‘fran(t)ik

Friend, perhaps you have been crossing lines you shouldn’t cross, venturing just far enough to always come back when in a pinch. Eventually there will come a time when you too will call out and it will be eternally too late.

’fran (t) ik

1 Samuel 28:4-5 NLT

“The Philistines set up their camp at Shunem, and Saul gathered all the army of Israel and camped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the vast Philistine army, he became frantic with fear.”

The stage is set for all out war, once again these familiar enemies encamp against each other; King Achish and the Philistines on one side and King Saul and Israel on the other.

But something is different, something changed. There is a sense of confidence on the Philistine front that wasn’t there since Goliath, the champion from Gath, had hurled insults towards the Armies of God for 40 days and nights so long ago. There was a palatable air of sureness coming from the other side that Saul hadn’t felt in years. A slow tremor begins to run from Saul’s fingertips all the way up his arm. His voice is shaking, as well as his heart. He is stricken in fear. Fear has overtaken him. He wonders if his trusted advisors can tell… surely they can see that this once confident man who stood head and shoulders over Israel was reduced to a frantic mess. Saul was in deep trouble.

Are you wondering what happened? What has changed in one chapter? One minute King Saul is chasing David all over the territory with 3000 of Israel’s Special Forces, and the next minute King Saul is frantic with fear!

Here is what I see…

1. David took himself out of the equation.

Proverbs 26:20 says, where there is no wood the fire goes out.

With David out of the picture, Saul now has to deal with the fact that he has been neglecting his duty as King and leader of God’s people/nation.

Who knows, perhaps with all his focus and attention on killing David, other areas were not being taken care of. He was hell-bent on one thing alone and that was David.

But David in the last chapter removed himself from Israelite territory, and Saul mistakenly took David’s absence as a sense of security.

Ask yourself… In what area(s) do I need to remove myself from the equation?

To what person or group of people is my presence a fuel to the fire?

How does my absence affect the outcome?

2. The Prophet Samuel died.

The spiritual leader is dead, and the one who could sooth Saul (David) is nowhere to be found.

King Saul has come to the harsh realization that God has also removed himself from him.

Now he is truly alone!

Imagine calling out to God and hearing NOTHING! Not a comforting whisper that says, “Son, I’m right here.” Not even the reassuring feeling of your conscience that lets you know, “you got this!”…nothing! Absolute silence!

The silence is deafening to Saul! And he is scared out of his wits. He is frantic with fear. He either has never felt this alone in his life, or at the very least, has never felt so alone in a very long time.

Looking across the battlefield and seeing the enemy, has him in a panic.

Before, as long as David or Samuel or the prophets were around, they had the words that brought assurance and comfort.

Saul didn’t have much of a relationship with God, God was an afterthought since he knew how much God loved His people Israel and figured he could do as he pleased and God would swoop in and save the day.

But there comes a time when even God says… ENOUGH!!!

Friend, perhaps you have been crossing lines you shouldn’t cross, venturing just far enough to always come back when in a pinch. Eventually there will come a time when you too will call out and it will be eternally too late.

King Saul got to that point in his life.

1 Samuel 28:6 says, “He asked the Lord what he should do, but the Lord refused to answer him, either by dreams or by sacred lots or by the prophets.

And when God refuses to answer, he consults a witch to summon the spirit of Samuel and this is what that spirit says to him…

Verse 16 …the Lord has left you and has become your enemy. The Lord has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David.” NLT

Two things we can take away from this story.

A. There is a God timing to a God calling, and you are just going to have to wait like David sometimes. It most likely won’t be easy, but it is worth the wait so WAIT!

B. God is long suffering and abiding in love, but he doesn’t reward rebellion and pride. If that’s you, repent and humble yourself.

