The Seven Deadly Sins and The Seven Saving Virtues; Epilogue

Seven Deadly MasksTemptation is not sin.  This is difficult for most of us to get our heads around.  We are ashamed of not wanting to do anything and just be lazy.  Where do we draw the line between seeing a lovely woman in a revealing outfit and getting turned on by the view, and lusting after that woman?  We feel guilt over envying someone’s blessing and good fortune.  We are taught that to think evil of someone else, or to gloat over another’s misfortune is a bad thing.  We are told to count to ten before venting our anger, and we should not be greedy.  We want to eat unhealthily even though we know it will take us to early graves.  Or we feel exempt from these temptations . . . and proud of our spirituality!

Steve Elliott recently presented 12 Myths About Temptation to which I would like to assert the 12 Truths About Temptation:
1. To be tempted is not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
2. God is not displeased just because we are tempted.
3. No matter how strong the temptation feels, it is still NOT sin.
4. We do not “fall” into temptation.  It approaches us and tries to trick us to get us to fail.
5. Will power alone will never be enough to overcome temptation.
6. Yielding to one temptation makes you weaker for the next.  It hurts you every time, and more each time!
7. Even if you overcame last time, temptation will come again.  “Temptation does not knock at the door, it leans on the doorbell.” (Steve Elliott)
8. If you have yielded to temptation, there is complete and thorough restoration available, not a second-class citizenship in Christian living.
9. The temptation comes from outside, not from within you.  Even “real Christians” are tempted.  Even Jesus was tempted! (Luke 4:1-13)
10. Spiritual maturity does not stop temptations from coming.  They will continue as long as the devil, “the tempter,” is in the world.
11. Hiding from temptation will not make it go away.  There is value in protecting yourself and avoiding obvious places of temptation, but you cannot avoid it entirely. (1 Corinthians 5:10)
12. Everyone experiences some form of temptation that is similar to yours. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
And I would add a thirteenth observation:
13. Every temptation is based on a bold-faced lie!  If you look for what that lie is behind the temptation, you will significantly reduce its power.

The real issue before God is not which area of sin presents each of us with the most problems; it is not even how far we have sunk into wrong actions or how much damage we have done to others or how terrible our sin has destroyed what God intended for good for us and others.

The issue before God is which way are we heading!  We are either getting worse or getting better when we are faced with sin in which we indulge.  We are either overcoming or giving in, and the process is progressive.  We will stumble on the way to Heaven or hell.  The question is which way we will fall, forward or backward.

Disneys worldYahweh promises in Psalm 103:12 to remove our sins “as far as the east is from the west.”  How far is that?  Well, look at where the sun comes up over your neighborhood, and that is east.  Now turn around and look at where the sun sets, and that is west.  It is not where you are at on earth that matters, but which direction you are facing!

Interestingly the Psalmist did not say “as far as the north is from the south.”  You see, if you head far enough north you will reach the North Pole and every direction around you is south!  The same is true if you head far enough into Antarctica to the South Pole; everywhere you turn is north.  But no matter how far east or west you may have traveled or how many times you may have circled the globe in that direction, all you have to do is turn around!!!

If you continue yielding to temptation and excusing yourself that “next time” you will do better, you may fall into a trap of always facing the wrong way, becoming settled in that direction, so comfortable with the sin that your conscience may become scorched to a point of not feeling any guilt (1 Timothy 4:2).  But even then, all you have to do is turn around!

And in turning around you will find all of Heaven’s resources available to help you overcome the temptation . . . temptations that will keep on coming, but they will become less effective at defeating you each time.  The temptation will not diminish in strength, but you will be stronger the longer you are headed in the right direction.

The victory over temptation that we can enjoy now steels us against more temptations to come if we refuse to submit to them.  If we find help in a brother or sister, tempted in the same area, we can pray together to support each other.  If we read the Bible and hide it in our hearts, we will have resources to defeat temptation’s attacks.  If we allow the Holy Spirit to purify our minds and hearts we will adopt His world view and understand the difference of light and darkness (1 John 1:5-10).

