Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Pray With Passion & Carry Your Gun

02/13/2011 3 comments

Have you ever noticed that sometimes life seems to swing us from one extreme to another? Life can be polarizing. Sometimes one extreme seems to be the best option, other times the exact opposite seems best. Yet, there area also times where the truth rests between two poles and finds its greatest strength in the tension of fighting off two extremes.

I have been wrestling with such an issue as I’ve been reading through 1&2Samuel. I have been moved by the sense of calling that David felt. He was a patient leader who was willing to rest on Gods timing and for Gods perfect plan. There were times where he was able to take matter into his own hands, but it seems that he found the strength of character to wait upon the Lord. In a simple reading it would be easy to assume that David was drawn the the extreme of being “Led” by the Lord.

Yet I also find David drawing up his sword for battle and being willing to do the hard physical work necessary to deliver Gods people from their oppressors. He is a mighty warrior who is not scarred to take up the sword and fight. A casual reading of his life could lead one to believe that David was also drawn to the extreme of taking matters “into his own hand”.

Yet I think the truth in the life of David rests between the poles of two extremes.

When I was in Israel last year I was amazed at the magnitude of it all. The sights, the history, and the overwhelming sense of meaning in “The Land”. As we toured the nation I was also taken by how many armed citizens I saw in the streets. It seemed that everyone in Israel was packing. The taxi drivers, the cafe barista, even the school teachers were strapped. In fact, we saw a group of young students (Jr. High Age) in En Gedi and there were two men with the class carrying automatic weapons. I was curious so I asked one of them why they were armed. He mentioned that terrorist attacks are usually taken on easy targets and schoolchildren are easy targets.

I had to stop and think about that for a moment… children? Targets? Then you come to grips with the sobering reality that the people of Israel are a people of arms. They have no choice but to protect themselves from their enemies. In fact, every woman serves in the military for two years (18-20) and every man for three (18-21). They are required to serve for one month out of the year as a reserve. The primary Israeli military strategy (other than pre-emtive defensive attacks) is to have the active military hold off an attack for 24 hours until the entire nation can be called upon as reserves. The people take great pride in the fact that they are a nation of arms on 11 month leave.

I was fasciated to find that their is an exclusion to serving in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force). Come to find out that the Orthodox Jews do not have to serve in the military. I was curious about this and asked why not? I was told that their serving is the study and obedience to Torah. They were the ones who prayed while the nation took up arms. Their act of service or duty to their country was to carry on the traditions and pray for almighty God to bring Shalom (peace) to the city. While were were gathered at the Western Wall we saw a young man putting on phylacteries and joining others in prayers for his people. It was moving to see the youth following in the traditions of their fathers and serving their country and the Lord through their prayers.

So it seemed that the Orthodox Jews sat at one pole. They prayed, sought the Lord, and waited upon Him for deliverance and guidance. The rest of the nation sat at the other pole. They served, trained, and prepared for imminent attack at all times. One took up the position of the “called” and the others took up “the fight”.

I thought again about David and his example and I realized that the Mighty King didn’t fit on either side. He didn’t practice one or the other exclusively, but with most cases of polarity, he was somewhere in the middle.

While we were at the Western Wall I snapped one more picture that I think would make the mighty King David proud. I don’t know who this young man is, and I don’t know his story, but he quickly became my hero in Israel. Here was a young man who understood the importance of both extremes. He is dressed in his IDF issued uniform. He is carrying his automatic weapon. He is clearly trained and prepared for whatever crisis may arise. Yet he also is wearing his kippah in reverence to God and is praying for the Shalom of the city. As I watched this man pray with passion, I was struck by the beautiful tension that he was living in. As I watched him I also wondered if that is what the great King was like. Pray with passion, and carry your gun!

For me… it helped me think about the way that I do life a bit differently. I can pray, seek the Lord, and wait upon Him. But there are times where I have to fight (by faith) lead (by faith) and press on (by faith) knowing that God honors a yielded heart in a person of action.

