I Die

We have the tendency to overlook the weasel and the snake, because we are looking for the roaring lion and the wolf in sheeps clothing. And all the while the weasel and snake are undermining the plan, purpose, and potential in our lives and ministries.

My wife and I are journaling the book of 2nd Samuel together and she made a statement last week as we were discussing chapter 4. She said, “There sure is a lot of killing in this book!”

So as I am meditating on what I read, her statement keeps coming to mind. There is a lot of killing in this book, 1st Samuel ended with the death of King Saul and Prince Jonathan, and 2nd Samuel picks right up with the killing of the Amalekite messenger, a battle between Joab and Abner with a total of 379 men dead, the murder of Abner at the hands of Joab, the assassination of Ish-bosheth at the hands of Baanah and Recab, and the killing of Baanah and Recab for what they have done.What’s the deal?!

And as I am thinking about that, this is what comes to my spirit: when a Kingdom is established, something has to die. That is the brutal fact of war and kingdoms.

Look at history and tell me if you agree. Kingdoms require subjects, and Kings demand loyalty.

Is the Kingdom of Heaven any different? Do we not have to die to self? Doesn’t the Lord’s Prayer say, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? That means MY kingdom and MY will must die.

I remember talking to a Pastor in Rialto, California in the early 90’s. I used to be in the Christian Rap group Private Boiz and we ministered all around SoCal and the neighboring southwest United States. At that time, a lot of pastors were trying to reach the inner city kids and the best way to do that was through music. Rap just happened to be the primary genre that the Inland Empire youth were listening to at that time. He said he had booked his 1st youth outreach with a rap group, he served hot dogs, hamburgers, and refreshments, and a crowd was gathering near the outdoor stage and tent they had set-up. He had drove away for a few minutes to get more ice at the local Stater Bros. Market and when he came back he was shocked to hear a crowd of kids all yelling, “KILL THE OLD MAN! KILL THE OLD MAN! KILL THE OLD MAN! KILL THE OLD MAN!”. He said, “I left the bags in the trunk and ran towards the stage worrying and expecting to see someone getting beat to death.” But the kids were just repeating the hook of the song about a new life in Christ requiring someone to die to their old ways, habits, and lifestyle.

Isn’t that what baptism symbolizes? The death, burial, and resurrection of a believer?

I like how The Message translation puts it.

Colossians 2:11-15 “…Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ…” MSG

2 Corinthians 5:17 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” NLT

Also take the time to read:

Romans 6: 1-14

If God is going to establish His kingdom in your life, things need a drastic change; there is going to have to be a funeral.

So as we look at the book of 2nd Samuel in this light, yeah, there is a lot of killing that comes with a new kingdom. The Amalekite messenger tried to weasel his way into favor with the king and it cost him! Abner, Baanah, and Recab tried to scheme their way, and it cost them as well. They all found out the hard way, that the new king can’t be bought or won over with favors. His appointment and anointing was God-planned, and he (David) is letting God do His thing in His time.

If we know anything about David so far, it’s that he is a very patient man and he isn’t easily swayed.

How many pastors (leaders/bosses) do you know that would have given the Amalekite messenger, Abner, Baanah and Recab, seats on their board(s) or advisory committee(s)?

How many pastors (leaders/bosses) have the Amalekite messenger, Abner, Baanah and Recab on their boards right now?

We have the tendency to overlook the weasel and the snake, because we are looking for the roaring lion and the wolf in sheeps clothing. And all the while the weasel and snake are undermining the plan, purpose, and potential in our lives and ministries.

When I was a youth pastor, I told the teens to notice that the middle letter in obedience is “I” and the middle three are ”DIE.” If you are going to be totally committed and connected with God, and His call, purpose, and destiny for your life, “I” must die! We must decrease so that He may increase, we must become less so that He may be greater still.

Lord, I surrender; every bit, every part, every habit, every thought, every friend, and every idea. I want your plan, will, purpose for my life and I know that things that I’m afraid to lose must die. Lord, I know you will never owe anyone, and there is nothing that I surrender that you cannot possibly replace with something better. I’m done being lord and king, I’ve tried and failed miserably. Take your rightful place in my heart and life, as Savior and Lord. Amen.

-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

No More Tears!

This type of pain makes you want to run away; you don’t feel like seeing anyone, and wanna say, Just leave me alone!”. BUT David found strength in the Lord his God.

Based on 1 Samuel 30

Have you ever had one of those days? You know the kind; it starts encouraging and victorious and ends a deflated, disastrous disappointment.

One foolish day in Chicago, a little boy wanted to go to the carnival. Bright lights, the smell of caramel corn and cotton candy, the call of the carnie rousers yelling, “Step right up, or try your luck!”, cheap thrills, oddities…and well, for a 9 year old boy, acres and acres of fun. Let’s just say his parents didn’t see it that way; he was forbidden to go. So he did what any 9 year old boy who dreams of fun, candy, games of luck, and a chance to win a stuffed animal 1 ½ times his size would do. He took his allowance and decided to run away to the carnival, if only for the day.

