Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
You know the story. Cain was a farmer, Abel a herdsmen. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm, Abel brought an offering from the firstborn animals of his herd. God didn't approve of Cain's offering, Abel's He did. (Genesis 4:3-5, The Message)
And Cain was ticked off... with God.
Who are you to tell me that what I have offered is not acceptable? Cain had a little of his father in him, some Sinatra too... I did it myyyyyyy waaaaaaay! I can see him now... face flushed, palms sweating, heart racing, blood pressure spiking, pupils dilating, teeth grinding, fists clenched. Heck, I can almost feel it myself. Am I alone here?
The quality in Abel (i.e., his faith, see Hebrews 11:4) that would arouse Cain's jealousy toward his brother could have just as easily been cause for admiration and affection. But that's not what happened because jealousy was not the primary passion revealing itself in that moment... jealousy was the fruit of Cain's anger... and his anger was toward God... and he was angry with God because God told him that he had not done well, that he had failed to do the right thing... and when God pricks our hearts with his truth it has the tendency to make us furious, fighting mad, and vengeful... so Cain asked his brother to take a walk... and you already know the rest of the story... Cain was angry and then became jealous and then he hated/murdered his brother.
But I'm thinking there's at least one other layer to unwrap here. The murder is easy to see and so is the jealousy and so is the anger with God... it's all very explicit in the story. But here's something deeper to consider... can't tell you if I'm right or not, but I'll go with it anyway... and here it is, one word: blessing. Cain didn't have God's blessing. I'm not talking about 'blessing' as in steady rains and crop abundance. I'm talking about 'blessing' as in favor and pleasure and regard (as the text puts it in Genesis 4:4-5).
And we ALL, in the deepest parts of our soul, want God's blessing, His favor, his kindness towards us, His approval, His regard. Every single one of us. Cain's parents had it at one time... God looked at everything He had made one day, Adam and Eve included, and He said this is so good. Adam and Eve had peace with God, peace with each other, and neither one of them knew anything about shame. And then Hell entered the garden and God's blessing was gone... not His presence, not His mercy and not His grace, but His blessing... His regard and pleasure and favor for what was taking place... gone... everything had changed... and the results infected the hearts of Adam's sons like staph infects the bloodstream.
There is a beautiful reality to the larger story here... God's blessing, the affirmation we all desire, is available to everyone, and it is available via what I will call The Way of Abel... and it's called faith. Abel offered his best in faith and he received God's blessing. Cain didn't offer his best, for whatever the reason, and did not receive God's blessing.
And the results were catastrophic.
God help us to live by faith. Thank You for the blessing comes with that.
It is impossible to please God without faith. --Hebrews 11:6
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Green is definitely not my favorite color, but there are a few certain exceptions... a Boston Celtics jersey, the dyed Chicago River on St. Patrick's Day in the Windy City, the invitingly lush hue of a golf course's precisely manicured Zoysia grass, the new-life tints of spring.
To me, these vibrant and deep greens are beautifully appealing to the eye, but there exists a shade that is downright ugly... jealousy.
"The jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves."- One man describes jealousy as "a mental cancer."- Solomon says it "corrodes the bones."- It "injures us with the dagger of self-doubt" says another.-
Sadly, "it is in the character of very few men to honor without [jealousy] a friend who has prospered."- It often "shapes faults that are not" truly present in others... at least not to the extent that our evil eyes might see.- It is a powerful force that can leave one trudging along "under that hovering cloud, jealousy, whose acid raindrops blurred my vision and burned holes in my heart."-
Jealousy... a terribly ugly shade of green... a most destructive passion... a seductive demon... a divisive influencer... an almost-instant result of the first Adam's fall from grace... an undeniable presence that crouches at the door of every heart... an occupant of the flesh that must be subdued and restrained, lest it run roughshod over its host.
I've often heard the expression "green with envy" but I did not know its origin. Apparently, this widely used phrase is attributed to William Shakespeare, the brilliant English poet and playwright.
