Tuesday, June 29, 2010

YHWH is... (4 of 6)

*Today's post is a continuation of a small series of posts that I'm doing based on some insights into God's character that I received this past week through the story of David and Goliath.*

4. YHWH won't ask us to be who we are not (and who He has not created us to be)

"Saul said to David, 'Go, and the LORD be with you.' Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head." ~1 Samuel 17:37b-38

This is effectively a corollary of the second point, which was that YHWH knows who we are. Because God knows who we are, He will ask us to function in a manner that reflects that and not in a way that is contrary to our design or purpose. In contrast to God's, Saul's actions are almost comical. After relenting and letting David face Goliath, Saul says "Go, and the LORD be with you."

Apparently God being with David just isn't enough for Saul. Rather then letting David face Goliath his way, Saul tries to exhibit some sort of control over the situation and make David fight Goliath the way that he would: in armor and in the manner of a solidier. Out of what were most likely good intentions, he tries to get David to wear his armor, but in doing so he’s asking David to be someone he’s not, a soldier instead of a shepherd.

God had no such requirement on David-all He expected was for David to show up as he was, willing to be used and trusting in God’s plan. David rejects Saul’s offer and goes just as he is-a shepherd boy with a sling and no armor. His confidence is in God and His plan, not in trying to level the playing field artificially. The fact of the matter that Saul just doesn't understand is that it's supposed to be an unfair fight. From the world's point of view, it's supposed to be unfairly balanced in Goliath's favor. But from God's point of view, which David sees, the odds are stacked in David's favor. Why? That leads into my last two points, which will come (together) tomorrow.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

YHWH is... (3 of 6)

*Today's post is a continuation of a small series of posts that I'm doing based on some insights into God's character that I received this past week through the story of David and Goliath.*

3. YHWH will prepare us

"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, 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. 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. 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 17:37

David’s counter to Saul’s lack of faith and inability to see David from God's persepective is to list off the challenges that God has already brought him through. Although he couldn't have known until this moment, David has been training his entire life for this fight with Goliath. Among other things, David has gained confidence, experience, and faith through these encounters with the lion and the bear: confidence from his victories, experience in the practicals and "how-to" of fighting, and faith in the God that is watching over and protecting him. David can face this challenge before him without hesitation because of what God has already had him face.

Now this is not a guarantee that we’ll never face something that God has not prepared us for. The first time David ran across either of those creatures, he most likely was not prepared in the same way that he is for Goliath. And I'm betting that neither the lion nor the bear were wearing armor or had weapons like Goliath's when David fought them. But whether David succeeded the first time or not, the fact remains that God has us grow in order that we might face larger obstacles in the future. Many times that growth comes from success, but it also comes from failure. The strengthening that results from the trials of today finds its purpose and expression in the (ofttimes larger) trails of tomorrow.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

YHWH is... (2 of 6)


*Today's post is a continuation of a small series of posts that I'm doing based on some insights into God's character that I received this past week through the story of David and Goliath.*

2. YHWH knows who we really are

"David said to Saul, 'Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him." 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: 32-33

When David goes to Saul to tell him that he will be Israel's champion and fight the giant, Saul's response reveals that he's already weighed and measured David's worth and abilities. He doesn't see any way that a boy such as David could possibly take on a giant like Goliath and beat him at his own game. Goliath has the advantage in every category.  Several chapters earlier the prophet Samuel almost missed finding David from amongst his older brothers for a similar reason-everyone else was judging David as he appeared externally. I think that it's safe to say that virtually no one in the nation of Israel would have pegged David as the guy that would defeat Goliath and go on to become king of Israel. God, however, knew that David was the man for the job. It wasn't a mistake that David ended up at the camp and saw Goliath give the challenge. God: "Whoops! How'd that kid get there??? Definitely meant to send that big burley guy I handpicked the other day instead...." No-instead He chose to use David in spite of, or rather BECAUSE OF the fact that no one else believed in Him. 

So often in the Bible people chosen to do great things for God act as if He couldn't possibly be serious. The two examples that come immediately to mind are Moses and Gideon. Both of them had "Who, ME??? No, You couldn't be serious" reactions. We don't see that with David, though. Instead, he recognized the pattern in his life of God empowering and protecting him. This leads into the next point, so I'll curtail this and pick it back up tomorrow. But to apply this point to our own lives, remember that God doesn't make mistakes. God doesn't mess up when He calls someone to do something for Him and in His name. If God is behind you, then it doesn't matter who you are or what you've done. God already knows and chooses to love you and use you anyways. 

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YHWH is... (1 of 6)

Summit. Was. Amazing. I had a small idea of what to expect, but the reality of the past two weeks simply blew me away. My small picture of who the Navigators are (as an organization and as individuals), who I am, and Who God Is were all challenged, expanded, grown, and ultimately brought closer to the truth over the past two weeks.

