Tuesday, February 20, 2024

God's humor in stopping a killer king

I often feel like irrational behavior cannot be stopped. But irrational behavior can be stopped! Sometimes, the best way to stop it is comically. We would be wise in asking how we can pray for a humorous stop to irrational behavior.

As I have been reading, 1 Samuel 18 and 19, I noticed that King Saul's irrational behavior just kept spiraling. It started with jealousy then progressed to fear that kept escalating. At first he threw spears at David, then King Saul tried to use the Philistines, his servants, his son, his daughter, more spear throwing, and more Philistine battles to get David killed. To no avail. King Saul was out of control.

Then King Saul decided to send messengers to kill David. But God put a stop to their journey in the most unusual way. God allowed them to encounter a company of prophets. As they encountered prophets of God, suddenly, this band of killer messengers started prophesying. Imagine Saul getting word that his killer messengers were now praising, preaching, and praying instead of killing David!

So Saul sends a second band, but they also encounter the prophets and start prophesying. At this point you would think Saul would stop to question why, but not so. 

He sends a third band of messengers only to have them start prophesying, too. So what is a mad King to do but go himself? I imagine King Saul's heart attitude was "if you want a job done you just got to do it yourself!" 

Saul was so bent on his rage against David, he just knew the company of prophets were no problem for him. I visualize him moving through a wooded area only to enter the space where his band of prophesying messengers were humbled before God and the company of prophets ready to whip them all into action, but... What does he do when he encounters the prophets? He takes off his royal robes and starts prophesying, too. Would be killer becomes prophet!

By definition a prophet or to prophesy is someone who speaks by the inspiration of God. It is NOT about fortune telling. It is about praising, preaching, or praying under God's inspiration. 

We are not told what they said that day. But we do know that Saul was bent on killing David, BUT GOD DID NOT ALLOW IT. Instead God stopped King Saul's men and him in their tracks. God caused a humbling moment and caused them to take off their royal robes and surrender to God's inspiration in praise, preaching or prayer. What a powerful moment visualizing God's intervention and humor! 

This scene makes me laugh. Chapter 19 ends with a sarcastic question, "Is Saul among the prophets?" 

When I read true stories like this one and consider God's humor, it gives me greater insight into how to pray for those that serve as enemies. Why not pray the LORD thwart their efforts by turning them into prophets... even if it only lasts for a moment it can thwart their plans and allow the one under attack to flee safely.

I love that God is humorous! Don't you!

Monday, February 19, 2024

How far am I will to walk to serve my parent or my God?

How far am I willing to walk to serve the living God? Will I proclaim the truth even after a long journey? Will I remain steadfast even when those I am trying to help give me what I don’t need or what hasn’t been tested? Will I fight the good fight even when the enemy taunts daily the people of God? 

These are a few of the questions the LORD put to me recently as I studied David and Goliath’s battle. It was one of those mornings where I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and decided around 4:00 am to go ahead and get up because sleep was elusive. I had a very deep time with the LORD as I studied this battle and by 6:00 am I decided to take a nap until 7:00 am before I should get up to take care of things before an 8:30 am meeting. I went into the kitchen to make Greg’s famous eggs in the air fryer. He just discovered this method of frying an egg and I wanted him to show me. We set it up and I went to get ready while they cooked. When I came back into the kitchen the air fryer had tripped the fuse which turned off the refrigerator and probably a few other things. Greg set out to fix this. 

Then the fire alarms went off and would not stop. Apparently, the toaster downstairs burnt the toast. At this point, our stress levels were heightened. My goal for the morning was to take it slow and relax as I focused on quiet work because I was fasting for a shot in my spine to alleviate symptoms of spinal stenosis. The morning was anything but peaceful. I finally sat down after texting my boss three times to say I needed to delay our meeting when the phone rang. It was Mom. She was obviously having a hard time breathing. She needed me. The worker did not show up and Papa needed care. She tried, but it was too much. Without thinking I walked into the room and said, “I am about to get in a meeting.” Mom immediately felt attacked. She got defensive and then before I knew it we were in a fight. It was awful and honestly looking back stupidly funny. Once I sucked in my stupidity and did somewhat of a moment of let's get it together and remember your heart is good and so is mine, I set about helping Papa. As I helped Papa, the need to protect him and bless him immediately took over my heart and peace covered me. I knew how to handle that process, but when it comes to my mom being stressed I lost it pretty quickly. I am ashamed to say that I am not as quick to remember my role in serving. 

As I reflected on this moment, it occurred to me that I don’t have to walk six hours like David to do what the LORD asks of me. I only need to walk down a flight of stairs. But sometimes it is so hard to do the LORD’s will. As I studied David’s battle with Goliath I realized that David had to get up very early in the middle of the night to go take food for his brothers to be at the battle line at the start of the day. I looked it up. It is 30.7 km from Bethlehem to the Valley of Elah where the battle took place. David had to walk that distance which would take approximately six hours by foot. How far have you traveled to do an errand for your parent, your siblings, or a family member? 

