In the Beginning

  |   Sep 7, 2014


Male: Be a man. Be tough.

Female: Be sweet. No one likes a smarty pants.

Male: Don't be such a sissy. Handle it like a man.

Female: You should go on a diet.

Male: Play the field.

Female: Be sexy but not too sexy.

Male: Show them who's boss.

Female: You're a princess.

Male: You make the money.

Female: Let him take care of you.

Male: Pick yourself up.

Female: Know your place.

Female: Keep your mouth shut.

Male: The world tells us who we're supposed to be, but it keeps changing its mind, throughout time, throughout cultures. We can't decide what makes a man a man and what makes a woman a woman. The message, the plan… It keeps changing. What if there was something else? What if there was something better, something that existed since the beginning, something untouched by time, something true and perfect?

[End of video]

How are you? Are you doing well? Okay. I'm going to make it really, really easy. Genesis 1:1. If you have your Bibles, go ahead and grab them. In fact, we will just pretty much stay in that sentence in our time together today. I'll read some other things, but we'll just kind of camp right there in that one sentence, Genesis 1:1.

We're beginning today our fall series. It will take us right up until Advent. We've entitled that A Beautiful Design. What we're talking about this fall is really God's good graces in creating us, both male and female, and how he has wired us and how we are to function according to how he designed us to work. That's where we're headed this fall.

You should have gotten a handout when you came in that will show you everything from what the sermons are to even I think the texts are in there. If you are interested in knowing the future, we've tried to provide it for you there in your handout. God, for whatever reason, in his divine sovereignty, has trusted me with three small souls. Two of those souls are female, two little girls, and one of those souls is male, a little boy.

One of the things we're doing in my house, as I understand it from the Word of God, is we are raising my son to be a man, and we are raising my daughters to be women. That's the end goal. What I'm doing with my son is I'm oftentimes saying things like, "This is what men do," and I'll show him what men do. "This is what a man does."

Then Lauren will partner with me with my son, "Yes, this is what men do." We're trying to make him a man. We don't want him to be a boy who can shave. We feel like the world is already filled with those. We don't want our son to become one. "Here is what a man is, son. Here is how a man behaves. Here is how a man submits to authority. Here is how a man sees." We're doing that. We're working hard at it.

Then we're trying to raise our daughters to become women. My wife and I have had long conversations. I don't want some, "Bless your little heart," daughter. I don't want that. I want them to be monsters. Do you know what I'm saying? I want them to be intellectual beasts. I want them to be brilliant and sharp and deep, and I want them to be the type of iron for their husbands that will sharpen their husbands and make their husbands better men than they were before they met my daughters.

I praise God that he gave me the woman he gave me because if she was not ferocious, then I would be half the man I am, but she's godly and ferocious, and she has done more to shape and mold and turn me into who is standing before you right now than anyone else probably in my life. I want that for my daughters. I'm asking God to do that. We're trying to raise them that way. This is our hope to do this.

When God gives you children, there are things that haven't been on your radar for decades that all of a sudden reappear. After I grew… I don't even know what age I was. Nursery rhymes kind of left. Through junior high, high school, college, they don't show up outside of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy Krueger kind of perversion of a nursery rhyme. You're just not thinking about it.

Then when you have kids, all of a sudden, nursery rhymes show back up, but you think differently now because you're older. This is one of my favorites. "What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy dog tails." Do you know what a snip is? A snip is like a small eel. It's a leech. "What are little boys like? Leeches and slugs and puppy dog tails." That's what little boys are made out of. "What are little girls made out of? Sugar and spice and everything nice."

Now, if you study this, if you take this as literature and study it, here is what we know. We don't know who wrote it. Here is where I'm putting all my money: not a man. I'm putting all my money on a man did not write this, and whoever did write this probably just came out of a pretty devastating relationship. All right? I'll do it. When she wrote this, things were not going well between her and her man.

"What are boys made out of? Leeches and snails and… What else would be awful? Oh, puppy dog tails. But not me. I'm sugar and spice and everything nice." Right? Here's what's funny about this nursery rhyme. This nursery rhyme is trying to do some things we still struggle with, and that is correctly define and unpack what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman.

Is it binary biology? Is that all it means to be a man? If you have a penis and the primary hormone in your body is testosterone, is that what makes you a man, or is there a set of behaviors that makes you a man? Is it just a vagina and the primary hormone of estrogen flowing through your body that makes you a woman, or is there a set of behaviors that accompanies being a woman?

