The Problem – and Pressure – With Wanting a King

pressure

It doesn’t matter how old we are, we feel the pressure of peers. It happened to the Israelites and it happens to us. It’s our natural bent to look about us and see what others are doing. We watch not only what they are doing, but how they are doing it. Before we know it, we are following their lead and playing copy-cat instead of basing our decisions on what God is asking us to do.

It happened to the Israelites and it became their downfall. God had a plan to govern His people through prophets, judges, and priests, a theocracy. His plan did not include an earthly king.

This wasn’t good enough for the Israelite people. They looked around them at the other countries on all sides. You know what they noticed? They saw that those people had a KING. How could God ask them to be different from others? They allowed themselves to feel the pressure of their own families and tribes.

Those people got along just fine by having a king. Why couldn’t they have one, too? Obviously, they knew better than God – or so it would seem. Why else would they have insisted – no, demanded that God gives them a king?! They looked around and got caught up in the peer pressure snare.

Samuel’s sons had been appointed as judges, but they were failing badly. The people told Samuel, “Give us a  king like all the other nations!” You can read the entire story here.

Finally, God told Samuel to give them a king. He said, “Samuel, this isn’t about their rejection of you. No, they are rejecting Me.”

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It was more important to these people to be like those around them than to follow God’s order and His prescription for their government and tabernacle. It was more important that they not be different from others than that they learn to know His heart.

I’m shaking my head reading this scripture again, yet I know I’ve been guilty of the same. These people just wanted to be like all the other nations.

Sadly, we can find ourselves being just like the Children of Israel.

How many of us choose a church, a community, a calendar or a career by looking around at others instead of going to the Word of God to learn what He has to say about these decisions? How many of us find it so hard to be different that we sometimes don’t even tell people the real reason why we’re not going someplace or participating in an event? How many of us succumb to the pressure of our peers or our family?

How many of us make decisions about how to do things based on what others are doing instead of searching scripture? Instead of influencing those around us positively, we are allowing ourselves to be influenced by folks who have no heart for God. Instead of learning to know His heart, we follow others and assume that the path they’re taking is right and good. Sometimes we simply don’t want to be different or to have to stand against the tide.

Swimming upstream is hard and can be lonely at times. Peer Pressure is never fun.

I’ve often wondered what the nation of Israel would be like today if the people had never looked around at other nations, wanting to be like them. What would have happened if they had followed God’s original plan for their nation?

These people thought they had an enlightenment and an entitlement. They were wrong because they based their enlightenment on others instead of seeking the heart of God.

What decisions are we making today that will affect future generations? Are we looking around us to see how we can become like others, or are we investing our energy in learning to know the true heart of God? If other families or churches are “successful”, do we try to copy their way of doing things or do we measure their methods with the plumb line of God’s Word? Are we running after Him or are we running to keep up with the pressure we feel from those around us?

Are we praying, “Let me be like You” or are we praying,”Let me be like others because I don’t want to be different!”?

Are we inclined, because of pressure, to drop our guard and “expand our horizons” even though it takes us to places we should not go?

Are we committed to seeking His heart above all other pressures we face each day?

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Those Last Tenths of a Mile Before Heaven Began

 

before Heaven

It’s the route that we take when we remember those lives before Heaven.

The roads on this route are full of curves and hills. Each homeowner/store owner remembers those days in 1998 and 2011. We do, too.

A few weeks ago when Dave traveled out of town for a meeting, he mapped out the route we’d take this Saturday for the annual Jerrel Good/Paul Slabach Memorial Bike Ride.  (You can read more about the people in this event here.) He stopped at each place we’ll visit and scouted the surrounding area for safety issues for the two dozen bikers who will be on this ride. He’d taken his weed eater and trimmed around the edges of the bank where the cross we’d place a few years ago could hardly be seen for the weeds and brambles.

Dave took the time to cross the road to visit with the store owner – who recognized him and marked his calendar for the event this year – June 17, 2017.

before Heaven

Because he traveled the route alone, Dave had a lot of time to think.  If you know Dave, you’ll know he’s a thinker, and you’ll understand how this route caused him to think. I wasn’t with him, but I am as sure as I can be that he also cried.

