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

Final Chapter

If God promises you something, He will see it to fruition. In His time. We just need to trust that He has got it figured out.

Wow, this Book is finally over. It has been a challenge, especially since it seemed like the entire second half of the book we were reading about Saul chasing David.

It has been a long 18+ months since I first posted chapter one of 1st Samuel, “The Revolution of Days.” This Book starts with the birth of the prophet and ends with the death of the king. Righteousness is contrasted with rebellion; promise and hope are contrasted with pain and despair. It chronicles the rise and fall of one man, Saul, and the rise and wait of David. It started with Hannah travailing spiritually for a son and Israel wanting a king; and God gave both what they asked for. Hannah was faithful with her gift and gave him back to the Lord, and Israel got exactly what they asked for… a man, who went from sizzle to fizzle rather quickly. Israel traded the plan, promise, and provision of God for the taxes, trouble, and tyranny of a king.

This is how King Saul perished…

1 Samuel 31:1-2 ESV

“Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. And the Philistines overtook Saul and his sons, and the Philistines struck down Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul.”

1 Samuel 31:3-4 ESV

“The battle pressed hard against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was badly wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.” But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly. Therefore Saul took his own sword and fell upon it.”

The man who was head and shoulders above the rest of the men in Israel, full of promise and destined for greatness, is struck by a stray arrow shot by an unnamed archer. In just 4 verses, we see the predictions of the prophet come true as spoken by Samuel when Saul had called him up with help from the witch / medium of Endor. (1 Samuel 28:16-19)

He fell on his sword. He off’ed himself. He didn’t want to get tortured by the Philistines, so he took his own life. Rather disappointing way for David’s nemesis to go, right? Shouldn’t the archenemy of the story get blasted by the hero? Wouldn’t it have been better if David somehow had the last laugh. Isn’t that how good revenge stories end? No such luck for the reader because instead we get: Saul gets hit by a random arrow and chooses to kill himself. End of story.

Wow.

I guess God didn’t want David linked in anyway to the death of Saul. No, he’s off fighting the Amalekites trying to get back his family and stuff back. God in the meantime handles David’s “Saul problem”.

So what can we learn from this?

1. God is in control

2. Mind your own business

3. Let God handle the heavy lifting

4. The battle is not yours

If God promises you something, He will see it to fruition. In His time. We just need to trust that He has got it figured out. We have a tendency to jump the gun, think too much, and sometimes plain disqualify ourselves because of a lack of patience.

We will read of his mistakes soon enough, yeah he wasn’t perfect, and that too points to the love, patience, and providence of God.

I really enjoyed this book, and I am looking forward to the next part.

Thanks for following along!

-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

What a RUSH!

1 Samuel‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬ “And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled.”

Wait a minute! What? The Spirit of God caused Saul to get ANGRY?

Could it be the same Spirit that caused Jesus to break out the whip at the Temple here causes Saul to get righteously indignant?

Heck yes! And then some. 

Isn’t it peculiar how the sound of the people in lament would stir up some to action, but cause others to just join in on the wailing?

Upon hearing the news that the people of Jabesh-Gilead were about to surrender to the Ammonites. Saul was stirred to action. The people of Jabesh-Gilead upon surrender were about to have their eyes gouged out. This action would render them useless as soldiers, and as archers. It was a form of humiliation and utter disgrace. Why would a people submit themselves to this painful debilitating mutalation?

…They had NO HOPE!

Why would the enemy give them 7 days respite in order for them to find someone to help their cause?

…The Ammonite King allowed it because he believed they were helpless, and hopeless.

But GOD!

Had a plan, and a man. 

You see, there is nothing worse than a leader who doesn’t act. How many of us have had supervisors who didn’t like confrontation so they let terrible employees run amok in the workplace. Ugh! That’s so frustrating!

How many of us want to spank those “Little Darlings” that terrorize their parents at the grocery store? And why does it bother us so? I believe it’s because they refuse to act when it’s absolutely evident to everyone else that it’s the proper thing to do.

But Saul was not yet tested, he may have been anointed before God, but he hadn’t been inaugurated before the people. They never had a King before, and he didn’t know know how to be one.

Something about the heart change that Saul experienced in the previous chapter transformed him from spectator to participant. Something about the anointing, something about the calling on his life. The same boy who was worried about finding his fathers donkeys was now concerned with the well being of a nation.

How did that happen? The verse says, …And the Spirit of God rushed upon Saul… He came upon him mightily and his actions united 330,000 men to come to his side.

So what can we learn from this chapter?

1. Your TITLE means nothing without assuming the responsibilities it requires.

2. Your inadequacy might just be linked to your failure to act.

3. Righteous indignation isn’t the same as doing something for shock value.

4. People will follow a Spirit attentive leader.

5. God doesn’t NEED us to rout the enemy, He gives us front row seats.

Heavenly Father, we never want to go into battle without You, but at the same time we don’t like to sit back doing nothing. Help us to be content with plowing the fields until the time comes for us to act. We want to be so attentive to your call, that the things that break your heart also breaks ours. Give us the discernment to know when that time is. Enable us to act when others cower in fear, knowing the battle is not ours but Yours. Let our actions draw likeminded people to our sides, changing spectators into participants, and wailers into mighty men and women of valor. Love you – John