See, these questions, although for you might be really simple to answer, I'm telling you, by and large, in our culture, in our day, those questions are being answered differently than they ever have before in the history of mankind. They're very difficult questions to answer right now. We're not answering them well. Let me prove my point.

This is from a recent article in the New Yorker. Here is what it says. "The JWT report gives an overall impression that, just like femininity, masculinity is increasingly defined by both playing to and against type. It's growing a really impressive beard and ordering a kale salad for lunch. It's knowing Super Bowl trivia and being an emotionally supportive partner.

But if this makes it sound like men are joining women in having a less gender-bound view of their sense of self, it's not that simple. According to the JWT research, even though millennial men are, more than older men, okay with using concealer and learning to poach eggs, they also say they're more frustrated with not knowing what it 'means' to be a man."

Randy Thomas states, "We've lost our history of what it means to be a man and our history of what it means to be a woman, and activists have worked to obliterate that history because they feel it's sexist. So if a man doesn't know how to teach a little boy how to be a man, there's a void there." In that void, it's no wonder we're coming up with all kinds of ways to identify.

What Thomas was addressing specifically there is the growing list of things in that checkbox of how you're able to define yourself. For all of human history, it has been male or female. Now it is male, female, other/they. It can also be (here's the newest one to show up on the list) gender fluid. Let's talk before we go any farther.

For many of us, much of what we'll cover today will seem absurd, but for others of us in the room, this will hit on real struggle, real life circumstances, and people we love. Let's be really, really careful as we move forward here to guard our snickers and to guard our chuckles at things we might feel are absurd but are most definitely not, for some in the room, absurd at all.

I will say this as we launch off into this series. If the church must be anything, she must be a safe place for the gender confused and the sexually broken. If she is not safe for that, then we do not believe our own message. We are all broken, all in need of salvation, all in need of grace, and to take a particular struggle and put it outside the bounds reveals we don't quite understand what it is we believe. Then we'll take other people's sins more seriously than we'll take our own. It's wicked.

Although some of this might seem absurd to you, I promise it's not to everybody in the room. Let's just guard it. Let me give you an example of this type of gender confusion, this gender fluidity. When I turned in my notes, I had a whole list of examples, literally seven or eight examples of this. I listen to a certain podcast every day that is kind of cultural news and notes, and he rolled out one that happened this week, so I scrapped it and just put this one down.

Mount Holyoke College is a historic traditional all-women college in the Northeast. It's a part of a series of schools called the Seven Sisters. At one time, the Ivy League schools were all-male institutions, so Mount Holyoke was one of seven colleges that were launched for women, heavily influenced by first- and second-wave feminism, which had a ton of positives to them, that created a platform in which intellectually brilliant women had a place to learn and grow in their intellect. They rolled out earlier this week some new admission standards to show how progressive they are.

I'm just going to read to you from their document. "Mount Holyoke College welcomes applications for our undergraduate program from any qualified student who is female or identifies as a woman. As a pioneer in higher education, Mount Holyoke remains committed to its historic mission of providing access to excellence for academically talented women regardless of socioeconomic background. The College values each student's development, both academically and personally, and recognizes that self-identity may change over time."

That immediately creates some questions like, "What does that mean?" They know this, so they begin to list out what this means. Again, I'm just going to read to you their document. "The following academically qualified students can apply for admission consideration:

Biologically born female; identifies as a woman

Biologically born female; identifies as a man

Biologically born female; identifies as other/they/ze

Biologically born female; does not identify as either woman or man

Biologically born male; identifies as woman

Biologically born male; identifies as other/they/ze and when 'other/they' identity includes woman

Biologically born with both male and female anatomy (Intersex); identifies as a woman"

That's who can join Mount Holyoke now or try to go to school at Mount Holyoke. Since I run or help run an organization, I understand what happens when you roll out policies and procedures. Policies and procedures are nice, but they have to work. When you apply them, they have to work. There are two questions right out of the gate.

At this point, who can't become a student at Mount Holyoke? That's simple. There is only one person who cannot. Biologically born as a male and identifies as a male. That's the only person who cannot. Here's the second question. What happens if you change your mind? What happens if you roll in identifying as a woman, and your sophomore year, you start seeing some things you like? Can you then change your mind and be a man and stay?

