Not Mine But God’s

Have you ever wondered how Cain and Abel could end up so night-and-day different from each other? Think about it:

  • Same parents
  • Same home
  • No peer pressure
  • No real outside influences

Yet Cain became a farmer and the first murderer, and Abel became a shepherd and the first murder victim.

Yes, I know personality and temperament come into it. But so does the involvement of their parents. It’s interesting that Eve (not Adam) names their boys. There seems to be a little bit of “father absenteeism” that is involved here, but more telling is the commentary that Eve makes in naming her boys.

With Cain, she said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” Digging a little deeper in the Hebrew language, Cain means “a possession.” So Eve said, “This is mine. I did it.”

When Abel is born, there is no commentary. However, his name means “breath.” Something only God can give.

See the difference:

Cain = mine!

Abel = God’s!

As a result, Cain grew up wanting to do things to please himself, and Abel only wanted to please God.

As a parent, I always have to remember that my children are God’s. He loaned them to me to raise them up to serve and love Him. They are not mine, they are His.

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. (Psalm 127:3)

Keep that in mind, Moms and Dads, when you’re interacting with God’s gifts and rewards.

Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain (book review)

I’ve been a fan of Dr. Paul Meier for quite some time, and his latest book—co-authored with Dr. David Henderson—kept me cheering. Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain explores seven areas that prompt some of the deepest soul-searching and some of the stickiest questions that humans face.

There are a couple of things I admire about Drs. Meier and Henderson. One is their understanding that humans are a tri-part being: body, soul, and spirit. Those that try to bring help for the deep pain that we all experience by addressing just one area are missing the mark. There is physical pain, emotional pain, and spiritual pain.

I’ve often found that humanists who just want to address the physical and emotional symptoms, but ignore the spiritual symptoms, offer only short-sighted answers. On the other extreme, some in the church world want to offer spiritual solutions for everything, and completely ignore the physical and emotional causes. Either extreme is unhelpful to someone who is hurting. Drs. Meier and Henderson do an excellent job addressing all three areas.

The other thing I’ve always appreciated about Dr. Meier, and now his new coauthor as well, is his accessible writing style. In other words, although these are incredibly well-educated men, they write in a way that everyone can understand. And more importantly, their writing style allows for ready application.

This book is divided into seven sections of four chapters each. Each section diagnosis an area of pain, looks at the causes, explores the possible responses, and ultimately uncovers the purpose beyond the pain. In every section, the physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions are addressed. These sections cover the most common pain-filled struggles we all face:

  • Injustice
  • Rejection
  • Loneliness
  • Loss
  • Discipline
  • Failure
  • Death

As a pastor, I have to deal with people who are experiencing past or present pain quite frequently. This book has enlightened me in some biblically-rooted, practical ways I can point to the purpose beyond their pain. But even if you are not a pastor or counselor, this book will be a great resource to have on your shelf. Whether you have lingering questions about the pain you have experienced, or you simply want to be ready to help a friend or loved one who may be battling one of these areas, you will appreciate Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain.

I am a book review blogger for Thomas Nelson.

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