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

‘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

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

A different level of Cray-Cray (CRAZY)

1 SAMUEL 18: 10 (NLT) The very next day a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, 11 and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice.

David is brought into Saul’s house (palace) soon after the defeat of Goliath. There was something about David, that Saul appreciated and he wanted that influence and attitude near him, specifically in his home and around his family. But there was also something about David that brought out the very worst of Saul.

Saul was so insecure that he was constantly looking over his shoulder; I guess that insecurity was a byproduct of having the Prophet tell you, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you”.

I can almost feel for Saul; who could withstand the amount of stress and anxiety that would put on an individual? He was paranoid, raving mad at times. The evil spirit that was allowed to take him at times was overwhelming! Enter David; a skilled musician that could play a tune which would sooth Saul’s tormented soul.

But how cool was David? …Dude had ice in his veins! How in the world could he continue to minister to this madman? 

Imagine having to continue to play his instrument while getting spears thrown at you by a man of war?

How would you perform under that pressure? …Could you? …Do you?

We have a hard enough time ministering to people who get on our nerves. We have difficulty being cordial with folks who write nasty things about us on social media. We lose our salvation when the Pastor doesn’t acknowledge our hard work, or god forbid he doesn’t stop to shake our hands on Sunday!

Do you wonder how he did it?

• How did David manage to retain the frame of mind to continue to strum and sing?

• How did David maintain the composure to go to work the next day?

• How did David muster the strength needed to keep his mouth shut and complete a task?

I know most of us would have failed if this was all just to test David’s character. How could God expect him to minister and serve this man under those conditions? And if this sticky situation which David is placed in is in the Bible to help us in our lives (using 2nd Timothy 3:16 as a standard) then, what can we, or better yet… What do we need to learn from it that will help teach us to live righteously?

2nd Timothy 3:17 that the man (or woman) of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

God help us! It would have been so easy for me to pick the scriptures in this chapter which spoke on Jonathan and his love and affection for David. Heck it would have been easy to write about David’s exploits on the battlefield, and how he eventually gets the girl. But once again I’m left with a Scripture that challenges me. A Scripture that forces me to take a long look at myself and make changes. 

Father God, I (we) can’t do this one without you. I (we) know this one is going to require a higher amount of grace than usual. I’m (we are) going to have to make some attitude and character changes and they are going to hurt. But I’m (we are) looking forward to the man (person) I’m going to become. Once again thank you for your Word. May it accomplish in me (us) what you desire in your heart for it to accomplish so that I (we) may be complete, equipped for every good work. -Love John