And someday we will see the Seven Deadly Sins for what they are: masks that hide the Truth that will save us and set us free; masks that keep us hidden from all the help Heaven and others will offer to overcome temptation; masks that keep us from exercising the virtues that will lead to a fulfilling life in Jesus, the Christ.


Construction Continued . . . catching up to September!

IMG_0020 IMG_0036We start off with a bonfire on September 13 of the wood scraps we have generated in the construction.  Keep in mind, most houses over 2000 square feet (~600 square meters) generate about 10 tons (9,070 kg !!) of waste, over half of which is wood!!!  We have generated less than one ton, or 2000 pounds (~900kg), and less than a tenth of that has been wood!  And actually we have used a little of the “concrete waste” for deep fill in the yard, that is, anything more than four feet down.  We have not even needed a dumpster at our site, as the amount of waste we had that would not burn was able to fit into our home dumpster, which only takes 200 pounds per pickup (~90 kg).

As the brickers finished the south side of the house during the next week, David and I put the “under-dry” touches on the north side bay window, just putting some tar paper over the top to keep the rain out.  The roofers will finish this with sheathing and shingles when they come back for the front porch.

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We also took advantage of the brickers’ scaffolding to put facia board all around the house.  This is the board closest to the brick and covers the top edge of it so that flashing can be placed over it, across the soffit (the horizontal surface), and the exterior facia which is the board under the edge of the roofing.  The brickers finished off the details around the bay window and the front on September 21 and removed their scaffolding from the site the following week.

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The rough-in plumbing was approved earlier when we put the drain lines in, and now we began putting in the HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioner).   Putting electric wires in ICF walls is downright fun, as you can use a “hot-knife” (pic to follow on next construction blog) which simply melts the track the width for which you set the knife, and cuts out the channels for the wires.

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The rest of the wiring goes in a standard fashion with anchors to the wood studs on the inside walls and ceilings.  And the plumbing feed lines went in, which are red and blue pex.  If you remember from when we installed the feed line to the house, pex expands up to five times its normal size without damaging the pipes, so it practically will never break!

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Next stop, the gas meter, interior window jam extensions, the fireplace, and the front porch footer. 🙂


The Mask of Anger and the Face of Peace; Part 7 of The Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Saving Virtues

Seven Deadly Masks AngerThe introduction to The Seven Deadly Sins (October 4, 2015) was a partial confession of my weakness toward other drivers who do not use common sense.  As Dr. Donald Johns was often heard to say, “The trouble with common sense is it just isn’t common enough.”  What is intriguing is my patience and compassion with people face-to-face, and my hypocrisy of getting so angry when they are impersonalized in their automobile.  It does not help my disposition when the windows are black and the driver is invisible.  More than once I have put on my most disgusted face to glare at my reflection in these black-mirrored facades, hoping the anonymous driver sees my disdain for him or her.  How Christ-like, huh?

Evil CarSomething about the anonymity of “the car” doing something stupid transposes the person driving it into something less than a man or woman I might see face-to-face.  So I could feel justified in angrily blasting him with my horn, or I used to “get even” by pulling very close and trying to scare him!  Reeeeally smart, right?  But imagine my embarrassment when I pull up along side of someone who has just done some dumb driving, and see a face that looks like my mom, and I realize this is an older woman who is blessed to be able to drive, and she is doing the best that she can, or is worried that she has missed her turn.  Or worse, it turns out to be someone who knows me and with whom I have been sharing the importance of following Jesus.

Then the words of James 1:19-20 ring in my head: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”   And I find myself repenting . . . again . . . of my sin of selfish anger and self-righteousness.  I wish I could give you a good excuse.  I wish I could justify my sinfulness and claim I am not really that bad.  And this is just one area of weakness in which God is trying to correct me.  So I must appeal to your better nature:  “Be patient with me. God is not finished with me yet.”