They answer this question. "If a transwoman decides, during her four years as a Mount Holyoke student, to change her mind and chooses a male gender identity, will she need to withdraw from the College? What about biologically female students who come to identify themselves as male?" Will they be removed? "No. Once students are admitted, the College supports them regardless of their sex or gender identity, which is consistent with our current practice."

Keep in mind this is one example of what I had, what began as dozens of examples of how this is playing out all over the world. It's not just in colleges and universities. It's playing out in high schools. In a lot of ways, the world has lost its mind around gender and identity. How are we then, as Christians who believe the Word of God, meant to approach this issue? I'll tell you, and I'll tell you why I believe it.

We are to approach this issue and approach those who struggle in this issue with a type of grace-laden compassion that God would have us engage over, particularly for this reason. It's funny that I'll do this by quoting a non-Christian, but Dr. Paul McHugh… Let me give you his title because it's way too long for me to remember. Paul McHugh is the university distinguished service professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, and his research shows that gender identity confusion is actually a psychiatric issue and isn't something people should just be left to decide on their own.

Here's what he says. I'll just quote him. "I have witnessed a great deal of damage from sex-reassignment. The children transformed from their male constitution into female roles suffered prolonged distress and misery as they sensed their natural attitudes." Here's what he did. What he did is… Johns Hopkins was kind of the tip of the spear on sexual reassignment surgery.

If you're like, "I'm a woman. I was born in a man's body. For me to be satisfied in life, I need a woman's body." They did the surgery on you. They would take a man and turn him into a woman or take a woman and turn her physically into a man. They started that in the 70s, by the way. What he did is he went back, and all those who were reassigned, he did a survey. He sat down. Did it fulfill them? Did it satisfy? Did it fix what was broken?

What he found… The results were devastating. He was quoted in USA TODAY just a couple of weeks ago, and he got worked for what he said. What he found out was that almost all of the males who had had gender reassignment surgery now identified themselves as lesbians because they found women attractive. He said on top of this, the research at Johns Hopkins (which, by the way, no longer does these surgeries anymore) had shown that 80 percent of children who struggle with gender identity confusion outgrow it.

If parents, in their overzealousness, have reassignment surgery performed (by the way, the youngest today is a 12-year-old in Germany), then the prolonged distress, fear, and anxiety they create is massively, exponentially larger than what they were wrestling with as 8- and 9-year-olds who were confused about their gender identity. He goes on to say, "We have wasted scientific and technical resources and damaged our professional credibility by collaborating with madness rather than trying to study, cure, and ultimately prevent it."

I'll tell you why I like his point. I like his point because he's not an elder at a church, not a deacon, not a Christian, and he's saying… Let's just say it. If you have eight words before your title, you're smarter than most of the other people you know. Listen. His title can't fit on a card. I don't know how he explains what he is, and I don't know what you know about Johns Hopkins, but they're not in the habit of hiring morons.

They're not going, "Where's the weakest psychiatric guy we can find to lead our research and reassignment department?" No, he's brilliant, and he's saying this is a psychiatric issue. I'll say it again. If the church must be anything, she must be a safe place for those who struggle, for the down and out, for the mentally broken, for the mentally confused. She must be a fortress of safety and grace for the weary struggler, or we do not understand who Christ is.

How do we enter this confusion and think clearly about it? That's why I wanted to look at Genesis 1:1 with you. We'll read this, and then I want to start to unpack it. Genesis 1:1 is very… Like I said, it's just a quick sentence. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." That's it. That's all we'll read today. Let's pray. No, I'm going to unpack. Let's go with just the first phrase in it. "In the beginning…" I want to just stop there. This is a difficult little thing here, and I'll tell you why.

You and I are finite beings which means we cannot think of anything outside the parameters of time. We are driven by, dictated by, controlled by time. "What time are you getting up? What time does church start? What time are we meeting for lunch? What time is the kickoff today? When are we going to dinner? When are we going to meet? What time? When were you born? When did you graduate from high school? What year did you graduate from college? How old were you when you had kids? How old are your children?" All of this is time.

In fact, you'd be stressed to describe anything without using language that signifies time. This little phrase "in the beginning" means that there was something before there was time. I have not been able to, in four months, put together a sentence with English words that will connote something existing before there was time without using words that connote time.

