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...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jumping the Gun!

China's Legendary Liu Xiang Withdraws From Olympics After False Start

If you could get a jump on the competition, you would be more likely to win, right? Well, that isn't seen very favorably in world class sports, like the Olympics.

It didn't work terribly well in king David's time either.

The king was old. Not dead yet, but pretty close. His oldest son, Absolom, tried to take the kingdom by trickery and force, but had failed, and was now dead. His second son, decided it was his time...

5 -6 "At this time Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, puffed himself up saying, "I'm the next king!" He made quite a splash, with chariots and riders and fifty men to run ahead of him. His father had spoiled him rotten as a child, never once reprimanding him. Besides that, he was very good-looking and the next in line after Absalom."

There didn't seem to be any resistance, so he went full steam ahead.

9 -10 "Next Adonijah held a coronation feast, sacrificing sheep, cattle, and grain-fed heifers at the Stone of Zoheleth near the Rogel Spring. He invited all his brothers, the king's sons, and everyone in Judah who had position and influence—but he did not invite the prophet Nathan, Benaiah, the bodyguards, or his brother Solomon."

But a group went in to the old king and told him what was happening.

"Go immediately to King David. Speak up: 'Didn't you, my master the king, promise me, "Your son Solomon will be king after me and sit on my throne"? So why is Adonijah now king?' While you're there talking with the king, I'll come in and corroborate your story."
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. As Bathsheba bowed low, honoring the king, he said, "What do you want?"
17 -21 "My master," she said, "you promised me in God's name, 'Your son Solomon will be king after me and sit on my throne.' And now look what's happened—Adonijah has taken over as king, and my master the king doesn't even know it! He has thrown a huge coronation feast—cattle and grain-fed heifers and sheep—inviting all the king's sons, the priest Abiathar, and Joab head of the army. But your servant Solomon was not invited. My master the king, every eye in Israel is watching you to see what you'll do—to see who will sit on the throne of my master the king after him. If you fail to act, the moment you're buried my son Solomon and I are as good as dead."
22 -23 Abruptly, while she was telling the king all this, Nathan the prophet came in and was announced: "Nathan the prophet is here." He came before the king, honoring him by bowing deeply, his face touching the ground.
24 -27 "My master the king," Nathan began, "did you say, 'Adonijah shall be king after me and sit on my throne'? Because that's what's happening. He's thrown a huge coronation feast—cattle, grain-fed heifers, sheep—inviting all the king's sons, the army officers, and Abiathar the priest. They're having a grand time, eating and drinking and shouting, 'Long live King Adonijah!' But I wasn't invited, nor was the priest Zadok, nor Benaiah son of Jehoiada, nor your servant Solomon. Is this something that my master the king has done behind our backs, not telling your servants who you intended to be king after you?"

In the end, Solomon is established, Adonijah is killed, and the kingdom goes on...

Lesson? Don't jump the gun. It might not turn out as well as you had envisioned.