Before his time, "a green complexion (i.e., pale and sickly) was associated with other things besides envy: these included fear, ill-humor and illness. In a famous passage, Iago warns Othello to 'beware, my Lord, of jealousy; it is the green-eyed monster which doth mock, the meat it feeds on,' a metaphor from the green-eyed cat family which is prone to play with (mock) its victims as a cat plays with a mouse. Though green has continued to have other associations, notably immaturity and gullibility, it is [jealousy] that now predominates."-
Leave it to a devilish character like Iago, in a classic work like Othello, to capture a timeless human reality.
And let me be the first to say that the green-eyed monster named Jealousy crouches at the door of my heart, mocking and toying with my flesh, desiring to divide and destroy.
It is indeed a dreadful shade of green.
 William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude, 1693
 B.C. Forbes
 Proverbs 14:30, The Message
 William Shakespeare, Othello
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
Wanted to share some quotes with you from last week's marriage conference with Dan Allender. (For additional information, go to The Path Less Chosen) If you ever have a chance to hear this guy it would be well worth your time and money. Enjoy. I'll probably post a "Part 2" at some point.
- "Marriage is... a reminder of what I will never suffer, a reminder of what I don't deserve."
- "The #1 basis for division in marriage, for separation and divorce is contempt." (Contempt is defined as disdain and scorn; the feeling with which a person regards anything considered mean, vile, or worthless; it is anything that vilifies, denegrates, cheapens)
- "Most differences lead us to contempt, but they are intended to bring us closer." (The end result of which is that a husband and wife see all the good that has been added to his or her life thru their spouse. Differences are meant to help develop deep, sincere gratitud in us.)
- "Hope is the realm in which evil assaults us with contempt."
- "The world doesn't need good marriages; the world needs broken, difficult, passionate, marriages."
- "I am not nearly as bad as I would fear; I am not nearly as good as I would hope." (love that!)
- "The answer to one's unique calling may be found in the answers to these questions...  what makes me cry?  what makes me angry?  what is my story?  what is my 'yes'? (i.e., positive absolutes, 'this has to happen and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure it does')  what is my 'no'? (i.e., negative absolutes, 'ain't no way I'm allowing that to go on anymore, not on my watch')"
- "What does it mean to be a man who leads? It means you repent first, you allow yourself to be broken first."
- "A woman brings grace... strong, fierce grace." (This was an incredible point... he was talking about the wife as the helper and he focused on that word in the story of Adam and Eve. The word for helper occurs only 5 times in the OT... one being when God said it wasn't good for Adam to be alone so he would make a helper suitable for him. The other 4 usages refer to God being a helper in very difficult circumstances. But more than a helper, He is a deliverer and protector and, in particular, He is those things in times of war. Hence, a wife brings grace... strong, fierce grace.)
- Key word for women = "lonely" (because of their profound desire for relationships)... key word for men = "futility" (why bother? everything I do is constantly being undone)
- A woman naturally says, "I'm too much" (for my husband to understand)... a man naturally says, "I'm not enough" (for her) (Great combination, huh!?)
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Life is beautiful. It's not easy, mind you, but it is beautiful; it is beautiful because it is flows from the Creator of beautiful things.
Monday, January 12, 2009
General Information // About our Reminderbands®
- Phrase #1 -- light your world
- Phrase #2 -- the luke sponberg foundation
- Color -- Light Blue
- Sizes -- Large (8-3/8") - Medium (7-3/8") - Child (5-7/8")
- Please note -- Not sure what size you need? Click here to visit the Reminderband® website. Then look for "Don't order the wrong size! Try on a Reminderband first!" which is located on the lower-right side of the page. Then click on the link provided.
- Donation amount -- $5 per band -OR- a larger amount if you would like
- Payment method -- PayPal (see right sidebar on the blog homepage)
- Please note -- If you prefer a different payment option (i.e., check or money order), please email us (see 'Contact Information' below) and let us know your wishes.
- Your name (first & last)
- Your email address
- Total number of bands and sizes you would like to order (e.g., Total = 3; Sizes = 1 Large, 1 Medium, 1 Child)
- Physical address you want your bands mailed to
- Email -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
Puritan John Owen makes my point with this statement: "The vigor and power and comfort of our spiritual life depends on our mortification of deeds in the flesh."