The deadliness of anger lies in several avenues.  When we respond to a person or event angrily, we tend to not use good judgment and we take risks that can be physically dangerous.  We move more quickly than our minds can evaluate, and before we can alter our reaction we can be injured or killed by the event we set in motion.  A miscalculation of speed or direction can quickly result in a serious car crash; a hammer thrown against a wall can bounce back to hit the thrower in the head; a sudden pulling away from someone with whom you are angry can throw you off balance to fall into whatever is behind you whether a precipice or a rock pile.

Then there is the chess-player reaction in the person with whom you are angry.  No one likes to be beaten in the game of chess, and one watches for his opponent’s weakness in playing to get the advantage.  So the driver with whom you are angry retaliates, and if he miscalculates you could be dead; or just stimulating someone else whose weakness is also anger can result in rage that intends to kill you.

Perhaps sometime I will do an additional blog on anger in its varied objects, presentations and results, but for now, let’s move on to becoming true-faced with peace in our hearts.

First we must realize not all anger is sinful!  “‘In your anger do not sin’; do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26, which is quoting Psalm 4:4)  God expresses anger many times in the Bible and we know that He is sinless.  In Mark 3:5 Jesus became very angry and was still sinless.  The key to understanding this is to recognize the reason for the anger, the point of the anger, and the management of the anger.

The reasons for righteous anger are never self-centered; it is never about personal offense.  Rather it is always directed by the righteousness of God.  When one sees a man abusing another, or selling a child into slavery or taking advantage of the weak, it should make us angry.  When we see injustice or idolatry it should ignite a fire in our hearts reflective of that which is in God’s heart.  Read Jeremiah for a rehearsal of many of the things which anger God, and we should be angry at the same things.  “You have aroused my anger with what your hands have made, and you have brought harm to yourselves.” (Jeremiah 25:7)

But the point of the anger must never be to destroy or damage another, even if he is the reason for our indignation.  The point of anger should  be to correct the offender and stop the offense.  God’s anger is never directed at us to destroy us, unless we go beyond a point of no return.  His anger is always intended to redeem us and help us live the kind of fulfilling life He originally planned for us.  “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die?”   (Ezekiel  33:11)

As Hillsong sings:
Heal my heart and make it clean.
Open up my eyes to the things unseen.
Show me how to love like You have loved me.
Break my heart from what breaks Yours.

And the management of anger means controlling it so that it does not rule our lives.  Solomon said, “Mockers stir up a city, but the wise turn anger away”  (Proverbs 29:8), and Paul noted that love “is not easily angered  (1 Corinthians 13:5) because this is what God is like: “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.”  (Joel 2:13)  We noted earlier Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (4:25) that one should not let the sun go down on one’s anger.  In other words, come to peace in your heart and do not let anger seethe in you overnight, or for any length of time.

The antidote to selfish anger is a simply matter of faith: Who do you believe is in charge?  Do you trust Him to do what is right?  If I try to teach bad drivers how to drive by imitating their bad behavior, how far do you think I will get in accomplishing my purposes?  But if I drive as if Jesus was in the car right beside me (and He is!), and drive by example of the One who loved that dumb driver enough to die for him or her, then just maybe my selfish anger will diminish.  Certainly my safety and others’ safety on the road will be increased.  And it will help me realize that being a “skillful driver” is not the same thing as being a “good driver.”

If I choose to love the other driver – yes, even that idiot who just ran the stop sign right across in front of me – I will pray for him and leave him in God’s loving and holy hands.  And once I release him to those Hands, I will find peace in my own heart.

Next week, November 29, 2015, I will conclude this series on The Seven Deadly Sins with some thoughts about temptation, guilt and shame.