Father God,

I know, like Saul, I have been prideful and rebellious. I repent of that wickedness right now in the name of Jesus. Forgive me for the times I have done things my own way, when I have neglected godly counsel and common sense. Thank you for watching over me even when I have strayed from the path and crossed lines I shouldn’t have crossed. Enable me to listen to correction, heed your instructions, and press forward towards things that are righteous. I never want to be in a place in my life when you don’t respond to my cries for help, because you have turned me over to my evil desires. Thank you for your Word, may it accomplish what you purpose for it to accomplish in my life. Father God, for the times when I’m like David, inpatient or frustrated, help me to develop a trust, and a confidence knowing that your calling and anointing is sure. Enable me to learn to wait on your timing and not to force my agenda and plan. Help me to remove myself from people, places and programs that are not part of your plan and purpose for my life. Amen

Love ya!

-soulKANDY

Enough is Enough

How do we even begin to wrestle with the fact that our definition and God’s definition of sanctification and separation are two very different things?

1 Samuel 27:1-3 NLT

“But David kept thinking to himself, “Someday Saul is going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to the Philistines. Then Saul will stop hunting for me in Israelite territory, and I will finally be safe.” So David took his 600 men and went over and joined Achish son of Maoch, the king of Gath. David and his men and their families settled there with Achish at Gath…”

It looks like David has finally had enough; he is tired of constantly being on the run and having to uproot his family every time King Saul got the itch to pursue him.

Everybody has their breaking point.

Everybody eventually will say, “Enough is enough!”

Everyone has their proverbial “end of the rope.”

David has called it quits. He escapes to Philistine territory again. (See Chapter 21) And once again he goes to Achish King of Gath.

How bad do things have to get to run to the enemy for peace? Isn’t that the most ridiculous thing ever?

Yet David isn’t welcome home in Israel.

But what about the “call?”

What about the “anointing?”

Is David being faithless by running away?

Or is he just…tired?

What would we do if we were in that predicament?

Would we have lasted any longer?

He gave it a valiant effort, he tried to do what he considered to be the righteous and godly thing by sparing Saul from a sure death, not once but twice, and yet somehow he is still considered a traitor and an outlaw.

Putting space between your enemy and assailant isn’t necessarily an act of cowardice. Sometimes you need to regroup and assess the situation. And sometimes you just need to REST.

Even Jesus had to get away from the crowd to rest and eat. Mark 6:31

The time that David and his men spent in Philistine territory proved to be fruitful, they amassed for themselves flocks, land and even had time to work on their families.

Being in enemy territory wasn’t safe by any means, but at least they weren’t running from a enemy that David didn’t allow them to fight against.

It is at this time that some of the men built reputations of being “mighty” men of renown. From their position in Philistine territory, they were able to go out on quick raids, virtually undetected. Then by leaving no survivors, there was no one who could point back to them as the culprits.

Survival sometimes is ruthless. Sometimes I read about these exploits and see that very little pity is shown to the enemy of Israel. I know they were godless, child sacrificing, heathen nations, but I guess we see war from a very U.N. perspective, or in my case through a set of American rose-colored glasses. A perspective where there are rules of engagement and a code of conduct and compassion.

But when you read the Scriptures, the Word of God was very clear about sanctification and separation. God knew even one survivor could corrupt a whole nation. There was no room for compromise.

Jesus himself lived with that kind of discipline. His cross to bear was ruthless. No compassion was shown towards Him; his punishment was executed by the world’s most expert terrorists in his day. There was no equal when it came to torture; the Roman soldier was the epitome of terror. Mercy and compassion were not extended. The cross was meant to be a visual warning and a deterrent to all those who had the unpleasant opportunity to have to walk along a rode where one was erected.

So how do we even begin to wrestle with the fact that our definition and God’s definition of sanctification and separation are two very different things?

David is fighting hard to live out his call and purpose, but it wasn’t until David put distance between himself and his destiny that God blesses and multiplied him.

Abraham put distance between him and his nephew Lot and God multiplied him.

Joseph is sold into slavery, far from anything familiar, and God blesses him and multiplies him.

