Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It’s not about your age

33 Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth." 1 Samuel 17:33

I don't ever want to look down on someone for their youth.

12Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Because of this I spend my life investing in those who are MUCH younger than me, reminding them that they are a "container for the Almighty God" and He has incredible plans for them.

I am just an ordinary individual empowered by God to do His work and since God did this in me, he can do it in anybody, no matter your age. I am also a "glass half full" person, so I tend to see the good in most people and situations, so I take risk. I say that to preface what I feel that God wanted to show me this morning.

 34 But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine."
1 Samuel 17:34-37

Goliath was calling for a private battle, mano-a-mano. When it came to private battles David had been there, done that, "got the T-shirt". I realized I've sent a lot of people "into battle" who weren't prepared, who had no experience. I did it thinking "God is a Big God", He'll see you through, but I forgot to realize that we all must do our part. Look back at Paul's words to young Timothy;

"…but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."

I've looked at this verse to mean I shouldn't look down, but what Paul is saying if you want others not to look down on you, if you want a chance to lead, then you have to do your part. Leadership is stewardship and it starts with leading yourself first. Be an example. As a leader you cannot take someone where you haven't been.

That should drive all of us to pursue
new situations, to learn from them. To view our struggles, our "private battles", as a chance to persevere, to be battle tested.
Don't run from them, but stay in it to find the lesson that God wants to teach you.

Today is preparation for your next.

I was reminded that anyone who seeks to lead God's people in any way must have an authentic personal history with God.
To continue to lead, we must
be an example in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

"Go, and the LORD be with you."

Monday, September 29, 2008


32 David said to Saul, "Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him." 1 Samuel 17:32

We not only lose heart, we lose our memory! Yeah, I know we "forget 95% of what we hear in 72 hours", but come on.

When we forget whose we are and what He has done for us, it's easy to lose heart.

We live in a "what have you done for me lately?" culture and we take that in to our relationship with God.

In those days whenever they saw God move in an incredible way they would mark the occasion by preparing a meal, telling the story and singing a song, so that they and future generations would be reminded of God's provision.

Today take account of your life and be reminded how God helped you through!


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hurts the most

28 When Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, "Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle."

 29 "Now what have I done?" said David. "Can't I even speak?" 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before.
1 Samuel 17:28-30

Yesterday I asked about the giant standing before you mocking you, sometimes we don't have to look very far to find them. You don't expect it to come from those closest to you, but it does. Especially when you start to pursue the things of God you will be misunderstood by even those who are close.

Why would they?

1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 1:1-3

Eliab was possibly jealous that God had anointed David instead of him. I've seen that one in ministry; even felt the jealousy at times. He questioned David's motives, accused him of pride and neglecting his duties. I've been there.

When you start to pursue the things of God you will be persecuted, that's a promise, and don't be surprised if they come from the people you are least likely
to suspect, those closest. Probably because they can see what God is doing in you and they don't have it, so they become jealous and will start to pick at anything.

So what do you do?

David was humble, he did not argue or seek to defend himself, even though he had the right. He also didn't insult his brother. I've blown that one a few times!

Instead of trying to change the minds of those who had already written him off, he turned to others who would follow. Not everyone will go with you as a leader, lead those that choose to follow, what's the saying "lead sheep, don't corral goats"?

Have courage to pursue the things of God, even if no one else will and they mock you for it!

If you're the one that is feeling the jealousy, James says that you don't have because you don't ask and that even when you do ask your motives are wrong.

Stop questioning other people's motives, most of the time I'm not sure of my own, so how can I question others.

Ask God to reveal your motives, turn from those selfish desires, pursue God, be faithful with the things he does give you and then ask.

Friday, September 26, 2008

It’s not your fight

David asked the men standing near him, "What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?"
1 Samuel 17:26

One of my favorite books is Max Lucado's "Facing Your Giants", probably because it was a gift by a dear friend, reminds me; to be a man after God's own heart, to cherish the Jonathan-David relationships in my life, and to live with the passion of a warrior.

It was while reading this book that I became aware of how many times David confronted Goliath knowing that the battle was the Lord's.

