Monday, April 10, 2017

Biblical Chickens

Do you ever think less of yourself because you were too chicken to do something? Have you ever associated some of the people in the Bible with chicken status when they struggled in following through with what God was asking of them?

I think I can relate to many characters in the Bible. At one time or another I have failed just like they did. They serve as a reminder to me that God forgives huge failures and yet chooses to use the person again. Even those who knew God intimately and then screwed up – think of Peter, David, or Moses – were later used by God for greater things.

Once again the judge Gideon has my attention. Here's a young son trying to do needed work in a hidden way and an angel appears to him calling him by his as-of-yet-unaccomplished-but-soon-to-be title. Can you see Gideon looking over his shoulder for someone else in the area, and thinking, “Who are you talking about?” (Judges 6:12-13) Then he basically asked, oh I can so relate to this, “You want me to do what?” (6:14-15)

After God showed himself with the first testing Gideon was given his first task. But, being a chicken, he probably thought, “Fine, I’ll do it. But I’m going to do it at night when no one can see me.” And he did. (Judges 6:27)

Notice that God didn’t get angry with him because he did it in the dead of night. In fact, here's a surprise kicker, it was Gideon’s father who defended him when the village men wanted to kill him. (Judges 6:30-31) Where was Gideon you may ask? He was hiding in the house. Can you say chicken?

Have you ever had a chicken moment like that? Perhaps after saying something boldly you wanted to go hide? Like, you can’t believe you actually said something that stood in opposition to everyone else. And then wondered if you did the right thing? Or after following through with what you felt God was telling you to do or say, did you experience many at church stand against you? Now can you relate to Gideon? I know that chicken feeling.

I can’t fault Gideon for testing God with the fleece even after he was given the Spirit of God to act. (6:34-40) Following the rejection by the men in the village for tearing down his dad's altar that should never have been there in the first place, of course he would question his next assignment. Remember there's a piece of him that’s still thinking, “Should I do this?”

When all the men arrive after his call to battle, he has to be excited because he has thousands of men going with him to fight. (7:1) I'm sure he thought, “Yahoo. I don’t have to do this alone.” He probably found peace in this. Then, God tells Gideon he has too many men. So he allows the men who aren’t sure they should be there to go home. With several thousand men still left, he’s got to be thinking that he’s still good. (7:2-3)

But. Then. God tells him there are still too many. (7:4-5) Can you imagine the sinking feeling in his stomach? At this point he has to put his trust in God in a new way. So the number is whittled down to 300 men who passed the test. (7:6-7) And it’s through these few men that God takes down an army of tens of thousands of soldiers.

Who would have thought?

You know what this tells me? God has a way. Even when I don’t see a way that things will work. Even when I think I don’t have what it takes to do the job. Even when the people around me disagree or are in opposition to what I understand God wants of me, God has a way. God took a man who was afraid to stand up to others, who questioned everything told to him, who was fearful he wasn't hearing correctly and made him into a strong judge over his people. I’m so glad I have Gideon as an example that with God all things are possible.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

One BIG Step

Years ago...strike that...decades ago, God called me to write a book. You may think I dragged my feet in answering this call but I worked at it in varying speeds throughout the years. My starting point was quite low. I was awful.

I know this because I read some of my earlier writings one day and it was BAD. But, I put those aside and kept at it.  Well, long story short, after a "broken road of traveling" the book is finally here.

In many ways it is still surreal.  And, yet, here I am with my first novel. I feel a sense of accomplishment. Relief that I have finally completed the first step in what God has called me to do.

I hope you take the time to look into the book and that you enjoy it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Family Ties

Relatives...we all have them. The Bible is big on relatives. There are even chapters dedicated to informing us of lineages. As for myself, I often gloss over these long lists of names of who begat who. It's overwhelming and dry for me. Repeatedly, I have to tell myself that those names are there for a purpose. Sometimes the reason pops up at me and sometimes it doesn't. All the same, I have to admit, it can be hard to get through the lists.

So what's my point about relatives? Shortly after the lineage of Noah is given (Genesis 10-11) Abraham comes into the picture under the name Abram. In Chapter 13 he makes a strange statement that stood out to me. Abram tells Lot in verse 8, "...for we are close relatives". That got my mind rolling. Why would looking over the land remind Abram that they were close relatives?

If we don't read through the laundry list of names we miss the mention of how the enemies of the Israelites were distant family. I often thought the Canaanites (Genesis 10:6, 17-19) and the Philistines (Genesis 10:14) were totally unrelated to the Israelites. I have no idea where I thought they came from, but all the same I thought they were strangers to the people of God.

But when mankind was given a second chance at life after the flood, man from that point on was related to one another. Then there came the Tower of Babel. In that one night, families became strangers and yet they were still relatives. Ah, the birth of strange family ties.

If you look at who was alive at that time and how far down the lineage Abram was, you realize that not much time had passed. So as he walked through the promised land, he was walking around the land owned by distant relatives. Ah, sometimes distant relatives can be people who interest us to a point we wish we could be more like them. Then there are those we wish would go away. The idea of being related to people who act, think, or look so differently from us can be hard to swallow. This is where I think we find Abram in Chapter 13. While Abram may not have understood the Canaanite people around him, he knew of them as family – distant family. That's why he reminded Lot they were close relatives.

It's interesting that these distant relatives fought each other over land and possessions. And then as time passed, these family ties melted away and they no longer saw each other as related in any way. Keeping peace between nations was not always an easy task - the Bible is full of battles that prove that point.

What's even more interesting is that through Jesus we become close relatives again. The family of God, right? But, it's more than a blood thing. It's a unification through the Spirit of God. We can meet a stranger for the first time and feel the bond of the Spirit uniting us in conversation and action. Giving us that feeling that we have known each other for years. God's plan brings us back to the way family ties should be.