Abiathar was angry. He was going to confront Uriah. As the priest that David trusted in he would not allow this Hittite to worship Baal in the camp. He stormed up to the camp fire where the noted warriors were lounging. The fire flickered on the swarthy faces of these hodge podge freedom fighters. When he walked up, silence invaded. It always does when the preacher walks in. With steel in his voice he challenged Uriah. 'Have you been worshipping your God here in the camp of Israel?' Funny how silence can suddenly freeze every sound. Uriah was slow to answer. He was not about to take anything from any man, but this was the priest. How he answered could easily start major trouble with men who wore their swords ready to hand. He had seen bloodshed in a flash not long ago when Abner met Joab. His eyes were steady as he looked up at Abiathar. Slowly he stood. He looked up to only one man. The man he gave his allegiance to. David. He respected Abiathar, but he feared no man. While the elite fighters of David waited to see how this would go down, he said, "actually no I have not". He waited. Abiathar was seething with a righteous vengeance. "What are the remains of the altar I found today? The word is that you worshipped your god of the Hittites there. I demand an answer!" Abiathar half shouted. Other men gathered around. The small fire was now surrounded by a legion of David's fighting men. Uriah said tersely, " You asked If I worshipped in the camp. I did not. I went to a high place and there practiced my own beliefs." Abiathar snarled "How dare you?" Uriah stood his ground. "I did not join David's religion. I joined his cause to fight for his Kingdom. He has never spoken to me of my faith. I have done nothing wrong." Abiathar's eyes were those of a zealot. Smoldering, angry, barely contained, eyes. It was a standoff of proud men both who felt they were right. It was Joab of all people who deescalated the moment. Slowly Joab rose to his feet. All eyes shifted to the General. Joab slowly and calmly said to the priest, "Uriah is not asking you to approve of his worship Abiathar. He is asking you to ignore his religion." Everyone there could feel the release of tension. It was a word fitly spoken. Abiathar stalked off into the night. Uriah stretched his hands to the fire and said nothing. It is not the things that we are forced to approve that are our danger in 2011. It is the things we ignore. Did Uriah's religion factor in to David's taking Bathsheba? Why did Bathsheba have enormous influence on David until his death? Did Joab resist placing Uriah in the forefront of battle? He was after all a Baal worshipper? I do not know these things, but I do know this...... The world is not asking me to approve of Gays. The world is asking me to ignore them. Pulpit silence. The world is not asking me to approve of abortion. The world is asking me to ignore it. Pulpit silence. The world is not asking me to approve social drinking. The world asks me to ignore it. Pulpit silence. Maybe just maybe had Abitahar forced the issue, the entire course of Israel's history might have been redirected. I have decided I will not approve, nor will I ignore certain things. I will speak, and maybe some Uriah's may yet live! Thanks for reading today.
I Will Not Ignore Uriah’s Religion Saturday, Feb 26 2011
The Spirit of Herod Friday, Dec 17 2010
Recently while reading the story of Herod killing the children again my mind drifted back over the years of things I had heard of this event.
I read the number of children killed reached into the thousands. Maybe as high as ten thousand.
I thought of the prophecy teachers who said this was the fulfillment of the verse in Daniel that says He shall not regard the desire of women. This verse is usually used by prophecy guys to say the antichrist will be gay, but some have said it referred to Herod because the Biblical definition of desire of women is children. Meaning that Herod did not regard the children, hence the desire of women.
As I tried to grasp the enormity of this event my mind thought of the spirit behind this atrocity.
The leap for a preacher was not a long one. The spirit of Herod lives on.
Spirits in a church that would cause spiritual babes to be exterminated.
Things God hates!
Jesus left the country until the spirit of Herod died.
Then He came back.
Do you ever wonder if Jesus leaves?
Do dry empty altars possibly mean He is not comfortable with some spirit, and leaves until that spirit dies?
Thank you Herod for your help in making our nation more independent of Rome.
