Tuesday, November 18, 2008

1 Sam 14

So a couple things stood out to me about this chapter. First of all... Jonathan did something I am very much not comfortable with: "god if this happens, then it means yes, but if this happens, it means no." it's not that I don't think that god can't speak to us when we set up a dichotomistic choice like that, but how does one know it's a fair thing to do? How do I know I'm not just stacking the deck in my favor if I so something like that? "god if the pastor looks right at me during the altar call and sings the third stanza of the star spangled banner, then I know you want me to respond. Otherwise, you don't." an extreme example, yes, but I think you get the point?

Is this something that we should be doing today as Christians? I mean, maybe it was different for Jonathan back then because he didn't have the holy spirit? (see also: casting lots to determine guilt) But speaking of the holy spirit... How do you even know if it is really god speaking to you, and not just your self? Or worse, an "unclean spirit". (pardon my christianese) yes, I know that we can learn what god's voice sounds like, or what he would say by being familiar with what he says in the bible. But when it comes down to it, we read the bible through the lens of our mind, and that can skew god's written word as much as his spoken (verbal or nonverbal) word.

I'm not saying we can't know what god is saying to us, because there have been a few times that I've really *known*... It's just all those other times that confuse me.

The next thing... Saul had to take roll of his men to learn that his son was missing. What kind of a father is that?! Dang. I hope I never have to do that. I'm betting that Jonathan was a young man at this time, because he led an army, but I doubt he was over 20. Probably 15 or 16 as an upper age limit. So it's not like Saul took his t ball son along with him to work (war) and lost him... But still, dad... Keep an eye on your kid! If you die, he's next in line man!

And then he made a stupid oath, based on a stupid rule that he made. Strange that he mentioned his son's name in it. After "losing" him was be trying to get, rid of him? Or did he feel like he was shown up and he wanted to get rid of him? Or was it just a proof that he was really serious? If it was, then why did he divide the groups into him and Jonathan, then the rest ofnthe people? Did he know? Surely he must have known Jonathan didn't hear the stupid command, he just took role and found him to be missing. The whole thing just seems fishy too me.

Lastly, he doesn't keep the oath that he made. Why? And why doesn't he get in trouble for it either? I mean, the people sin by eating meat without draining the blood, and then Jonathan is the one the dice point at because he broke a stupid rule that his dad made that he didn't know about! Surely the people sinned more than Jonathan. Surely Saul sinned worse than Jonathan because of the stupid rule he made that endangered the lives of his men. I mean come on, I don't think that skipping meals is a good recipe for success if you want to beat down a foe who is more BA than you. Yet it's Jonathan who the finger is pointed at instead of either of the other two groups.

And then! Then! Saul allows himself to be persuaded by the people not to kill Jonathan! Saul breaks his own stupid oath by not killing his kid who broke his own stupid rule unknowingly. Wow. Too much stupidity for me.

But on the other hand... What if god's hand was in this after all? What if god knew that David would need Jonathan, and it so he just worked out the best way to keep him alive? What lessons are there to be learned from this dysfunctional family and king?

God is with those who seek him. God has a plan that stupid people can't thwart? Maybe because he knew that the philistines were more screwed up than then the israelites, god decided to overlook their sins to kick some bad guy hiney? Idunno, I don't get why god does what he does a lot of the time. Why did he even give the Israelites what they wanted (a king) if he was just going to be a screwup anyway? Why does he entrust screwup Christians, like me, to do his will anyway?

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A New Routine

So last night I realized that I needed a new bed time routine. I was losing sleep and losing touch with God with my previous one, so I decided to try something new. I liked it, so I'm doing it again. As always, we'll see if it sticks.

After getting ready, I get in bed with my iphone and read from biblegateway.com. Maybe research a little bit, maybe not. Then through the medium of blogging (again, from the iPhone... We're going for ease of use here) I meditate on what I just read. I'm not following any sort of homework assignment style of blogging. No SOAP, no exegesis, no theology, nothing but what naturally comes to mind about it. It may be brilliant, it maybe be stupid, and it will probably be full of errors. (Hence why last night's was titled 1 Sam 12 instead of 13.)

So I apologize to my one reader out there, but this is for me... Yet if God amazingly uses my ramblings to speak to you, it's because he's awesome and stuff. Don't expect anything spectacular, because it's more stream of consciousness than anything. Even so, comments are welcome and I would love to have a discussion if something said sparks something in you.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

1 Samuel 12

"A man after my own heart."

