Tag Archives: david

Good Intentions, A Bison Calf, and Why Rules Matter

bisonFlyers, road signs, and verbal warnings tell visitors to keep away from wildlife at Yellowstone National Park. But last week, upon seeing a Bison calf alone in the cold, two visitors took action. They trusted their “good intentions” and “rescued” the calf by taking him to the ranger station in the back of their SUV. The result? The herd rejected the calf, it became habituated to humans, and rangers had to euthanize it.

Federal laws, clearly posted at National Parks, prohibit “feeding, touching, teasing, frightening or intentional disturbing of wildlife nesting, breeding or other activities.” Yellowstone regulations require that visitors remain at least 25 yards from bison. Yet rangers continue to tell of “inappropriate, dangerous and illegal“ behaviors.

So why do people keep ignoring signs? Do they know better? Perhaps they believe the signs don’t apply to them? Do good intentions supersede the rules?

There is probably a more clinical and professional term for the utter hubris of human rationale, but I am just going to go with “I-thinkism.” You see, far too many people have decided that their logic, wisdom, and reasoning are better than the rules that have been established for their safety and well-being. So…the rules say one thing, “but I think…” becomes the motto of many unhappy endings.

In the Bible, we are often reminded of the foolishness of choosing “I-thinkism” over God’s rules. In 1 Samuel 4, the people lost the Ark of the Covenant in battle because they chose their path over God’s. The Philistines then took the Ark home and learned the power of taking something they shouldn’t. God destroyed their idol, Dagon, and gave the Philistines boils and tumors for not keeping their distance and respecting His ways.

Years later, in 2 Samuel 6, David calls for the ark to be brought to Jerusalem. Unfortunately, during the trip, “the oxen nearly upset” the cart (6:6). With good intentions, a man named Uzzah reached up and grabbed the ark to steady it, a clear violation of God’s law. He was struck down instantly for his “irreverence.” Finally, when the Ark arrived in Jerusalem, David had good intentions to build a house for the Ark. But God rebuked him, saying He had never asked for such a thing and David wouldn’t be the man to build the Temple.

Two Biblical principles reside in these examples. 1) When God gives a command, follow it, and 2) When God is silent on a topic, His silence doesn’t authorize us to do whatever we please.

Turns out that this is good advice for National Parks as well. Obey the rules, don’t let “I-thinkism” prevail, and leave the Bison alone.

You’re Not A 2nd Class Christian…And Why I Came Forward

stinking-thinkingSunday’s sermon was about “Stinking Thinking.” At times, we all suffer this malady. But Romans 12:1-2 teaches us that, rather than being conformed to this world, we must be transformed by a renewed mind. Oddly, though, my sermon had the most unusual effect…it made the preacher come forward!

I don’t suppose I am the first to ever answer my own invitation, but there are a few good lessons that I learned from it, and I’d like to share them for this week’s article.

“Stinking Thinking” had 3 different examples: Elijah had wrong thinking about the lack of faith in others, and he was corrected by God; David had wrong thinking in his desires and needs, and Nathan rebuked him; and we are all rebuked by James if we have stinking, double-minded, thinking – of this world and the next.

But during the invitation, I realized that I had just confessed having the same hard-heartedness as Elijah. It is a preacher’s disease, isn’t it? Elijah was overly concerned with numbers, and his self-righteous attitude told him that he was the only one who served God. I have publicly bemoaned the lack of attendance on Sunday night and Wednesday night attendance, and it had begun to cause “stinking thinking” in me.

So I owned my confession and publicly repented. I had gotten caught up in what others were doing (or not doing). I had allowed it to poison my kindness toward some in the family of God. So here are a few take-away items I gained:

#1, I was reminded that it isn’t easy to go forward. But it shouldn’t be so hard! Please know, if you come forward, “You are NOT a 2nd Class Christian!” You aren’t a worse Christian. We all need help and encouragement. An unfortunate stigma has petrified people in the pew rather than helped them move their feet. Praise God that some overcome the stigma and ask for the love and prayers of others!