"The armies of the living God"
(v. 26)

"The armies of the living God"
(V. 36)

"The Lord of host, the God of the armies of Israel"
(v. 45)

"The Lord will deliver you into my hand…that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel"
(v. 46)

"The Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands"
(v. 47)

David didn't focus on what Goliath could do.

David didn't focus on what he couldn't do.

David focused
on what
God could do.

Is there a giant standing in front of you, mocking you?

What are you focusing on the giant, your own inabilities?

Realize the battle is the Lord's and He has already won!

Don't live a life without power, be a warrior today!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Would he?

Last night during small group, which was amazing, the question was asked about 1 Samuel 19:9 and the "evil spirit from the Lord". We had a lot of discussion about this, so I thought I'd give you my thoughts on this.

First of all this isn't the first time for it to happen to Saul, here's the first time;

Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. Saul's attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 1 Sam 16:14-15

The second;

The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand… 1 Samuel 18:10

And then again here;

But an evil [a] spirit from the LORD came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand. While David was playing the harp, 1 Sam 19:9

The question that was asked was "does God send evil spirits?"

Well, there are different theories about this.

Let's start with this one:

Ancient Hebrew is full of figurative language, and active verbs are frequently used to express NOT the doing of the thing, but the PERMISSION of the thing. So, when the writer wrote "from the Lord", he was actually using an IDIOM to indicate that the Lord ALLOWED or PERMITTED the evil spirit to come upon Saul.

The term 'evil' could have a wide range of meanings e.g. bad, unhappy, sad of heart or mind, injurious etc., and 'spirit' can even mean 'disposition of mind or attitude'. It could refer to "a variety of negative attitudes common to wicked people, and be extended to include the consequences of that kind of lifestyle". The 'evil spirit' that came upon Saul could have been his own bad attitude which made him jealous, irritable, and vindictive.

To me that seems to make sense, but I'm a little cautious when it comes to explaining God's ways so that I can "get it".

Here's another:

The "spirit" is from the Lord. That is, it is the Lord who directs the Holy Spirit to forsake Saul. The evil spirit is also from the Lord. This should not be surprising, because God is sovereign. Satan cannot do anything to anyone without God's permission (Job 1 and 2).

Really, He would do that?

This is more common in scripture than you think. In Psalm 78:49, God judged Israel "by sending evil angels among them." In Judges 9:23, "God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem." In 1Kings 22:22, God sent a "lying spirit" in the mouth of the false prophets to send Ahab to his death. God removed His Spirit from the disobedient Saul, which opened the door for an evil spirit to come and torment Saul.

What we see in these passages follows a pattern. When God removes His hand, there is a void that gets get filled by evil, which leads to destruction or to torment. The devil and the evil spirits do the work, but God has allowed them to do what comes natural to them for His own purpose. God does not commit wickedness, but He uses the wicked for His purpose. In the end, God will have His glory.

We do know this, when Saul is "filled with" with jealousy or anger, the spirit would come upon him.

Like Saul, we are more vulnerable when we surrender self-control, whether by anger, greed, drugs, or sexual immorality, to name a few, we create a void for evil to take up residence.

For me, I'd rather not experience them…I've got to stay close to God so that I can't be filled with anything else!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You want ME to do what?

15 but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father's sheep at Bethlehem.

 16 For forty days the Philistine came forward every morning and evening and took his stand.

 17 Now Jesse said to his son David, "Take this ephah [a] of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. [b] See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance [c] from them. 19 They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines."

 20 Early in the morning David left the flock with a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry.
1 Sam 17:15-20

We are all probably familiar with David's valor, but what about his humility and obedience?

David had reached the pinnacle, he was playing the palace!

Think about that a minute, he had gone from tending sheep as the youngest of 8 brothers, can you imagine he got all the crappy jobs (pun intended), to playing his harp before the king.

Ever been there? You've gone from such a lowly position to the top, but have you ever gone back? Or did you think you were above that?

David went back and forth, sheep, palace, sheep, palace, sheep…you get the idea. He never thought he was too good to do the menial task; that they were beneath him.

