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Archive for April, 2009

i-chron-15-29-michal-the-daughter-of-saul-looked-out20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”

21 David said to Michal, “It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the LORD. 22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”

Why did he not say, Michal wife of David?  He went home to his household.  She was one of his wives.

It was a mountain top experience like none other.  This shepherd boy now king had a chance to get close up to the One he had worshiped all of his life.  He was captivated by the whole experience.  His praise broke out in dancing.  I have been in services where the moment caused a sister in Christ or a brother in Christ to simply shout!  I know.  Some people would say that is all fake and some of it is nothing but show.  However, there are times when it is real.  Being in the presence of God and celebrating the Ark of God coming home was for David a royal privilege.  He dressed as a Levite and danced before the Lord.  That was how he expressed his love for God at the moment.  It was not about anyone else but David and God.

Now back to my first question.  Why did the scriptures say that she was the daughter of Saul and not the wife of David?  He was home.  Michal was a gift given to him by Saul on the occasion of his killing Goliath.  I wonder if she was ever a believer.  I am puzzled to see how much he loved the wives that he chose.  Michal was a pain in his neck because of her family and lack of belief as you could possibly imagine.  I wonder sometimes if she was miffed because she had to marry a shepherd boy from Bethlehem.  I wonder if she had other plans and dad simply messed the whole thing up.  She may have wanted to be married to someone in his court that that she liked rather than this God-fearing young man.  She didn’t have a choice in the matter.  Daddy gave her to David.  It must have been tough to live in a house the other wives, and you were known as “Michal daughter of Saul” instead of “Michal favorite wife of David”.

I guess that those closest to you sometimes can misunderstand you the most!  They can also hurt you the quickest.  Why?  I don’t know.  It just happens that way.   I am glad that he didn’t quit the ministry or stop being the anointed King of Israel because one person told him he didn’t dress right on Sunday Morning.  David put her in her place quickly.  He loved God more than anyone.  It wasn’t about being King of Israel.  It wasn’t about being related to the Saul family and there is a certain way that those in Saul’s family dressed.  I wasn’t about what the Jones or the Smiths think. He was in the presence of God and was captivated by the whole event.

Some days when I am talking to God or listening to him, I cry.  At other times, I raise my hands.  There are moments where I shout out to the Lord.  Many times I am simply quiet.  Never the less, it ain’t about anyone in the room with me, save one, the Lord God who has my whole attention.

God help me listen to you today.  I hear you call me “your beloved, and you are well pleased with me”.  Your dear Son paid a great price to secure that position for me today.  I choose to stand on that fact.  I get excited walking around with you and journeying with you, wherever we go today.  I want to honor you.  I know people will never understand especially those around me with different expectations.  I am thankful and grateful that you call me your child, and I have the chance to be utilized in the work of your kingdom.

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18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’

I am reminded again this morning that one can only give out what is “in” you!  What comes out of my mouth reflects what is in there!  How do I know what is inside?  I just look at what comes out.  The context contains a group of religious teachers who are after Jesus.  Teachers of the law can be so frustrating.  Their rules are so rigid that keeping them outside is more important than the change on the inside.

“You ain’t from ’round here are you, son?”  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard us say that to Daniel Dulaney.  Daniel is from the foreign country of Alabama.  They do things different in Alabama.  Larry catches it big time at our church.  He is the chairman of our Finance Committe and he is our resident “Yankee”.  Yesteday was the first time in a long time that I actually watched him come to church, enjoy fellowship with the rest of the group, and leave without catching grief for being a resident of the Pee Dee.  People would look at him and say “You ain’t from ’round here are you son?”  They are so patient with us and allow us to enjoy being different.  I like the way they love us and help us to see the grace of God.  We are fortuante to be able to cut up with them and laugh about being so different at times.  These two men are wonderful men and where they are from means nothing except to keep them in context.  Well, let me clarify that.  One of them is an Auburn Fan.  I am not sure what that makes him.

When Jesus was around the religious teachers of the law, he aggravated them.  They were so frustrated by his teachings which were not in keeping with their tradition.  He didn’t wash his hands the right way or not at all for that matter before he at bread.  Pharisees and Scribes, religious people, could take the pleasure out of anything if it meant keeping their rules.  Jesus wasn’t from ’round there.  He came from a place where grace abounds.  I have discovered that the law kills.  I have also discovered that grace gives life.  The law controls exteriors without watching the inside change.  Grace changes the outside by changing the inside first.

You can only give away what’s in you.  And you give away what’s in you by simply looking at what comes out.  If there is murder, lies, deceit, hypocrasy in you that is what comes out.  So when you see what comes out you can know what to work on by simply taking note of what comes out.  It would not come out if it were not there.

