Category Archives: One Bright Hour

Cain Killed.

4-1113tm-vector2-3712True story: Cain killed Abel.  According to the Bible, it’s the first crime in the history of the world occurring in only the second generation of human life. A God-believing man killed another God-believing man. But Cain’s heart was not filled with love for God, instead it was filled with jealousy and greed (love for himself). As Cain saw the righteousness of Abel and the favor of God upon him, his jealousy overtook him. Although God told Cain how he can be righteous and receive the same favor, Cain decided on another way. He decided to play the part of God. He lifted the axe to his brother’s neck and watched in both delight and horror as Abel’s blood spilled over the land. He made that decision, not God. It was a hate crime, indeed. But it wasn’t hate against Abel, it was hate against God. It demonstrates the evil which reside in the hearts of men when they hate God.

It also demonstrates the fact that some (not all) humans can both believe in God and hate him. Why is it that humans kill other humans because they hate God? Albert Mohler’s commentary from Monday, June 13 explains that because man was created in the image of God, then man is the target when hate for God resides in the heart of a perpetrator. They cannot kill God so they attack His image, His creation. Of course, it’s not a conscious reasoning in the mind of the perpetrator. They can even murder as a twisted devotion to God.

Just as many are the reasons for murder is the survivor’s blame for a murderous heart. We can point fingers and blame ideologies, culture, law or bad parenting, just to name a few. And there may be room for blame, but the extremes are growing. The tweets run rampant as a blogger finds his notoriety in the blame game. But would we dare blame ourselves? Perhaps Abel was completely innocent, but could he have been culpable? Could he have been more compassionate with Cain and shown him stronger devotion to God? Could he have prayed with him and taught him deeper truths about God’s love? Or perhaps he was a most devoted brother yet still the object of murderous passion. Of course, we don’t know; the Bible never says what kind of relationship they had but I think it’s something worth considering, don’t you? Would we be so bold to reason that it’s not too much religious ideology that causes a murderous heart but instead, not enough belief in the one true God?

There is evil in this world, and the ultimate blame goes to satan himself. But be assured of this: One day there will be a world without evil. One day the murders will stop. And one day, mankind will be free from hate crimes against God’s creation. But until then, there is a call upon the Believer to demonstrate God’s supernatural love in ways that surpass hate, fear and blame.  True Believers of God love Him and His creation by sharing His unending truth and mercy with others at any cost. Evil is not an equal opposite to God’s goodness. His love abounds and exceeds all evil. Believers must start living according to that truth. It is our ultimate calling.



Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes the word dysfunction as abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior or interaction within a group. The prefix, dys, means bad, abnormal or difficult. So we can say that dysfunction is the impaired functioning of something or someone. It can happen out of trauma or tragedy, but in a human it can also occur out of disobedience, oppression and depression as well as trauma and tragedy. The outward behavior becomes the dysfunction making one immobile in some areas either physically or mentally. It is the inability to grasp some realities of life. And very often, it becomes a safe and protected prison.

The Visit
God inoculated me to the horror of her standard of living, which has seen very little joy in quite a many years. It’s incredible how dysfunction can sometimes literally make one un-functional. We walked in to 2, 3 and 4 feet of trash strewn all over the house. Dirty dishes filled the kitchen which has long passed in seeing a home-cooked meal. A hall bath was so decrepit that an out-house would have been a kingly choice. Television and computers are their only source of entertainment. A 150lb dog can only lie on a tiny spot on the floor, embedded in her prison of trash and decay. Tufts of dog hair float by on the little walking paths and cling to our shoes as if looking for a way of escape.

Cleaning House
Our first trip was made in the evening, our second in the daylight. It’s amazing how light can reveal what the darkness hides. We learned that she got angry one day and threw away all the trashcans in the house. People were there all day long on that cold winter day. The neighbors were stunned. An informal neighborhood meeting was called. Janis was not invited. We quickly surmised that in this neighborhood people don’t come to help. It’s easier for them to huddle in their garages and talk up a story. Outlandish and preposterous would be the idea of helping a neighbor, and one would nearly be ostracized for suggesting such a thing. They watch us from the windows of their homes as condemnation and disgust flow from their chimneys of judgement.

Family Life
Mrs. Greer is in a nursing home, becoming weaker each day with Alzheimers disease. She calls me Angie, and I don’t correct her. I only know her as the roommate of a friend I visit weekly in that hospital. I bring Mrs. Greer chocolate kisses and talk to her about the news. I touch her tiny hand and smile. I see fear in her eyes, but lately she sleeps a lot. Lately she doesn’t eat. She may not make it to the end of the year. Janis weeps over her mother’s situation. I took her to see Mrs. Greer last week and the entire floor was alive from the cleaning personnel to the nurse’s station, shocked that Mrs. Greer had a visitor. Everyone came around to see. No one knew it was her own daughter.

