Sunday, March 30, 2014

Just Wait

David had fled into the land of his enemies, the Philistines. He was protected there by a regional king, Achish, but there was danger lurking all around. Saul was a danger, the Philistines were a danger, even David’s tribesman, those in Judah, were a danger.
         David was in exile but God had not abandoned him there. Like Israel in the days of Egypt, he was in the wilderness but he would return. Like Jesus driven down to Egypt by the wicked Herod, he would return. Like Jesus in the wilderness of temptation, ministered to by angels, David is desperate but not abandoned. He feels alone but he is not alone. God had not forsaken nor forgotten him. This trial in the wilderness was a necessary part of David’s coming into His kingdom. God wanted David to know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that it was God who was His strength, that it was God who was his fortress. This could only be the case if David was in dire circumstances and without hope in the world, save for His God who brings the captives home and raises the dead.
         Some of you are in wilderness. You are not alone. God has many options for you. Do not despair. Get to the end of yourself so that you can more fully rely on His strength and deliverance.
         The rest of you will be in the wilderness one day, perhaps several times in your life. Do not forget when you were there in the past and God delivered you. When you go there again, remember what God has done for David and wait upon Him. Remember what He has done for you in the past and wait upon Him. God is not weak. He is watching and He will act.
         Why do you say, O Saints, and speak thus, O People of Christ, saying,

Isaiah 40: 27 My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?  28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.  29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.  30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:  31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Friendly Enemies

Prov. 16:7  When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
         In 1 Samuel 27, we see that David is just such a man. This statement may seem controversial to you given what takes place in this chapter. But I do not  mean to positively affirm everything David does. I think we have room to question some aspects of his behavior in this chapter, particularly not being forthright with his friend Achish. I say friend because Ashish certainly assumes that David is a friend and one loyal to his person.
         One might argue that David really is an enemy to Achish and is therefore justified in lying to him. But David is not an open enemy to Achish. I think it were better to condemn this portion of his actions in this chapter while still asserting God’s favor upon him. 
         David has repeatedly shown himself loyal to God and to Saul. He could have killed Saul but refused to do so. He almost committed an outrage in Israel by slaying Nabal and all of his men but he listened to lady wisdom and turned away from that evil. For these ways, the favor of the Lord rested upon David and we find David in the land of the Philistines with friendly enemies.
         Let this be a lesson of hope to us that even when we feel compelled to flee into the land of the enemy, God has not forsaken us. We may think this is our only option but God, who is our strength, has a limitless number of options. As long as we are in Him, we need not despair, nor retreat to the enemy for shelter.

         David seems to think that he has no other options left to him but to escape to Achish. He has already tried this once and was turned away. He resorts to Achish again now and is received. But David had many options. There were limitless because He served an infinite God.

Believe and Receive

It is not enough to simply believe that the words of forgiveness and assurance are true. Some believe this but remain in a state of doubt and fear before the Lord. It is one thing to acknowledge the truth of a matter and quite another to hold that truth in your hands.
It is one thing to see the beauty of a juicy orange acknowledging that it is beautiful and must therefore be tasty. It is quite another to peal it, feel the sting of the juice on your fingers, bite into it and have the juice tingle on your lips, the juice dripping down your fingers, the juice swirling around in your mouth and your tastebuds firing off in a million different locations. There is a difference between intellectual knowledge and experience. Belief should encompass both but sometimes we keep the glorious experience at bay.

         Do not do this. Do not have a theoretical knowledge of the Lord’s abundant grace, His faithful forgiveness and the peace of assurance. Receive it. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Be surprised at the pleasant aroma and spicy savor of the Lord. Understand His sustaining power. Experience the ahhh of the Lord’s goodness and really rest in His grace. For the Lord is good. His mercies are sure. His forgiveness is here offered. Take. Eat. Rest. Be at peace.

