Monday, June 29, 2009

More Wisdom

It was my nephew's wedding this week end, so we got to spend time with family in Canada. It is ssoooo good to be with family.

Thank you Sharon, for being the perfect host. Ruthie, for coming from so far. Donald, for the long talks.

Today we are back to Proverbs, enjoying the wisdom of Solomon.

8 Don't jump to conclusions—there may be
a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw.
9 -10 In the heat of an argument,
don't betray confidences; Word is sure to get around,
and no one will trust you.
11 -12 The right word at the right time
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,
And a wise friend's timely reprimand
is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.
13 Reliable friends who do what they say
are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing!
14 Like billowing clouds that bring no rain
is the person who talks big but never produces.
15 Patient persistence pierces through indifference;
gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hello? Hello... This is God speaking...


Ring ring...
Hello?

Hello... This is God speaking.

God? Almighty God? Creator of heavan and earth?

Yes... I have a word for you...

I... I... I'm listening!

God appeared to Solomon again, just as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.

3 -5 And God said to him, "I've listened to and received all your prayers, your ever-so-passionate prayers. I've sanctified this Temple that you have built: My Name is stamped on it forever; my eyes are on it and my heart in it always. As for you, if you live in my presence as your father David lived, pure in heart and action, living the life I've set out for you, attentively obedient to my guidance and judgments, then I'll back your kingly rule over Israel, make it a sure thing on a solid foundation. The same guarantee I gave David your father I'm giving you: 'You can count on always having a descendant on Israel's throne.'

Solomon's heart was pounding.
He was speechless.
And listening carefully...
God goes on.

6 -9 "But if you or your sons betray me, ignoring my guidance and judgments, taking up with alien gods by serving and worshiping them, then the guarantee is off: I'll wipe Israel right off the map and repudiate this Temple I've just sanctified to honor my Name. And Israel will become nothing but a bad joke among the peoples of the world. And this Temple, splendid as it now is, will become an object of contempt; visitors will shake their heads, saying, 'Whatever happened here? What's the story behind these ruins?' Then they'll be told, 'The people who used to live here betrayed their God, the very God who rescued their ancestors from Egypt; they took up with alien gods, worshiping and serving them. That's what's behind this God-visited devastation.'"

And Solomon obeyed...

14 -15 He followed the practice of his father David in setting up groups of priests carrying out the work of worship, with the Levites assigned to lead the sacred music for praising God and to assist the priests in the daily worship; he assigned security guards to be on duty at each gate—that's what David the man of God had ordered. The king's directions to the priests and Levites and financial stewards were kept right down to the fine print—no innovations—including the treasuries.
16 All that Solomon set out to do, from the groundbreaking of The Temple of God to its finish, was now complete.

God talked to Solomon. And Solomon obeyed.

Does he still talk to us today?

Rejoice!


Exhuberance! Joy! Praise!

Young love.
New marriage.
And there was joy...
Brennan and Leah got married yesterday.

5 -9 Let true lovers break out in praise, sing out from wherever they're sitting, Shout the high praises of God,

For some reason, today's reading is Psalm 146 through 150.

Psalm 146
1 -2 Hallelujah! O my soul, praise God!
All my life long I'll praise God,
singing songs to my God as long as I live.

No mention of circumstances here...

These are the praise Psalms.

Psalm 149
1 -4 Hallelujah!
Sing to God a brand-new song,
praise him in the company of all who love him.
Let all Israel celebrate their Sovereign Creator,
Zion's children exult in their King.
Let them praise his name in dance;
strike up the band and make great music!
And why? Because God delights in his people,
festoons plain folk with salvation garlands!
5 -9 Let true lovers break out in praise,
sing out from wherever they're sitting,
Shout the high praises of God,
brandish their swords in the wild sword-dance—
A portent of vengeance on the God-defying nations,
a signal that punishment's coming,
Their kings chained and hauled off to jail,
their leaders behind bars for good,
The judgment on them carried out to the letter
—and all who love God in the seat of honor!
Hallelujah!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lightning from Heaven - The altar on Fire!


This is exciting stuff, no doubt.

Solomon offers this GREAT prayer, when he is dedicating the newly built Temple.

God, O God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below, who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and unfailingly loves them while they sincerely live in obedience to your way. You kept your word to David my father, your promise. You did exactly what you promised—every detail. The proof is before us today!