Thank you for the magnanimous temple you built our nation.
But I would like to say to you Herod, all your contributions are washed away in the grief of mother’s wails!
Thank you for singing in the choir saint of God.
Thank you for going on outreach.
Thank you for all you do for the church.
I wonder if all those good deeds are washed away in the silent wake of Jesus leaving because you grumble.
Does your gossip cause him to leave and our altars are dry and barren?
51 and fading……. Saturday, Nov 20 2010
He was fifty one years old. He had never been this weary. He was weary in body, but even more weary in his soul.
His life dream was not happening. He had failed to reach his goal in the last four tries.
Questions bombarded his mind. Did he do the right thing? Should he quit? Maybe life was not worth it all anymore!
To make it worse he was all alone.
He walked and thought and brooded. On the horizon was a big city. It was a sinful city. Should he try again? Maybe just once more!
700,000 people were over there in the new city only 100 years old. He was aware it was not an easy city. Soldiers, merchants, slaves and prostitutes.
As he trod toward the outskirts he made what he thought might be his last important decision of life, after all he was despairing of life.
Slowly he stopped as the people on the road drifted by. He was just another traveller on this fine Roman road. Some where along the outside of the metropolis, Paul made a decision.
He decided, I will try again. The past four failures will not keep me from trying again.
Only this time I am making a decision.
This time I will only preach Jesus Christ and him crucified!
He had no fore boding that he was about to do what no other man in history would ever do again.
In the next eighteen months he would establish the largest church in the history of the world.
Corinth, the second largest city in the Roman Empire, the hardest challenge of Paul’s three journeys, would fall before the great apostle.
Paul at his lowest, was Jesus at His best.
God picked up His human crayon and drew a picture for all millenniums.
When I am weak, then am I strong.
It really isn’t about you after all.
Would you just let Jesus be the artist and you be the canvas?
Thanks for reading today!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Pontius Pilate Thursday, Nov 18 2010
His name is infamous.
Many people know his name.
Millions know his deed.
He judged Jesus of Nazareth.
Like so many who are infamous or famous, few actually know who he was.
Most would say something like this….He was the Roman governor who passed judgment on Jesus to be crucified. That is all most people know of him. Because of his act of judgment, he is viewed as a terrible person and goes down in history as a rogue.
How did he arrive in the land of palestine in the first place? What happened to Herod Archelaus?
The story of the land of Palestine is long and bloody. For centuries this fabled land was a pawn in the hand of world powers. Kicked back and forth like a backwater, unimportant prize to the most recent conqueror.
Some two centuries before the arrival of Jesus, a family in this land got tired of the iron heel of the conqueror and began to fight back. They became known as the Macabees.
Part politician, part freedom fighters, their only aim in life was to free their land of subjugation. They fought, they bartered, and eventually they won. Well, kind of.
Eventually there came of this family a very subtle and talented man who began a political ascent with the Romans. He was known in history as Herod the great.
Herod was a patriot. No price was to high to achieve his goals of promoting himself and the land he loved. He cajoled and finagled until he persuaded the Caesar to appoint him as King of the Jews.
From his new position he began to push, shove, and drag Israel into being modern. His greatest achievement was the rebuilding of the temple that was standing when Jesus Christ came.
His most heinous crime was the slaughter of all the babies two years old and younger in the attempt to prevent any king from usurping the throne he had worked a lifetime to secure from Rome. (10,000 or more babies were slain).
He died in 4BC. At his death he followed Alexander the Great’s example of dividing your kingdom into several parts. He gave his lands to his three sons. To Phillip he gave the eastern provinces. To Herod Antipas he gave Galilee and Samaria. To Herod Archelaus he gave Judea.
Archelaus ruled the area of Judea for about ten years. He was such a cruel and ruthless man that even Rome could not stomach his reign. Rome used it’s imperial jurisdiction and removed him from his throne and appointed a governor.
