The thrill of the CHASE.

What possesses someone to go chasing after an ill-advised thing, something forbidden, something out of reach?

Follow along as I journal through the book of 2nd Samuel, if you haven’t been keeping up, go back and read 1st Samuel. -John

2 Samuel 2: 18-24

“Joab, Abishai, and Asahel—the three sons of Zeruiah—were among David’s forces that day. Asahel could run like a gazelle, and he began chasing Abner. He pursued him relentlessly, not stopping for anything. When Abner looked back and saw him coming, he called out, “Is that you, Asahel?” “Yes, it is,” he replied. “Go fight someone else!” Abner warned. “Take on one of the younger men, and strip him of his weapons.” But Asahel kept right on chasing Abner. Again Abner shouted to him, “Get away from here! I don’t want to kill you. How could I ever face your brother Joab again?” But Asahel refused to turn back, so Abner thrusted the butt end of his spear through Asahel’s stomach, and the spear came out through his back. He stumbled to the ground and died there. And everyone who came by that spot stopped and stood still when they saw Asahel lying there.”

Reading this, I would love to ask that kid, “What in the world are you chasing? Have you even thought about what you are going to do if you catch up?”

It wasn’t a foot race; if it was Asahel would have won. Unfortunately, it was a battle, and Asahel was not ready for a battle.

What possesses someone to go chasing after an ill-advised thing, something forbidden, something out of reach?

We could speculate but we will never know for sure. Was it that Asahel was always in Big Brother Joab’s shadow?

The local news rag would read: Joab the mighty warrior! Asahel the…quick.

Or, Joab the formidable opponent. Asahel the Gazelle.

Yeah, nope. Doesnt have the same ring to it. For real, how many kids have pictures of track stars on their walls? Some I’m sure, but compared to boxers, wrestlers and MMA guys, the numbers don’t even compare.

So it could have been that Asahel was having to deal with older brother comparisons, or maybe it’s just as simple as, he got caught up in the excitement of the fight?

How many times do we do the exact same thing? Chase after something without an intelligible reason for doing so. How many instances can you recall in your life that have figuratively knocked you to the ground by some “Abner” you were blindly chasing?

Perhaps it was a career path? Perhaps the opposite sex?

Maybe an illicit affair, a hobby, a drink, a drug, a dream or an idea?

Reality can knock the wind out of you; for Asahel, it took his life. I know for me, there have been a few instances where I can look back and say that the warnings signs were there, though I relentlessly blew right past them, the guardrails, and headed perilously towards the cliff. I can’t say what I was thinking. I don’t fully understand that part. I know there was an inner struggle, but the flesh man got the upper hand.

The enemy knows our weaknesses even better than we do ourselves. So we get on this deadly pursuit led by our evil desires that have us blindly racing toward treacherous territory. Not everybody gets second chances, and most end up a spectacle on the side of life road like Asahel, while people gather around wondering, “why didn’t he stop when he had the chance?”

Why didn’t Asahel heed the warnings? Why didn’t he humbly submit to what turned out to be some “spot on” counsel? We may never know. Perhaps pride got the best of him? It’s not easy to admit you are being reckless. It’s even harder to look a person or people in the eye and ask them to forgive you.

But this I do know, if you happen to receive the gift of grace. Don’t squander it! Ask for forgiveness and work towards reconciliation. Then maybe, just maybe, you can rebuild or reestablish trust.

Father God, thank you for second and third chances as I (we) ask for forgiveness, and thank you for your gift of grace and mercy. Jesus, thank you for saving and redeeming this wretched sinner, and Holy Spirit you are welcome to prompt, prod and penetrate this heart of mine, enable me (us) to be Spirit-attentive to your warnings. Thank you Heavenly Father for this Word, it struck some very raw areas, but I (we) know it doesn’t return to you empty or void, but it accomplishes what you purpose it to accomplish in my (our) lives. Thank you for never giving up on us, for remaining faithful even when we are faithless. Love – John

soulKANDY

Critical Condition

Well today I posted something about how dangerous it is to work on the roads, and this morning I find out one of my contractors was hit while mowing. Y’all that pray, please pray for the tractor operator, and the driver of the vehicle that struck him. I’m sure they both didn’t plan on being transported to the ER this morning in Critical Condition.

I cannot stress enough the importance of being aware of those that work on the highways. It’s totally avoidable, slow down, leave earlier, don’t answer that phone, and its carelessly reckless to text and drive or otherwise drive while distracted. That text can wait. Our lives depend on it.

-soulKANDY

A Song for Heroes

So when I say the “King Sauls” in my life would probably not merit a song from me, it’s because I’m mostly too busy to bother to write one.

2 Samuel 1:19-27

If you have been tracking along with me as I wrote my thoughts chapter by chapter through the book of 1st Samuel, you would have known that David had been sorely harassed by Saul for many years. King Saul was oppressed and jealously hated David for his fame and the anointing on his life. David had multiple chances to kill Saul and end this relentless pursuit, but each time he remembered this one thing about King Saul…HE IS THE LORD’S ANOINTED!

That means: Hands Off!

You see, David knew that if God lifts up someone, God can and will bring them down if need be. In His time and in His way.

That one aspect of David’s character stood out to me the most in the last few months, because I am prone to impatience, and because of that, I get myself into trouble. I covet that in David most. Not his courage, and not his anointing but his ability to wait on God. I would have worried myself to death wondering, “When God? Now? Tomorrow? Soon? How ‘bout giving a brother a hint?” I would have pestered God, how they say in Horry County…”Until He was slap wore out!”.

But how can David not only be patient and reverent towards this man out to destroy him, but also care enough to lament him? To genuinely mourn his passing? There is another one of my shortcomings. I lack empathy. I would have probably cheered on the passing of a foe, I would have said in the most pious way…“Thank You, Jeeeesus!”. But one thing I know I would have never done: wrote a song and heralded them HEROES.

I’m not speaking for you, but how many others are out there that could honestly say, “I share your sentiment.”

I’m betting that there are quite a few, and this is how I know. I work for the South Carolina Department of Transportation, so I spend most of my time on the roadways, literally on the road. I’ve been cut off by teenagers and the elderly alike. I’ve been refused opportunity to pull out off the shoulder or median wherever I’m working by impatient people with only their destination on their minds. I have seen, almost daily, people texting and people just busy doing everything but paying attention to the road while in active work zones. People are so preoccupied with what is important to them at that moment, that the lives of those who work on the highways mean very little. We are surrounded everyday by people who barrel down the roads with vehicles weighing tons who couldn’t care less if my co-workers, contractors, or I ever made it home alive. We are an inconvenience at best and at the very least, the reason they will arrive to their destination a few minutes late. So when I say the “King Sauls” in my life would probably not merit a song from me, it’s because I’m mostly too busy to bother to write one. Much less mourn and miss a meal.

That’s rough, well, I’m speaking about me. I need to be more compassionate and empathetic toward those around me. I need to flat-out just care more.

Yes, another buttkicking from the Scriptures, and it’s well deserved. I vow to change. To pray for those who I feel are against me, and have it out for me. To text less and listen more. To love and appreciate LIFE, and to mourn at the loss of it.

-soulKANDY

‘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