18 -21 Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn't large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I've built. Even so, I'm bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O God, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I'm setting before you right now. Keep your eyes open to this Temple day and night, this place you promised to dignify with your Name. And listen to the prayers that I pray in this place. And listen to your people Israel when they pray at this place.
Listen from your home in heaven
and when you hear, forgive.

36 -39 When they sin against you—and they certainly will; there's no one without sin!—and in anger you turn them over to the enemy and they are taken captive to the enemy's land, whether far or near, but repent in the country of their captivity and pray with changed hearts in their exile, "We've sinned; we've done wrong; we've been most wicked," and turn back to you heart and soul in the land of the enemy who conquered them, and pray to you toward their homeland, the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you chose, and this Temple I have built to the honor of your Name,
Listen from your home in heaven
to their prayers desperate and devout;
Do what is best for them.
Forgive your people who have sinned against you.
40 And now, dear God, be alert and attentive to prayer, all prayer, offered in this place.

Solomon finishes his prayer, and

YOWEE... ZOWEE!!!

Fire comes from heaven and burns the sacrifice on the altar!

1 -3 When Solomon finished praying, a bolt of lightning out of heaven struck the Whole-Burnt-Offering and sacrifices and the Glory of God filled The Temple. The Glory was so dense that the priests couldn't get in—God so filled The Temple that there was no room for the priests! When all Israel saw the fire fall from heaven and the Glory of God fill The Temple, they fell on their knees, bowed their heads, and worshiped, thanking God:
Yes! God is good! His love never quits!

Is my relationship with God ever this exciting?

Do I experience God in such a way that His presence is REAL, and COMPELLING and POWERFUL?

HMMMM...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The "Must Be At" Event

Obama's inaguration was a "Must Be At" event. People all over the country were cashing in favors, paying money and doing whatever they could, to make sure they were at that historical event.

In the Bible reading today, there was a "Must Be At" event for the Israelites.
.
Solomon had spent 7 years building this magnificent building called the Temple. God was pleased, and had promised to be their God, and lead the people.
.
11 -13 The word of God came to Solomon saying, "About this Temple you are building—what's important is that you live the way I've set out for you and do what I tell you, following my instructions carefully and obediently. Then I'll complete in you the promise I made to David your father. I'll personally take up my residence among the Israelites—I won't desert my people Israel."
.
The date was set. The invitations went out. Everyone who could be there WAS there.
.
1 Kings 8
1 -2 Bringing all this to a climax, King Solomon called in the leaders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the family patriarchs, to bring up the Chest of the Covenant of God from Zion, the City of David. And they came, all Israel before King Solomon in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month, for the great autumn festival.
3 -5 With all Israel's leaders present, the priests took up the Chest of God and carried up the Chest and the Tent of Meeting and all the holy vessels that went with the Tent. King Solomon and the entire congregation of Israel were there at the Chest worshiping and sacrificing huge numbers of sheep and cattle—so many that no one could keep track."
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It was lavish worship of God almighty. It was the presentation of a significant offering to God, simply recognizing His grandeur, His power, His transcendence.
.
10 -11 When the priests left the Holy Place, a cloud filled The Temple of God. The priests couldn't carry out their priestly duties because of the cloud—the glory of God filled The Temple of God!
.
God demonstrated His pleasure at being honored and obeyed, and also His awesome power and presence.
.
12 -13 Then Solomon spoke:
God has told us that he lives in the dark
where no one can see him;
I've built this splendid Temple, O God,
to mark your invisible presence forever."
.
Later he prayed:
.
22 -25 Before the entire congregation of Israel, Solomon took a position before the Altar, spread his hands out before heaven, and prayed,
O God, God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and relentlessly loves them as they sincerely live in obedience to your way. You kept your word to David my father, your personal word. You did exactly what you promised—every detail. The proof is before us today!
Keep it up, God, O God of Israel! Continue to keep the promises you made to David my father when you said, "You'll always have a descendant to represent my rule on Israel's throne, on the condition that your sons are as careful to live obediently in my presence as you have." 26 O God of Israel, let this all happen; confirm and establish it!
27 -32 Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn't large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I've built. Even so, I'm bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O God, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I'm setting before you right now. Keep your eyes open to this Temple night and day, this place of which you said, "My Name will be honored there," and listen to the prayers that I pray at this place."
.
This was the crowning achievement of the life of Solomon the king.
.
What is MY mark going to be, on the world I am living in?