On Sunday when he continued his messages on the Lord’s Prayer and shared from Thy Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven,  he shared. That poignant sharing came from the depths of his heart.

We see life on this earth from our human perspective. As parents, we want to offer the best for our kids. We want their happiness, their health, and their success, and strive to help them achieve those goals.  Then, when “bad things happen to good people,” we don’t get it because we’re looking from our perspective as parents and not from the perspective that our Heavenly Father sees. The Eternal View.

“I watched the odometer as I neared the crash sites.  These guys had no idea that they were nearing the place where God would call them Home in a matter of minutes. They had no idea, but God knew. Five-tenths . . .  four-tenths . . . three-tenths . . . two-tenths . . .  one tenth, and BAM!  It was over.”

As he recounted those scenes, he cried. So did we.

“But THEN I remembered that it wasn’t over. It was only the beginning!”

That is why we ride.

This Saturday when we ride, we’ll certainly be remembering. We will remember the ripping rawness, the horrendous ache, the harrowing questions, and definite uncertainty. We will remember asking Why? over and over again.

This side of Heaven, life often doesn’t make sense – and sometimes it’s so unfair. Before Heaven, we wrestle and we groan.

Then comes Heaven – where there are no more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow. Where the old things will be passed away and all things will be new.

I’ve learned that when we answer the questions of our kids – and even questions of our own – it helps solidify our faith. We find answers to our own questions when we have to contemplate the ones others are asking.

This I also know: we can look back and see that God continues to be good, even when life hurts and doesn’t make sense. We know that His will is done here on earth – as it is in Heaven. Truly, reaching Heaven is really what this life is about.

before Heaven

 

So we ride and we remember. We will not forget the ache, the sorrow, or the pain.

 

before Heaven

before Heaven

 

Yet, more importantly, we will remember the faithfulness of the God we serve.

We have traced His hand in the years since Heaven claimed our guys.

This we will remember: that our God has been faithful.

And He is always eternally good.

 

 

 

 

 

Pinterest Before Heaven

Farming in the Boy and the One Who Owns The Cattle

farming

Farming. You can take the boy off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy. I’ve seen that in my man.

Dave would like nothing better than to be baling hay all day and helping calves and lambs take their first steps into the world. For a few years, he got his dream of farming. He managed two different cattle farms with hundreds of cattle and acres on which to make hay. We liked farming and farm life and thought maybe we’d be doing that forever.

Then things happened and the farming opportunity was over. Even though he was offered several positions on other farms in the state, we knew they weren’t for him because of the location and because of our growing family. So we moved, and Dave gave up farming and started doing construction.

The man grew up on a farm and worked in his father’s construction business. The farm was a side project and construction kept the family clothed and fed. He was the second of eight, and whenever the choice was given to work with Pop on construction for a day or stay home and work the farm, he chose the farm. Always. Little wonder then that he missed farming – and still does. Yet he’s content with the occupation he has. It isn’t without frustration, I know.

“I used to head to work every day and ask God to give me a heart for construction or to let me go back to farming. I knew if I was going to be doing this to provide for my family, I needed to be able to enjoy it,” he says.

You know what? In time, Dave grew to love construction and the flexibility that being self-employed gave him. When our kids had special events at school or I needed help with doctors visits with foster kids, he could take off work without any worries.

farming

So from time to time, we’ve kept cattle on the few open acres we own.  For years, our kids showed in the Halifax County Junior Livestock Show where they learned valuable lessons about dependability, responsibility, and caring for their animals. This gave Dave the opportunity to enjoy having cattle here as well as having a fun family project. To read about halter-breaking heifers, you can go here. 

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Tim, his first heifer and his sponsor, the late Dr. Ward, who delivered our son and saved his life.

A few years back we sold Roscoe, the 2300-lb. bull and got rid of the cattle. Then last fall Dave chose some new heifers to start raising cattle again. He also purchased Duke, who promised to be a good sire for never-before-bred heifers.

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Duke checks out his newborn while Mama watches.