David did not forget his primary calling of his sheep over being with someone of prominence. He knew his sheep needed him more than the king; wouldn't we say something like "but the king needs me!" He even made arrangements for another shepherd to watch over them when his father sent him out on an errand.

David waited on God's timing. He didn't just "seize the opportunity" to be right there as Saul's musician, if he would have he might have forever been known as a musician. By withdrawing into obscurity David was able to emerge and be seen with fresh eyes as a warrior.

David served his father and was obedient in his instructions. He went out on an errand without knowing it would lead to his destiny.

This has so much significance for me because I want to be a "man after God's own heart" like David and I can relate and learn from what David went through.

Over the last eighteen years I went from a "broken road" experience, to being a part of a church plant of 39 people meeting in a mall, to watching that family grow to several thousand, to watching God transform a community, to being an "unschooled, ordinary man" who was used by God to touch others, to speaking and traveling to the ends of the earth, to reaching "the palace", at least in the eyes of the church world.

But God asked us to go on an errand. Not to bask in entitlement and comfort in the palace, but to go and tend his sheep. Not to sit with people of prominence, but to go and serve the least of these. Not to be seen as pastors of a mega church, but to serve where no one knew us; which can feel like obscurity.

God help me to serve you obediently
without delay and in humility. Thanks for
rekindling my passion and may I emerge as a warrior for you!


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In your head

The Philistines now mustered their army for battle and camped between Socoh in Judah and Azekah at Ephes-dammim. Saul countered by gathering his Israelite troops near the valley of Elah. So the Philistines and Israelites faced each other on opposite hills, with the valley between them.

Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was over nine feet tall! He wore a bronze helmet, and his bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds. He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver's beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. His armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a shield.

Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. "Why are you all coming out to fight?" he called. "I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!" When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.
1 Sam 17:1-11

"They were beat before they even stepped onto the court!"

I used to play volleyball competitively, toward the end of my career I played on a team that was sponsored by a clothing company called "Yaga". We were so imposing, at 6'3 I was the shortest guy on the team, we would win a lot of matches before we started just by the way we pounded the ball in warm-up. We "got into their heads".

We were one of the strongest hitting teams in the country, but we had a serious weakness in our defense. Most teams were unaware of it because they were overwhelmed by our size and power and just weren't looking for a weakness.

We lost the national championship to a team that was smaller, faster, and not intimidated by us. They saw our weakness, the "chink" in our armour, and they took us down!

Our greatest battles are in our minds.

The Philistines had got into the heads of the Israelites, they were demoralized and afraid. They lost confidence!

Their leader was defeated from within, God was not with him, and they didn't go through their normal routine of having a priest to offer sacrifices to God before
the battle.

They forgot that Dagon, the god of the Philistines was broken before the ark (5:1-4). They forgot about how Jonathan and his armor bearer defeated a whole garrison (14:6-15). Because Saul was not walking with God, he lost sight of God's power and the giants grew larger. Saul's own discouragement then transferred to his men.

The life of a leader affects all those who follow!

The church needs more men and women who walk with God; who are aware of what He has accomplished; who realize how Big He is; who lead with passion; who lead without fear; and who will stand firm before what's seems to be a taunting giant. Will you be a warrior?

I am a container for the Almighty God who can move mountains and has conquered the grave!

I will not shrink back! Game on!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is this where I’m supposed to be?

14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil [a] spirit from the LORD tormented him.

 15 Saul's attendants said to him, "See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the harp. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes upon you, and you will feel better."

 17 So Saul said to his attendants, "Find someone who plays well and bring him to me."

 18 One of the servants answered, "I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him."

 19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, "Send me your son David, who is with the sheep." 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

 21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, "Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him."

 23 Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.
1 Sam 16:14-23

Here are some things that jumped out at me this morning.

The people around Saul saw what he was going through and offered a suggestion. Think of how often we would probably just criticize or gossip. Strive to be on the solution side of the equation.

The person they identified as best qualified to help Saul was none other than an ordinary shepherd boy named David. God uses the ordinary to put people in the right places for the right training in the right time.