I was like, "There was this space before…" Oh, before, no. Yet, what we see here is there was something before (sorry, I can't do any better than that) there was time. In fact, Ecclesiastes would tell us this is how much time drives us. If you don't know your Bible, maybe you would like the rock band The Byrds. Here's what it says. Ecclesiastes 3, starting in verse 1.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace."

"To everything, turn, turn, turn." Right? There's a time for everything. Even the question, "How are you?" will be answered with time signatures. "Right now, I'm all right." "I'm good. It's a good season." We're dictated by it, driven by it, yet this text says there was something before it. The next part starts to unpack it more. "In the beginning God…" Now we have an eternal Creator outside of time. Now we know what that something was before "in the beginning," and it was God.

God, according to the Bible, is the only one or only thing, the only object which has no beginning, because God alone has no beginning. Therefore, everything that exists is grounded in God, finds its origin in God, its being in God. Its reality is found in God. He and he alone has no beginning and has no end. Then from there we see what this God did. "In the beginning God created…" This God is the primary mover in everything that exists.

What you begin seeing here is as God being the primary mover, the ultimate Creator, you get a sense of the immensity of his wealth. Let me show you what I mean by that. What's in my hand? Nothing. Perfect. Great. It's not a trick question. It's not like, "No! Ha ha!" Like a pot of flowers all of a sudden. No, there is nothing in my hand. I don't know magic. Nothing.

If I could take this that's in my hand right now and make anything I wanted out of this and as much of anything I wanted out of this, how unbelievably wealthy would I be? Let me answer that for you. Wealthy. If I can take nothing and make whatever I want out of nothing and make as much as I want out of nothing, then I would have everything materially that I could want.

What we see is that in the beginning, God created, and he created everything that is out of nothing. That's how immensely wealthy God is. In fact, it goes on not even to just celebrate really the wealth of God, but it goes on from there, "In the beginning God created the heavens…" Now we're looking at his power, the expanse of the universe.

When God creates the heavens, when we look at the idea of heavens (plural) in the Bible, we're looking at the expanse of the universe from men who don't understand the expanse of the universe who are writing the very words of God who does understand the expanse of the universe. Are you tracking with what we just did there? Let me give you examples.

In Psalm 147:4, he says this. "He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names." Now, when David, filled with the Holy Spirit, is penning this, he is completely unaware of what you and I are aware of. He knows nothing of the Hubble Telescope. He knows nothing of the expanse of the universe. He has no idea of other solar systems or anything like that. He just says, "You're naming all these stars."

By the way, we're trying to name all those stars right now. I don't know how well we're doing. I mean, even the Hubble Telescope is stuck on this one little area of space. One of my favorites, Job 26:14. "Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways…" Other translations of this say, "These heavens are but the fringes of his garment."

Again, it's talking about the power of God, that he created the expanse of the universe, and he did it out of nothing. Out of nothing, the expanse of the universe was born. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The earth is a funny one. If you know anything about astrology, you might think that what I'm about to say is hopelessly ignorant and arrogant, but I'll gladly just step into that space and let you define me that way.

In the middle of the vastness of the universe, God also creates, in one of the smaller solar systems, this tiny little ball, this tiny little rock on which the greatest drama ever to be known in the universe would be played out with the crown jewel of his created order being placed on it, man and woman, made in his image to rule and reign on this earth. That's next week, 50 minutes of that next week.

He places us there in this small solar system on this insignificant planet. If we're honest, Earth isn't even all that impressive for our own solar system, much less our own galaxy, which is just a smaller galaxy in the expanse of the universe. Maybe you're going, "How arrogant is it, in the expanse of the universe, to say that what's going on on this little rock is the point?" I will say this about the Word of God. Throughout the Scriptures, God delights in the small, the fragile, and the weak.

In the expanse of the universe, it doesn't get much smaller, much more fragile, and much weaker than what you see on the planet Earth. We just need a few degrees to change here or there, and our planet no longer exists. Now what you have here is a personal, creative force, a personal, creative God who creates all things. He creates space. He creates time. He creates mass. You have the philosophers', the theologians', and the scientists' dream.