David immediately went to where his brothers were on the battlefront and when he saw that Goliath was taunting the living God of Israel he was willing to speak up about it. Word got back to his older brother Eliab and Eliab actually called David evil for saying, “Who is this that defies the living God of Israel?” What David said was holy and righteous, but Eliab had a different perspective about his little brother. He assumed he was out for evil and just out to see the battle. David responded with a typical sibling whine, “What did I do now?” 

As if that was not enough, King Saul tried to put on David his own armor. Now, we must remember that we are told that Saul stands a full head taller than all of the people in the land. This man was not small and David was but a youth. Anyone in their right mind would know that his armor would not fit and would not be wise to use in a battle. King Saul should have had that armor on and stood in the front line to fight for his people, but instead, he was somewhere removed enough to offer his armor to a young boy. I love David’s response, “I cannot use this because it is not tested!” David was wise enough to know that in a battle you need to be comfortable with what you take to the battlefront. You cannot wear someone else’s armor without knowing how your body will respond to it. A wise person slows down and remembers what has been effective in the past. 

David faced so much in that morning, but David kept his eyes on what mattered. He knew that the living God of Israel was where victory happened. He alone was the one who would deliver them. He was willing to walk a long journey to honor his dad and brothers, but even more so the living the God of Israel. He was willing to speak up when everyone else cowered. He was willing to press in even when his brother called him evil. He was willing to say, “No!” when King Saul tried to dress him in his armor. David knew that the battle belonged to the living God. He alone gave victory. He trusted God above all else. He was willing to risk his life and take on a giant because his belief in God’s presence and victory had proven faithful in the past. 

I had to inhale and exhale for a moment as I pondered the story. Sometimes, I think it is hard to walk down a flight of stairs to honor my parents. I focus on circumstances like a blown fuse, fire alarm, body stress, emotional words, etc. instead of the living God and His presence. 

I have a lot to learn from David. I am enjoying studying David because I truly see someone who is in the middle of all the stuff of life really trying to honor God just like me. He was a kid seeking to honor his dad, a child of God seeking to fight for His honor, a younger sibling putting up with big brothers, and a citizen trying to honor his king. I realize that my battle is not against a giant like Goliath, but I do feel the pressure and frustration of circumstances and need the reminder that the living God is present. He delivers. He gives victory. He saves. Even when a morning routine is not what you expected. He is present. I want David’s strength of belief to be evident in me even when I only have to walk down a flight of stairs to serve. Don’t you!

Yes, LORD! Amen!

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Dwell and Delight

Greg and I are delighting in the birds as they suddenly ascend for their morning feast. We cannot help but pause. If they see us move they fly away just as rapidly as they appeared. 

Don't you know that God delights when we come to feast on the good food HE provides for us!

When we truly want to dwell with engagement, it will always be filled with delight. 

God desires us to dwell richly with Him and to know the delight of permanence of presence with Him. Even if we fly in suddenly and unexpectedly, He delights in watching us feast. Even if we fly away because we see Him moving. He delights in us. He always longs for us to know the blessing of His good food. He wants us to settle in and enjoy Him.

Shalom y'all!

Sunday, February 11, 2024

The sacred trust of awakening someone's gift

There is a sacred trust when it comes to awakening a spiritual gift in someone. When my daughter was little and started dancing, she would dance and twirl all over our living room, delighting in the freedom of movement and expression from her inner soul. Greg and I would watch Mikayla twirl and whirl for hours celebrating the beauty of her childlike freedom. 

As Mikayla grew older, she moved from our living room to dancing in studios learning how to put form and message to her movement that matched a rhythm to music so that a message could be communicated. This was when she encountered the minions of ballet. They were fierce and persistent. "You are not good enough." "You are not strong enough." "You are not pretty enough." "You are not skinny enough." We watched our daughter dance and grow in movement and discover the importance of precision, but we also saw her lose her childlike freedom. We prayed with her. We fought this mental and communal battle alongside her. Praying she not lose her childlike expression. We finally saw her give up on her favorite form of worship in defeat to the lies of the enemy.

BUT GOD then opened a door by a dear friend Bethany Loux, "You should meet my friend Erin Jensen. She is opening a studio." The woo of the dance pulled Mikayla in. It was at BLOOM that we watched our daughter awaken again the childlike freedom to move for the sake of worship. 

Then Ali Darr invited Mikayla to join Evergreen and dance in Gomer, then Esther, then Eve, and now Mary. Last night, as I watched Mikayla dance, I saw our little daughter twirling and moving with the joy of someone doing the dance for the simple sake of worship. I was undone. Her portrayal of Jesus held the childlike confidence that felt free and loved.

My nose burns, and my eyes cloud with tears because it is a sacred thing when someone awakens the gifts in someone so they can freely use them. I saw my little girl now a grown woman unleash her gift with joy unfettered by the minions of ballet.

I saw the trust of young women feeling the freedom to move, bless, and yes tell the story of Mary so beautifully. I have watched every show as many times as possible each year. I have watched them grow in ability, friendship, and as storytellers through dance. The one thing that blesses me most is the freedom to use their gift. 

Thank you to all who make it possible for honoring the sacred trust of awakening the gift of dance at Bloom, Evergreen, and Seed Company. I love this community of faith.

Photo credit from Evergreen Instagram