I am glad that God looks at the heart.  I am glad that he is patient with me.  I am glad that he gives me a chance to look into my own heart, discover what is wrong and without casting me away from the family, joins me in the task of getting my life cleaned up.

I want to be like Jesus!  You can onlygive away what’s in ya!  It ought to be true when people see us loving others and dispensing grace to a world in need…they would say “You ain’t from ’round here are you?”  They are right.  I am “in Christ”.  He lives “in me.”  I want him to come out when people see me.  I reflect a different set of values as compared to the “religious” bunch of rule and regulation keepers.  I get instructions from a different place.  I am glad!  I like the amazing grace of God.

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18“Bring them here to me,” he said.

Yesterday I preached about a little boy who was “moon-struck” or a lunatic as the scripture calls him.  A devil had made his home in the little boy.  He was doing what the enemy always does and that is try to destroy God’s precious children.  The dad had done all he could do to help the boy.  This inner enemy would cause the boy to go into fits of seizures that would cause him to fall into the water and attempt to drown him or to cast him into the fire so he would be burnt.  The disciples were helpless.  Christ wasn’t.  His instructions were “Bring him to me”.  He commanded the devil to leave and the boy was healed immediately.

Again this morning I read of a group of hungry people.  The disciples were helpless.  All they could dig up was a few fish and loaves of bread.  They did not know what to do.  The instructions of Jesus?  “Bring them here to me”.  Jesus fed the people with 12 baskets filled with leftovers, one for each disciple that he was trying to disciple.  The hungry people were in need and Jesus fed them with what the disciples had in their hands.

Jesus no longer lives on the earth and walks as a person by our side.  He lives IN us.  Christ IN us our hope of glory.  We are his children.  We are asked to allow him to interact with our day and watch supernatural things happen right in front of our very eyes because those of us who are the “beloved of our father” will see him work his life out of us where we are in this day.  I am looking forward to what he will do.

There was a hurting child, a hungry crowd.  There were disciples who were wanting to be used but were powerless.  The took their need to Jesus…or might I say that the need brought the people to Jesus.  Jesus was the central figure in it all.  His hand healed and divided the bread.  His presence was felt.  His work was done.  Now a lunatic son is well, immediately and a hungry crowd is fed because they “Brought them to Jesus!”

Oh to God I would do the same with everything I face today!

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Sic vox non vobis

1206462482_4ef3a2b363_b52He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”

OK, the title looks good.  I wish I could read it but I understand it this way – Sic vox non vobis—You are to lay up, but not for yourselves. Old truth and new methods work well together.  I am looking at the bible given to me by Stafford Hebert and the Midland Park Baptist Church Family.  It is Thompson Chain Reference Bible.  I will never forget “Preacher” telling me years ago that the Bible is God’s Word.  Preach it!  He would tell me that all the time.  He like this particular Bible because it had a commentary of scripture commenting on scripture.  He would always tell me to never stop preaching the old time truths of the Word of God.  I celebrate the impact he has had on my life.  He is in his 90’s now and I honor him each week as I pick up my old KJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible and preach from the old ragged edged Bible.

Today God reminded me that I am to stand in the pulpit, open an old Bible filled with history proven and God blessed truth and preach it with no apology.  I get to tell it to a different crowd.  They are new!  But the Old Truth is still the foundation of what I will be preaching.  I am going to the storehouse where truth is stored and I will bring out a bit of an old story told by the lips of my living Jesus  – a parable –  and share it with a new crowd living in 2009.  What a privilege from heaven!  God has honored me today.

The truth is – he gives it to me so he can give it through me.  That is true with money, furniture, preaching, truth, etc.  We are simply the vessels through whom God pours his life and stuff on other people.  We get if from him so we can give it away.  That keeps us from being Pharisees and Scribes, religious snobs who mark people off as the “haves” and the “have nots”.  I find that life in this great rule of Christ is best demonstrated in the way we give.

Every now and then I like picking a version of the Bible that brings a truth to light.  The one that rang my bell came out of the New Living Translation of the Bible.  I get to hold the bible in my hand, stand up in front of a crowd and “…brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”  Old truth that rings a new bell.

Here is the story of a man who goes into his store house and brings something out.  He brings it out so he can share it.

Oh, God use it today to change lives.  It never gets old.