Caesar appointed Quirnius Caponius, then Ambivius, then Annius Rufus, then Valerius Gratus, and finally Pontius Pilate.
Pilate ruled from 26 ad until 36 ad. Pilate proved to be so cruel Rome removed him from power. But not before history placed him in the spotlight.
For one brief moment there he stands. All of history will condemn him for this one moment. His name is forever associated with consummate evil.
Three to six years later Rome removed him from power and history says Pilate committed suicide soon thereafter.
What man in history is so well known yet so unknown?
This fact screams to me, it isn’t about Pilate, it is about Jesus.
Without Jesus, pilate fades off the world scene and is never heard of.
Because of his intersection with Jesus, he is immortal.
The only way your life will ever have meaning and memory is if it becomes connected with Jesus.
Thanks for reading today.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Why David? Why? Thursday, Oct 7 2010
‘Why, David, why?”
The place was another nameless cave.
The men stirred about restlessly.
Gradually, and very uneasily, they began to settle in.
All were as confused as Joab, who had finally voiced their questions.
Joab wanted some answers.
David should have seemed embarrassed or at least defensive.
He was neither.
He was looking past Joab like a man viewing another realm which only he could see.
Joab walked directly in front of David, looking down on him, and began roaring his frustrations.
“Many times he almost speared you to death in his castle.
I’ve seen that with my own eyes.
Finally, you ran away.
Now for years you have been nothing but a rabbit for him to chase.
Furthermore, the whole world believes the lies he tells about you.
He has come, the King himself, hunting every cave, pit and hole on earth to find you and kill you like a dog.
But tonight you had him at the end of his own spear and you did nothing!
“Look at us. We’re animals again. Less than an hour ago you could have freed us all. Yes, we could all be free, right now! Free! And Israel, too. She would be free. Why, David, why did you not end these years of misery?”
There was a long silence.
Men shifted again, uneasily.
They were not accustomed to seeing David rebuked.
“Because,” said David very slowly (and with a gentleness that seemed to say, ‘I heard what you asked, but not the way you asked it’), “because once, long ago, he was not mad. He was young. He was great. Great in the eyes of God and men. And it was God who made him king – God – not men.”
Joab blazed back, “But now he is mad! And God is no longer with him. And, David, he will yet kill you!”
This time it was David’s answer that blazed with fire.
“Better he kill me than I learn his ways.
Better he kill me than I become what he is.
I will not practice his ways.
I will not throw spears, nor will I allow hatred to grow in my heart.
I will not avenge.
Joab stormed out into the dark.
That night men went to bed on cold, wet stone and muttered about their leader’s views.
That night angels sang and dreamed, in the afterglow of that rare, rare day, that God might yet be able to give His authority to a man who did not throw spears.
Thanks for reading today!
The secret of the Apostle Paul’s success Monday, Jul 19 2010
Paul was about 51 years old. He was slowly making his way from Athens to Corinth. His mind and body were on overload. The events and journeys were taking their toll and he was off balance and on the ropes.
On the first journey there had been the opposition in many cities. It had been a continual fight until he reached Derbe. Included in this section of his life was the near death experience of the stoning at Lystra.
Now he was headed toward Corinth with Athens in his rear view mirror. He reveals his thoughts in his writings. He was in despair. He was so low he actually despaired of life.
Paul was at his lowest point. Looming in front of him was his greatest challenge. Greater than the cities of Asia minor, greater even than Athens, the intellectual capital of the world.
Recently, he accepted the failed completion of a church in Philippi, then Thessolinica, then again in Berea, and finally the collaspe in Athens!
Somewhere along the dusty travelled road in AD 51, Paul decided I will preach Jesus Christ and him crucified, and nothing else. Beaten and discouraged, Paul was not ready for what would happen in Corinth.
Corinth was the second largest city in the empire, boasting a population of 700,000 people. Only the capital, Rome was larger. The city was new, as it had been destroyed only 100 years before by the Romans and then rebuilt. It show cased modern architecture.
