Dictator or Daddy?

Genesis 4:2b-7 

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.  4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 


6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” 


Many of us feel pretty confident that we know the story of Cain and Abel.  We remember that Cain rose up in jealousy and killed his brother Abel, because God accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s.  This is accurate, but do we accurately remember what happened prior to the jealousy and murder?  Cain interacted with God Himself.  And what did God say?  This is important because it shapes our perception. 


In verses 6 and 7, it says that The Lord inquired of Cain and asked, “Why are you angry?  Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?…”  Translation… “Don’t be upset, I love you Cain, my son.  You already know what to do Cain, just do that.  Do better next time.  Give it another try,…but be careful sin is tempting to overtake you.”  Far more than the judgmental dictator we often interpret God to be in this exchange, He was a loving Parent graciously training His child.  Not heeding this instruction Cain proceeded with the story that we know all too well.   


This beckons a question in our lives: How do you see Him; as Dictator or as Daddy? 


How often has the Lord lovingly instructed us, but we didn’t listen and suffered consequence?  Even further, we look back and we remember Him, not as a compassionate and wise parental figure, but as harsh and unrelenting.  Possibly even blaming Him for our downfall.  This is true irony.  The Father desires for us to come to Him like children, pure and innocent, trusting and teachable, yet we come to Him blaming and repulsed, screaming out, “I hate you,” like despondent toddlers.   We respond to Him like children, just the wrong type.  Paul distinguished the two, he called the lost world “Children of Wrath,” rather than “Children of God.”  When we respond in anger to His instruction we look like “wrathful” children versus “Christlike” disciples. 


So, this morning how will you respond?  It is doubtless that an opportunity for Him to instruct us today is coming.  Will we respond to our loving Father in dissidence, like Cain, or will we respond in compliance?  It all begins with how we perceive God in our lives.  Do we see Him as the dictator we remember Him in Cain’s story, or do we see Him as scripture actually reveals Him,… as our Daddy? 


Blind Spots


 Proverbs 3:5-6 

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart 

    and lean not on your own understanding; 

6 in all your ways submit to him, 

    and he will make your paths straight. 


Today I’d like to talk about “blind spots”.  Those places in our lives where we are unaware we are deficient or we have trouble seeing potential threats to our future success.  No, this is not intended to be a “self-help” discussion, nor would many people equate this passage with such a topic.  But let’s look a little deeper at this thought this morning. 


This passage is notorious for being utilized to help people make a directional life decision.  Where to live?  Who to marry?  Or where to work?  But what if it were simply intended to mature you and I.  I believe it can be used in those directional life decisions, but what if it were simply intended to direct your life this morning on a growth trajectory towards abundant life in Christ.  What if its aim for you and I this morning is: “more of Him and less of me.”  The goal would then become Christ-likeness, the direction would be the straightest path towards you and I bearing more fruit of His life, and the means to this direction would be submitting to Him.   


This would require a prayer like David’s in Psalm 139 in our own lives… it said: 

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;  

    test me and know my anxious thoughts. 

24 See if there is any offensive way in me, 

    and lead me in the way everlasting. 


This prayer invites God to reveal to us the “blind spots”.  The places that He sees, that we do not.  It requires our “leaning on His understanding, and not our own.”  It requires trust in Him over trust in our current spiritual condition.  It comes from a desire to grow and seek God’s best.  It denies comfort and continuing in the status quo.  It desires greatness over simply what is good.  It is content in Him, yet unsatisfied with settling for anything less than His dreamed intention of you and I.   


So, do you want that this morning?  To be everything that He wants you to be, and nothing short of that?  Then, are you open to His revelation?  To His revealing places of unresolved hurt, places of immaturity, places of resentment, or places of pride?  To His revealing places of selfishness, places of callousness, and places where you have lacked a teachable spirit?  These are the blind spots.   


Today, trust that He loves you, and acknowledge that He knows you better than anyone else on the planet, even better than you know yourself. Trust Him to reveal places of needed spiritual growth in your own life.   He may reveal this to you through the scriptures, through silence in prayer, through circumstances, or through the words of a trusted brother or sister in Christ.   


To reveal more of His life through yours, your life has to go away…to die.  It’s a death to self, to your agenda, to your thoughts, your perceptions, and your own self-preservation.  It’s a willingness to let all that go, and submit yourself to Him.  It’s relinquishing anything that He reveals and giving Him anything that He asks for.  This morning pray about the blind spots and ask God to bring them to light for you.   