Well, little Johnny’s parents didn’t know his intentions. He left them no note or other clue as to where he was going, just an empty room and a missing boy.

The carnival was a blast, I had… errr, I mean Johnny had the time of his life. No parents telling him, “No, you can’t eat that! No, you can’t ride that, No, you can’t play that! Blah, Blah, Blah!”. Freedom was as awesome as he pictured it to be. But we all know that a few bucks don’t last very long at such a great place, and eventually walking around watching everyone else having a blast gets boring. So he decided to un-run away. After all, that was his intention all along since he didn’t even pack a bag.

So at the end of a fun-filled, glorious, candy eating, carnival riding, game of luck playing day, he finds himself walking through the alleys back toward 3713 West Dickens St.

He had spotted it by the time he got somewhere near North Hamlin Ave; the family station wagon. His stomach sank. He could see dad was driving while his mom was in the passenger seat and it looked like they were happy to see him, yet very unhappy at the same time. The parental oxymoron, “ecstaticanger.”His mom had the “my little boy is safe, I’m going to kill him look”, and his dad just had the “I’m going to kill him look.” Long story short, they didn’t spare the rod that evening.

Nope!!! And Johnny never ran away again. He had experienced both the mountain top and the deepest darkest valley that day.

And that’s what David and his men are feeling.

They were just let off the hook by King Achish, and sent home from a potential battle against their own people. How awesome was that? They were in a major pickle; they had no clue about what would really happen when the fighting took place. Do they back up the man who has offered sanctuary and opportunity, or do they support Israel by default?

In God’s providence the choice to let them go back home was offered. That truly was a gift and if no one else knew it, David did.

A mountain top experience to be sure. How many of you can say there has been at least one time you were let off the hook, and given an “out” when there clearly was no “out”?

But the elation doesn’t last for them. In fact, the party comes to a screeching halt when they see from a distance, in the direction of what should be home, smoke rising from the rubble of what was supposed to be their place of rest.

1 Samuel 30: 3 & 6

“And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.”

“And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.ESVEMPHASIS ADDED

If you have never experienced tragedy, then you won’t be able to relate to this story. But all kidding aside, this is nothing like getting a spanking after disobeying your parents. How would you feel if you have been a good and faithful son, a passionate believer or a devout follower, and then all hell breaks loose in your life? Would you curse God? Would you assign blame, and want answers? Would you lose your faith?

David has been faithful, he has been honorable, and he has been a godly man. He has been tried, tested, provoked, chased, lied about, and lied to. He has been a target, and now when he is finally feeling peace in his life, he comes home to find everything that he has fought for is GONE.

His home, his family, and all his possessions are GONE. All that he has left are the few provisions he would have taken when he went off to battle. But that is not all that he has to worry about. His men, the guys that were depressed, discontented, and discouraged and in debt. Yes, those same guys that had joined David while he was on the run from King Saul, those very same guys that now have a purpose, a place, a plan and a future. THOSE GUYS are now talking about stoning David. You see they came to David as nobodies with nothing, and when it was just David’s head on the line, and David being the recipient of all the drama, life was good. Heck, they even made a life out of it. They had property, got married, had children…life was peachy. But tragedy has hit home! And it has not spared anyone. This time, everyone was affected, and the men do not know how to deal with it. Some versions read, “They cried until they had no more tears!”. These are mighty men, valiant soldiers and warriors, but they are also husbands and daddies too.

I believe David could find strength in the LORD his God, because when King Saul would have evil spirits, and mood shifts, he would call on David, and David was able to play, and praise him through those stressful and trying times. You see David had already had private worship services; he already had all night prayer meetings. He already knew how to intercede on someone else’s behalf, so praying for himself was normal. I didn’t say easy; I mean it wasn’t foreign. He saw God come through for Saul, so he knew God could come through for him. I’m pretty sure he didn’t know how God would, but he knew God could. David has faced, lions, bears, and actual giants; now he is facing another type of giant. ”Bitterness in Soul.” That’s a whole different level of pain. A pain way down deep in your innermost being. There is a grieving in that pain. This isn’t a hit my thumb with a hammer pain, this is a; my wife and my baby are missing and I’m a mess pain. This is a WHAT IF I…? A whoulda shoulda pain. The kind that racks your mind so you can’t sleep. The kind that just won’t shut off or go away. A distress in your soul.

This type of pain makes you want to run away; you don’t feel like seeing anyone, and wanna say, Just leave me alone!”. BUT David found strength in the Lord his God.

I’ve been there! I know how debilitating tragedy can be. I know how it can tear a family apart and I know how close to the edge I personally came. I know the doubts, the regrets, the excuses, the fear, and the relentless agony of spirit.