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Newly Minted Multi Billionaire


We are fascinated by the lives of the rich and famous. Perhaps because in all of us there is this fantasy - "What would it be like?"

Let's go backwards in time to King Solomon. He was raised in wealth. Pampered as one of the children of the king.

So here he is - a very young king. He is held in high regard, becuase his father was venerated. All the countries around had been dominated, and were regularly bringing in huge taxes to the treasury. God had given him great wisdom to rule well. I think he also had high intelligence, with a restless, curious mind, and a bent toward the philosophical. He was incredibly handsome - his mother a beauty queen, his father "bright-eyed, good-looking." (1 Samuel 16:12)

Later he would write an entire book about his experience with life.

Ecclesiastes 2
4 -8 Oh, I did great things: built houses, planted vineyards, designed gardens and parks and planted a variety of fruit trees in them, made pools of water to irrigate the groves of trees. I bought slaves, male and female, who had children, giving me even more slaves; then I acquired large herds and flocks, larger than any before me in Jerusalem. I piled up silver and gold, loot from kings and kingdoms. I gathered a chorus of singers to entertain me with song, and—most exquisite of all pleasures— voluptuous maidens for my bed.
9 -10 Oh, how I prospered! I left all my predecessors in Jerusalem far behind, left them behind in the dust. What's more, I kept a clear head through it all. Everything I wanted I took—I never said no to myself. I gave in to every impulse, held back nothing. I sucked the marrow of pleasure out of every task—my reward to myself for a hard day's work!

Today we look at his activities...

He built himself the most magnificent castle to live in.

1 Kings 71 -5 It took Solomon another thirteen years to finish building his own palace complex. He built the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon a hundred and fifty feet long, seventy-five feet wide, and forty-five feet high. There were four rows of cedar columns supporting forty-five cedar beams, fifteen in each row, and then roofed with cedar. Windows in groupings of three were set high in the walls on either side. All the doors were rectangular and arranged symmetrically.
6 He built a colonnaded courtyard seventy-five feet long and forty-five wide. It had a roofed porch at the front with ample eaves.

In fact, there was an entire series of government buildings - all of them magnificent!

7 He built a court room, the Hall of Justice, where he would decide judicial matters, and paneled it with cedar.
8 He built his personal residence behind the Hall on a similar plan. Solomon also built another one just like it for Pharaoh's daughter, whom he had married.
9 -12 No expense was spared—everything here, inside and out, from foundation to roof was constructed using high-quality stone, accurately cut and shaped and polished. The foundation stones were huge, ranging in size from twelve to fifteen feet, and of the very best quality. The finest stone was used above the foundation, shaped to size and trimmed with cedar. The courtyard was enclosed with a wall made of three layers of stone and topped with cedar timbers, just like the one in the porch of The Temple of God.

A pretty dazzling array of wealth, success and power!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Life's Work


The "Taj"
An enduring tribute to one man's life and love.
o
For 26 years I worked very diligently to build an estate. I was used to working 12 hour days, and being "busy". I had accomplished a lot. Thought I would retire very comfortably in 2008. However, these last three years all my estate got wiped out. In fact, I did not go to zero. No, I kept going until I was at a million dollars UNDER zero! Imagine! And my income went away at the same time!

So it has been a time for a lot of reflection. What is my life all about? Why do I do what I do? What do I want to accomplish with my life? In my case, I probably have 22 good years left. How do I want to spend those years?

If I didn't have obligations to fulfill, I think I would change direction right now. But that option is not available to me. I have to do well, the profession I have mastered - for at least three more years.

Your story may not be quite as dramatic as mine. But the questions are the same. What is your life's work?