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Reflections on Ps 127:1-2

01/30/2011 2 comments

“Unless the LORD builds the house,

They labor in vain who build it;

Unless the LORD guards the city,

The watchman keeps awake in vain.

It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late,

to eat the bread of painful labors;

For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

Ps 127:1-2 (NASB)

Our life is a life of faith. Whether we would embrace that notion or not does not make it any more or less of a reality in our lives. We breath by faith, work by faith, love by faith, and live by faith. To assume otherwise is to embrace folly. That is our station in life. That is our calling. That is our reality. Yet so many live in casual disregard for the Lord.

We fail to recognize that our efforts, apart from the divine blessing of the Lord, are in vain. We can work, strive, and labor, but without the Lord in our life, we are peddling through life with a strong headwind in our faces.

Our focus needs to shift from the work of our hands to the work in our hearts. As followers of Christ, we are called to be a people who learn the art of working and resting. We were not created for endless work, but were given a pattern of rest. The simplicity of the creation account points to the concept of work and rest. The pattern that was given was that our lives were not simply made to work, but also created to pause, reflect, remember, and worship the provider of all things. “But  seek first  His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be  added to you. (Matt. 6:33) There are obvious needs in our life. Bills must be paid, groceries purchased, and necessities acquired, but this ought to be a supplement to a life that is lived in tremendous communion with the Lord. As we delight in Him, He will begin to change the very things that we desire (Ps 37:4). Our lives will be marked by a strong and profound faith in the provision of God on our behalf. We will begin to recognize the call to live by faith and will cease our striving and rest in the knowledge of a faithful God who cares for us and provides beyond what we could ask or imagine.

We need to remember that “he gives to his beloved even while they sleep” (Ps 127:2) There is some debate as to the exact meaning of this text, but regardless of the interpretation, there is the idea that God is the one who provides and gives rest.

That is a very difficult lesson to learn. Most who have learned this lesson have learned it through the vale of suffering and pain. Many a life has been poured out on the alter of career, acquisition, consumerism, and the pursuit of self. These lives typically come to an end with a profound sense of loss. They have spend their best on the things of this world and though rich in this world have ended their lives in spiritual poverty.

As the people of God, we must find our peace in the Lord and not in the perishable things of this world. We must learn the art of resting, pausing, reflecting, and enjoying the provision of God in our lives.

It all starts with a heart aflame for the things of God. We must consider that our lives are lost and found in Him. With this beginning, our decisions become subject to the word of God. We allow the scriptures to shape our decisions and be the source of wisdom from which we draw our strength.

There is nothing wrong with work… The question is, “for whom are you working?”

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Reflections on 1Sam 27

01/25/2011 Comments off

Desperate men do desperate things. I can’t help but feel David’s desperation as he continues to flee from a power crazed king. Saul has sought his life in the Negev, in the caves, in En Gedi. David had dodged spears, fled from informants, found amnesty with his enemies in order to protect himself, and those who followed him, from the wrath of Saul. He has many sleepless nights, many exhausting days, and many tumultuous encounters. All of these began to weigh down the future King. Though his heart for the Lord was sound and his faith strong, he became fatigued. He was just step ahead of the king and was beginning to loose his hope. His continual fear of the wrath of the king and his convictions of honoring Saul while he was on the throne, forced David to make a very desperate decision; He found safety among his enemies.

Now staying with the Philistines he found himself playing the part of the disgruntled ex-patriot. His perceived allegiance had shifted to the Philistines, the same people whom he used to hunt, now became his perceived allies. Surrounded on all sides by previous enemies became his only perceivable option. He would rather risk his life surrounded by the enemies of God than to continue to put himself in harms way at the hand of the “Lords Anointed”.

Desperate men do desperate things. I wonder if David would have made the same decision if he was well rested, well fed, and at peace? I am curious if the future King would have aligned himself with his enemies if he was in a better place? He found himself on the edge of sanity with nowhere else to turn, so he chose out of desperation.

Have you ever found yourself in desperation? There are times where life seems to toss us around and shake us loose from reason. Circumstances surround us and we find our selves in desperate times making desperate decisions. In desperation we consider options that would otherwise be unthinkable. We can even entertain decisions that, in a more peaceful time, would have never even crossed our radar.

