What about the Change?

IMG_0842I’m about to bloody my theological knuckles, so buckle up.  Strap in.  Brace yourself.  And hold onto something.  It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

I figured I should put that warning there since there’s a chance I’ll be metaphorically and rhetorically crackin’ skulls with today’s post.  And I can’t take credit for the inspiration of these words.  I blame the twitter user ENT Monkey.  Dude even has a website.  It all started in the early morning hours today with this tweet.

I got a kick out of it because it felt like a nudge in my side.  You when someone pokes you and taps you on the shoulder to draw your attention to something?  That was this tweet for me.  I responded.

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An Absalom Moment

imageI’m not a Bible Scholar by any stretch of the imagination. Nor have I been theologically trained in much of anything aside from teaching in children’s and youth ministry. So when I get into my devotions I’m usually quite blind to the history of characters or the deeper strings involved within – which makes me slightly nervous to be writing down my thoughts here. I’m always nervous I’m going to take a logical leap over a shark or two and fall face first into the sand.

Which is why I love today’s devotional. It’s a fairly simple tale that helps me remember that I shouldn’t want to be all those things in order to feel better about myself – or how I read His Word. His name was Absalom and he was the son of King David. The verse referenced is 2 Samuel 15:3-6.

The idea here is that Absalom promotes himself and builds up his image with the people of the kingdom into something that wasn’t his to have. The key quote here regarding Absalom is that he, “…stole the hearts of everyone in Israel.” Absalom’s selfishness was the cause of his sin – his want to be the next big thing. It’s a cautious reminder – and there are a plentiful bushel of warnings in God’s Word – about promoting ourselves above Him and the plan He has for our life. I’ve come to understand pieces of God and me over the years – by no means am I anywhere close to figuring it out – but I’ve learned that I’m not the most important kid on the block. I am second to Him. We were created to point to Christ and spread the glory, praise and honor across the globe.

I sometimes get a big head – and when it happens I just want to throw myself into a deep hole and never come out. I’m ashamed that I thought I somehow knew better, was better or was that thing I tried to portray. It’s a constant battle and consistently under construction.

The key section of tonight’s devotional that sticks with me is under the “PRAY” section. It says this – “Spend time inviting God to remind you that he loves you just the way you are, that you cannot earn his approval. Welcome God to show you your true identity as His child, an identity that is defined not by what you do but by who you are and to whom you belong.”

Boom goes the dynamite.

Honoring and Valuing Others

imageTonight’s devotional is hard. The story so far is we’ve taken a hop and a skip past the story of David and Goliath. We’ve found ourselves in 1 Samuel 26:7-11 in which David and Abishai are sneaking into Saul’s camp. A moment comes when David’s companion notices that the current King is splayed out in the center of camp. A perfect moment is at hand. David could strike down Saul and the rest would be history.

And yet David does not seize the day (or the spear) and instead replies that he would not dare kill God’s anointed. He proclaims that Saul will either die in his bed, by God’s Hand or in battle but he will not be the one to do such a thing.

It’s a heavy concept to wrap our head around – the idea that David would have the wherewithal to resist the opportunity to kill the tormentor. Not just that but that he would have the depth of faith to give it up to God and His plan for Saul – this speaks volumes. It also is a direct challenge to us and the drama we allow to fill our lives. In the devotional book it challenges me to, “…think of the people you consider your enemies. Pray for them and ask God to help you honor them, even though doing so may seem impossible. Seek out intentional opportunities to honor those who dishonor you and to value the lives of those who do not value you.”

To say that today’s devotional is a whopper would be understating it. There’s much to chew on here, more to marinate on in the brain and plenty to stew in the heart about. So, grab a chunk off and see what you come up with. Faith in Christ is never stronger than when pushed, prodded and poked with a stick.

Kingdom Come

Tonight’s podcast is my lesson I’m teaching tomorrow on “Kingdom Come”. Listen in as a wax religiosity!

And God Help You!

imageI know I probably shouldn’t have been in bed before midnight on a Friday night. I knew that eventually God was going to give me a good shake or two for thinking I could avoid my quiet time. And I was right. So here I am at 11:30pm sitting in a barely lit corner of my living room hastily putting words to keyboard remembering that God has an incredible sense of humor. That sometimes I don’t get.

Tonight’s devotional is from 1 Samuel 17:31-40. It’s the classic story of David and Goliath in which King Saul puts the momentous armor on the little boy and watches as he shrugs it off. This same boy will come to haunt the old man after this moment because God has chosen David to be the next King. The path he takes to becoming King is one of the most incredible stories in itself and it is a telling one that leaves Saul and his son dead at the end.

I have my favorite parts of this story. The imagery of David ripping apart Lions, Tigers and Bears (oh my!) in defense of his sheep is a powerful one. In imagining it tonight I turned my thoughts to Jesus and His Love for us – and how he would tear through the legions of Hell in defense of His Beloved Bride. It was a heartening reminder to me of the greatness of Jesus and how little I remember the depth, width and intensity of His Love for us.

The other part is a recent addition to my list and it comes tonight. It is Saul’s reaction to David’s impassioned speech about his actions protecting his flock and how God protected him then. David emphatically says that God Alive will deliver him from the Giant Goliath. Saul’s reaction? In the “NIV” it’s, “Go, and The Lord be with you.” In “The Message” it’s put plainly – “Go. And God help you!”

David’s absolute faith in his fate and his complete lack of worry leveled me tonight. In reading through the notes in my devotional it spotlights the idea of making the choice to move, “…the attention of our anxious hearts away from the waves and direct it to the One who walks on them.”

I’m a worrier. I’m big into carrying stress, fears and everything else for myself and others. Tonight reading this gave me a good ole’ fashioned Gibbs slap to the back of the head. I’ll leave you with what the devotional suggests to do. “Look at Him and say, ‘Lord have mercy.’ Say it again an again not anxiously but with the confidence that He is very close to you and will put your soul to rest.” The words come from Priest and Author Henri Nouwen.

And so that is my challenge today and through the weekend. Lord, have mercy.

Have mercy.