God placed David in the right place so that he could be quietly introduced to Israel. By serving in the palace he could gain the confidence of the people, and develop his gifts and grace.

While serving under Saul, he would learn what it was like to be a king who was unkind. He would learn how not to be corrupted by the court. He would learn how to handle success. He would learn to persevere in his calling, while serving someone who was not walking with God. He would learn to serve and minister in the small things.

God has you in a certain place right now, what is He trying to teach you?

Today is preparation for your next, gain all the wisdom you can from today.

You are in the right place, at the right time, for the right training!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


11 So he asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?"
      "There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep."
      Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives."

 12 So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.
      Then the LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; he is the one."

 13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.
1 Sam 16:11-13

Yesterday I wrote about spotting potential, today I want to look at the other side of this, what if you're a David.

Do you ever feel that what you are doing is insignificant? Maybe you feel insignificant.

It is so easy to feel that way when we view things from a "worldly" lens. Ok, I sound like a preacher when I use a word like "worldly", but I can't seem to find anything better. Here is what I mean, when you are living as if this life, the 60+ years God leaves you on this planet, is all you have, then it's easy to get caught up comparing yourself to others and feeling insignificant.

God saw something in David.

What was it?

Maybe it was his faithfulness in staying with the sheep instead of going to the celebration. Maybe it was his willingness to endure
discomfort and danger to carry out his duties. Maybe it was the fact that he was not promoting himself as the next great king. Maybe, God knew David would go back to being faithful in the small things (tending the sheep – vs. 19) even after he was anointed the next king.

Saul lived for a much bigger audience to make a name for himself. David was content to serve in obscurity for an audience of One.

Be faithful in the small things, they are never insignificant if they are done for our King!

Friday, September 19, 2008

What do you see?

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed stands here before the LORD." 1 Sam 16:6

All God told Samuel was that he had chosen one of Jesse's son's to be the next king. Samuel was so impressed when he saw Eliab that he about to anoint him king.

Think about it. How would you go
about finding the next King?

Would you put an ad on the internet or newspaper asking for resumes? Would you comb through the stacks of resumes and call back the ones with the best credentials? Would you start conducting interviews and weeding out based on appearance and the way they answered your questions? That's probably how we would do it, right?

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
1 Sam 16:7

That's not how we usually do things. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Just a reminder, if we are not seeing things differently than everyone else, then we are probably headed in the wrong direction.

Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, "The LORD has not chosen this one either." Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, "Nor has the LORD chosen this one." Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, "The LORD has not chosen these." So he asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?"
"There is still the youngest," Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep."
Samuel said, "Send for him; we will not sit down [a] until he arrives."

So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; he is the one."

1 Sam 16:8-12

God saw his potential and his heart, and knew that he would be king.

Do you normally "look at" someone or something or do you have the ability to "look through" a person or situation?

When training leaders I'll usually show them the picture above and ask "what do you see"?

Almost always they will say "trees". Very few will ever say furniture, a baseball bat, a house, a violin; the things that the tress could become.

Do you see potential in the people around you, or are you just seeing the "bark"?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Time to act

The LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king."
1 Samuel 16:1

Even when it's bad, we want to hold on to the old. Why is that?

I'm really not sure, but it's so easy to become comfortable. It's so easy to live in the past. It's so easy to keep doing it the way it's always been done.

I've seen too many churches that didn't move when God did.

Do you remember to the story of the Israelites and their journey to the Promiseland? Whenever God moved the Israelites broke camp. By my count, the Israelites had to break
camp forty-one times (Num 33) to reach the Promise Land.

At some point most leaders start doing ministry out of memory and stop doing ministry out of imagination. They start repeating the past and stop creating the future. And most churches stop taking the risks that got them to where they are. They start playing defense.

God tells Samuel it's time to act; he gave a similar message to Joshua when it was time to stop mourning Moses.

Individuals come and go, some by death and some by disobedience, but God's work must go on. When He moves you must follow, it's time to be on the offensive!

Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn't touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don't throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It's still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God's plan so you'll be there for the promised completion.