Today's story is about Solomon's life work.
o
5 -6 "Now here is what I want to do: Build a temple in honor of God, my God, following the promise that God gave to David my father, namely, 'Your son whom I will provide to succeed you as king, he will build a house in my honor.' And here is how you can help: Give orders for cedars to be cut from the Lebanon forest; my loggers will work alongside yours and I'll pay your men whatever wage you set. We both know that there is no one like you Sidonians for cutting timber."
7 When Hiram got Solomon's message, he was delighted, exclaiming, "Blessed be God for giving David such a wise son to rule this flourishing people!"
o
This was a BIG project!!
o
13 -18 King Solomon raised a workforce of thirty thousand men from all over Israel. He sent them in shifts of ten thousand each month to the Lebanon forest; they would work a month in Lebanon and then be at home two months. Adoniram was in charge of the work crew. Solomon also had seventy thousand unskilled workers and another eighty thousand stonecutters up in the hills—plus thirty-three hundred foremen managing the project and supervising the work crews.
o
And he used NOTHING BUT THE BEST...
o
4 -7 The interior was gold-plated. He paneled the main hall with cypress and veneered it with fine gold engraved with palm tree and chain designs. He decorated the building with precious stones and gold from Parvaim. Everything was coated with gold veneer: rafters, doorframes, walls, and doors. Cherubim were engraved on the walls.
o
Solomon did many things in his life.
o
But his enduring legacy, his life's work - was the building of the Temple.
o
What's yours?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reputation, your intrinsic value and more...


Proverbs 22

Today there is commentary on:

Reputation;
1 A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich;
a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.

Your intrinsic value;
2 The rich and the poor shake hands as equals—
God made them both!

Risk management;
3 A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks;
a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.

Value of character and reverence;
4 The payoff for meekness and Fear-of-God
is plenty and honor and a satisfying life.

Difficulties of the wicked;
5 The perverse travel a dangerous road, potholed and mud-slick;
if you know what's good for you, stay clear of it.

Coaching for child rearing;
6 Point your kids in the right direction—
when they're old they won't be lost.

The problem with being in debt;
7 The poor are always ruled over by the rich,
so don't borrow and put yourself under their power.

Results of sin and anger;
8 Whoever sows sin reaps weeds,
and bullying anger sputters into nothing.

Blessing of generosity;
9 Generous hands are blessed hands
because they give bread to the poor.

Tips for leaders;
10 Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down;
you need a break from bickering and griping!

Benefit of good character;
11 God loves the pure-hearted and well-spoken;
good leaders also delight in their friendship.

Good information vs. deciet;
12 God guards knowledge with a passion,
but he'll have nothing to do with deception.

The excuses of the lazy;
13 The loafer says, "There's a lion on the loose!
If I go out I'll be eaten alive!"

The instability of youth culture;
15 Young people are prone to foolishness and fads;
the cure comes through tough-minded discipline.

and much, much, more...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Cool Thoughts...


It is hard to summarize 3 chapters of the Sayings of the Wise, or Proverbs, as we commonly know it. Here are some more great sayings...

Proverbs 19
If You Quit Listening

1 Better to be poor and honest than a rich person no one can trust.

2 Ignorant zeal is worthless;
haste makes waste.

3 People ruin their lives by their own stupidity,
so why does God always get blamed?

4 Wealth attracts friends as honey draws flies,
but poor people are avoided like a plague.

5 Perjury won't go unpunished.
Would you let a liar go free?

6 Lots of people flock around a generous person;
everyone's a friend to the philanthropist.

7 When you're down on your luck, even your family avoids you—
yes, even your best friends wish you'd get lost.
If they see you coming, they look the other way
—out of sight, out of mind.

8 Grow a wise heart—you'll do yourself a favor;
keep a clear head—you'll find a good life.

9 The person who tells lies gets caught;
the person who spreads rumors is ruined.

10 Blockheads shouldn't live on easy street
any more than workers should give orders to their boss.

11 Smart people know how to hold their tongue;
their grandeur is to forgive and forget.

Each wise saying triggers an "aha..." a story or a memory of how that was so true.

I think of the book called "No One Left to Lie To" about Bill Clinton's time in office.

Or how MC Hammer had lots of friends when the money was abundant, and how so many left him when the hard times hit.

More cool thoughts...

Ahhh Wisdom... Timeless Wisdom


What beautiful words today!

Wisdom like this has guided people for thousands of years. First the Jews, then all Christians (in addition to Jews) and eventually - all of Western Civilization.

Wisdom...

Timeless wisdom...