I think the caution is to recognize that when in continual duress we don’t always think straight. We can lead ourselves, and those who follow us, into terrible situations because of our desperation. So what do we do when we are faced to face with these moments?

  • Seek counsel :: It’s critical to recognize that we are not meant to do life alone. We need people in our lives who can speak truth to us, point out blind spots, and correct us in our desperation. These trusted friends can help us see more clearly and keep us from falling into the pitfalls of living in isolation.
  • Practice Better Self-Leadership :: There were many factors that led David to make the decisions that he made, and it would certainly not be my intent to pass judgment on his ability to lead. However, I can’t help but think that David would have thought differently had he been able to create a more sustainable pace for himself. This may not have been an option considering the external factors that were moving him, but it may have been a possibility for him to create distance from Saul that didn’t include alignment with his enemies.
  • Recognize that decisions made in desperation may have catastrophic consequences :: David finds himself just two chapters later in battle array heading to the battlefield against his very own people. If it wasn’t for the providence of God awakening a suspicion in the hearts and minds of the Philistine generals, David would have put himself, and his men, in a very precarious position. They would either have been forced to raise the sword against the nation of Israel, or reveal their treachery to the Philistine army. Either way, they would have been in a very difficult situation.
  • Learn to trust :: at the end of 1Sam 26 it seems that Saul has called off the proverbial dogs. He had decided to return home and end his tireless search for David. Though his track record of changing his mind towards David is as fickle as a High School dating relationship, it seems that David should have trusted the Lord. David was the Lords anointed King. He was the heir to the throne. He was the future of the nation. God would have protected David from Saul, the Philistines, and any other threat to the king. Yet, in his time of difficulty his faith falters. He looks at external signs and circumstances rather than believing by faith in the promises of God regardless of the external indicators. Much like Saul, David leans on his flesh. Though different in so many ways, the two kings share this fatal flaw. Both men, when faced with difficulty, have a propensity to focus on the flesh. Saul offers his own sacrifice despite Samuels warnings, and consults witches to craft a battle plan rather than seeking God. David will align himself with the philistines and enjoy a peep show across the Kidron Valley at Bathsheeba rather than continue in faithfulness to the Lord as  King should.

At the end of the day, the prayer is simply that God would make us leaders who are not slack in the day of distress, but instead, when difficulty comes, are those who would sink deeply into the Lord and find shelter in Him. That we might grow strong in faith as the storms of life snuff out the light, and that our hearts will grow stronger knowing that the Lord is our ever present help in a time of need.

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The Honesty of a Giant

04/21/2010 Comments off

In light of my recent musings on the issues of depression, burnout, and pastoral fatigue, I couldn’t help but find this post interesting and insightful. I have the utmost respect for Dr. John Piper and was encouraged to hear his candor and humility. I am grateful for his Elders and the support shown by his church family.

Here is a link to the post:

John Piper’s Upcoming Leave

I hope and trust that Dr. Piper’s words can sink into our hearts and work their way into our calendars.

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Why I Want a Wife

04/21/2010 2 comments

While preparing for our recent Song of Solomon series, I came cross this essay written in 1971 by an early supporter of the feminist movement named Judy Syfers. It was read at a rally celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. “Why I Want a Wife” was originally printed in the premier issue of Ms. Magazine and was widely circulated in the women’s movement. As I read this piece, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the sarcasm and perspective.

(Writing after 11 years of marriage, and before separating from her husband, (Judy) Syfers here pins down the meaning of the word wife from the perspective of one person who lives the role.  This essay was published in the first issue of Ms. Magazine in December 1971, and it has since been reprinted widely.)

I belong to that classification of people known as wives.  I am A Wife.  And, not altogether incidentally, I am a mother.

Not too long ago a male friend of mine appeared on the scene fresh from a recent divorce.  He had one child, who is, of course, with his ex-wife.  He is looking for another wife.  As I thought about him while I was ironing one evening, it suddenly occurred to me that I, too, would like to have a wife.  Why do I want a wife?