   It won't be long now, he's on the way;
      he'll show up most any minute.
   But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust;
      if he cuts and runs, I won't be very happy.
But we're not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We'll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.
Heb 10:32-39

Don't shrink back! Play offense today!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Saving face

30 Saul replied, "I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God." 31 So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the LORD. 1 Samuel 15:30-31

It wasn't the sin or the loss of God's hand that Saul was upset over; it was losing his honor and dignity before people.

"O.K., O.K., so I messed up. I admit it. Now, can we get on with my life. I want you to stay with me and worship with me, so that my image is not tarnished before the people."

Saul is more concerned with the people's opinion of him than of God's. He did not want anyone else
to know what had happened between him and God. Leaders are often more concerned about their image, about receiving honor and respect more than being holy.

Funny how we are never satisfied with an audience of One, who is the ultimate, but look for the approval of many, who matter none.

Do you have the courage to open up about what you've done?

Over the years I have watched as people who openly admitted this is who I am and confessed the junk in their lives, God used them in incredible ways to bring Him glory. And for those individuals, including myself, we've found a purpose in our pain and realized it wasn't wasted.

I've also watched the other, those that tried to hide it and in my opinion they never really progressed in their spiritual journey. They've never become all that they could be.

 Saul wants to put his sin behind him without hating it, without putting it away from him, without bringing it out in the open.

34 Then Samuel left for Ramah, but Saul went up to his home in Gibeah of Saul. 35 Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him. And the LORD was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel.
1 Samuel 15:34-35

We are not told that Saul ever truly grieves over his sin or even over his parting ways with Samuel. It is a sad day for Samuel, however. He grieves over Saul after they part company.

Immediately I am reminded of parents who've had to show "tough love" to their children and said "we can't have any more to do with you until you get clean". I can only imagine they how they've wept like Samuel.

And the LORD was grieved that he had made Saul king over Israel.

Something to think about; do you think that God does only the things which make Him happy?

I don't, I think He does things which cause Him great sorrow, like making Saul king, and like sending His Son to die on the cross. But, He does all of it for His ultimate glory and for our ultimate good, even if we cannot comprehend.

Do you want a God who you can understand, or one that is bigger than you can even imagine?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sacrifice for…

Samuel said to him, "The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 1 Samuel 15:28

This should be a sobering wake up call for those of us in ministry, that God will take his hand off of you.

A couple of weeks ago I went over this verse with those that serve alongside of me. God has brought some incredible college students into my life, who sacrifice so much of their time for ministry. Some who start early on Sunday mornings setting up at FOTH, serve during the service, tear down, grab a bite to eat, set up again for Revolution, serve there, tear down and then go hang out with kids after. Their Sunday's start at 8:00 am and end at 10:00 pm. That doesn't include what they do during the week in preparation and planning! What a sacrifice!!

I thought it was important to cover this verse because all of the sacrifice, the effort, the sweat, the man hours, the labor, they put in because if God's hand isn't on us, is it worth it?

God's wants our obedience more than our sacrifice.

Our challenge as a group was to remind each other of that fact and to have the courage to hold each other accountable in our obedience to God. We committed to do that because we care enough about each other and we are learning to love God with everything we are. I also asked them to hold me accountable and at anytime if they thought I was getting full of pride to confront me. And if I tore their robe instead of my own, the whole group needed to know.

Have you ever felt like God has taken His hand off?

Interesting thing, no one else in Israel knew that God had taken his hand off of Saul, except for Samuel and he kept it a secret. Not only that, Samuel knew he must worship alongside of Saul until God found a replacement. He showed great patience waiting on the Lord to remove him and deal with him as He saw fit.

Be obedient, especially if you are serving in a ministry, if not it maybe costing your team a great deal!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Not too quickly

Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD." But Samuel said to him, "I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you as king over Israel!" 1 Samuel 15:25-26

Read that again, what goes through your head?

My first thought is why not, why not forgive him? But think about how many times you or someone else has sought forgiveness when they really weren't ready to change. We rarely change when we "see the light", when usually change when we "feel the heat". There are times when God uses us to turn up the thermostat or to push the accelerator to an impending crash.