23 The desires of good people lead straight to the best,
but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration.
24 The world of the generous gets larger and larger;
the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
those who help others are helped.
26 Curses on those who drive a hard bargain!
Blessings on all who play fair and square!
27 The one who seeks good finds delight;
the student of evil becomes evil.
28 A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump;
a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree.
29 Exploit or abuse your family, and end up with a fistful of air;
common sense tells you it's a stupid way to live.
30 A good life is a fruit-bearing tree;
a violent life destroys souls.

Drink it in.

Let it settle deep within.

Wisdom...

Timeless wisdom...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wisdom


Wisdom is presented as one of the most important pursuits in life. Wisdom is personalized, and we are invited to talk to her, walk with her, follow her and love her.

1 -5 Dear friend, do what I tell you; treasure my careful instructions. Do what I say and you'll live well. My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it! Write it out on the back of your hands; etch it on the chambers of your heart. Talk to Wisdom as to a sister. Treat Insight as your companion.

12 -21 "I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity; Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street. The Fear-of-God means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion— pride and arrogance and crooked talk. Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics; I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out. With my help, leaders rule, and lawmakers legislate fairly; With my help, governors govern, along with all in legitimate authority. I love those who love me; those who look for me find me. Wealth and Glory accompany me— also substantial Honor and a Good Name. My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary; the returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus. You can find me on Righteous Road—that's where I walk— at the intersection of Justice Avenue, Handing out life to those who love me, filling their arms with life—armloads of life!

Wisdom and God knowledge presented as more important than money, a career or the trappings of wealth.

You'll recognize this as true—you with open minds; truth-ready minds will see it at once. Prefer my life-disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career. For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.

32 -36 "So, my dear friends, listen carefully; those who embrace these my ways are most blessed. Mark a life of discipline and live wisely; don't squander your precious life. Blessed the man, blessed the woman, who listens to me, awake and ready for me each morning, alert and responsive as I start my day's work. When you find me, you find life, real life, to say nothing of God's good pleasure.

We are invited to a banquet at the house of Wisdom.

Proverbs 9
Lady Wisdom Gives a Dinner Party
1 -6 Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home; it's supported by seven hewn timbers. The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted, wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers. Having dismissed her serving maids, Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place, and invites everyone within sound of her voice: "Are you confused about life, don't know what's going on? Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me! I've prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread, roast lamb, carefully selected wines. Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning."

Dear friend, take my advice


Proverbs 4, 5 and 6
What is the path to a great life?

Education? Fame? Money? Good looks? An outstanding skill, like catching or throwing a ball? A great job? Position? Power?

1 -2 Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice; sit up and take notice so you'll know how to live. I'm giving you good counsel; don't let it go in one ear and out the other. 3 -9 When I was a boy at my father's knee, the pride and joy of my mother, He would sit me down and drill me: "Take this to heart. Do what I tell you—live! Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding! Don't forget one word! Don't deviate an inch! Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life; love her—she keeps her eye on you. Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom! Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding! Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won't regret it; never let her go—she'll make your life glorious. She'll garland your life with grace, she'll festoon your days with beauty."

Wisdom.
Understanding.

20 -22 Dear friend, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they're bursting with health. 23 -27 Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that's where life starts. Don't talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust."

Gaurd your heart. Be true. Watch your step. Avoid evil.

1 -2 Dear friend, pay close attention to this, my wisdom; listen very closely to the way I see it. Then you'll acquire a taste for good sense; what I tell you will keep you out of trouble. 3 -6 The lips of a seductive woman are oh so sweet, her soft words are oh so smooth. But it won't be long before she's gravel in your mouth, a pain in your gut, a wound in your heart. She's dancing down the primrose path to Death; she's headed straight for Hell and taking you with her. She hasn't a clue about Real Life, about who she is or where she's going. 7 -14 So, my friend, listen closely; don't treat my words casually. Keep your distance from such a woman; absolutely stay out of her neighborhood. You don't want to squander your wonderful life, to waste your precious life among the hardhearted. Why should you allow strangers to take advantage of you? Why be exploited by those who care nothing for you? You don't want to end your life full of regrets, nothing but sin and bones, Saying, "Oh, why didn't I do what they told me? Why did I reject a disciplined life? Why didn't I listen to my mentors, or take my teachers seriously? My life is ruined! I haven't one blessed thing to show for my life!"

Avoid adultery. It seems sweet. It ends up bitter.