Janis’ husband left when the two boys were young. He doesn’t visit them. They, too, are immobilized in this prison. We gave her food, prayed with her and invited she and her two sons to church. One attends, the older one, angry and confused, refuses. The boys cannot drive because there’s no money for car insurance, and they don’t work. The older one has a small income from his work on the computer. He stays in his room most of the day. The younger, more attentive to his mother, is eager to earn a living outside the home; eager to change. A friend of mine paves the way for teaching, mentoring and employment.

Janis blames everyone for her situation, from the doctor to the plumber to the neighbor next door. And anyone who has gotten into a situation like that would blame others. Like alcohol to a drunkard, it is the steady consummation of denial which soothes the wretched reality of dysfunction. The home starkly reveals her story and voices of anger and misery cry through heaps of trash. Apathy and hopelessness is the reply. Tears stream down her face. She is ashamed. I kneel before her and pray.

It’s a really tough place. I have seen worse, but in the expected places: the poor and homeless areas of town or the slums of Mexico. Not in a place like this, though. Not on Scotch Road. And I am humbly reminded that none of us are too far from these places. With our hells and our heavens merely separated by a thread we walk the fine line of paralyzing dysfunction every day, every moment, and with every choice we make. Our only hope is intentional and deliberate obedience and intimacy with Christ. What we witness in Janis’ home is the outcome of slow decrepitation. We only see the results. The process of declination must be a living hell.

We will visit often; there is much work to do. But we have hope in Christ that He will bring joy to these sullen hearts and, like a fresh wind, breathe new life into this home.

A movement is beginning to occur in our hearts and theirs. May we serve Him with irresistible anticipation for the extraordinary.  May the neighbors take note.

Oh Lord, make us all sensitive to the hells of others. The trials and tribulations which affect the kingdom can wreak havoc on our souls.  May we not turn a blind eye to those in need, to those living in constant shame. Fill us with courage and strength, patience and expectation.  Give us words to share and ideas to embrace as we, in turn, embrace those who so desperately need a touch of your mercy and loving-kindness.  Make us willing vessels.  Humble us to serve your kingdom.

Who Cares?!

Sometimes I think I’m not supposed to hurt, that things aren’t supposed to trouble me, so I often don’t allow people to see the hurts I endure.  A misunderstanding, an unkind word, a hateful deed:  We simply hide them in our sock drawer and move along.  Who would care anyway?  What would it matter?  There are bigger crimes, bigger hurts, louder tears.  But every time I open the sock drawer, there they are.  I slam it shut and scream in my mind, “Who would care?!”  And I answer my question with cynicism, “Who? Like, a human?”

A friend said to me today, “It’s okay, I’m not afraid of tears. You can talk.”  Ah! He may not be afraid of tears, but God knows I am.  I struggle to regain composure and try to speak without squeaking … or sobbing.  I ask if we can talk later and hang up the phone.  Buried consequences rise in my throat like a tidal wave and my body trembles under the weight of grief, sorrow, misunderstanding and shame.

We were not meant for sin or grief; we were not meant to hurt.  Hurt comes from sin, and sin is something far more spiritually connected than we could ever imagine, connected through insidious forces we can neither see nor touch, let alone understand.  And when it makes its way into the human soul it can hardly be rectified without a bigger and more authoritative Spiritual Power.

My eyes fall on Mark 1:23-28.  Jesus had just healed the demon-possessed man.  In those days, demon possession was a very widespread thing and had many Jewish legends and folklore attached to it.  One noted historian, Harnack said, “The whole earth was a living hell.” We really don’t see that kind of widespread demon possession today, and that’s not the focus of my note; however, what I came to realize about the demon-possessed man is that he knew he was possessed.  Jesus could not cure him unless he admitted his trouble.  I think that’s why the story is in the Bible.  We must assume the reality of our disease before we can ask for a cure.

I open my sock drawer once again, and there are the hurts buried among the mis-matched.  I place them on the dresser and slowly expose them to Jesus.  Through tears and sobs, I admit the pain, the sin, the grief and the sorrow.  Slowly they fade and I am renewed and strengthened by His power.  And I realize that it isn’t the responsibility of any one person to meet us in these places.  When we assume that man should do what only God can do then we put man before God and we will always be disappointed.

“Who would care?”  I answer my question now with assurance.  My eyes fill with tears, but these are tears of joy which come from a new sense of maturity and hope. Jesus cares, and Jesus stands ready to cure the heart that admits the disease.

Lord, thank you for allowing me to give you these things which hurt so deeply.  I share them with you because you understand with great depth and clarity and you offer comfort with abundant mercy and loving-kindness.  My hope is in you and my heart is strengthened by your love. My cup is full to overflowing with this joy. Jesus, take me and use me as your light to shine your glory. I love you, Lord.

Abide With Me (MP Jones)