Corinth was only a few miles from a seaport so there were sailors who came to visit the temple that offered 1000 prostitutes as a form of worship to the Gods of Corinth. There were Roman officials, a large Jewish population, soldiers, orientals, and every strata of life.
Into this morass walked Paul at his lowest point. The greatest apostle at his worst, pitted against the greatest challenge of his day. The result is history!
In eighteen months Paul built the largest church in the history of the world. The lowest estimates are 40,000 and most historians say the number was more like 80,000 people.
The failures of Athens, Berea, Thessolinica, and Philippi, faded as Corinth unfolded.
At the end of his second missionary journey, Paul had fully recovered in every way. What was his secret?
While reading the books written to Corinth again recently I was struck by the big picture of chapter seven of the first letter. So often I have seen the mechanics of this chapter, marriage, virgins, widows, servants, free men, etc.
I realized in all this discussion there rested the secret of Paul’s life and success like an un-mined diamond.
He addressed people that were unhappily married, he addressed virgins, he addressed servants, he addressed free men, he addressed widows, he addressed circumcision.
In all of it he stressed for people to be content!
That was Paul’s secret, to be content! He weaves this thread into many of his other writings.
To the Philippians…be content, 4.11
To Timothy…with food and clothes…be content, 6.8, 6.6
To the Hebrews….be content…13.5
It was the balm for every running issue of life.
Servants, be content!
Free men, be content!
Unhappy married people, be content!
Widows, be content!
Whatever your calling, be content!
Maybe, just maybe, if you could forget your Lystras, your Bereas, your Athens, you might reach your Corinth when you least expect it!
Maybe, just maybe, your greatest season of life is waiting for you when you become content.
When the servant seethes in resentment because they are not free, when the unhappy marriage poisons your daily life, when the past disappointments over whelm you, reach out and pick up Paul’s secret of success!
Find contentment in your life and maybe just maybe, there is a Corinth waiting for you!
Maybe at your lowest, and life’s challenge at it’s most formidable, contentment will bring you your greatest moment!
Godliness with contentment is great gain!
Thanks for reading today!
Kill The Indian Monday, Jun 28 2010
In the late 1800′s the United States government was faced with the issue of how to deal with the Native American. It was a perplexing problem.
First of all there were many different tribes. Then there was the distances and areas where the tribes lived. Mostly there was the issue of war. The native American was a formidable warrior! If the Indian tribes had joined forces and fought the U.S. military as a coalition, who knows the outcome?
History tells us the Indian did not join other tribes to resist and consequently, the tribes were slowly methodically eliminated.
Their story is a long, brutal, heart wrenching story. It is a sad epilogue on our government that they made promises and then broke those promises many many times.
If you have never read the story of the Nez Perce, it would be my recommendation to add it to your to do list of reading. It is the story of Chief Joseph leading his people 800 miles to attempt to escape to Canada. The Nez Perce chiefs astounded the Calvary over and over with their tactics. They used brilliant manuvers like the best trained generals of the world.
Eventually Chief Joseph and his survivors were brought to bay, and his surrender speech is still a classic today. You can google it and read it. It will make you weep!
As the government wrestled with the problem of resettling the Indian, and signing treaties, a speech was given in Denver in 1892. Captain Richard Pratt spoke and in his speech he made a statement that has entered into American lore. He declared…
“A great general has said that the only good Indian is a dead one, and the high sanction of his destruction has been an enormous factor in promoting Indian massacres. In a sense I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”
There began an effort to change the Indian into a white man. He was forced to no longer speak his native tongue. He was forced to change his appearance to look like his white captors. It was an all out effort to kill the Indian, but save the man.
John 10.10 says our enemy is determined to steal, kill and destroy. It is my opinion that Satan wants to kill the Apostolic, but save the christian.