The farmer who sold the bull promised to keep him until Dave was ready to have him added to the pasture with the heifers. All was well until the day Dave decided to move the electric fence further back to give the heifers more grass. He dropped the fence and walked to the end of the pasture to unhook the other end of the fence, expecting the heifers to forage right there among the fresh, new grass. Five minutes later he was back and discovered that the heifers had disappeared.

Dave followed their hoof prints to the edge of the woods where they vanished –  just like the cattle. So he walked through our woods, then through our neighbor’s, then onto the next farm, searching for signs, and found nothing. How could six heifers disappear so quickly and so completely?!

Those heifers had headed to the woods – only this time, I wasn’t the one to blame! (You can read about that here.)

For three days, he walked the neighboring pastures, drove miles along all the neighboring farms, talked to farm owners and property owners. No one had seen those heifers. Dave walked miles those days but it was in vain.

Finally, we printed up flyers about the missing heifers and left our contact number at the country store just across the road. We handed out flyers to neighbors while our sons and cousins came and helped walked the same places Dave had walked.

Then we went out of town. I wondered at my man this time. I wondered how he could just leave and not be worried about one of them getting out on the road and causing an accident. I wondered if we were crazy to leave town with six heifers missing.

“This is a lesson in how not to worry,” Dave told me. “God knows where those cattle are, and since He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He can take care of them. They’re not my heifers. They are His. Besides, since there are six of them, it’s not likely they will start wandering the roads. They’re probably holed up somewhere with some other cattle. Worrying isn’t going to bring them back.”

After he had done all that he could do (which included a lot of praying), he left it with the One Who really does own the cattle on a thousand hills – including six heifers lost somewhere in the Cluster Springs area of Halifax County.

And I wondered why these fool-hardy heifers had to disappear just when it seemed Dave was going to get his chance to farm as a hobby again. If we lost those heifers, there would be no way we’d be able to buy any others.

We left Sunday afternoon and returned Tuesday evening.

Dave felt compelled to go check a farm where he’d seen a bunch of cattle the week before. Sure enough, there they were – all six of them. The farm owner doesn’t live there and the renters didn’t notice the extra cattle.

Twenty-four hours later, the heifers were back home. This spring, five of the six produced healthy calves. The barren one is named Hannah. We sit on the deck in the evenings watching the calves play and frolic in the pasture. Then we remember how nearly it might not have been, and how blessed we are that the lost were returned. We remember that it wasn’t worrying that brought them home. And we remember how easy it is to forget what might have been – and how often we fail to give thanks.

farming

Photo credit: Rebekah Slabach

The dream of farming was lost for many years; now, even though we’re not truly farming, we have enough to enjoy and to be at peace and at rest.

Pinterest Farming in the Boy

 

 

 

What King Saul, Adolf Hitler, Global Warming, and Kathy Griffin Have in Common

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Call it natural, common, or sin nature, we all have it and exhibit it in one way or another.

We are broken people. For some of us, it’s more subtle. We’re followers of Jesus, and our intent is to serve Him even though there are times when we fall so short of who He has called us to be. For others, it’s blatant, in-your-face irreverence and disrespect for God and His Word. There isn’t a person around who doesn’t like to be in charge or in control of at least one (or more) aspects of his/her life. Every one of us, if we chose, could have taken the path of Saul, Hitler, or Griffin. We all have a choice.

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King Saul 

The first king of Israel had a problem, and it wasn’t because he started out wrong. Saul was tall and the most handsome man in Israel (which has nothing to do with character, I know.) Saul was also so humble that he actually hid among the baggage when the people wanted to meet him.

Then life happened and Saul started accumulating wealth and wives and concubines. Now he was no longer humble and reserved. Now he wanted power. When that young shepherd boy was chosen (by God) to be the next king, Saul couldn’t handle it. He wanted that man dead and took it upon himself to try to make it happen.

Oh Saul, Saul – how could you not see that if God said David would be the next king, then he would be?

Saul spent years hunting down David, repenting of his sin once and then going right back to the hunt again. Instead of sitting back and recognizing that it was his own sin that cost him the kingdom, he was on a rampage to try to finagle things his own way. Sadly, he lost. He ended up committing suicide in battle. No matter his wealth or his women, he couldn’t change what God said was going to be. David, not one of Saul’s sons, became the next king just as God said it would be.