A Lesson from the Ant
6 -11 You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest!

Be diligent in your work.

20 -23 Good friend, follow your father's good advice; don't wander off from your mother's teachings. Wrap yourself in them from head to foot; wear them like a scarf around your neck. Wherever you walk, they'll guide you; whenever you rest, they'll guard you; when you wake up, they'll tell you what's next. For sound advice is a beacon, good teaching is a light, moral discipline is a life path.

Follow good advice.

Such practical, down to earth, helpful teachings...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Long Life Lived Full and Well


Today we begin to bathe in the wisdom of Solomon.


A long life, lived full and well.


What a beautiful ideal. Many have lived it in the past. It is your choice, and mine, whether we, too will live a long life lived full and well.


Listen to Solomon. With God whispering into his ear...


Proverbs 3
Don't Assume You Know It All


1 -2 "Good friend, don't forget all I've taught you; take to heart my commands. They'll help you live a long, long time,

a long life lived full and well.

3 -4 Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.

Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.

5 -12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;

don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;

he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all.

Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health,

your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own;

give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst,

your wine vats will brim over. But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline;

don't sulk under his loving correction. It's the child he loves that God corrects;

a father's delight is behind all this. "

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Love Story

When Patti and I were newly married we saw the newly released 1970 film called "Love Story." It is now called "One of the most romantic films of all time." We were gripped by the unfolding romance between the two characters, and shaken by the eventual cancer and death of the newly married woman.

Todays reading is one of the greatest love stories in the Bible. It is 8 chapters long, but each is fairly short.

This must have been his first love, because it is delightful. And very romantic.

2 -3 Kiss me—full on the mouth! Yes! For your love is better than wine, headier than your aromatic oils. The syllables of your name murmur like a meadow brook. No wonder everyone loves to say your name!

There is unabashed attraction between them...

The Man
15 Oh, my dear friend! You're so beautiful! And your eyes so beautiful—like doves!
The Woman
16 -17 And you, my dear lover—you're so handsome! And the bed we share is like a forest glen. We enjoy a canopy of cedars enclosed by cypresses, fragrant and green.

Have you known people who "love to be in love"? Some of them go from relationship to relationship for the thrill of that feeling. Everything is beautiful. Everything is wonderful. These two certainly had that going...

The Man
10 -14 Get up, my dear friend, fair and beautiful lover—come to me! Look around you: Winter is over; the winter rains are over, gone! Spring flowers are in blossom all over. The whole world's a choir—and singing! Spring warblers are filling the forest with sweet arpeggios. Lilacs are exuberantly purple and perfumed, and cherry trees fragrant with blossoms. Oh, get up, dear friend, my fair and beautiful lover—come to me! Come, my shy and modest dove— leave your seclusion, come out in the open. Let me see your face, let me hear your voice. For your voice is soothing and your face is ravishing.

Were they "in love"?

You've captured my heart, dear friend. You looked at me, and I fell in love. One look my way and I was hopelessly in love! How beautiful your love, dear, dear friend— far more pleasing than a fine, rare wine, your fragrance more exotic than select spices. The kisses of your lips are honey, my love, every syllable you speak a delicacy to savor. Your clothes smell like the wild outdoors, the ozone scent of high mountains. Dear lover and friend, you're a secret garden, a private and pure fountain. Body and soul, you are paradise, a whole orchard of succulent fruits— Ripe apricots and peaches, oranges and pears; Nut trees and cinnamon, and all scented woods; Mint and lavender, and all herbs aromatic; A garden fountain, sparkling and splashing, fed by spring waters from the Lebanon mountains.

Yes. I think they were in love.
Lots of romance in this "song of songs"

The Man
4 -7 Dear, dear friend and lover, you're as beautiful as Tirzah, city of delights, Lovely as Jerusalem, city of dreams, the ravishing visions of my ecstasy. Your beauty is too much for me—I'm in over my head. I'm not used to this! I can't take it in. Your hair flows and shimmers like a flock of goats in the distance streaming down a hillside in the sunshine. Your smile is generous and full— expressive and strong and clean. Your veiled cheeks are soft and radiant. 8 -9 There's no one like her on earth, never has been, never will be. She's a woman beyond compare. My dove is perfection, Pure and innocent as the day she was born, and cradled in joy by her mother. Everyone who came by to see her exclaimed and admired her— All the fathers and mothers, the neighbors and friends, blessed and praised her: 10 "Has anyone ever seen anything like this— dawn-fresh, moon-lovely, sun-radiant, ravishing as the night sky with its galaxies of stars?"