Isn't that unloving?

No, in fact it's often one of the most loving things we can do. How? Well, you have to remember that the things of this earth are temporary, that's the start.

Next, you need to realize that God has given us "the ministry of reconciliation", what does that mean? Take some time and slowly read through 2 Corinthians 5:10-21

10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

The Ministry of Reconciliation

 11Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

 16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21God made him who had no sin to be sin[a] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

It is so easy to get caught up in thinking everything is
about the here and now; about you and your wants; but it's not! It's about Him and the things he desires. He wants to be reconciled with
us and God calls us his ambassadors to reconcile men and women
back to Him and the way of life He intended for us to live. And to do that sometimes, well, most of the time, He uses brokenness. Why? I'm not sure other than "pride" is a hard thing to break.

So, there are times when we need to use incredible discernment not to rescue someone too quickly. I've done it, and looking back it was my own pride, I wanted to be the one that saved them, but God wasn't finished with them.

Do you love someone enough to lose their friendship so that they might have an eternal friendship with God?

Are you rescuing someone too quickly?

Do you view anyone from a worldly point
of view?

Just something to think about…


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fear, who?

For those of you who have been following along daily as we go through 1st Samuel my apologies for missing a couple of days. I surfed probably some of the best waves to hit the Florida Panhandle in a very long time in a "secret spot" with about 100 other guys and 25 boats…shhh, it's a secret. Here is what it looked (it's the day before, same waves, same spot)
Secret Spot . It truly was amazing, plus it was a great story, which I'll post some time. Back to 1st Samuel…

Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned. I violated the LORD's command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD." 1 Sam 15:24-25

Ok, Saul is caught "red handed" and he admits to not carrying out the Lord's command, but look at what he does…he blames again!

He claims that he feared the people and gave in to the pressure they applied on him.

Wow, how many times have we seen this in our churches! Men and women who didn't have the courage to stand for what is true, honorable and right, because they were afraid of what people might think.

Spiritual leadership is not really about giving people what they want as much it is about doing what God wants. Spiritual leaders must first be followers of God and fear Him only.

Saul is appointed king over Israel. His task is to know God's commands and obey them and to lead the nation in obedience. To whatever degree Saul's words about the pressure applied by the people are true; Saul fails to lead in a godly manner. His task is not to please men but to please God.

In our day and time, when leaders are often elected, their election is very often based upon how well they have pleased others. This is not the test of a spiritual leader. The test is how well that person has pleased God by obeying His Word, and by challenging others to follow him as he obeys.

Saul's concern is not that he has sinned against a righteous God, but that his public image will be damaged if Samuel openly severs his relationship with him. He only fears that he will look bad if this situation.

Are we more concerned what God thinks or what the people think?

Whose opinion do you fear?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What He wants

But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
1 Samuel 15:22

I confess I'm a worship junkie. Hi, name is Brian and I was raised in Texas during a time when John Wayne was everyone's hero and men were taught not to cry, but I confess - I've cried during worship.

There will be times in singing songs to God, which admittedly I don't do well, I'll get that lump in my throat and start to cry because I'm reminded that God saved my sorry butt. Or other times when we are singing about His majesty and power that I'll start pumping my fist into my hand as the passion inside of me starts to rise. And yes, I admit I've even danced around.

As much as musical worship is my pathway to God, I was convicted heavily by this verse, mainly because my worship was still about me, what it did for me.

Notice that Saul's excuse for disobeying the Lord was so that he could allegedly worship the Lord by offering sacrifices of the cattle and sheep he took from the Amalekites.  This is when the Lord, through Samuel, makes the memorable statement. I believe this is a huge lesson for the next generation.

I heard Francis Chan talking about how he had gone to a foreign country to speak at a Passion event and how thousands were shouting the name of Jesus. But his heart broke as he was told that probably more than half the crowd would go out the next week to commit sins of adultery and thought nothing of it.

Around the world the concept of "worship" has been redefined and narrowed to mean the time when Christians come together to sing songs, raise their hands, and get all excited about the Lord.  That's great but worship without obedience is no worship at all.