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28″Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Maybe it is the fact that I can come that blows my mind.  The offer is to those who are “weary and heavy laden”.  Maybe it is just me getting old.  Compared to Smith and Mahan (inside joke) I am still a young man with nothing to gripe about.  But after a long grinding week I wake up “weary” physically.  I wake up “heavy laden”.  There are things that weight long and hard on all of our hearts.  Things like issues that we deal with in our own life.  I was reminded yesterday how our past haunts us from time to time.  Maybe it has to do with family.  I always think about Jason and Jenn and their being planted in and around Baltimore, MD and the ministry that God gives them in the finance world and in caring for kids who have been neglected.  God was gracious to let them serve people there.  I always pray for Jeremy and the impact of his life with his friends.  He is a talented young man and is very gifted and compassionate.  I always pray for Kimberly for physical protection as she plays soccer and finishes up at school.  “Weary and heavy laden” are two of my traveling buddies.  I am glad that I can bring my wife, my church, the needy families in the fellowship, the hurting…  I am no stranger to those two.

God gave me a place to bring them – “Come unto me…”  There is no place in the world like the being in the presence of the Father.  I sit at our Child Care Center at Southside and watch as little children run and jump into the arms of their parents.  Some of the little ones crawl across the floor to their parents, pull up on their pant leg and all but beg for them to pick them up.  I watch as the little ones find comfort in the big hands of their parents carressing them into their arms.  There is a place to go.  I know that many a preacher has used this text to grind away at those who are lost and tell them if they will come to Jesus they could be saved.  However, I want to celebrate this morning that this child, on this side of eternity’s precious glory, I have a place to go.  And if I have sense I will stay there.  For all I need is in the Father’s arms.

And I will give you rest.  That ain’t a bad thing for those who “are weary and heavy laden”.  Rest is what I longed for at Whitestone Inn.  My room’s door there openned to a covered patio area that has two porch swings.  I spent a great deal of time moving from a bed, to a chair, to the swing, to the chair and then to the bed.  I wanted rest.  I found it.  Several months of worry over a mother in law with cancer, a week or more of watching a stroke be the intrument of God’s grace in getting her to heaven, and then several days of watching a family gather followed by a very dignified funeral for this fine woman, wore me out (wore our family out).  That swing was a place where God allowed rest to come to my own life.

I don’t have to hunt that place down.  He has hunted me down and offers that rest to me.  This morning I stand in that rest.  I am forgiven.  I am cleansed.  I am found.  I feel wanted.  “…Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me.  The question is not “How am I to find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by Him?”  the question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be know by God?”  And, finally, the question is not ” How am I tto love God?’  but ” How am I to let myself be loved by God?”  God is looing into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home…God wants to find me as much as, if not more than, I want to find God…”  p. 106, Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son.  Come unto me!  Come home!  It’s where we belong.  It is a place we are created to be!

I am glad I have a place to go.

I was captivated by a song sung by the Annie Moses Band.  “When Daddy Says I’m Beautiful”  Being the day of a young lady, I find myself instantly drawn to the lyric.  However, hearing my own heavenly Father tell me the same thing is part of the ministry of this song to me.  Inside all of us is a little child longing to hear his or her father speak into their hearts.

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Once it’s Out…

3081630876_977b9a70f6_o3 Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD;
keep watch over the door of my lips.

I will never forget Barry Lord standing behind the pulpit asking for a volunteer.  That is a dangerous thing to do.  He is good with illustrations.  His victim was given a tube of toothpaste and was asked to squeeze the contents into the aluminum pie plate.  Once a good bit out, Barry handed him a spoon and asked him to put it back into the tube.  What a joke!   He had toothpaste on the spoon, his hands, the plate and all over the tube and was never able to put it back.  The truth is – “Once it’s out, it ain’t going back in”.  I wish he had a mouth over the end of the tube.  The truth is so obvious.  When you speak those words, you can never get them back in.  When they are out, they are out.

Today in my scripture passages David was being chased by Saul.  Psalm 141 is a reminder from David for God to watch all aspects of his life.  Chronicles passage was filled with “who begat who” and interestingly enough a discussion on who would be the “gatekeepers” at the temple.  Furthermore, then Jesus sends the men out to preach and make a difference in the world.  I never know just where God will tag my own heart.  Today, it has to be with the gatekeeping activity that surrounds my own mouth.

God makes us like we are.  However, how we are made is no excuse to exercise a lack of discipline, especially in how we use our mouths.  I need a guard?  You bet.  At times I need a muzzle like a dog.  The older I am get the better I am getting at disciplining myself to “think” before I speak and allowing a little more grace to be applied to how I say what I say.   It is days like today that I am reminded again just how much God still has to do in my own life.  I will represent Him today in word and in deed.