And descriptions of love...

The Woman
6 -8 Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing— it sweeps everything before it. Flood waters can't drown love, torrents of rain can't put it out. Love can't be bought, love can't be sold— it's not to be found in the marketplace.

The poem ends with an exhuberant invitation...

The Woman
14 Run to me, dear lover. Come like a gazelle. Leap like a wild stag on the spice mountains.

The Bible's own "Love Story."

Kinda gets your heart pounding and your glassess steamed up...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Up!


Patti and I went to see "UP" the movie. Many things surprised me about the experience. First, the theatre was almost full. Second, there were a gajillion happy little high school students there, who were not there to mock, but to enjoy, the movie. Third - we both thoroughly enjoyed it. Fourth, it had wonderful values. Little boy becomes entranced with a little girl, they grow up, get married, are totally in love, get old, and she dies, leaving him alone and heart broken. The adventure begins when this little boy scout knocks on the door of this grumpy old lonely man... But I will let you see it for yourself.
o
Today the passage is a part, only, of a beloved psalm - Psalm 119. I also am surprised at how much trouble is mentioned or implied in the psalm.
o
"If your revelation hadn't delighted me so,
I would have given up when the hard times came.
But I'll never forget the advice you gave me;
you saved my life with those wise words.
Save me! I'm all yours. " (Psalm 119:92 or so)
o
"Everything's falling apart on me, God;
put me together again with your Word.
Festoon me with your finest sayings, God;
teach me your holy rules." (Psalm 119:107 or so)
o
121 -128 "I stood up for justice and the right;
don't leave me to the mercy of my oppressors.
Take the side of your servant, good God;
don't let the godless take advantage of me.
I can't keep my eyes open any longer, waiting for you
to keep your promise to set everything right."
o
"Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women
so I can live life your way.
Smile on me, your servant;
teach me the right way to live. "
o
"My rivals nearly did me in,
they persistently ignored your commandments.
Your promise has been tested through and through,
and I, your servant, love it dearly."
o
Of course, the old guy in the movie "UP" had lots of troubles and obstacles to overcome. That is in part what made the movie interesting.
o
So we shouldn't be so surprised when we face lots of troubles. Maybe that is what makes OUR life interesting!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Life Altering Dream


Solomon had a dream.
And it changed his life.

It was preceeded by an entire day of worshipping God. I don't know what all he did to worship God. But it was at the most prominent of the Jehovah shrines. And he sacrificed 1000 bulls on the altar. Talk about over the top!

That night he was exhausted. (Not really. You know he didn't lift a finger to kill and sacrifice all those bulls. The priests did all the work)

Anyway. His intent to honor and praise God for all he was worth was noted. God appeared to him in a dream.

"That night, there in Gibeon, God appeared to Solomon in a dream: God said, "What can I give you? Ask."
6 Solomon said, "You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And you have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne.
7 -8 "And now here I am: God, my God, you have made me, your servant, ruler of the kingdom in place of David my father. I'm too young for this, a mere child! I don't know the ropes, hardly know the 'ins' and 'outs' of this job. And here I am, set down in the middle of the people you've chosen, a great people—far too many to ever count.
9 "Here's what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?"

Remember, this is all a dream! But in his dream, as in his real life, he was truly sincere about loving God, serving God, and serving the people well that he was king over.

God was impressed.

10 -14 "God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon's response. And God said to him, "Because you have asked for this and haven't grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I'll give you what you've asked for—I'm giving you a wise and mature heart. There's never been one like you before; and there'll be no one after. As a bonus, I'm giving you both the wealth and glory you didn't ask for—there's not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I'll also give you a long life."

What a satisfying dream! He talks to God. God is pleased. And God offers him long life, wealth and glory - AND the wisdom to rule his people well.

He wakes up, stretches contentedly. And goes out to face the day.

15 "Solomon woke up—what a dream! He returned to Jerusalem, took his place before the Chest of the Covenant of God, and worshiped by sacrificing Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Peace-Offerings. Then he laid out a banquet for everyone in his service."