In the near future I'll might share some specifics about the time in Colorado; I'll also (*drumroll*) be sharing my theme verse for the year. Both have had an incredible impact on me and are worth sharing with you guys. And I've kept the second one to myself for (almost) long enough =P.

However, for today I thought I'd share some observations that I had when reading 1 Samuel 17, aka the story of David and Goliath, during an ETAWG* that we had at Summit. It's a story that I'd read dozens of times before and heard or seen depicted in various forms hundreds of times, but recently God has really been speaking to me via David's life. When I saw it on the list of potential chapters to read during the time, I immediately jumped at the chance to re-examine the story with a fresh perspective. 

As I read the chapter and spent time meditating on the story, six truths about Who God Is emerged. I wrote them down and shared them with the group when we reconvened and "debriefed" about how our times were, but for everyone who wasn't there (and those that were who want to read/hear again) I’ll be posting several mini-updates over the course of this week. Here’s the first::

1. YHWH is living

"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

God is set apart from every other god, concrete or abstract, that we could worship in that He is ALIVE. And not only does God exist: He always has and always will. God is not stone or wood or any created thing. Serving a living God changes how we live our life. The Israelites let Goliath blaspheme God twice a day for FORTY DAYS because their view of God was too small. Goliath was bigger and more tangible to them, so they stayed silent and cowered because they did not trust God enough. How can you trust God if you are not acutely and intimately aware that He exists and lives? When David shows up he IMMEDIATELY acts differently than his brothers, the rest of the soldiers, and even the King. His question rests on the presumption that the Israelites serve not only a living God but THE living God. God is unique and powerful, and this prompts David to question what has become a routine, daily event that not even Saul's offers of reward (wealth, a wife, and complete tax exemption!) could change. The knowledge of YHWH as living is a powerful catalyst that changes the way David interacts with the world and sets him apart. Let it change the way you view the world as well!


*ETAWG=Extended Time Alone With God

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Gone Camping

For the next six days I will be camping. Well, the first day is driving up to Cavin's house (the greater Sacramento-ish area) and the last day is driving back, but even subtracting those days leaves four solid days of camping!

My family was never big into camping. Perhaps due to the fact that there were just SO MANY of us to drag along, my parents never really took us camping. The extent of my camping experience was pitching the tent in the backyard on the grass-not exactly roughing it. But during my college years I've gained a fine appreciation for leaving the concrete behind and sojourning into Creation.

It's often when I'm surrounded by the raw, rough, and natural beauty God created that my soul sings "How great Thou art"-this time promises to be no different. I'm the designated guitar player on the trip. It's like one of those unwritten rules of camping-if there's going to be s'mores and a campfire, there needs to be a guitar. So I'm bringing mine and looking forward to some sweet times of worship with the stars as our canopy and the sounds of nature as our accompaniment.

"Worship the LORD in holy attire; Tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, 'The LORD reigns; Indeed the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.' Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all it contains; let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the field will sing for joy before the LORD, for He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness."

-Psalm 96:9-13

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Good Riddance, Graduation! (and other corny, non green day or vitamin-c grad songs)

For those of you who don't know, last thursday I graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a B.A. in English (or, as it's more commonly referred to, a B.A. in BS =P).

I view last thursday as a dividing line or marker that separates some very distinct phases in my life. Not every transition is as clear-cut or easy to identify, but this is definitely one of them. Before, I was a full-time student. For (at least) the next year or two after, I'll be in full-time ministry.

Next Fall will be the first time in EIGHTEEN YEARS that I'm not going to be in classes! And no, I didn't repeat any grades-that's counting Pre-School and Kindergarden ;). Needless to say, that's quite a long period of time to be defined by one job or set of circumstances.

In this last season of my life, the life and story of Paul the apostle spoke deeply into my circumstances. From studying Philippians twice last summer (at STP and then SOMA), going through 1 Thessalonians with Navs, doing Romans with my Bible Study and going through Paul's letters to the churches in Philippi, Colossae, Galatia, and Ephesus with Sons of Thunder, Paul's story was the one I found myself focusing on. I learned SO much and really grew as a result of this time with Paul's writings front and center and haven't even really scratched the surface of the understanding and insight that can be gained from studying his life, but with a change in season comes a change in focus.

As I move into the summer, it's been the story of David that's become more and more prominent as I spend time in the Word. To narrow it down but not give TOO much away yet, David's life is where my theme for this year has come. In the events transpiring in my life I see a mirroring of a very specific season in David's life and feel that God has been speaking into my life via David's experiences.

I want to be a man after God's heart and definitely feel that God's got some huge lessons for me to learn in that regard. My prayer is that He keeps teaching me and that even though I'm no longer a full-time student I never use that as an excuse to stop learning.

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