Naomi and Ruth leave Moab…

Jesus leaves heaven…

Perhaps we need to be stretched to leave the familiar. Perhaps we need to place some distance between ourselves and some people who are hindering our enlargement?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not developing some kind of doctrine, I’m just making an observation. Perhaps there are some habits, hobbies and homeboys/girls in your life that you need to be separated from. Some ties you need to destroy, or some entanglement you need to let go of.

I pray that you get to the heart of the issue, and deal with it in order to make room for the God-sized dream and anointing on your life.

Keep pressing!

-John

One voice too many

When God calls you, He doesn’t necessarily call those around you. Often times you have to be sure you hear and recognize the Voice of God.

1 Samuel 26: 5 David slipped over to Saul’s camp one night to look around. Saul and Abner son of Ner, the commander of his army, were sleeping inside a ring formed by the slumbering warriors. 6 “Who will volunteer to go in there with me?” … “I’ll go with you,” Abishai replied. 7 So David and Abishai went right into Saul’s camp and found him asleep, with his spear stuck in the ground beside his head. Abner and the soldiers were lying asleep around him. 8 “God has surely handed your enemy over to you this time!” Abishai whispered to David. “Let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t need to strike twice!” 9 “No!” David said. “Don’t kill him. For who can remain innocent after attacking the Lord’s anointed one? 10 Surely the Lord will strike Saul down someday, or he will die of old age or in battle. 11 The Lord forbid that I should kill the one he has anointed!

At first glance I was going to write about how, for the second time in a few chapters, David has had an opportunity to finally put an end to this persistent pursuit led by a maniacal King who is hell-bent on his destruction. King Saul is the epitome of relentless; he could be the poster child for not letting things go. If there was a picture of “grudge” in the dictionary it would be of King Saul.

If we look deeper into the story this part of verse 6 sticks out; “Who will volunteer to go in there with me?” … “I’ll go with you,” Abishai replied.

The reason it jumped out at me is because, as a pastor I found out how difficult it was to get people to volunteer for anything; but especially for things like, children’s church, nursery, clean-up, and any type of set-up or tear-down. Here David asks for a volunteer for something that has a high probability of danger and perhaps even death. This dude, Abishai, volunteers without hesitation. Certainly it would garner favor with David. Perhaps it will even move him up the ranks to be named with” David’s Mighty Men”.

We do not know why Abishai volunteers without hesitation, but by reading the exploits of the men around David, it doesn’t surprise me. These guys were amazingly brave, fierce, loyal, and trustworthy.

But what comes to remembrance is what God tells the ones He calls over and over…

“Do Not Let My Words Depart From Your Mouth!”

Remember what I said!

Keep them close to your heart.

WHY?!!

I believe it’s because He knows that His “guys,” men and women of God, will face these kinds of scenarios. They will hear advice from people they trust, and people in whom they have invested time, energy and resources.

Men that they have poured into and developed.

Women that have potential.

What do you do when one of those types of people gives you advice?

When they actually tell you something that down deep inside you agree with?

David knows that pinning Saul to the ground with a spear will make his life easier, BUT the path of the called often is anything but easy.

I have heard, read, and experienced ministry as a lonely place. When God calls you, He doesn’t necessarily call those around you. Often times you have to be sure you hear and recognize the Voice of God especially when you are surrounded by other voices.

Friend, what has God spoken to you? What is it that is undeniably His direction for your life? What is it that has others worry that perhaps you may not have heard Him at all?

Are you willing to let chances of a lifetime slip away, because you know that you know the timing isn’t right?

How different would the story be if David gave into the temptation of ending Saul then and there? What would have come of the Branch of Jesse if he had allowed Abishai to pin Saul to the ground with a spear?

In what ways are you suffering because of bad advice?

Are there people in your life who you have given too much access?

Who in your inner circle has encroached into an area that belongs to Holy Spirit alone?