#2, I was reminded that those who can’t be with us on Sunday or Wednesday nights feel persecuted by some of the comments we make. I realize that many people, for reasons beyond their ability, cannot be back with us all the time. And to those folks, who desire to be with the saints but cannot, let me say, “You are NOT 2nd Class Christians!” If we, as the church, have made you feel sub-Christian, it is our mistake, not yours. We love and miss you when you cannot be with us.

#3, Those with “stinking thinking,” who refuse to return Sunday nights or Wednesdays, even if they easily could, need our love, not condemnation. They must answer for their hearts and minds, not me. But I will gently call: do you not desire to grow closer to God and His family, the church? Or have you become so worldly that you would rather do anything than meet with the saints? Just give it some thought, please.

May we all be transformed by renewed minds! Will you step forward? Ask for the love and prayers of the congregation. You are not a 2nd Class Christian if you do. And who knows?…there might be others who thought they were the only ones who felt that way. It might just start a movement…let’s call it Christianity.

If you want to hear the sermon, you may do so Sermon Link

A Destructive Vengeance

ward-jr-from-facebookjpgNo one will ever know exactly why Kevin Ward, Jr. thought it was ok to get out of the safety of his car. As he chased down Tony Stewart’s speeding car, we can only assume that one thought was in his mind – “even the score.” After all, growing up, he watched role models like Stewart chase after people when they wronged him! When someone makes you mad, you get even…right?

You see, moments earlier, Stewart had bumped Ward into the wall and Ward spun out of the race. Unfortunately, Kevin Ward did not stay in his car, he didn’t calm down, and he didn’t forgive. Instead, he got out of his car and ran toward Stewart’s vehicle yelling. As Ward ran to confront Stewart, Stewart’s tires swung out, Ward was pulled under the car, run over, and killed.

The Wards are in our prayers, and we grieve their loss. By all accounts, Kevin was a fine, young man, and this action was not indicative of his life style. In a moment of anger, he made a very dangerous decision. But perhaps there is something that can come from this sad loss of life that can help us to avoid devastation in our own lives.

You see, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, and regardless of who did what to whom that night, we all experience anger. And, when angry, our first reaction is usually to “get even” by hurting the other person. That is why the apostle Paul said, “be angry and yet do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Even when our anger is righteous, or in reaction to injustice and sinfulness in the world, anger serves only to feed the beast called revenge…and typically causes us to sin.

Wanting to “even the score,” or take revenge, usually leads to one of two things: sin on our part or hurting ourselves further. In Romans 12:19, Paul reminds us of God’s command:

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.

But more often than not, people think they know better. Either they are unwilling to wait on the Lord’s justice, or they are unable to trust in it. Or, worse still, we don’t wait on God because we know that God is a forgiving God and we don’t want to see others forgiven (Jonah 4)! But scripture reads:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

In 1 Samuel 25, we learn of a man named Nabal, and his wife, Abigail. Nabal insulted David, and David was on his way to kill Nabal, when Nabal’s wife Abigail intervened. She convinced David not to take revenge on Nabal, saying that his actions were those of a fool (Nabal even means fool). David agreed, seeing the wisdom in her argument. About 10 days later, Nabal, whose heart had failed him, was struck by the Lord and fell dead.

David, in a moment of passion, insult, and anger, almost made a horrible decision to do harm to someone because of the perceived damage Nabal had done to him. When he heard Abigail’s words of reason, David said in 1 Samuel 25:33:

“May you be blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.”

David realized something that we forget too often – Vengeance belongs to the Lord. Most of us heard it this way growing up, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Holding anger in our hearts, despising and hating others, trying to bring about revenge on our own, in this lifetime, will never result in glory to God. Those are the actions of the fool. Rather, trust in the Lord. Forgive those who have trespassed against you. Live your life fully for the Lord. And know, in that day, that justice will be served.

And the truth is, none of us will live up to the perfect standard by which we will be judged. All fallen short; we all need forgiven. Know that the blood of Jesus was shed for the forgiveness of those who would ask, seek, and knock. Have you heard the gospel? Have you turned away from a life dedicated to sin? Have you confessed Jesus as the Son of God? Have you been baptized for the forgiveness of sin? If not, why not seek His Word and learn more about the grace and mercy of God.

#stewart, #ward, #forgiven, #revenge, #vengeance