Not Forsaken

The Lord is very gracious to us. Though we have sinned, He provides a way of forgiveness through Jesus. The Lord is merciful to us. Though we have been weak and trembling, He has extended His right hand, the Son of Might, and upheld us.
         In the wilderness, it seems there is little good eating. Our knees are weak and our hands hang limp but the Lord has fed us, somehow He has sustained us. Perhaps it was only ravens who brought us a bit of bread, just enough to make us wonder about His provision, enough to keep us to the day of deliverance. But we waited upon Him for we had no where else to turn. It is not a bad place to be when there is no one to save you but God for then you know that your salvation truly rests in Him.

         We are at that place here at The Table of the Lord. Jesus is outside the camp, the Savior abandoned by Israel. He even said, “My God, my God, why have Thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” But the answer is heard from heaven just a few verses later saying, Psalm 22:24 For he has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. 25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.  26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Doctor Dan

Doctor Dan messaged me concerned my insistence on the negative aspects of getting in shape were out of line. I am sure he knew I was joking but being a doctor he wants to make sure no one takes me seriously. He said that being in shape feels great. He encouraged me to stretch before but especially after exercise.

This is just the sort of thing I want to warn you all about. Doctors do this. They try to convince you to exercise saying that you will 'feel great.' But have you ever really thought about how doctors make their money? They need people to get sick. They need pulled  muscles, slipped discs, irregular heartbeats and the like, so they can earn that $125 for 30 seconds of your time. Do the math. That comes out to $15,000 per hour! You think you are going to get the real story from these guys?

I know, I know. Obamacare will get them straightened out. The new allowable billing will reduce the rate to $1.25 per 30 minute visit. But until we can count on the government putting these leeches out of business, we are going to have to put up with doctors trying to get you to exercise so they can claim their cash cow. Well, that cash cow is you.

Now, I might give my Doctor Dan the benefit of the doubt. After all, he is a Christian. But have you ever wondered about how Christian doctors pray when business is slow? Huh? Something like, "Dear Lord, would it be possible if you could bring a little unannounced snowstorm and throw a few Volvos into a tailspin? Nothing major, just some normal whiplash." Or, "Dear Lord,  would you please incite Virgil to go out and get some exercise? I know he would be foolish to do so but I'm sure he won't DIE, He'll probably only throw out a hip and I can fix him up for the price of two sets of kid's braces. Amen."

So, folks. Don't listen to your doctor. His truth telling is deceitful. He says being in shape feels great. He means something completely different than you think. He means that when you get in shape, it makes him feel great.

Now, Doctor Dan did offer one more suggestion and with this one I think he let the cat out of the bag. He said "stretch or have a glass of wine." I think he meant for me to do both, probably assuming the glass of wine would make me stumble and break something. But I am sticking to the OR. Fool me once, Doc.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Au Contraire

My brother is egging me on. He actually likes me to suffer. After my recent emails to him, he had the audacity to say this:

email: Keep sending. Hilarious.

Au, contraire dear brother mine.

I had to straighten him out.

Dear Older, Wiser and Great of Stature Brother,

Are you serious? Hilarious? You should try being me and then it would not be so funny. Take a look in the mirror, bro. This ain't no laughing matter. Mock not when you have conquered but I still suffer.  I can hardly walk up the stairs and I am starting to feel something that vaguely reminds me of my serious stint of shin splints. I suppose the wise thing to do would be to acquiesce to the truth, 49 ain't 19. I should simply enjoy the middle years and the mid-section, like some of my other relatives. Instead, my pride drives me on, it's compulsive, there is an upcoming announcement from the American Psychological Society that will absolve me of all guilt and then you'll feel for your poor brother. Anyway, as I was saying, I think, I won't listen to truth telling Father Time. His wicked step son, Fountain Youth, spurs me on. I should stay home and have an afternoon toddy. But, no, I'm going to the gym. I will tear something before the day is through. I will laugh at Father Time but he does not take these insults lightly. His wicked stepson reaps a bountiful harvest from his sweet sounding lies. Go to the gym. Pump it up. Feel good. Feel good. Oh, the little twerp. I know he is a wicked little imp but he gets to me. It's really not my fault! I can't help it. It was my upbringing. All that intense discipline that I just can't shake. And now, I'm doomed to a steady BMI and a falling HQ-happiness quotient. Funny? Hardly!