The biggest questions of origin, of purpose, and of design can now be studied and understood. Math, science… They all work now because this creator God spoke into being time and mass and design. Without those three things, you have no ability to do that. What I want to do in the last part of my message with you is I just kind of want to run through those three things. Our origins: what are we? I'm going to talk about that just for a second. These will be quick. I'm going to talk about our purpose. Why are we here? Then I want to talk about design and good design.

Let's just start with this. Origin. What are we? As quick as I can do it, I'll just do it like this. We are created. You and I were created by a creator. We didn't used to be something else, and now we're this. We were created by a creator, which means (this is going to sting a little bit) we are not the measure of anything. Maybe that language is not as helpful as this, just to be more direct and straight with you since we have this strong relationship.

You're not the point. I'm not the point. We're not the point in the expanse of the universe even though we have a special place in the creative order. Again, that's next week. You and I, as created beings, are not the point. I'll tell you why this rubs us the wrong way. We want to be the point. I want to be the point. I just got back from 11 days in Australia. I'm coming home. I want to be the point. I've been gone this whole time. I'm jetlagged. I preached like 170 times or something like that. I forgot. I blacked out once. I don't even know what I said.

I just want to come home and be the point. For Lauren, I want to be the point. For the kids, I want to be the point. I just want to be the point, but I'm not the point. Knowing I'm not the point makes everything work. Knowing I'm not the point helps me understand my wife has been with three children by herself for the last 11 days, and that will make people lose their minds.

While I've been gone having a bunch of grown up conversations, Lauren has been coloring pictures and talking in baby voices, so I have to get her out of there? She's as jetlagged as I am. "We'll just all take a nap, baby. Spend time with grown-ups. All right?" In the middle, you're not the point. We are created, and because we are created, we are not the measure of it all.

Then we get into our purpose. Why are we here? I'm going to answer this in greater detail in the weeks to come. Let me just quickly do this under purpose. You and I are not floating aimlessly through a cosmos with no plan or purpose. Because we have a creator, that Creator has created us with a purpose in mind.

If you feel lost in it all, just know that this sentence… By the way, this sentence has been called by Francis Schaeffer "the most pregnant sentence ever written." In the beginning, God creating the heavens and the earth means you were created with a purpose. Here's what we can also extract from this text. We can take out our magic marker and mark off things we know can't be true. All right? Let me go through just a couple of those. Let me show you what we can rule out because we believe that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

The first thing we can rule out is dualism. Dualism cannot be true because we see God created all things and had and has no equal. Let me explain dualism in a way everyone will be able to understand. If you've ever watched those movies about demon-possessed people where they call in the priest, every time the priest comes in, don't you know something bad is about to happen? That dude is going to get jacked up. Bring in the priest, and you're just like, "Oh."

You don't know if it's going to be pea soup or the girl turns into a spider and jumps on him and rips out his jugular. You just know that guy is screwed, right? That's dualism, the idea that there are these two competing forces against one another, and who knows who is going to win? Based on the first sentence of the Bible, that simply cannot be true. There isn't a force that can compete with God on this stage. It simply can't be true.

Materialism (not capitalistic materialism; we'll get to that one though) is the idea that all that exists is the material we see is impossible because God is before and above it. Polytheism is ruled out because there are no other gods present. Hedonism and capitalistic materialism are invalid, as pleasure must now be evaluated against the person of God to judge its validity. Pleasure and wealth may not be seen as good and right if they are selfish, indulgent, or displeasing to the God who created the pleasure and the gains to begin with.

Existentialism, the idea that man wills and determines his own reality, is ruled out in that the truth is found in the unchanging nature of a creator and not the opinion of the created. It is written here, "For he who has a beginning and is not from himself cannot rule by his dominion or govern according to his pleasure what he has not created." Pantheism is ruled out because we see God isn't everything, and everything isn't God.

If you don't understand pantheism, think Avatar. Remember when they took their ponytail and connected it to grass and to trees and felt they were one with… God is everything, and everything is God. We know that simply cannot be true because God is the Creator of everything. He is not everything. He simply told everything to be. Now, men historically have been drawn to pantheism because there is something in the design of creation, even as it is broken because of sin that makes us believe there is something behind it all.

Let me give you a couple of better-known pantheists. I don't know that you know they're pantheists, but they're well-known in regards to who they are. Mikhail Gorbachev. If you're under 32, maybe you don't know who that is. For those of you who are 40 and older, that was our Putin. Gorbachev said this. "I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. So nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals. Being one with nature."