The Bible defines worship and sacrifice as obedience.  In both Hebrew and Greek, there are two major kinds of words for worship. The first kind means to bow down, to kneel, to put one's face down as an act of respect and submission. Our body language is saying I will do whatever you want me to. I am ready to listen to your instructions and I am willing to obey. The other kind of biblical word means to serve. Roughly half of the time these words are translated as worship, and the other half as serve. It carries the idea of doing something for God — making a sacrifice or carrying out his instructions.

So, worship can't be about what you want or how it makes you feel, it's has been and always will be about Him.

is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

1 John 5:3

who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
1 John 3:24 

If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. John 15:10 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God— this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1 

So next time you go to church, raise your hands, and shout out to the Lord in "worship" keep in mind that He also expects you to live that worship out in real life.  Then your worship will be true worship because it will be born of obedience.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Here’s the deal, I was…

Saul answered, "The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest."

 16 "Stop!" Samuel said to Saul. "Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night."  "Tell me," Saul replied.

 17 Samuel said, "Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? 1 Sam 15:15-17

Samuel finally catches up with Saul and what does Saul do? He gets defensive, classic confrontation, you know, at one time you've been on either side of this conversation. Can't you just see it?

"I did what you asked!"

"But, here's the evidence."

Ok, you know what's coming, when the evidence is too great against us, what do we do? BLAME.

"It's their fault! They're the ones that did it."

How often does disobedience become a social event, encouraged and entered into by many? Think about that. Ever said "but everyone else is doing it"?

That's a quick way to get the label of hypocrite as a Christian. Think about it.

If you remember, Saul is a man who will not tolerate anyone who fails to carry out his commands, even when they are foolish and detrimental. Remember, he was going to kill his own son Jonathan because of his disobedience! Now, when it comes to Saul's obedience to the command of God, he is amazingly lenient on himself. Disobey God? Maybe. Disobey Saul? Never! When it's other people's sin we want justice, when it's ours we want grace.

Then, here it comes…the rationalization…I love this part, I guess because I can be so good at it!

"Well…um…we were going to do a sacrifice…yeah, that's right a sacrifice…to YOUR god."

A religious event? Notice the lack of conviction, then back to blame…but Samuel goes right to the root of the issue.

"'Though you were little in your own eyes,' Saul, when God chose you."

Saul had been a young humble man when God called him to serve, but now he's full of himself and has no need for the instruction of an old prophet.

Many of us who God called to serve forget where we were when God picked us up. We start thinking how lucky God is to have us; if not God, then, the church; if not the church, then friends, but man, somebody is sure lucky to have me. What a slippery slope! We start to advertise ourselves and our accomplishments more than the God who called us.

Pride is usually at the root of all disobedience; a proud person will not follow anyone else, not even God.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


When Samuel reached him, Saul said, "The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD's instructions."

 But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?" 1 Samuel 15:13-14

I was given a great example of this last night; my youngest son was showing us his school work from the week…pretty impressiveall A's, plus a few test that were over a 100 because of bonus points! He must get it from his mom. "I have carried out the instructions."

Then my wife went to put something in the trash…"what's this?" He had put two Science test in the trash…a 50 and a 40…ok, now he's like me!

Ever been there? You thought no one would find out, but your disobedience is screaming from the trash can, "hey, look over here!"

The sad thing about our deception is that we soon start to think we got by with it or worse we start to believe it was ok. We start deceiving ourselves, we start believing the lies we tell, which causes us to lose the ability to tell the difference between truth and lies. We may be able to deceive ourselves, but…

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Gal 6:7

Our disobedience will cry out until it's discovered…

"But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23

What's hiding in your trash can?

Maybe, it's time to take out the trash and quit deceiving yourself.

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. James 5:16-17 (MSG)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hide & Seek

"Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, "Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal."
1 Sam 15:12

Samuel went looking for Saul.

Why did he have to look for him?

Think about that…Saul ran, isn't that like us? Deep down inside when you know you're not following God, don't you want to run and hide? It's been that way since the Garden, "they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden" (Gen 3:8).