Construction Continued . . . Under Dry at Last

As of August 20th, we had the roof on (mostly), and we began on Monday, August 24, to put in the doors and windows and finish most of the internal framing, which included the “inverted pie” above the half-round in the master bedroom.  We also framed the bay window, taking advantage of a few days John Scott had available to make it “Scott-Perfect!” 😉

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By September 1, we had most of the windows in, and on the 2nd the brickers began delivering their equipment and assembling their scaffolding.  By the 7th they began the brick work, starting at the back with the first row.  With 10,000 bricks to deliver and place, I was really excited to see the guys begin.  As James Keeney pointed out, bricking happens one brick at a time!

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We left the door to the deck off the  until we could take advantage of the scaffolding of the brickers.  An unusual picture is one of James doing the actual bricking, instead of just supervising, but his team had a big job to go to after finishing ours and he was anxious to “git ‘er done.”  Plus a couple of young guys that started on the first day of our job did not show up the next day!!  They wanted easy jobs, not real work!  By September 11, they had finished more than half the bricks!

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Next time on the construction blog,  I’ll show you the rest of the bricking, my adventures on the scaffolding doing the finish trim, and how we began the electrical and HVAC inside.


The Mask of Lust and the Face of Love; Part 6 of The Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Saving Virtues

Seven Deadly Masks LustLust and Love are not opposites in the same way that Pride opposes Humility, Greed opposes Generosity, or Gluttony opposes Self-Control.  Desire is a characteristic that leads us to God . . . if channeled correctly.   In fact, in the Bible the same word used for “lust” is translated as “eagerly desired” when Jesus used it in Luke 22:15 to describe His longing to eat a Last Supper with His twelve apostles.  (As a wise friend of mine says so often, “Don’t be impressed; you can look it up.” 😉 )  Knowing that Jesus was without sin (Hebrews 4:15), certainly this desire, as strong as it was, was not a sinful lust for food or companionship.

God created Adam and Eve with everything around them “good” as I have frequently noted in these blogs. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31)  There was no flaw in the original creation, just as there were no mistakes when God created Lucifer (aka, the devil).  It was up to Adam and Eve to choose to listen to and obey the Creator’s instructions; would they believe Him or disbelieve, i.e. mistrust Him and believe the “father of lies”?  Well, we know how that ended: they chose to doubt God’s instructions and tried to figure out the difference between good and evil on their own.

He had created them male and female for much more than the capacity to make babies.  As Jesus noted, God could make sons of Abraham out of stones if He chose to do so (Matthew 3:9).  Rather the male and female characteristics were intended to create a relationship of joy and pleasure that would develop into a profound intimacy, a “knowing” of each other in a way that no one else in the community “knows” them.  So in many translations we are told that “Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived.” (Genesis 4:1)  Then God tied this intimacy to Himself as the Creator, allowing the intimacy between a man and woman to pro-create, that is to participate in His creative ability by making a new person.

But with Adam’s and Eve’s rejection of God’s authority over their choices, the whole of creation was damaged!  It became “bent” from what the Creator had intended.  He had planned for Adam and Eve to maintain the Garden to raise fruit and vegetables; now the ground was cursed and would require painful toil and sweat, and even then would produce thorns and thistles that mankind would continually have to fight.  The pleasure of giving birth would now be painful labor, and the relationship of a husband and wife would result in some of the most hurtful words and acts as they fight someone they intimately “know.” (Genesis 3:16-19)  The damage was a twisting of what God intended.

Lust is like that to love.  Desire, in and of itself is not bad. This includes everything from desiring to see God to wanting to be a leader in a church to longing to see an old friend.  From God’s end it involves His pleasure that He takes in people who do His will and longing to see us, more even than we long to see Him face to face.  But when that desire is turned toward an object that God has forbidden, it becomes Lust.  When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:6)  Notice how this desire parallels the lusts mentioned in 1 John 2:16: For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world.”

