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June 2004 Archives

June 7, 2004

Solomon (Tony) Soprano?

1 Kings 2:46
Thus the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.

Here are David's instructions to his son as he hands the rule of Israel to him:
- Kill Joab (David's cousin and once one of his "mighty men" who supported the rule of Adonijah, Solomon's older brother, who tried to usurp the throne).
- Get rid of Shimei (a distant relative of Saul's who cursed David).

Not only did Solomon do these things, but also had Adonijah executed. Benaiah, who was the head of Solomon's army carried these orders out. This sounds a little too much like a popular TV show. It's so hard for me to keep in mind the tribal rule of ancient Israel and not sanitize it into some Biblical fairy tale of Kings and ogres, priests and villians.

To be honest, it is still hard for me to understand God's use of death as judgement in the OT. Sometimes I have to wrestle (often unsuccessfully) with these kind of passages. I don't have anything "insightful" to say about them. Sometimes I have to express my frustration with them. I must also express my intregue with them. There's this wierd "I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart" vibe to all of this. This is all a little too much for a gloomy Monday afternoon.

June 8, 2004

There's Always an Exception

1 Kings 3:3
And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrificed and burned incense at the high places.

Except. This is the universal excuse for violating agreements and procedures. It is the reason I give for less than complete obedience. "I would have, except..." "I tried, but..."

Solomon was commended for loving the Lord, even following the Godly directives given to him by his father. But he has developed some bad habits of his own; worship practices that while permitted by the Lord, weren't in compliance with "best practices." His worship at the high places (the places where idols were worshiped) reveal how we all are prone to develop habits, either out of ignorance or laziness, that nevertheless violate the boundaries of our relationship with God. Interestingly, after God appears to him in a dream, Solomon goes to the temple and offered offerings to the Lord in the right place.

Lord, I want to start cutting out the "excepts" in my life; the little points of compromise and convenience that keep me from being fully engaged with You.

June 9, 2004

Unless...

Psalm 127:1-2
Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows ("anxiety"); For so He gives His beloved sleep.

I was reading in the OT today about Solomon building the temple (1 Kings 5&6). then the sheduled psalm for the day is one of the two credited to Solomon in the whole book. And it's talking about building a house - a house for God. About watching over a community. About overwork and anxiety. All of it has to do with the futility of man's efforts alone, without God's involvement.

I was listening to Ralph Moore's tape of the plenary session from convention last week. He described his personal meltdown. Unable to sleep, fearful of everything, and working hard just to even function on a somewhat normal but impaired level. It is scary what happens when we are "doing" without God. No amount of hard work or attention can prevent the pressure of life from consuming you. Stress becomes the only way you know how to function. I'm fearful that I and Jayme have gone too far down this road. There is no nourishment in adrenaline. There is no rest from the burden of expectations. There is no grace in our good works unless...He is building, He is watching, He is giving.

The words of Jesus are left ringing in my ears: "I will build my church..." "Why do you worry?..."

Lord, I want to sleep. Not literally. But I do want to live in such a way that I have released my today to You and trust You for tomorrow. You build, and I'll work. You guard and I'll keep watch.

June 10, 2004

Chaos or Contentment

Psalm 128:1-4
Blessed is every one who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.
2 When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the Lord.

Our American Express bill came today and it was way more than we thought it was going to be. It really bummed, and even frightened Jayme. There always seem to be these speed bumps in life - unexpected car repairs, hectic schedules, and all other kinds of interruptions from phone calls to unplanned grocery store runs. They can send our home into chaos. But it doesn't have to.

This passage can seem to be a passage of promise - the result of doing things right. What happens when you are doing right but life turns to chaos, or at least seems to disolve into it? For me this passage speaks of perspective and contentment.

When you fear the LORD and walk in his ways, it has it's greatest effect on the way you view life. You see things from his point of view. It becomes less about what you have "earned" and instead about what you have recieved. You will be happy and well because you have honored the LORD by working hard. Your wife's life (interests and relationships) will be fruitful. The home will be a place of peace and joy because the "heart" of it is content. And your children will grow and mature and develop.

This is the blessing of God - not evaluating life by achievements or possesions. Rather by fearing God and walking in His ways something of his life is released in us that helps us escape chaos and be content in all the circumstances of our lives.

Lord, help me to work hard at obedience so our life will be blessed - content and honoring to You.

June 11, 2004

God's Choice - A person, not a place

1 Kings 8:15-16
"Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David. For he said, 16 'Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built for my Name to be there, but I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.'

Since the exodus and the building of the tabernacle, there as been no permanent location for the nation to gather for worship. Even under the Joshua and the judges that followed there was no specific structure built to be the central gathering place. As a theocracy, I would think that the first issue would have been to establish a permanent place for worship around which to build the nation. Instead, God waited to find a leader.

Although the desire for a king came from the people, we know that God chose David to lead and unify the nation. David then chose the location of his throne. This is an interesting idea for me as a church planter. I felt like I chose Irvine because of what I felt God wanted to do in this city. This passage suggests that it doesn't matter so much about the location as much as the fact that God chose me to shepherd and to lead people.

This has implications for the way we develop leaders. It isn't about the "places" of ministry (programs and needs) in a local church as much as it is identifying those God has chosen to lead and serve a people. It's not always about the need, whether it's a place for God's or in our case a kind of ministry or program. It always about finding the right people first, to whom He will give specific directions on how to serve the need.

Lord, help me look for the right people who you then will put in the right place.

June 14, 2004

Peace and Growth

Acts 9:31
Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

The last words Jesus spoke to the disciples were to be witnesses, "in Jerusalem, Judea, Sameria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). In just these few weeks we see the immediate results. People been healed, baptized with the Holy Spirit, and the church has grown rapidly as people believe in Jesus. It hasn't been without a cost either. Peter and John have already been imprisoned and beaten and remain religious fugatives. Stephen has been stoned to death. And Saul's persecution has caused fear throughout the church (8:3).It is after Saul's conversion that things seem to change in this season.

Sure, the apostles were being used in miraculous ways. Still, I believe the work of being "witnesses" had spread to the converts. The church was growing because because the church was were walking in the fear of the Lord and with the help (paraklesis) of the Holy Spirit.

I wonder if it is when the people of God begin to do the work of God that peace is produced. I'm sure it is the reason for the growth or the building of the church. This is the season that preceeds the next step of the first gentile convert (Cornelius) and the steps into "the ends of the earth" with the gospel.

Lord, help us to break free of the "professional ministry" syndrome. Let us be a people who walk in reverance. Let us be a people who are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Let us produce peace and the rule of Your kingdom in our sphere of influence.

About June 2004

This page contains all entries posted to JustJeff | Life Journal in June 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2004 is the previous archive.

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