The other observation is to remember that I have a Traveling Partner in this life who really does want to be a part of my life.  I am one of God beloved children.  He wants me to succeed and to get as much out of today as possible.  Of all the things that I would perceive God having to do, watching over my mouth would not be one of them.  However, David found real comfort in asking God to stand guard outside of his mouth and watch over this gate of his life.  What a way to start a day!  Talk to God and have confidence in his presence with us in that we would be able to stand watch over my mouth.

My sons introduced me to John Mayer.  Put a guitar in his hands and he can perform magic with it.  Now I know it is not a Christian song, but it goes right along with what I am trying to say.  My Stupid Mouth!  Listen!

My stupid mouth
Has got me in trouble
I said too much again
To a date over dinner yesterday
And I could see
She was offended
She said “well anyway…”
Just dying for a subject change

Oh, another social casualty
Score one more for me
How could I forget?
Mama said “think before speaking”
No filter in my head
Oh, what’s a boy to do
I guess he better find what soon

We bit our lips
She looked out the window
Rolling tiny balls of napkin paper
I played a quick game of chess with the salt and pepper shaker
And I could see clearly, An indelible line was drawn
Between what was good, what JUST slipped out and what went wrong

Oh, the way she feels about me has changed
Thanks for playing, try again.
How could I forget?
Mama said “think before speaking”
No filter in my head
Oh, what’s a boy to do
I guess he better find one

I’m never speaking up again
It only hurts me
I’d rather be a mystery
Than she desert me

Oh I’m never speaking up again
Starting now… Starting now

One more thing
Why is it my fault?
So maybe I try too hard
But it’s all because of this desire
I just wanna be liked
I just wanna be funny
Looks like the jokes on me
So call me captain backfire

I’m never speaking up again
it only hurts me
I’d rather be a mystery
than she desert me

oh I’m never speaking up again
I’m never speaking up again
I’m never speaking up again
Starting now, starting now…

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rembrandtprodigalson-vi36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

I have been reading Henri Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son.  Nouwen was captivated by Rembrandt’s painting  depicting his perspective of the Prodigal, and began to identify with the younger son.  Here is a young man who took all the inheritance that his father gave him after wishing that his father was dead and squandered it in lustful riotous living.  He took the risk of listening to the sounds of those around him who began to demonstrate that there is some kind of life that is greater than the one that is with the father.  His story starts as he leaves home, consuming his life at the bars in the lap of luxury, finds himself in squalor caring for pigs with nothing, and at the end of it all is back in the father’s embrace forgiven, cleansed and now home.  The father’s beloved has come home.

Nouwen was then encouraged to consider the fact that he might be struggling with the whole story of the prodigal because he might relate to the elder son more so than the younger.  The elder son was just as far away from the father as the younger.  Probably mad because he did not have the courage to chase the fancies as did the younger and risk all for the thrill of it all.  He is consumed in anger, bitterness, and like a Pharisee and Scribe, is consumed in being religious and proper.  He is so far away he is not moved by the father’s joy at the return of his younger brother and because of his resentment and the like does not even have a connection with the father any more.

Nouwen develops the story much more of course.  However, a woman encouraged him to consider the possibility “…whether you are the younger son or the elder son, you have to realize you are called to become the father.  …You have been looking for friends all of your life; you have been craving for affection as long as I have known you; you have been interested in thousands of things; you have been begging for attention, appreciation, and affirmation left and right.  The time has come to claim your true vocation – to be a father who can welcome his children home without asking them any questions and without wanting anything from them in return.  Look at the father in your painting and you will know what you are called to be.  We, at Daybreak, and most people around you don’t need you to be a good friend or even a kind brother.  We need you to be a father who can claim for himself the authority of true compassion.” (p. 22)

I look at the compassion of the father and instantly relate to Jesus who demonstrates for me this morning that he saw the crowds and was moved to stop standing off to the side with hands folded, distant and cold to the needs of people and the joy of the father.  He had compassion for them.  Today I am reminded that words like homecoming, affirmation, gratitude, joy and reconciliation have more to do with the heart of God.  I will run into loneliness, dejection, jealousy, and anger today.  I am a pastor and those things are never far away.

Today, God help me get past my issues with the younger and elder sons.  Allow me to live in the joy of my forgiveness and the sweet knowledge that I am home.  Help me to exercise my vocation of being one who can dispense Grace because I have received it by having compassion for others, being an encourager, welcoming people back home and living a life of trust and gratitude.  I am so thankful that you travel with me through this process.  I celebrate that I am your beloved and you are well pleased with me.  Deep inside me I long to live up to that privilege.

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