I believe there are faces right now, coming into focus, of people who you are going to have to have a hard talk with.

People who in the past you have had a hard time saying, “NO!” to.

I pray for boldness, courage, and an unwavering faith. I pray that every voice that isn’t in line with the Word of God over your life and ministry be quiet and silent in Jesus’ Name. I pray for a godly end to ungodly, unprovoked pursuits, and I speak to various storms in your lives to be STILL.

I pray this has in someway ministered to a need. You are loved, and you are NOT alone.

Peace,

-John

David Who?

Perhaps today I am your Abigail. Reminding you that there is a call, a plan, a purpose, and a grand design for your life.

The scene is set during sheep shearing season, something David as a shepherd would have naturally known. Like harvest time for the farmer, shearing season marked the end of long nights out in the elements for the shepherds. It was a time to shear the sheep and process the wool; it was a time to celebrate and be merry.

David doesn’t ever seem to be able to catch a break. He is constantly hounded by Saul and his army, and now when it appears that just when he is finally at a time of respite and peace from Saul’s pursuit, this man Nabal pushes David to his limit.

David would have known that the owner of the flock would be popping open the wine bottles, opening the storehouses, and getting the barbecue grill clean and ready.

David and his men have spent a good part of the season out in the fields near the place where Nabal’s shepherds were grazing the sheep. It most likely was throughout the colder season because the sheep would have been shorn to keep them from overheating as the weather gets warmer, and also because this would be just before any lambs would be born. It would give the sheep time to grow back their coats before the cold weather returned. So as a former shepherd, David realizes this is a festive time at the Nabal Ranch.

Scripture backs this up by stating that it is a time of festivity, a special occasion, and a day to celebrate. So Nabal was about to have a feast worthy of a king.

So here is what you missed in case you are not familiar with the story…

Nabal is throwing a party for the shepherds to celebrate this season and David is asking for a portion because as he sees it, he and his guys provided security for Nabals shepherds and sheep.

We cannot overlook the fact that David was a shepherd. He knew the dangers of being out in the open with sheep. Danger from marauders and danger from wild animals. David himself said he encountered bears and lions while tending sheep, so he knew what it meant to be secure and protected for an entire season.

All he was asking for was a share in the festivities. Just a little bit. But David’s messengers come back with this response from Nabal…

1 Samuel 25:10 NLT

“‘Who is this fellow David?’ Nabal sneered to the young men. ‘Who does this son of Jesse think he is? There are lots of servants these days who run away from their masters.’”

Who is David? To David it probably sounded more like-

WHO IS DAVID!?

I don’t know what was actually going through David’s head, but if it was me I’d be saying,

“Ask Goliath’s brothers!- they know who David is…

“In fact, ask any Philistine! They’ll know who David is.

“Why don’t you ask your King? He knows who David is.

“Saul Killed thousands – I killed ten thousands.

“What kind of stupid question is, ‘Who is David?’

I’ll show you who David is!!!!!”

Yep, I’m sure it went just like that, or very close. Because what comes next is the sound of David sharpening his sword and strapping on his armor. Nabal and his household are about to find out exactly who David is.

1 Samuel 25:21-22 ESV “Now David had said, “Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good. God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if by morning I leave so much as one male of all who belong to him.””

Who is going to protect Nabal now? Nabal was the original guy who kicked the hornets’ nest.

It’s ironic that a few decades later David’s own son would write about this type of knee-jerk reaction and response in Proverbs 26:4 MSG, “Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself.”

David would have been perfect for a Snickers commercial. He isn’t very happy when he’s hungry.

But is this response warranted?

How do we respond when we are embarrassed?

How do we respond to those who have offended us?

Are the words of a foolish person enough to get you to forget who you are?

The anointing oil that Samuel poured over David’s head has long vanished; the words spoken over his life are a distant memory. The plan of God and his purpose grow dimmer with each passing day.

