prophets, the teachings
and life of Jesus, and the teachings of the apostles. There you will find God’s
standards: fairness, compassion, justice, love, community, generosity, self-sacrifice,
steadfastness. Living into those standards is more difficult than obeying certain
laws, but it also draws you closer to God.
I ask God to grant me the wisdom to lead others towards enlightenment.
your e-mail address I gather that you are a church musician.
so, you are in a unique position to do exactly what you seek:
to lead others to enlightenment. From ancient times, music has
been humanity’s stairway to God. What could never be said
fully in written or spoken word becomes possible in song. Music
taps emotions, uses the power of metaphor (“The Lord is
my shepherd”) to get beyond the literal, draws the many
into one, and opens both heart and mind to God. As a church musician,
you are charged with using music wisely and faithfully.
How do you know the right decision to make about something
when you keep praying and asking God to help you?
doubt that we ever know for sure. I remember once needing to
an important decision about accepting a job offer. I
prayed, talked, struggled. In the end, I had to make the best
decision I could. I then sat in a chair, exhausted, and said
to God, “I have tried my best. If I made the wrong decision,
I ask your forgiveness.”
In other words, certainty is beyond us, but forgiveness isn’t
am “shell-shocked” by
how mean people can be. How in the world can I ever learn to
trust people and
people aren’t a sign that God is untrustworthy.
You can trust God at all times, no matter how poorly people are
behaving. God allows people to live freely – and in their
freedom to abuse others – but God also promises to love
us and to stand with us. When confronted with people’s
meanness, you can turn to God in full confidence.
As to trusting people, that is a dilemma. History suggests that
cruelty is ever with us. It is unlikely that you can ever fully
separate yourself from
humanity’s frailty, including your own. What you can do, first, is to
live your life as decently as possible, and then learn to trust yourself. Second,
you can gravitate toward people who live decently and treat others well, and
learn to trust them. Third, you can remain wary of those who willfully hurt
The key here is discernment.
does it mean to be a person of faith?
agrees to follow God out of bondage. Faith braves the wilderness,
trusting God to lead the way and to provide daily bread. Faith
crosses into new land, and stops along the way to give thanks
to God. Faith shares the harvest with God. Faith accepts the
prophet’s difficult word as necessary to hear. Faith
remembers God even in exile. Faith finds comfort in God’s
promise of redemption. Faith agrees to be taught, even though
the Messiah’s teachings are hard to hear; agrees to serve,
even though the served often rebel and resent; agrees to love
even one’s enemy; agrees to stand with Jesus even as
he dies; agrees to die to self, even as others live to self.
Faith sees and hears what the powerful despise. Faith knows
that love is its superior. Faith sees a multitude, hungry and
needy, and decides to feed and clothe without concern for the
opinions of others. Faith bows its head in prayer and raises
its head in joy.
To be a person of faith means giving yourself over to all of that, even as
the world sets another course.
am unsure of what religion to practice or believe in?
a Christian, I invite you to explore the Good News of God
in Christ. That can take many different forms, as Christianity
wears hundreds of different garments. But learning more about
Jesus – how he lived, what he said, how he gave up
his life for others, and how God raised him to new life – can
start in any healthy congregation. As you set about seeking
a starting-point, I encourage you to ask around: Where do
people whom you respect seem to be experiencing God? Doctrine
matters little, liturgical practice matters little. What
matters is a healthy, lively congregation of people willing
to take the journey of faith (see Q & A above) and to
share it with strangers. Remember that Jesus created circles
of friends, not an institution of rules and hierarchy.
you start – a neighborhood church is often a good place – be
prepared for a journey with surprises. I don’t know
of any serious Christian who has ended up where he or she
started. Faith transforms.
is the path that has brought me close to God. It has changed
my life and might well change yours. Other paths exist, as
well, and each has its own integrity. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism,
Judaism and others all have rich ways of introducing you
to the God of all creation. Be wary of any tradition that
insists that its way is the only way.
does religion mean? Is it what you believe in
at church or what? Please help.
usually has to do with structure and expectations. It is the
organizational dimension of faith. At its most gracious and
humble, religion can be a thing of great beauty, performing
acts of charity that resemble the way Jesus lived. At its worst,
religion often seeks to be an end in itself, demanding that
participants give slavish devotion to certain leaders, practices,
assertions or rules. In that pursuit, religion ends up being
no different from any other institution.
religion truly serves God, however, its practices point
the way to God, its words call people to deeper engagement
the Holy, its leaders are servants, and its people pursue
lives of prayer and service. In my experience, such goodness
at the local level. Every denomination has congregations
that exemplify God. I urge you to seek out such a community
(Return to Top)