So lust, rather than being the opposite of love, is a twisting of the desire that God intends us to enjoy.  God gave Adam and Eve a natural desire for food, but when it came to the one tree that was forbidden to them, this natural desire became lust.  There are many beautiful women in the world, and God is the author of beauty.  But when a man looks at his neighbor’s wife and entertains thoughts of immorality with her, he is lusting in his heart instead of loving his neighbor.  A woman who lusts after beautiful clothes or jewelry is lusting in her heart for things instead of loving the God who gives us good gifts.

How do we, who are fallen children of Adam and Eve, overcome this warp of our nature, the twist in our minds and souls that leads us to lust?  How do we win against “the sin that so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1)?  We fix our eyes on Jesus, and do some creative accounting:In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:11-14)

But even more importantly, learn to love as Jesus loved. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”  (Romans 13:8-10)

And “this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)  So take off the mask of lust and allow the love of Jesus, called the Christ, to flow through you.

Next week, November 23, 2015, let’s look at Anger.

The Mask of Gluttony and the Face of Self-Control; Part 5 of The Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Saving Virtues

Seven Deadly Masks GluttonyGo to any church in America and during the course of several Sundays you will hear words of grace and help for almost any area of sin: pride, lust, anger, etc.  But when was the last time you heard the word “gluttony” from a pulpit?  The word or some form of it only appears in the Bible seven times, but it finds its way into The Seven Deadly Sins because there are many references in the Bible to Self-Control (or its characteristics) which is the opposite of gluttony.  Gluttony is not just overeating.  It is overeating to wasteful extreme.  It is the excessive indulgence in eating, not out of necessity to live, but rather out of the desire for the sheer pleasure of the taste.  As some have said before, we should eat to live, not live to eat.

It is unfortunate for the glutton that this area of weakness becomes easily obvious to anyone with eyes (excepting the rare occasion of a medical disorder such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s Syndrome).  Many of us can hide our sins, and we become very proficient at it.  There are no scarlet letters on the shirts of the lustful, nor tarnished horned crowns that grow from the head of the proud.  A man can seethe inside with hatred and anger and still smile when he is in public.  Though sooner or later, any deadly sin becomes apparent, six of them can be hidden for quite some time.  Only gluttony presents obvious evidence shortly after we begin to indulge this sin: we get fat.

One possible reason for the absence of mention in America’s pulpits is the guilt of many pastors in this area.  Again, it is easy to point fingers, but be careful in judging those who fall in an area where you do not feel any weakness.  This is the warning Jesus gives, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2)  Another possible explanation for the absence of its mention is that too many attendants in our churches indulge this sin, and would leave the church if challenged on it.

It is important to note that this is not a uniquely American sin, nor a feature of affluence (though this contributes to the prevalence of gluttony).  The only difference from an affluent nation to one that is not as affluent is that the opportunity for gluttony determines its prevalence, that is how many people actually become fat because of overeating.  I have been in impoverished neighborhoods in other parts of the world, and witnessed obesity that belies the surrounding poverty and malnutrition.  In fact, the only remaining region of the world where gluttony is not a problem is sub-Saharan Africa!   Like the alcoholic who is an alcoholic before he takes his first drink, the glutton is a glutton before he leaves his mother’s breast and begins choosing his own food.

As for gluttony’s deadliness, the World Health Organization now considers obesity, the fat condition that results from gluttony, to be one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide!  It is one of the most serious public health problems of this century! (

Adam and Eve2We are all born with this twist in our souls, a warp that is out of shape from what God created us to be.  This is the sin nature that we inherited from Adam’s and Eve’s first sin, when they saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye.” (Genesis 3:6)  For the proud, it comes out as arrogance as a child grows; for the sloth, it comes out as laziness; for the hateful, it comes out as anger, etc.  And for the glutton, it comes out as the self-indulgence that attracted Eve to the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  She did not need to eat it; she just wanted to eat it.