The one who believed in him, his friend the Prince, hasn’t kept in touch. And the ones who are with him depend so much on him that the burden of responsibility is wearing him thin.

This is the same David that writes the following in Psalms 139:16-17 ESV, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!”

You see, God knew that one day David would feel disrespected and respond irrationally. Even while knowing that David was eventually going to get to a tipping point, He called him still and anointed him.

It doesn’t really matter what men think of you or how they size you up.

If God be for us…

Word on the street was that David was running like an escaped slave.

But..

The truth is that David was nothing but loyal to King Saul.

And God sent Abigail to remind him.

Remember who you are, David! You will be the Leader of Israel and you will have a lasting dynasty, God Himself is your protector and He will remember His promise concerning you.

David relented from his folly; from taking action against a very foolish man. And he was spared the guilt and shame that this rash decision would have brought him.

What is it that you need to rethink?

Perhaps today I am your Abigail. Reminding you that there is a call, a plan, a purpose, and a grand design for your life.

Remember who God says you are.

-John

Cutting Corners

How many times have your words been twisted? How many texts, emails and other forms of communication have come across as harsh, brash or downright rude?

Cutting Corners

1 Samuel 24:4 ESV

“And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.'” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.”

According to Idioms.thefreedictionary.com, to “Cut Corners” means: To do something as easily or cheaply as possible, usually to the detriment of the finished product or end result.

It’s been years since David was anointed by the Prophet Samuel and he has patiently waited for his time to come, but as the days turned to months and the months to years David still isn’t King, and Saul is still in hot pursuit.

So when exactly is this day that David’s men say the Lord spoke about? Is that actually what was spoken? At best they may have been referencing the times on more than one occasion that the kingdom would be David’s, or that it would be torn from Saul.

How many times have your words been twisted? How many texts, emails and other forms of communication have come across as harsh, brash or downright rude?

How many times have you had to clean up the mess when you have actually misspoken?

Too many for me to count, but I will tell you this, when I know for a fact that when I have been misquoted or blatantly lied about, this man has a hard time keeping quiet about it. I will defend myself, and I don’t go away without a fight.

Now, if I am that doggedly persistent about protecting my reputation or character from slanderous lies, how much more should I be when it comes to the Living Word?

Genesis 3:1 ESV “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?””

Our whole issue with sin has its origins in a 4 word question… Did God actually say? Imagine trading away your future because of 4 words? Imagine losing paradise over 4 words!

Could the same thing have happened in that cave that happened in the Garden if David didn’t have a change of heart? How close was that corner he cut leading him to treat the promise of God as cheap? That cut corner could have been a detriment to the future of all of Israel and Judah.

It’s only a corner, what does it matter?

That corner meant everything! The next verse says that David’s heart smote him!

It’s only a corner, what does it matter?

David almost gave way to the temptation to handle things on his own, to give in to these 4 words… Do-As-You-DESIRE…

Perhaps Gods providence was cloaked in a test of patience, a test of faith and a test of obedience.

Remember this story next time you are tempted to cut corners.

Love ya, -John

Shattered

We broke mom’s lamp and we covered it up, and the tension it created in us was real, we had to keep that act of recklessness hidden and we also had to conceal the deception, and that is no easy task for 3 young boys.

“The wicked run when no one is chasing them, but an honest person is as brave as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1GNB

 I am the youngest of three boys, we were basically latchkey kids. Both our parents worked so we were home alone for way too long to always do what is right. 

 

On one occasion (of the many where we played tackle football or whiffle ball in the house) we managed to shatter a Capodimonte Porcelain Victorian lamp. I thought it was hideous and way too difficult to dust every week, but my mom loved that gaudy thing. 

The playing quickly stopped as did the finger pointing, and arguing. After all three of us recovered from what I’m sure were small heart attacks. Chico, David and I sprang into action. We have got to fix this thing before our parents get home or there would have definitely been hell to pay. (Pardon my expression but I’m not even remotely exaggerating) there would be a leather strap with three boys’ names on it if they saw what we did. 