Satan wants us to change our Apostolic appearance to look like the christians around us. His desire is we become what everyone else is.
Satan desires that we surrender our Apostolic worship and adopt the more calm, respected ways of other churches.
Satan desires that we surrender our Apostolic doctrine of Acts 2.38 so we can live peacefully with those of differing views.
Satan desires to kill the Apostolic, but save the christian.
Just for the record, there is a small band of Apostolics in the Northwest corner of the United States that have decided we will not surrender!
We will not surrender our Apostolic appearance. We will not surrender our Apostolic worship. We will not surrender our Apostolic doctrine.
Like Chief Joseph, we have no desire to fight and war, but when Satan attempts to take away our identity, we have decided we will fight.
Thanks for reading today!
You can live for God anywhere! Thursday, May 20 2010
You can live for God anywhere!
He lived in the bulls-eye center of one of the worst times of history. Every man was doing that which was right in his own eyes! There was no King in Israel.
Less than 10 miles from his ancestral home where he still lived, idolatry had just been introduced to Israel.
Idolatry would dominate every facet of Israeli life for the next one thousand years. It would take a seventy year exile in Babylon to purge the southern nation, and a permanent exile of the northern kingdom to finally get rid of idolatry.
He was there to see the birth of Idolatry!
About five miles from his home one of the tribes had just forced a priest to become the priest of their tribe. They were dissatisfied with their land along the coast, and their tribe was looking to expand their boundaries beyond what God had allocated their tribe.
He had a ring side seat to watch a tribe lose its place forever in Israel. Dan’s heritage disappeared before his eyes.
He was right in the midst of a controversy that eventually cost the nation 65,000 fighting men. He saw the results of infighting among tribes and saw the results.
He saw the grisly piece of evidence sent to his tribe and was close enough to hear the battle cries over three days that finally left only four hundred men to the tribe of Benjamin. To see a piece of a mutilated woman and the war that erupted among the people of God was no small issue!
Yet through it all he stayed true to the word of God! When others had no regard for the law, he lived by every letter down to the smallest detail.
The world around him was going to hell in a hand basket, but he never flinched!
Let others fight among themselves. Let others worship idols. Let others lose their inheritance. It never touched him!
If the law said take off your sandal and meet the near kinsman in the gate, that is exactly what he would do!
If the law said another man had first claim to the woman he was interested in, he would honor and defer to the law!
He stands as a silent sentinel to those who make up their mind no matter what others do, I will live by the word of God!
He is a testimony against every excuse maker, and compromiser that says everybody is doing it.
While his nation fell to idolatry, killed itself off, and gave away their inheritance, he stayed true to the law of God!
Is it any wonder his great grandson became the greatest King Israel ever had?
Thank you Boaz, and thanks for reading today!
Amaziah and the third sermon. Tuesday, May 18 2010
In yesterday’s blog I introduced you to the prophet Amos. He was an amazing man who obeyed his God and did a remarkable job. Today I would like to continue with his mission and show you his three sermons.
His clothes were simple and probably homespun. His language was of the simple unlearned people of the south Judean hill country. So when this prophet of God walked into Bethel to deliver his message he started at a disadvantage. The wealthy merchants and landowners were skeptical of this back woods evangelist.
When he delivered his first sermon, all doubts were replaced with satisfied nods of approval. He thundered down God’s disapproval on the surrounding nations that Samaria had recently defeated on the battlefield. Around the coffee shops and gossip centers of Samaria Amos got the nod of approval.
They no doubt said things like, well he hasn’t bathed lately and his language is abominable, but he did say some valuable things! So the balance slowly tilted in his favor and they showed up for his second sermon. This time Amos hit a home run!
In his second sermon he climbed to the top of their preacher charts. He preached how low down, no good, the southern kingdom was! He pointed out how the southern nation was not pleasing God. Suddenly his clothes and language did not matter. Amos was their man! Their preacher was preaching what needed to be heard. Three cheers for Amos!