Adolf Hitlercommon

For whatever reason, Hitler hated the Jews. It’s common for people to choose one sect or race that they feel is superior.  It’s also wrong.

Hitler considered the Jewish race less than human and set out to annihilate them. Citizens, generals, and countries joined forces in order to help Hitler promote the “perfect” race. If they had taken the time to read Scripture, they would have known it was a lost cause. Oh sure, they killed many Jews – but that race was not annihilated because God promised thousands of years ago that these people were His people and that He would protect them. God promised Abraham that his descendants would be that group of people. He promised to bless those who bless His people and curse those who curse them.  I recognize that it’s common for folks to deny the truth of Scripture and to deny the existence of God. It doesn’t change the fact, and denying His existence didn’t change the promise of God that He would protect those people because He had chosen them to be HIS people. It should not surprise us that Hitler lost. He ended up committing suicide when he knew defeat of his Nazi regime was at the door. No matter his expertise, his vision, his following, he couldn’t change what God said was going to be.

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Global Warming

How many years has it been since we’ve heard dire warnings about the collapse of this earth?

It’s common for scientists to study the environment and come up with predictions about future climate, population, and hunger. Yet countries aren’t slipping under the ocean and, while there is a serious shortfall of food in some parts of the world, the world supply of food is sufficient for everyone. Sadly, not everyone has access to that food, but it’s there. It’s true that there are countries where there is overpopulation – yet the fact remains that there is no need to build skyscrapers (as I heard predicted when I was a kid) so the land surface would not be overcrowded. There is room for everyone to live. One need only Google this subject to find opinions as widespread as the oceans. It hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t think it will. That’s because I get my reference from the Master of Science and Creation.

You know what God said about this? After Noah’s flood, He promised that, as long as the earth remains, seasons will remain. It’s true that we experience warmer or colder weather depending on where we live; it’s true that in some places winters aren’t as severe as they used to be.

You know what I think? I think global warming is job security for some folks and a cause of worry for others.  You know what else? It’s something I don’t worry about because God said.

God promised, over 4,000 years ago that, as long as the earth remains, cold, heat, summer and winter will continue. Seedtime and harvest will not stop. That’s why I’m not concerned about global warming. I’m not a scientist, an engineer or a mathematician. I don’t need to be one to know this: God’s Word doesn’t change. If He said that seasons will follow each other and that summer and winter will continue, then they will.

Kathy Griffin

It’s common for hurting people to hurt people.

That’s common because it’s part of our sin nature. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, a psychiatrist or a theologian to figure that one out. We see proof around us all the time. It appears that Griffin does not have a relationship with Jesus except to lambast His name when she has an opportunity.

In accepting her Emmy award, she dissed Jesus when she said, “I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus . . . . this reward is my god now!”

From listening to her speech, it seems that she’s quite passionate about her dislike for Jesus. And her audience?  If laughter shows support, then they surely give it. In Griffin’s Bible Belt tour, her words have to be bleeped out frequently and we know why that is. The audience is seen and heard laughing [you can Google youtube for this; I can’t bear to post the link here]. It’s not just the comedian who is wrong; those who laugh at her speech and her language are equally at fault.

The day will come when empty, hurting people who are championed as comedians now will bow their knees to Jesus. I know this because God says so. 

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We can laugh all we want now. We can try to finagle our way around what God says, but in the end, our denial will be our downfall. What we think and feel doesn’t change God’s Word one iota. We need only look at King Saul and Adolf Hitler to see that. In time, the outcry about Global Warming will change because people will see that God is the sustainer of this universe. Certainly, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the earth; however, mankind will not destroy the earth. God will when His plan is fulfilled. In time, Ms. Griffin will answer to the God who created her and she will bend her knee at the name of Jesus because God said so.

Every one of us will do the same.

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Our brilliance, our brains, our money, our wealth, and our prestige will only take us down if we are not anchored in Jesus. Our commonality is our sin nature. What we do about it is our choice, and ours alone.

One day, the broken and empty will be restored and whole. One day, every knee will bow.

God said it, I believe it, and that settles it for me.

Pinterest have in common

To hear Ruth Dente sing the song “God Said It, I Believe It,” you can click here.