Your diagnosable brother,


Exercise Will Kill You

When my brother wisely refused to get in shape with me this Spring, I sent him the following (By the way, one of his reasons for refusing is that he now belongs to a quality beer of the month club and feels obligated to consume their offerings on time. I see his point. It is hard to give up the suds, which means you have to run lots of extra miles. Our luxuries are costly!!)

response :
Dear Larry,

I understand. It is important to have the right priorities. I think you are making the right choice. I always feel worse when I am healthy. Seriously, exercise makes me sick. I'd generally recommend against it unless you have older brothers. All that pain ain't no gain. The pain of gain is pain and drain. Its all ego anyway. Better godly and fat than skinny and proud. A fat man enters heaven happy. A fit man enters hell proud. It is harder for a fit man to go through the eye of a needle than for a fat man to walk the golden corridors of heaven. A wise fat man rises on the waters of the Spirit. A muscle bound fool sinks in his own conceits. The road to hell is paved with good diets, especially the ones designed for other people, that disallow all things good and beautiful, like beer, bacon and bagles. The road to heaven is carved with thanksgiving for good gifts from above, especially those in great abundance, like beer and cheese. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow ye die! 

I don't think I will give up beer but I will have to run a few extra miles. I haven't run for about 7 months, so it will take some effort to get in shape!

Post Script- I ran yesterday. It worked. I feel terrible.

Miserably Fit

I have been having some fun with my older brothers who are older than me and well...greater in wisdom and in stature.

A couple years ago I prodded them into A Biggest Loser contest. One of them grew considerably lesser during the contest. I did okay.

After the long winter, I have padded up a bit and again suggested that they join me in a  Spring Slimming.

One of my brothers has wisely refused. I have not heard from the other but am not taking his silence as assent.

Here is the recent email response I sent to my brother who told me to Have Fun getting in shape.

Dear Older, Wiser and Greater in Stature brother,

I won't Have Fun. It will be miserable. I ran yesterday and my knees, which were just fine when I was fat and lazy, hurt. My elbows hurt. My achilles is questionable. I'm sure my hip is going and after I get up to 10 miles, it is sure to require surgery. I have a new pain that shows up at two miles, in the top of my foot. I have to grimace and run limping for about a half mile until it feels tolerable again. That is a long warm up but after I get through all that misery, I start to feel good for about three minutes, until my old ITB starts to kick in and reminds me that being in decent shape is one of the most miserable parts of being human. I loathe it, all. I don't think I would ever be tempted to go Roman Catholic, not even a little bit. But all this self inflicted misery does make me strongly consider the possibility of reincarnation. I think I was an ascetic monk in centuries past, was reincarnated as a protestant evangelical but obviously had not done enough self flagellation at the monastery. Who needs a whip and a wool shirt? Just go to the gym!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hear Wisdom and Reject Foolishness

In 1 Samuel 26, David spares Saul the spear refusing to raise his hand against the Lord’s anointed. He puts questions to Saul that Saul cannot answer. Clearly, Saul is both deceived by his own envy and malevolent design as well as the envious ambitions of those surrounding him.
         David is in the right so his questions are straightforward and to the point. Saul’s mouth is closed and he is once again forced to acknowledge the Lord’s hand of blessing upon David.

         This is such a recurrent theme throughout 1 Samuel that you would think that Saul would get it and turn to Yahweh. He has so many chances. He may be a foolish man but he is not a stupid one. He gets the argument that God and David are making but he continually kicks against the goad. He will not repent and thus he seems hell bent in his course of actions.
         Foolishness is a state of perpetual self-deception. In such a condition, there are many other voices that will help keep the deception going. For a king, those voices are many counselors who have ambitions of their own. Their voices chime in to encourage Saul to go with his suspicions.
         But God and David give Saul many chances to wake up, to repent, to stop listening to the distracting voices. We must come to the conclusion that Saul did not want to do this. The agitating voices were just what Saul wanted to hear. He did not fight against them. He encouraged them.
         Humility and godliness is opposed to proud foolishness. It hears and heeds. It wakes up from self-deception because it wants to know the truth and thus to be set free.

         Hear wisdom and reject foolishness.