Then came the third sermon.
As he took the center stage of their rapt attention, it was a sea of smiles. They couldn’t wait for the newest sequel to his last two sermons. They had waited all week wondering how he could ever top the last two weeks.
It started to go downhill when he called the jeweled, proud, over dressed women of Samaria a bunch of cows! The smiles disappeared, replaced by looks of confusion. Side-glances confirmed that there were other unhappy members in the congregation. It erupted full bore when Amaziah the priest stood and called Amos down.
Amaziah informed Amos that his services were no longer needed in Samaria and maybe he should depart now and head south. It was a not too polite “get out”.
Amaziah told King Jeroboam that Amos had committed treason. Amaziah told Amos to get back to his own turf and preach his pretty little sermons.
Amos replied that he was not a prophet, but just a herdsman, and a poor one at that.
Then it happened, the moment that was so incredible.
Amos turned those blazing eyes on the man Amaziah. Amaziah stood there insulated with wealth, position, and power. He was dressed in the finest clothes, educated in the best schools, and had all of society’s approval.
Facing him, was a simple country farmer with raggedy clothes, no schooling, and buried under society’s anger.
However, this country boy was God’s man. When he spoke all the authority of heaven backed up his words. He pointed the long finger of judgment at Amaziah.
He spoke to Amaziah and said your wife will become a harlot in the streets.
Your children will fall by the sword.
This land shall be divided and will go into captivity.
And so it was.
When anyone chooses to openly and publicly withstand God’s man, God always reacts with the same action toward them.
Amaziah made the fatal mistake of rebuking a God called, God sent man.
God have mercy on anyone who is foolish enough to follow the footsteps of Amaziah!
Look beyond his clothes, his grammar, and his education. Look carefully for the touch of God on his life.
And whatever you do, never under any circumstances, lift your voice against a God called, God sent man.
Thanks for reading today!
When Justice Was For Sale To The Highest Bidder Monday, May 17 2010
It was the most prosperous time in their history.
Money was flowing.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel was being led by the dynamic and charismatic Jeroboam II.
Jeroboam had waged successful war against Israel’s hostile neighbors and won control of the trade routes that poured wealth into Samaria.
The land was fertile, the rains fell, and the bumper crops swelled their barns and their bank accounts. It was a golden age. Public buildings were being built. Private residences were large and expensive. The public worship was now ostentatious and full of pomp.
The rich landowners with total disregard for God’s law, built great personal estates. They did so at the cost of dispossessing their poor neighbors. The poor were further treated badly by the greedy merchants who used unjust weights to buy and sell grain. These dishonest merchants mixed husks with barley kernels.
More and more of the people were being forced to sell themselves and their children into slavery.
Justice was for sale to the highest bidder!
The wives of the rich demanded more and more luxuries. No one seemed to give a thought to those who were cheated to pay the tab of the greedy.
No one that is except God!
Ten miles south of Jerusalem, a poor farmer heard an inner voice speak to him. He was of the poorest part of society. He dealt in Sycamore figs. The modern equivalent of someone who gathers cans along the roadside to get money.
His name was Amos. He left Tekoa to challenge the greatest nation on earth at the zenith of it’s wealth and power.
Has there ever been men like those prophets of old? Fearless men who gave account to no one but God!
When that poor country boy walked into Bethel, don’t you know his eyes were wide? No doubt his mouth was hanging open. He had never seen anything like this in the poor region he lived in.
He walked the streets and saw the luxurious homes of the wealthy. He saw the opulence of the rich and famous. He observed women reclining on ivory inlaid couches, feasting on meats and drinking exotic wines while they listened to the lastest popular music groups (Amos 4.1, 6.4-6).
He saw a nation that was hardened by selfishness and greed. He spoke to them about the need for their hearts to be touched with the needs of the poor and oppressed.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Does God still care about injustice?
Is Justice for sale to the highest bidder in your life?
Thanks for reading today.