Who knew Gorbachev was such a poet like he's writing for Hallmark? "The trees are my god. The babbling river brook." Right? Here is some intellectual dishonesty when it comes to most pantheists' explanation of worshipping creation. It always sounds like a Hallmark card. It never sounds like a lion devouring a baby antelope.

It all has to do with the beauty of nature and rarely will address how horrifically violent nature is. In nature, the old and the young die, always. The weak are the first to go. You can see our boy here is just, "The trees are my temple." Well, what about the fire ants in the tree, Mikhail? They're going to eat your eyeballs out, bro. Do you like that? That's ridiculous. I apologize.

Here's another one. This is Carl Sagan. Sagan was a brilliant astrophysicist and studied the universe. He's brilliant. Here is one of his quotes. "A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge."

Now, Sagan has either purposefully suppressed what is true about Christianity, or he was ignorant of it. Here is where I'll agree with my boy Carl here. Here is where I'll agree with him. One, the universe is magnificent. I'll click on that link in a second if something popped up and goes, "Thirty images from the Hubble Telescope." Click, click. I'm on it. I love that stuff. The grandeur of the universe is unbelievable.

I agree with Carl that it should produce in us a type of reverence and awe. Here is where I think he misses the point. What Sagan fails to realize is that reverence and awe are exponentially magnified if there is a creator behind (and I'll quote him) "the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science." What Sagan either purposefully suppressed or refused to admit is that as magnificent as the universe is, it is exponentially more magnificent that there is something behind it that told it to be.

I love the ocean, like the real ocean. I wish we all lived closer to one, right? I mean like a real one. Not the Gulf. I'm not saying, "Let's move to Galveston." That's not what I said. If we could be by a real ocean and hear its roars and be impressed by its waters and feel the fear that this thing could sweep me out and be done with me without breaking a sweat, that magnificence, that awe that we would feel would just be surface-level, elementary reverence. The fact that someone told that to be is exponential reverence.

The vastness of the universe, the sheer size of it, if you'll give your mind over to meditate upon it, will create a little fear in you as we'll feel smaller than we like to feel. That's magnificent, but if there is something behind that magnificence that told that magnificence to be simply because he was able to tell it to be, that's a reverence and awe that goes well beyond what Carl was talking about.

Actually, when I read that, I felt sorry for him. He wanted so badly for there to be something that created reverence and awe in him that wasn't religion, and he missed out, as he looked at the stars, the One who was behind the stars. It's sad, really. It's sad. Then, again, pantheism tends to be where we go where everything is a god. It's just the wind through the leaves and that rustle. "I just want to be on a hammock with God." That kind of Hallmark religion.

The reason we're drawn to it is because we can see good design. We can see there's a synergy to the universe, that things are working together. That brings us to design, now that we know our origin. We have a creator. Our purpose. We have a creator. He has a purpose for us. Here are the things we can rule out because we know we have a creator. Now let's talk about design quickly.

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity talked about "the machine" or how things work. What he was talking about is morality, but I think you can apply it to really all of life. Let me just quote him here. "There is a story about a schoolboy who was asked what he thought God was like. He replied that, as far as he could make out, God was 'the sort of person who is always snooping around to see if anyone is enjoying himself and then trying to stop it.'

And I am afraid that is the sort of idea that the word morality raises in a good many people's minds: something that interferes, something that stops you having a good time. In reality, moral rules are directions for running the human machine. Every moral rule is there to prevent a breakdown, or a strain, or a friction, in the running of that machine.

That is why these rules at first seem to be constantly interfering with our natural inclinations. When you are being taught how to use any machine, the instructor keeps on saying, 'No, don't do it like that,' because, of course, there are all sorts of things that look all right and seem to you the natural way of treating the machine, but do not really work."

What Lewis is applying to morality I'll apply to the universe. There is a way we have been designed to work. There is a good, right, beautiful design implemented by the Creator of all things, and when we use that machinery wrong, bad things happen. All right? Here's how the Bible would say what Lewis just said. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." That's a terrifying verse.

There is a way that seems right to us. As I look at this situation, this seems right. The Bible is saying, "No, no, no. I'm right. Your way leads to death." Then in the same way, a life lived within the design flourishes. Psalm 16:11. "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Yes, please.