This dream changed his life.

Well, not the dream. God, who spoke to him in the dream.

How does God speak to us? Lots of different ways.

Can we do anything to increase the odds that He will talk to us?

Of course. Live for Him. Worship Him. Be attuned to Him and His will.

Maybe tonight you will have a dream that will change your life!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Son's Tribute to His Father


A good friend of mine is a "mighty man." A man of God. Passionate in reaching the world for Christ. But last Fall he lay dying. His heart had mysteriously stopped while he was in Thailand. He was too sick to fly home. They were going to operate on his heart in Thailand. No one knew whether he would live or die.

His son wrote this tribute on the eve of his impending death...

"For my dad. He has been the best father a son could ask for. He has been the perfect role model for me as a father. He has shown true love for me and my family every day since i have been alive and able to experience it. He has taught me many things about life. To respect women (very important). To always go above and beyond in everything. To serve God, not the world. He taught me that family is the most inportant thing in our lives. He has always been there for me. He is the first person i call when trouble arises. He has never let me down. He has shaped me to be the best adult i can be. I could not ask for a better role model as a father."

So - did my friend die? No. His remodelled heart is ticking right along...

Solomon is a new king. He is praying shortly after he is installed. In his prayer, he makes a moving tribute to his Dad - king David.

6 Solomon said, "You were extravagantly generous in love with David my father, and he lived faithfully in your presence, his relationships were just and his heart right. And you have persisted in this great and generous love by giving him—and this very day!—a son to sit on his throne."
David had 7 wives and many sons. He was not a good disciplinarian. But he did love and dote on his children. And they were observing everything he did. His relationship to God. His treatment of the people around him. His heart. That is, the motives that drove him and how it led him to interact with people. God's love for him is highlighted. What isn't mentioned is his work. His extraordinary skill in battle. The ability to run the kingdom and subdue all nations around them. Interesting!

So - some of the most important things in life are the "incidentals." The things that happen while we are doing what we have to do to live, and make a living, and raise a family...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Abishag


How many little girls do you know named Abishag? Ok - so do you know ANYONE named Abishag?

Do you know anyone named David? A guzzilion? Hmmmm.

Here is what the Bible says about Abishag.

"We're going to get a young virgin for our master the king to be at his side and look after him; she'll get in bed with you and arouse our master the king." So they searched the country of Israel for the most ravishing girl they could find; they found Abishag the Shunammite and brought her to the king. The girl was stunningly beautiful; she stayed at his side and looked after the king, but the king did not have sex with her."

A beautiful girl. A virgin. Brought to keep the king warm. And apparently the hope was that she would warm him up in other ways. But it didn't work.

The next time we read about Abishag is a few verses later. 15 -16 "Bathsheba went at once to the king in his palace bedroom. He was so old! Abishag was at his side making him comfortable."

So here was Abishag, doing what she was supposed to do. Although it was a great honor to get to help the king, I'm sure this is not the life she imagined for herself growing up. Being the 24 hour nurse to an old, old man. I'm sure she would rather be obscure, married to someone she loved, raising a family.

The last time we hear about her is indirectly. Oldest living son Adonijah tried to take over the kingdom. That failed rather abruptly. Now old king David has died, and Adonijah is thinking, here is this beautiful, beautiful girl. She's a virgin. I think I'll take her. Here is the story.

13 -14 "Adonijah son of Haggith came to Bathsheba, Solomon's mother. She said, "Do you come in peace?"
He said, "In peace." And then, "May I say something to you?"
"Go ahead," she said, "speak."
15 -16 "You know that I had the kingdom right in my hands and everyone expected me to be king, and then the whole thing backfired and the kingdom landed in my brother's lap—God's doing. So now I have one request to ask of you; please don't refuse me."
"Go ahead, ask," she said.
17 "Ask King Solomon—he won't turn you down—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife."
18 "Certainly," said Bathsheba. "I'll speak to the king for you."

Guess how that little story ends? Well, Adonijah loses his life over that one! End of Adonijah...

How about dear little Abishag? No body knows. She is never mentioned again.

An honorable woman. Doing what she is supposed to do. Lives an apparently ordinary life after that. Yet I have a feeling that God is pleased with her.

Does that sound like you? Like me?

Abishag. Remember that name next time you are pregnant...