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Friday, June 6, 2014

The Hidden Idol: A Journey Through Samuel

This is part of a Journey Through Samuel blog series I started. One of my children recently brought up these books in conversation as their university is asking them to read this (along with some secular publications) for an assignment. However, it left me thinking of these books again and I decided I would take my own journey; not a literary one or historical one, but a spiritual one. I'm eager to see what new things He has to teach me through His Word as I journey through 1st and 2nd Samuel again; chapter by chapter. Join me.

1 Samuel 2

There is much we can glean from this second chapter, and much I have. However I decided to reflect on one particular verse that drew my attention. Early on we learn that Eli's sons are nothing to rave about, and in fact the Bible mentions them as worthless, because they did not know God. Worth seemingly is tied directly to knowing our Creator. Without that knowledge, our worth is worldly, passing, and terminal. However knowing Him, even being sinful and full of faults, we then can experience true and eternal worth. However, that's not the passage that I reflected on this time through.

Later in the Chapter, God also rebukes Eli:
Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ (1 Samuel 2:29 ESV)
Clearly, while Eli's sons may have shown their greed, he too partook. After they took what was not theirs, their father enjoyed the spoils of their sinful actions as well. Perhaps he wished to rebuke them, perhaps he wished they hadn't taken part in sin, and perhaps he didn't want to eat with them ... but he did. Temptation, fear of conflict, love for his children, whatever the reason, he chose to honor his sons above what he knew was right, and dishonored God.

Children can become an idol.

Often times a rebuke, correction, or disciplinary action can be very difficult, but we must choose His will. Luke 12:51 reminds us that Christ did not come to bring peace, but rather division. His life, sacrifice, and resurrections leaves us with a choice. A line in the sand has been drawn. Division has been declared. We are for Him, or against Him. We must choose.

When our child stands against God's will, we must lovingly stand with Christ, and pray that they have the strength to choose life for themselves. We grant them no favor encouraging them down a path of sin and destruction. We grant them no favor giving them smiles if we should be giving them warnings.

I do not think that Eli was completely unable to control this situation. I think that their actions could have been different had a firm but loving hand been placed on them at a younger age. Why? Because they "did not know God". Eli had sons that did not know God ...
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:7-9 ESV)
How is this possible? Clearly there was something being missed ... a home of legalism? Perhaps he was so wrapped up in his role that he abandoned one of his most important ministries, his family? Whatever the case, I sadly feel it could have been different.

Let not our love for our children be so misguided that we think that love does not come with rebuke.  Let not fear of rejection or conflict have us sitting on the sidelines as our children go astray. May we be active and loving, but always hold Him up in all we do, and never let our children forget who they are before their King; masterpieces.

Our children becoming idols does not stem from love, it stems from pride. May we love our children, not create idols out of them.

His,
~Matthew

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Release: A Journey Through Samuel

This is part of a Journey Through Samuel blog series I started. One of my children recently brought up these books in conversation as their university is asking them to read this (along with some secular publications) for an assignment. However, it left me thinking of these books again and I decided I would take my own journey; not a literary one or historical one, but a spiritual one. I'm eager to see what new things He has to teach me through His Word as I journey through 1st and 2nd Samuel again; chapter by chapter. Join me.

1 Samuel 1

Just this first chapter introduces issues such as polygamy in the house of Elkanah, preferential treatment, jealousy, and even a prophet (Eli) who shows his weakness in the flesh as he makes wrongful accusations. We could talk about the possible lack of trust in God which caused Elkanah to seek another wife, we could talk about the complexities that this caused with the mistreatment of individuals involved, and we could talk about self-righteous behavior and pride that gets in the way even with a man of God. 

However, I just want to talk about a smile!

Hannah, who could not have any children, felt the burden of judgement and lack of worth. Seeing her husband, likely take up another wife due to that very reason, and then his 2nd wife mistreat her was difficult I'm sure. Yet there was something that changed her perspective as we read: 
"Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad." (1 Samuel 1:18b ESV)

Her face was no longer sad ... perhaps she smiled for the first time in a very long time.

     What was it?
 
Hope

She left blessed, and full of hope, that God would one day open her womb, and she would give birth to a child. I'm sure this wasn't the first time she prayed, but I'm sure this time it was different. There was no mention of a quick conception, in fact it seems like it was a while. In due time we are told in Scripture she did. Yet, her sadness left her that moment; or should I say, she left her sadness behind. 

I am prompted to ask myself what sadness I need to leave behind. I am prompted to ask myself where I need to place hope in my life. Where I am not letting go? Thankfully, I need not seek a prophet for a blessing as I have one from The King Himself. My hope is well placed, may I have the confidence to place it in Him more each day ...

Exchanging sadness for the Joy of the Lord,
~Matthew

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Filling Cracks


Ah, pothole season! Sometimes it takes a harsh winter on our roads for us to realize where those cracks are as they become exposed, opened wider, and in need of repair. I feel like I've been on journey these past 18 months as well, a winter of my own, that has seen me through some personal challenges. As I feel like I'm beginning to exit this winter, I too am surveying some cracks that were revealed, and in need of Repair.

For the past several days something has been placed on my heart that I want to address; social networking. While the topic of balancing and managing time spent in an electronic environment is not new, and almost exhaustively written about, I thought I'd share a bit of my own ponderings as I think my application is a bit different. So how is it different?

It's about cracks, fractures in my time each day.

I could talk about limiting time, the benefits of it, the obstruction it can cause, the amount of noise there is out there; but I want to focus on the tiny cracks in my time. The tiny cracks that find me on an elevator, in line at the store, waiting at a red light, waiting for my food to arrive at a restaurant, waiting on a friend, and perhaps even waiting (sitting?) in the bathroom!

These cracks are very often spent thumbing through my phone on some/most social networking sites.

I do like to set aside some quiet time each night to spend reflecting on Truth, my Creator, and His Word. However, the cracks in my day (and there are many) are simply filled with noise when they could be filled with Him. 
I sit here and try to imagine a day where I did things the other way around. Perhaps I take some time in the evening to relax, flip through some social sites, news, catch up with some people, share a few laughs, tears, and pictures. Yet that same day found me in the elevator scrolling through a Gospel. It found me waiting in line catching a few verses from Paul that could change my perspective. It found me at the restaurant table reading through some prophecies. It found me at a red light singing a psalm to myself in the car ...

What a different day that would be!

I certainly am not suggesting to replace quality study time with slivers of time, I'm just suggesting that perhaps those slivers of time, filled with Him, would glue my entire day together in love, peace, and joy.

Social networking isn't evil; it's quite relevant to how we communicate today. While apps may make it easy for me to flip through Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, IG, there are also apps to make it easy to dive into His Word, prayer, and reflection. So I decided to make a minor tweak to my phone ... and one in my head!
  1. Move social sites off my home screen
  2. Remember why I moved social sites off my home screen
So I sat down outside for a few minutes with a couple of my children, and grabbed my phone ... my thumb didn't find Facebook, it found Luke. It also found me having a quick discussion. As I read the passage aloud, my son who wandered next to me asked and reflected with me. My youngest daughter just looked at my phone screen, and watched and listened as I read ...

Filling in the cracks ...

His,
~Matthew

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