Like Learning to Ride a Bike

Hebrews 12:11 

11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 


I have been thinking of the time when Canon, our son, learned to ride a bike, and this verse reminds me of this moment all the more.  Moving from training wheels to without, was a process that he was determined to do himself.  He decided, one day, that it was time.  As my wife or I went to help him he would push us away and say “NO.”  He was, again, determined to do it himself.  We’d both learned with our parents holding the back of the seat, walking alongside us until it was safe to let go.  We’d taught our oldest the same way.  Yet Canon wasn’t having it.  He’d get up and soon fall down, sometimes hard, and then scream, cry, yell and try again.  We’d try to help and encourage him, but he was ( a third time) determined to do it himself.   


Within about an hour, maybe two, he was riding.  Within a day he was zooming past us, speeding down our street.  Within a week he was racing; within 2-3 weeks he was riding, confidently, hands free.  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace.”  Canon was determined to get it, and was soon flying down our street.  He learned something new every time he fell down and got hurt, got angry and yelled.  He’d learn the things that didn’t work and those that did in order to achieve his goal of riding a bike and applying what he learned each time. His determination to reach his goal made the discipline of falling, while he learned to balance himself, … worth it to him.  Falling was a momentary consequence for this unlearned skill, but only until it was learned.   


I’ve been discussing the importance of spiritual disciplines, but I must remind us of our goal.  The disciplines are not the goal, becoming like Jesus and less like our old selves is.  It’s a new skill that is learned over time by trial and error that often isn’t pleasant at the time, but “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”  I don’t mention this story about Canon, because help is wrong.  Mentoring is imperative in the discipleship process.  I mention it because the determination was right.  It was having a goal, and that goal motivated determination in the process to see it to completion.  To not quit.  To quote Dallas Willard, “God isn’t opposed to effort, He is opposed to earning.”  So, give your best effort as worship.  We aren’t earning God’s affection in our effort, we are thanking Him for His affection over us.  


Spiritual disciplines are the method.  The way to develop ourselves in the way of Jesus as we worship Jesus. They are not the “thing,” Jesus is.  John 15 says that He is the vine and we are the branches… with this being the case, spiritual disciplines are the trellis by which that vine grows within us to produce a harvest of righteousness and peace.  Let the hope of eternal glory motivate us until the end.  Stick with it, we’re going somewhere.  We’re going to Him, …to be with Him and to be like Him.   



Love You, Trust Him- 



Pastor, newhopeforyou.com 


Transition of Power

Isaiah 6:1 

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 



2 Chronicles 26 reveals that “in the year that King Uzziah died,” Uzziah wasn’t king.  He’d grown arrogant, and in his pride incurred God’s resistance.  Yet, Isaiah mourned in the Temple for Uzziah his disgraced and fallen king just the same.  Why?  Because, Isaiah was Uzziah’s scribe thus an important member of Uzziah’s cabinet.  While mourning his dead king and his own fallen status, Isaiah was confronted by the Lord.  And,… in the presence of the Lord,  Isaiah repented, and in doing so he immediately buckled humbly exclaiming “woe is me, I am undone.”  Meaning, “forgive me, I have sinned.”  Isaiah realized that his worship of Uzziah was truly just idolatrous worship of himself.  In contrition, he realizes that he liked what being closely related to Uzziah meant about himself.  He liked the fame it gave him personally.  Have we considered how much we crave the status that comes when are identified with certain ideals, places or people?  Have we considered how much our desire to be identified with them may actually stand in the way of our being identified with Jesus, our Lord? 


His repentance reads like this in Isaiah 6:5-7 he says,  


“5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips,  and I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”   


This isn’t necessarily literal, but an illustration of how God cleanses us from sin and removes from our lives the idols leading to condemnation (for those who don’t know Him) or correction (for those that do).  It can be painful, but beautiful and freeing.  In gratitude, Isaiah allowed the Lord to remove from his life the title “the king’s scribe,” as he removed fleshly and sinful leanings, to enlist him in the Lord’s Kingdom as a prophet.  It is incredibly hard to fight the temptation to deny the craving for a platform.   But, when we realize our acceptance in the Lord, much like Isaiah did, those cravings begin to pale due to the goodness of the Lord.     


The truly important question is this.  Who has He made you to be?  The real you?!  The one He dreamt of before you were tainted with sin and selfish pursuits?  For Isaiah, it was “prophet of the Lord,” instead of “scribe to the king.”  But, he only found that true as he pressed into time with the Lord Himself.  He had to consciously push away from people and their praise, in order to hear Jesus accurately, and … we do too.  This only came for Isaiah by a transition of power within his own heart, and it only comes to us by that same transition.   


My eyes have seen the True King, … the Lord Jesus… and I am His.