As followers of Jesus, we realize the emphasis should always be on the spiritual side of our existence and not on the physical.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)  However, just because we recognize our “freedom” in Christ does not mean we should ignore what the Bible teaches about healthy living now in this life. 

“’I have the right to do anything,’ you say — but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ — but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.’ If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. . .  So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” (1 Corinthians 10:23-33)

The key here is balance: recognizing the importance of our spirit, but not neglecting the effect our bodies have on the spiritual.  There is nothing sinful in enjoying the good blessings of God in delicious food, well prepared and expertly presented.  It is the wasteful overindulgence that is sinful.  For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”  (Titus 2:11-12)

To exercise the saving grace of self-control that will destroy the mask of gluttony:

  1. We must first repent of giving in to this temptation or taking part in gluttony without even thinking about it. Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to Yahweh.” (Lamentations 3:40)
  2. Then we must submit to God and ask Him for power to overcome this through the Holy Spirit, resisting the devil through prayer and obedience.  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
  3. Next, ask God for a plan for losing weight.  Crash dieting may help, but it will not define the life-style changes needed to keep one’s gluttony in control.  Besides, this should be done in consultation with a medical professional.
  4. Remember, gluttony became evident in your body little by little, and it may be healthier to lose it the same way.  If you only lose two pounds (~one kilogram) per month that would be 24 pounds (11Kg) in a year.  Just weigh yourself every day to keep on track.
  5. Consider adding a regular fast to your life-style, as a balance to your eating habits.  This can constrain the longing for food, and retrain the body to do with less.  (See my blog on fasting, September 28, 2015).
  6. Refuse to listen to the enemy’s condemning whispers in your mind.  Read Romans 8:1-4 daily while changing your life-style.
  7. Be thankful for the food God provides for you, along with everything you need to live a godly life in Christ Jesus  (2 Peter 1:3).

“When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.” (Proverbs 23:1-3)

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of Yahweh.(Deuteronomy 8:3)

Next week, November 15, 2015, let’s look at Lust.

Construction Continued . . . Almost “Under Dry”

Getting “under dry” is a big step in house construction.  This will enable us to work on the inside while the outside gets done as well . . .  normally.  But very little of our construction project has been “normal,” and this was no different.  We did not have the porch footers ready and it would take several weeks to get a backhoe in to dig these for us.  More on that in a later blog.

In the meantime, on August 14 the roofers had finished the truss framing, and on the 15th began sheathing.This process would take several days, as we used a heavier than usual sheathing.  Often these houses use 1/2 inch OSB, and we used 5/8 inch boards.  A little heavier for loading up to the roof, but our work crew performed admirably and hoisted it all up!

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IMG_4306Even before the sheathing was completed, they began to put on the 30lb tar paper underlayment which adds a barrier against any weather hitting the roof.  I was especially pleased that the crew used safety harnesses when working over the high rear and sides of the house!  A fall of 25 feet (about 8M) would be a serious accident.  They then started loading the shingles onto the roof while a couple of them attached the “drip edge,” a thin metal strip that protects the edge of the shingles from water or ice damage.

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The shingles gave the roof a beautiful finished look, even though the soffit and gutters are not on yet.  The Desert Tan we selected will blend nicely with the bricks we selected, but will provide some contrast, and it is distinctive in the neighborhood as most of the other houses either used Driftwood (color) or Black (very energy inefficient!).

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The last details involved sealing up the porch roof which will be extended later, and we added the air vents which compliment the ridge vent we installed across the top of the ridge (invisible to the eye, but incorporated into the shingles).  Now we get to put in the doors and windows to really get under dry, and get us ready for the brick exterior.