But I also know… if NOT for GOD.

Father God, we know all Scripture is God breathed and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in how to live upright. And we know that this section is there to help those who like David and his men, have lost everything precious to them. God, we don’t always know the why of things, but we do know that when we are going through those times, we can find strength and peace in You. Help us to be strong enough to resist the temptation to throw in the towel and give up, blaming You for not saving us from hurt, and accusing You of being the cause of it. We know you are a good Father, sometimes only when things are going great. Help us to realize you are a good Father in all things good and bad. Help us to place our trust and confidence in You, and enable us to heal from false teaching, bad counsel and our moments when we are faithless.

Amen

Keep Pressing!

-soulKANDY

Burning Bridges

Isn’t this how the Living Word is supposed to work? It cuts deep, it rightly divides soul and spirit, it gets down to my real attitude, my true thoughts and heart’s desires.

‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭29:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“The entire Philistine army now mobilized at Aphek, and the Israelites camped at the spring in Jezreel. As the Philistine rulers were leading out their troops in groups of hundreds and thousands, David and his men marched at the rear with King Achish. But the Philistine commanders demanded, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” And Achish told them, “This is David, the servant of King Saul of Israel. He’s been with me for years, and I’ve never found a single fault in him from the day he arrived until today.””

If you have been following the story, We find David in a pickle. The words of King Achish paint a picture of a loyal and faithful servant.

Wait – what?

Can you believe I’m using “loyal and faithful” as words to describe a man who not only left Israelite territory because he needed to put distance between himself and the one he was called to serve, but also has been spending the last years with their enemy the Philistines?

I say loyal and faithful because King Achish is sticking up for David when questioned regarding David’s involvement in this battle.

Achish uses these words to describe David, “the servant of King Saul of Israel”.

That could only mean that David and his men probably never bad mouthed or dishonored the crazed man they were forced to flee from.

Right there is a lesson to be learned.

How many of us burn bridges?

Well if I’m going to be completely honest, I’ve been known to demolish them. When I was done with someone, I was DONE!

I’ve used the reasoning that most people use, maybe even you yourself have used it.

“I’m never going to let them hurt me again!”

Or

“Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!”

Yep, those are ones I’ve used. I’ve not only taken people off my Christmas card list, I’ve taken them off my prayer list.

I know,

…”and you call yourself a Christian!”

Hey, I know you have seen the bumper sticker that says, “Christians aren’t perfect just Forgiven!” I lived that as if it were my personal ethos.

I’ll wait for those that had to look that word up.

Don’t we have the dumbest ideas? It’s almost like a Christian get-out-of-jail-free card; act anyway you’d like to act and use forgiveness as an excuse. I’ve heard leaders of the church say this often, “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.” But there’s nothing Biblical about that; it’s not Scriptural!

If anyone had the right to cut someone off it was David; a man who was unjustly accused, unrighteously attacked, lied about, and slandered.

Men have murdered for less!

How could David suffer such humiliation and still act with honor and integrity?

And why do I act like I have the right to play the avenger? This part of the Scripture is really challenging me. I need to take a deep look into myself and find the root of pettiness and self-importance. I read this and ask…

”John, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!”

If David didn’t exercise his right, what gives you the right? It’s challenging me to rethink how nasty I’ve really been. How very much UNLIKE Christ I have on occasion acted. I’m deeply embarrassed and repentant right now.

But isn’t this how the Living Word is supposed to work? It cuts deep, it rightly divides soul and spirit, it gets down to my real attitude, my true thoughts and heart’s desires.

When I first read this chapter, I didn’t think that there was much to talk about. The next chapter gets really good. Things are about to pop. But for some reason this portion really struck a chord in me. It could have been so easy to gloss over it, to comment on some other part, but God really wanted to reveal something in me.

To me.

John, when you exercise your rights, you damage people unnecessarily.

Now I’m not being insensitive to people that have suffered violent and criminal acts against them. By no means! Criminals need to be punished. That’s NOT what I’m talking about. I’m talking about PRIDE and FEELINGS, I’m talking about petty rivalries and shame. I’m talking about things I ask God to forgive me for that I want Him to punish others for.

Not too many of my enemies would ever come to my defense. I’ve built walls after I burned bridges and I’m convicted by this verse.

Oh that my foes could describe me in such a fashion.

“This is John, servant of the Living God, and I have found no fault in him from the day that he arrived until today.”

Father God,

This one wasn’t easy! Forgive me for my petty, selfish behavior. Enable me to mend relationships that I have destroyed in my self-righteous indignation. I pray that these few words will also stir the reader to do a “system check” in their lives and relationships. Jesus, you were the only one who ever had a right, but still didn’t exercise it. Help us to be more like you. And may those that really KNOW me, recognize a real change in me from this day forward. Amen.

Love y’all

-Keep Pressing

soulKANDY