I would like to go back to school so that I can become economically independent, support myself, and, if need be, support those dependent upon me.  I want a wife who will work and send me to school.  And while I am going to school I want a wife to take care of my children.  I want a wife to keep track of the children’s doctor and dentist appointments.  And to keep track of mine, too.  I want a wife to make sure my children eat properly and are kept clean.  I want a wife who will wash the children’s clothes and keep them mended.  I want a wife who is a good nurturant attendant to my children, who arranges for their schooling, makes sure that they have an adequate social life with their peers, takes them to the park, the zoo, etc.  I want a wife who takes care of the children when they are sick, a wife who arranges to be around when the children need special care, because, of course, I cannot miss classes at school.  My wife must arrange to lose time at work and not lose the job.  It may mean a small cut in my wife’s income from time to time, but I guess I can tolerate that.  Needless to say, my wife will arrange and pay for the care of the children while my wife is working.

I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs.  I want a wife who will keep my house clean.  A wife who will pick up after my children, a wife who will pick up after me.  I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it.  I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a good cook.  I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up while I do my studying.  I want a wife who will care for me when I am sick and sympathize with my pain and loss of time from school.  I want a wife to go along when our family takes a vacation so that someone can continue to care for me and my children when I need a rest and change of scene.

I want a wife who will not bother me with rambling complaints about a wife’s duties.  But I want a wife who will listen to me when I feel the need to explain a rather difficult point I have come across in my course of studies.  And I want a wife who will type my papers for me when I have written them.

I want a wife who will take care of the details of my social life.  When my wife and I are invited out by friends, I want a wife who will take care of the babysitting arrangements.  When I meet people at school that I like and want to entertain, I want a wife who will have the house clean, will prepare a special meal, serve it to me and my friends, and not interrupt when I talk about things that interest me and my friends.  I want a wife who will have arranged that the children are fed and ready for bed before my guests arrive so that the children do not bother us.  I want a wife who takes care of the needs of my guests so that they feel comfortables, who make sure that they have an ashtray, that they are passed the hor d’oeuvres, that they are offered a second helping of the food, that their wine glasses are replenished when necessary, that their coffee is served to them as they like it.  And I want a wife who knows that sometimes I need a night  out by myself.

I want a wife who is sensitive to my sexual needs, a wife who makes love passionately and eagerly when I feel like it, a wife that makes sure that I am satisfied.  And, of course, I want a wife who will not demand sexual attention when I am not in the mood for it.  I want a wife who assumes the complete responsibility for birth control, because I do not want more children.  I want a wife who will remain sexually faithful to me so that I do not have to clutter up my intellectual life with jealousies.  And I want a wife who understands that my sexual needs may entail more than strict adherence to monogamy.  I must, after all, be able to relate to people as fully as possible.

If, by chance, I find another person more suitable as a wife than the wife I already have, I want the liberty to replace my present wife with another one.  Naturally, I will expect a fresh, new life: my wife will take the children and be solely responsible for them so that I am left free.

When I am through with school and have a job, I want my wife to quit working and remain at home so that my wife can more fully and completely take care of a wife’s duties.

My God, who wouldn’t want a wife?

Ladies… I wonder how your essay would read today? Would it be similar? Have things changed? (for better or for worse)

Men… I am curious to see how this essay struck you? Agree? Disagree?

Maybe this can begin some interesting dialogue within our marriages.

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Israel Trip Recap

04/18/2010 Comments off

What a trip! My mind is still ablaze with new information and experiences. Since we were traveling with the Joshua Wilderness Institute, I figured I would turn you to their blog to enjoy their perspective, pictures, and information.

Click Here

The students have done a great job cataloging the trip with blog posts, pics, and audio.

Enjoy & Shalom

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Shalom From Israel

04/11/2010 Comments off

Here is a great snapshot of the activities today from Rich Ferreira. (The Director of the Joshua Wilderness Institute at Hume Lake)

Day Three Blog

Day Three Photo’s

My Mobile Me Gallery

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