The Mask of Envy and the Face of Contentment; Part 4 of The Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Saving Virtues

Seven Deadly Masks EnvyEnvy is a carefully crafted mask, trying very much to look like a good thing, but like each of the masks of these seven deadly sins, it is only a cover for sin that will result in death, if it is allowed to fester in the soul too long.  Envy is related to greed in that it is an inappropriate desire for something that does not belong to the person wanting it.  The difference is significant, however, in that greed simply wants money or the stuff it buys.  Envy specifically wants what someone else has; i.e. greed with a target!  While some may compare envy to jealousy, these two have less in common than envy and covetousness.  To covet is to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others, specifically something or someone that belongs to someone else.

Jealousy is often a very good thing as demonstrated by God’s jealousy for His people’s attention; a right desire for what is best for us. Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. it burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.  (Solomon’s Song 8:6-7)  This is the type of jealousy God has for us, what He expresses in Deuteronomy 4:24, when He claims to be a jealous God, a consuming fire, meaning simply that He wants what is best for us, and will not let us settle for idolatrous seconds.

Envy EyeBut envy is only evil: Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple. I myself have seen a fool taking root, but suddenly his house was cursed. His children are far from safety, crushed in court without a defender. The hungry consume his harvest, taking it even from among thorns, and the thirsty pant after his wealth.” (Job 5:2-5)

Envy resulted in the immediate death of those who were envious of Moses and Aaron; In the camp they grew envious of Moses and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the Lord. The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan; it buried the company of Abiram. Fire blazed among their followers; a flame consumed the wicked.” (Psalm 106:16)  Though we may not experience such sudden death, it is a certain result of envy: A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)  Paul linked it to malice, hatred, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, and many other sins in his letters (Titus 3:3; 1 Timothy 6:4) and Peter connected it to deceit, hypocrisy, and slander (1 Peter 2:1); James suggested it as a source of selfish ambition and evil practices (James 3:14-6); Jesus, Himself, associated envy with sexual immorality, theft, murder, deceit, lewdness, and a litany of other sins (Mark 7:20-23).

So how do we destroy the mask of envy when it grips our hearts?  This is not an easy thing to do for someone for whom this is his or her area of weakness.  Again, we must not point fingers, but rather patiently instruct those given to envy, of its deadly consequences if it is not squashed.  James then clues us in to its cure; “You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:2)

We begin to show a true face of contentment when we begin with The God Who Is There and our trust or faith in Him.  So we can go to Him and ask what is best for each of us.  I recall a 14 year old boy who was envious of the “cool crowd” at his high school.  He wondered for some time why God had made him homely, buck-toothed, cross-eyed and of small stature.  If he was what God intended for him to be, why was he such a loser?

ContentmentBut one day an epiphany came to him by the Holy Spirit.  He realized that God wanted him for His own; that He was jealous for his love and wanted his full attention.  The young man realized if God had created him with all the attributes he wanted, he would not have found the Truth about Him and would have been lost.  So he began to thank God for making him “ugly and uncool” (in his words) so that he would find the love of God and His purpose for his life.  And what a difference this made in his manners, his outlook on life, his concern with what others thought of him.  Faith in God’s plan completely changed this boy’s life as he learned to pray and give up his envy.

Once we realize that God loves us and gives us all we need to live with Him forever (2 Peter 1:3), we can then begin to explore the depths of love that He has for others. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (1 Corinth 13:4)  How can you be envious of someone you love?  If the love of God is flowing through you, you can rejoice when another is blessed; you can be happy for another’s success.  Like a parent looking proudly over his child’s accomplishments, there needs to be no envy, but only joy over the good that comes to another.

So if envy has robbed you of joy, if you have felt left out of all the good “stuff” that others enjoy, if you think you are of all people most miserable, remember that Jesus died for YOU!  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Some translations say we are God’s poem or God’s masterpiece!  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5)  While this was God’s word specifically for Jeremiah, we can each recognize ourselves in his shoes: God knew you and planned for you to be His!  So take off the mask of envy and enjoy the contentment He gives.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”  (1Timothy 6:6-8)

Next week, November 8, 2015, let’s look at Gluttony.