Saul preferred to be with his supporters rather than his teacher, whom would confront him with the truth. Don't we usually look for people who will support us in our disobedience?

Not only that, isn't it like us to start promoting ourselves, when we know we've done something wrong. I guess it might be our way of covering up, "yeah I didn't obey, but look at what I did do!"

We've got to quit living for this world, if you do you will to tend to run away from truth and look to build up yourself.

As a Christ-follower, I've got to keep my eyes fixed on my true home, remembering that this life is preparation for my next. I must seek out people who love me enough to speak truth in my life and fight the urge to hide.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
       test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,
       and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

Are you running from people who will speak truth into your life?

Did you see yourself in Saul? If so, then you're probably headed down a path that leads no where, turn and go the other way!

Or maybe, you need to
get up
go look for someone, and
speak truth
in their life.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Up all night

Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11 "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night. 1 Sam 15:10-11

Ever stopped to think about how our sin affects others? If so, you probably didn't focus much energy there. But what if you're on the other side, someone else's sin has caused you to be thrown in a pit. You know what Saul went through when it says "he cried through the night" because you've been there.

We live in a culture of individualism and isolation and because of that we really don't think our sins have a significant affect on the ones around us. But they do!

Theologians discuss the noetic effects of sin, meaning that our intellect is dulled—our eyes closed—to the affects of sin around us due to pride and arrogance.

It doesn't hurt anyone!

Really? If you are a Christ-follower it affects a lot! In Romans 12:5 it says we are one body and we belong to each other, if that's the case then what I do affects
you and what you do affects me.

Ever heard about Achan? You find his story in Joshua 7; his sin caused all of Israel to be held liable. His sin caused: many men to die (7:5); the army to live in fear (7:5); the leader to question God and lose faith (7:7-9); God threatening to remove His hand (7:12); Achan and his family being destroyed (7:24-26). Isn't it ironic that the place Achan and his family died is called the Valley of Trouble?

Whether we like it or not our sin cost more than we think.

Who are you keeping up all night?

Friday, September 5, 2008


Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11 "I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions." Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night. 1 Sam 15:10-11

Ok, here we go again, one verse with so much to think about.

I think the first thought that comes into the mind of most is "Did God make a mistake?"

Did you think that?

I think it's important that you stop and think about that, because if you are not sure whether or not God makes mistakes we need to start there. If you don't know for sure you will be filled with so much doubt and you will probably become timid in your faith.

Here are my thoughts on this; there is a huge difference in grieving vs. making a mistake. I heard John Piper say it was like spanking my son for disobeying me and he runs away from home because I spanked him, yeah, I may grieve over the spanking - not in the sense that I made a mistake, but in the sense that I feel some sorrow that spanking was a necessary part of a wise way of dealing with the issue, and that it led to his running away. If I had it to do over again, I would still spank him. It was the right thing to do.

Did that change your thinking?

One of the toughest
leadership lessons I learned was letting people fail. That statement may have struck you as odd, your probably thinking aren't leaders supposed to help us succeed? Yes, but you can't be myopic, you have to have a big picture mentality. Think for a second, has your character been shaped more by your successes or
your failures? I think most of us, if we are honest, would say from our failures, but we live in culture that failure isn't an option. To me that's sad, mainly because it causes us not to risk and step out in faith, to live with passion. Ok, I got off track.

Yes, God felt suffering and grief on our behalf, but that is not a sign of weakness or error, or regret of mistake.

Does your god make mistakes?

Mine doesn't, here is who He is:

Think about this. Wrap your minds around it.
   This is serious business, rebels. Take it to heart.
Remember your history,
   your long and rich history.
I am God, the only God you've had or ever will have—
   incomparable, irreplaceable—
From the very beginning
   telling you what the ending will be,
All along letting you in
   on what is going to happen,
Assuring you, 'I'm in this for the long haul,
   I'll do exactly what I set out to do,'
Calling that eagle, Cyrus, out of the east,
   from a far country the man I chose to help me.
I've said it, and I'll most certainly do it.
   I've planned it, so it's as good as done.
Isa 46:8-11 (MSG)