There is a difference between existing and living. You know that, right? You can be breathing air and simply existing. What the Bible is saying here is that God, this Creator, in the beginning, God created, this God makes known to us the path of life. "Do you want to know what manhood is? Here's the path of life. Do you want to know what womanhood is? Here's the path of life. You want to know about money? Here's the path of life. Sex? Here's the path of life. Children? Here's the path of life.

By the way, while we're walking down this path, I have pleasures forevermore at my right hand in case you get hungry and need something to snack on while we walk down the path of life." Yes, please. Even at the coming of Christ, you see this same type of imagery and language rolled out by Jesus in John 10:10. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." Yeah.

There is a personal, infinite, eternal, just, loving, holy God who designed this universe and everything in it to reflect his glory, his greatness and beauty, his power, wisdom, justice, and mercy. He has no beginning. He is absolute reality. He depends on nothing, and he and he alone can rightly and justly say, "This is what little boys are made out of, and this is what little girls are made out of." He has every right to do that as the Creator.

As James 1:17 reminds us, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." God doesn't change. He's the Creator and the Designer, and there is no shadow of turning with thee. Why is that good news for you and for me, specifically on the topic of manhood and womanhood?

If you want to get in a fight with me, here's a sure way to do it. As you're giving me directions to a place, say something like, "When you stop at the light, head east." I'll say, "Do I look like Davy Crockett? Am I wearing a raccoon hat? No, I'm not. Do I take a left, or do I take a right?" Right? "What am I, looking for constellations? Just which way do I turn?"

Before we had our phones or our in-dash computers or the maps we would unfold and then by the grace of God maybe get back to its original folding before we just threw it in the backseat, men and women navigated by finding fixed points and deciding directions based on the fixed points. Namely, that was Polaris or the North Star. It appeared to them to not move. Since they could spot it in the same spot, they were able then to determine direction based on a fixed point.

If there's not a fixed point, there is no way to know where you're actually going. When it comes to what we're talking about this fall or really at any point where culture and the Bible collide, our postures… We're keeping our eyes on the North Star. He doesn't change. There is no variation in him. Progress is a strange word to use for what we see unpacking in our world today. It seems as violent as ever to me. It seems as broken as ever to me.

We've got these old-time diseases just starting to ravage the world all over again. Progress. What a joke. No, I'm going to keep my eyes on the North Star. There is no variation in him. Again, you guys have to figure this out. Clappers. Two of you are like… Who was that? Can you tell me we're a primary anglo southern Baptist…? "What? No. He's talking. We're trying to hear." Anyway. No, it's too late now. It's too late. Second time this service.

That's where we're fixing our eyes. That's where our hope is. I think you'll find… As we walk through this series, I think there will be times when the Word of God is going to grate on us a little bit. God is going to call men to be more than they want to be. He's going to call women into some things they aren't going to like. This is what we're both going to find.

We will both need to lean heavily into the grace of God because we will find that by the Holy Spirit of God, God is calling us into spaces that feel awkward and uncomfortable and spaces we would "rather than." Yet, it's exactly in those spaces that our confidence in God should soar, for what kind of God would he be if he only said things to you that you liked and agreed with?

He would be no God at all. You would be the god. In the same way that no loving parent always just says, "Yes," to whatever their children want. You create sociopathic little monsters if you do that. Let the Lord lean on you, and let's marvel the rest of the fall at the beautiful design of God. Let's pray.

Father, thank you for these men and women. I thank you that we can just sit under a sentence and let it inform and shape us, allow it to grow our confidence in you. I thank you that before anything was, you were and that you spoke into being all that is. I do pray that we wouldn't fall prey to what Carl Sagan fell prey to, we wouldn't fall prey to what Gorbachev fell prey to, Father, that we would marvel at you who is behind it all.

Father, that we would see and understand that you and how you've revealed yourself to us in your Word would be our North Star and that we would navigate based on it, and we would trust that you're leading us home, over mountains and through valleys, leading us home. We love you.

We pray for those who struggle with some of the things we've talked about today, maybe even in this room or in one of our other rooms, where there is some gender identity confusion, parents who maybe have children who are walking through this. Father, I pray that the Word this morning would instill in them hope. May you continue to make this church a safe place for the confused, the broken, the longing, and the hopeful. It's for your beautiful name I pray, amen.    

Scripture Genesis 1:1