Saul screwed up and disobeyed God. I don't know if he really thought he was doing the right thing by sacrificing before battle, or if it was more like his version of a good luck charm, much like some MLB players cross themselves before each at bat, or point to the sky after a strikeout. Perhaps it was just religion (read: tradition) to make a sacrifice before battle so he was just doing what he always did because Samuel was delayed. Or maybe, this seems most likely to me, Saul was just panicking and lost his trust in God. His troops were deserting him and he wanted to get the show on the road before it became a one man show (not a good recipe for success for a new king).

An interesting thing to me is that Saul was replaced by God when be had just barely started. He didn't even get his 30 day review before God told him he wasn't going to make it as king. Yet God allowed him to remain in power (even in "lame duck" status) for 42 years.

God had found a man after his own heart in David, but what took him so long to actually reach the destination that God had planned for him? One could say he was ready to lead the nation militarily (Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands), the people loved him (the same, also killing the giant did wonders for his rep I'm sure), he had the right woman (princesses don't just marry anyone), and it seems like he was ready to lead spiritually too (he spent so much time with God as a shepherd, wrote psalms, played spiritually soothing music in the king's court).

Was God not through with Saul even though he'd rejected him? Was Israel just not ready? David certainly seemed ready, even though we see he learned many lessons between the time he was anointed and the time that he became king. But what really made David qualified to be king?

He was handsome, sure. Pretty awesome with a stringed instrument, voice and pen. He could fight, lead and stand up against hard odds. But it seems the key above all these was that he was a man after God's own heart.

What does that mean? Certainly not that he was sinless (see: Bathsheba). I think it means that more often than not, he took the actions that God himself would have taken as a man, felt what God would have felt, and lived how God would have lived.

David's priorities were in line. He worshiped God and knew He was with him. He cared more about what God thought of him than what other people thought of him. He did what was right. He honored his family. He lived and loved with his whole heart.

I hope those are things that can be said of me. I will work to be sure they are, God willing.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Late Night TV Lessons

So watching late night tv this evening I realized something about the shows that I watch and why I watch them. I don't watch much tv, but the main show that I do watch is Stargate, both the SG-1 and Atlantis versions. I don't just enjoy the science, the special effects and the cheesy jokes... I realized I watch it for the leadership situations and what I can learn from them.

It's interesting because there are decisions that have to be made at multiple levels. Sometimes it's the leader in the field that has to make a split second decisions that affect more than just his (or her) team, but they affect the entire program, or the expedition. Some situations call for a show of force and others for an intricately negotiated peace treaty. Sometimes there are decisions that are made by those above you that you can attempt to influence, but the final say lies with someone who just may not understand how wrong the decision they are making is. Most, if not all decisions have lasting effects that will be felt by the rest of the team.

What I have been learning above all though, is that decisions have to be made. Decisons are not meant to be ignored, or thrust aside. Leaders delegate tasks, not decisions, and certainly not responsibilty.

The other show I've watched recently is the Cosby Show. Yes, the oft adored and nearly as often maligned Cosby Show. It should be obvious what I've be learning about... family and fatherhood.

I sometimes wonder if when Cosby was writing the episodes if he intentionally wrote in these lessons, or if they naturally come out of the situations that he sets up. Every interaction with his children, with his wife, with his parents, even with the neighbor kids next door... All of these are quasi-consciously analyzed and lessons are gleaned. How to motivate children to succeed, how to treat a wife, how to create a culture within the house of an open home... I could go on.

Of course, please understand all of this in context. None of this is taking place in a vacuum. I'm not just some coach potato lounging on my sofa (though that is my posture at this moment, heh) being spoonfed junk from the tube. All of this is related to the experience I had in college, in church, growing up with my family, and now in my own apartment and with my work. I am who I am because of how I was raised by my parents, the influence of teachers and professors, the way I pushed myself in school and my desire to know God more.

And finally, these lessons are not merely academic, but are fed into
the superprocessor that is the mind to be crunched, ruminated over,
and put into action in everyday life. Sometimes the lessons learned
are put into practice the next day at work, but other lessons will
wait for that nebulous time in the future when I will be a husband and
a father... Or who knows, maybe even a "pastor".

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