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Archive for March, 2013

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New, I enter a working church.  They build, send, invite, prepare.  Busy as they are focused, they direct all who come in.

 “Go to the church down the street for the service.”

I oblige.  Familiar faces from every denomination are found as I enter.  The Pentecostals are mingling with the Baptists.  The Presbyterians are creating order.  The unchurched are welcomed by the non-denominationals.  The unsaved are embraced by the Nazarenes.  Every leader seems to be searching as they work to bring us together.  A common thread runs throughout.

Through murmurs, I hear that someone has died.  Not knowing exactly who it was, my attention is focused on the care they’ve all taken to remember this person.

In the front, most central portion of the huge cathedral is an empty chair positioned high above the crowds.  A candle burns where the deceased would have sat.  Together we wait for further instructions.

Awakened, these scenes from my slumber flood my memory.

“It’s Jesus.  The chair belongs to him.  Today it sits empty, but his light burns on through his bride.”

 Our cause for congeniality is our common interest in the one who died.  Shine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80rHyABCb20

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ImageDavid and his army are in pursuit of their enemies.  They are on a hike that makes ultra-marathons look like 5ks.  One third of his men have already deserted.  The remaining two-thirds are doubtless exhausted, hungry, and hurting as well.  But God has directed them to go and fight.  He has promised them victory.  So on they march.

They found an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. And they gave him bread and he ate. They gave him water to drink, 12 and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. 13 And David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” He said, “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago. 14 We had made a raid against the Negeb of the Cherethites and against that which belongs to Judah and against the Negeb of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.” 15 And David said to him, “Will you take me down to this band?” And he said, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this band.” ~1 Samuel 30:11-15 (more…)

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trustDavid’s men are defeated and hopeless.  The enemy has destroyed their homes and taken their families.  They’re ready to kill David and call it a day.  David himself is quite upset and broken over the loss of his own home and family.  But David turns to God and draws strength to fight on.

And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David.And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” So David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him, and they came to the brook Besor, where those who were left behind stayed. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men. Two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor. ~1 Samuel 30:6-10

Notice that David doesn’t retaliate towards his deeply grieving men.  He doesn’t repay murderous threat for murderous threat.  He is wise.  Even though justice may indeed have permitted him to execute those who spoke of stoning him, David ignores their foolish talk.  He recognizes that hopeless men are helpless men.  Instead of vengeance and bickering, David calls on Hope – that is, David calls on God against all odds. (more…)

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ImageDavid has been sent away from battle against Israel.  The suspicion and distrust of the Philistine leaders has served as God’s preventative hand, keeping David from both the sin of warring against his own people and the slavery which would result from deserting his enemies.  David was blessed despite his sin.

He and his army come home expecting peace and rest, but instead they find their city burned down and their wives and children missing.  David was chastised for his sin. (more…)

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Shoveling the drive I am followed.  Two bundles of over-bunched and booted joy seek to “help.”

As Mia pushes the snow directly into the path I’d just cleared, I pause.

“Mia, if you want to help you’ve got to do it this way.”

Taking her shovel, I position her rightly.  I show her which way to push.  Still, she detours.  Into the gravel and mud she begins.

“That’s not working for ya, huh?  Do it this way, like I showed you.”

Once again, she tries.  This time she begins at an acceptable starting point, but quickly derails.

“Alright honey, come here.”

Laying my shovel down, I take hers.

“Stand in front of me.”

Together we walk a straight line towards the end of the drive.

“That’s the path you need to follow.”

“Ok, Mom.  I will try my best this time.”

Success.

Two minutes later, Maylee chimes in.

“Let me do it, Mommy.”

Learning my lesson, I reply, “Ok, May.  Stand here in front of me.”

“No, Mommy!  I can do it myself!”

“I know you can.  Hold the shovel and walk this way.”

Behind her I secretly push and lift at the proper times.

“I did it, Mommy!  I did it all by myself!”

“Good job, Maylee.  You’re a great helper!”

Through our snow shoveling lesson I learn my own.  It’s really not about getting finished quickly.  It’s not about working perfectly.  It’s not even about meeting our end goals.  It’s about working together, trusting one another, and knowing who needs taught vs. who really just needs encouraged.  At the end of the day the driveway will be clear one way or another.  The question is whether we will have the wisdom and patience to allow others to have a part in it along with us.

Jesus directs.  Jesus corrects.  He includes, he instructs, and he helps – all at just the right times.  Jesus lifts the heavy end of our burden and, once in a while, even allows us to celebrate our victories with him as though we really did something – knowing full well he did it all.  I guess he just knows us well enough to understand when to teach and when to quietly encourage.  I pray we, as his followers, learn to do the same.

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ImageDavid was in quite a jam.  Because he had left his country in fear of Saul’s injustice and unwarranted malice towards him, he had made an alliance with his enemies – the Philistines.  He had been living among them for quite some time and had been lying to King Achish.  He was claiming to be raiding and killing his own people when he really wasn’t.  Now, King Achish has called on him to go into battle with him against Israel.  David obliges, but God intervenes.

If David would have retreated during the conflict, he’d have been in deep trouble with his new friends (who were really his enemies.)  If he had fought valiantly against his own people, he would have been opposing God and likely found himself guilty of the very sin he had so fiercely avoided all that time in the wilderness – killing King Saul.  Either way someone would have labeled him a traitor.  David was stuck.  He was a loser either way.  Watch what God does. (more…)

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ImageInstead of continuing in prayer and waiting on God, King Saul had sought the advice of a witch.  Knowing full well that doing so was against both God’s law, as well as the law of his own making in the land of Israel, Saul’s desperation drove him to darkness rather than dependence on God.  

Darkness never delivers, though.  Saul wanted help, but all he got was a message from hell.  He wanted counsel, but all he got was condemnation.  He sought hope and all he received was hard-nosed hostility.  These are the results of self-sufficiency, unfaithfulness, and trusting in and turning to that which God has forbidden in times of trouble or need.  God help us.  

This is where Saul’s ungodly defiance leaves him: (more…)

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