We found a tube of Krazy Glue (thank goodness for Krazy Glue, and God Bless the dude that invented it!) and we scoured the carpet, windowsill and baseboards for even the tiniest shards of mothers’ precious porcelain lamp.

 You may be wondering “What the heck does that have to do with the Scripture verse?”

Well you see, for the next 8 years, Mom didn’t move that lamp, or the table that it sat on, she didn’t dust the furniture in the room where that lamp and table were located in, and if she needed to sit in that room, we made sure we turned on the lamp and turned it off when she left the room. We were prisoners to that doggone lamp. We had an uneasy feeling that we were going to get caught; we were always looking over our shoulders. I think I developed high blood pressure because of that lamp.

We broke mom’s lamp and we covered it up, and the tension it created in us was real, we had to keep that act of recklessness hidden and we also had to conceal the deception, and that is no easy task for 3 young boys. 

What in your past has got you trapped?

What lie have you had to retell over and over?

What act of carelessness has made you a prisoner?

We were just kids being kids; would honesty really be the best policy? I always stressed to my two children to always tell me the truth, because if I ever caught them in a lie, the consequences would always be worse. Looking back I wonder, would the whoopin’ have been terrible to receive? YES! But it would have been over, and the anxiety that resulted from the cover-up would have not ever been an issue.

Mom finally found out 8 yrs later, by that time Chico and David were married with children of their own and I had graduated High School. We had a good chuckle over the story and how we were able to keep the knowledge of the shattered lamp a secret. I don’t even know what happened to those gaudy things, but 40 yrs later I still remember the stress I’ve endured because of them.

 

That thing that you are stressed-out over………….Just be honest! -John

Enough!

Appetites unchecked are a dangerous thing.

“Never eat more honey than you need; too much may make you vomit.” Proverbs 25:16 GNB

About 23 years ago I was working late cleaning some offices and I was famished. Always one to burn the candle at both ends, I went to work that night after being busy all day. I worked that entire night and It was early in the morning and with nothing packed for me to eat, I did what most of you would have done. I went through the refrigerator looking to see what was edible and still sealed. I usually don’t eat my own leftovers let alone someone else’s. All that I found was a can of Welch’s Frozen Grape Concentrate. Hey I scored! I love Welch’s Grape Juice, so how much more would I enjoy it in a concentrated form?

I found a spoon and commenced eating it like Ice Cream. It was good going down, the coolness of each spoonful went down my parched throat smoothly like a waxed sled down a snowy slope. And then it hit me. I don’t know if it was too much sugar, syrup or what, but I got so sick and this is gross, but it didn’t come up/out the way it went in/down.

No waxed sled, it was more like walking to the beach across hot asphalt and sand barefooted.

Needless to say I don’t much care for grape juice anymore.

The writer here is saying the same thing. Know your limits and have some self-control. Easier said than done especially when you are famished. I guess that’s the real issue.

Did I let myself get to to a place where I made an impulsive and irrational decision?

Did my lack of preparation and foresight steer me towards a sour stomach?

Did my attempt to satisfy a hunger and desire cause me to make a poor choice?

Yes, Yes and Yes.

And it cost me. Not only an upset stomach, but I lost any future desire to partake of something I once enjoyed.

I have a hard time taking Communion without thinking about that day.

But Frozen Welch’s Concentrate isn’t the only thing I have overdone. I’ve let unchecked appetites sour some relationships, hobbies, and even ministry.

This isn’t easy to confess, but I always try to be honest, and I’m definitely not the hero in this story. I’ve played too much ball with the guys, spent too many hours practicing music, allowed work and ministry to take me away from my family, made unwise choices that almost ruined my marriage.

Appetites unchecked are a dangerous thing.

Thank God for His mercy and Grace. Amen! Hope this helps someone. – John