1 Samuel 16:1—The LORD said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected a king from his sons.”
2 John 6—And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love.
The first Biblical reference to love God is recorded in Exodus 20:6. Moses teaches the Israelites to keep God’s commands and thereby demonstrate their love for Him. So, when John defines love in his letter to his readers, he is not sharing with them a new concept. But, as we all know, it is hard to walk in love with God. How do we strengthen willpower to be better God-lovers and, in the process, improve loving others and ourselves?
Jesus in the final hours before getting arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane asked eight of the disciples to sit while he prayed. Then He took Peter, James and John with him further into the garden. Disclosing His anguish to His three closest friends, He asked them to stay awake with Him. Then He went a little further and fell face down on the ground to pray. When He returned to the three he found them sleeping. He confronted Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn’t you stay awake one hour?” (vs. 37)
In 1969 the Japanese reported their first case of karoshi—death from overwork. More recently about 10,000 Japanese die annually for reasons attributed to karoshi. If that is a frightening statistic for an island of high achievers, one can only wonder how many die for the same reasons in the United States where even longer work hours are kept! King Solomon once wrote, “Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me. For everything is futile and a pursuit of the wind (Ecclesiastes 7:22). I wonder how many people die each year hating what they do or full of anxiety because work has not brought them the pleasure and meaning in life they so desperately sought.
Tuesday morning I was sitting next to two students in a van as we headed off towards our classes. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. The guy shared with the gal about how he was staying in a motel in Hawaii one time and saw a centipede in his room. He was told that they can bite and cause quite an infection and so it concerned him. That night as he was ready to go to sleep, he saw a gecko, an indigenous lizard. He did not realize that it is a good thing to have a lizard in his room (they eat bugs). Unnerved and unable to sleep, he had the person at the front desk move him to another room.
Last Saturday I bartered for a Sheltie puppy (5 cases of dehydrated food [MREs], two music stands and an old amplifier)! I brought the 10-week-old, tri-color pup home from Silverton, Oregon and he and Hero, our Lab puppy, are fast becoming best friends. Hero is about 55 pounds larger, but that does not seem to intimidate our newest addition—Saber. It is hilarious watching them joust and wrestle and playfully bite.
We’ve tried hard to sell our house in Tigard but to no avail. For over a year it sat vacant. Have you ever had times when a nagging notion persistently sits in your heart? I’ve had that notion—I believe God wants our house to be used for ministry. So, with hesitant concurrence from my wife, we decided to deepen our risk factor. 12350 SW Tiedeman became a spiritual oasis, a shelter for the homeless and refuge for the hurting.
Recently, I spoke to about 400 men on the topic of unwinding. I could not find the word unwind in Scripture, but its synonyms relax and rest are plentiful throughout God’s Word. There is a strong theological foundation for rest. Did you know that God modeled unwinding? Genesis 2:2—“ By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done.”
Have you ever wondered much about your soul, what it is, it’s purpose, etc.?
There are four common theories as to the soul’s origin. They are:
1. Traducianism—our soul and body come from our parents (Lutheran and Eastern Orthodox Churches).
2. Preexistence of all souls (Origen and Mormons)
3. Reincarnation (Hinduism)
4. Creationism—God creates a fresh soul for each body (Roman Catholics and most reformed theologians)
Do you ever have times where the zoom and vroom of life flows so unrelentingly that to celebrate what should be sacred somehow seems more of an inconvenience? I was talking to a friend recently, and he commented on how people are so busy that there just seems to be little to no interest in preparing for Easter. I found myself nodding in agreement, for the same thoughts filled my mind. But I was the culprit! There was no escaping the fact that I’d rather just have a nice quiet day to myself than plan events that might minister to those coming to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.
One day Jesus asked His disciples to go with Him across the lake. So they got in a boat and begin crossing the Sea of Galilee when a fierce storm without warning hit them. I love this story of adventure and danger for the lessons it teaches us.
Growing up we moved a lot. One of the fun challenges of moving was trying to figure out how to fit everything into the U-Haul truck. Watching my Dad, I learned three important principles for packing a truck. First, evaluate what needs to be moved. Whatever is heaviest or large gets packed first (or on the bottom) and some things just need to be left behind or given away. Second, to protect the back from injury, always lift from the legs when carrying heavy or awkward objects. Third, work as a team—don’t try to carry something that is too heavy alone. I suspect those principles have spiritual applications.
There is weariness in the kingdom of God that should evoke more than yawns. Many of God’s servants have lost their energy. Mornings of zest have become dreary sunrises. Bitterness saps the strength of the bewildered saints who feel God has abandoned them. Depression steals the first love that made spiritual life so potent. The power of God that once flowed so smoothly has been shut off at the plant of fatigue.
I once lived in Point Loma, a beautiful community in San Diego. The condominium my family lived in was located below the flight path of airplanes taking off from the San Diego Airport. Often during the day we would have to stop all conversation and wait. It was useless to talk because all words were buried beneath the explosive roar of jets fighting to gain elevation. Pausing became a necessity for effective communication. There is a lesson hidden somewhere in that reality.
As a child, I suffered growing pains and often cried before finally drifting off. To this night, I often experience tight leg muscles or an overly active mind that makes it difficult to relax. Many times I have tossed and turned in frustration—unable to escape consciousness. Counting sheep never worked for me—I think it’s a math thing. One night in this predictably unpredictable occurrence, I sensed there was an issue I needed to pray over. Upon returning from the couch and time on my knees with God, something incredible happened—sleep came readily.
Matthew 11:28--Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Before going to sleep one night, Bryan asked his mom, about the seriousness of his brain-stem tumor. Through tears, he asked her, “Does this mean that I am going to die?” And so, we had the opportunity to share with our wonderful son the reality of death. He voiced the hope that Jesus would return before anything ever happened to his tumor. As best I could, I shared with him that even if his tumor were to grow, the reality is that he will be with Jesus and that is a wonderful thing to look forward to. Meanwhile, each day is a gift.
David Widerski, a pastor and friend, wrote as one of his resolutions before starting a new year, “To live each day as if it were my last.”
I wish everyone could take a seven-day hiatus into the wilderness. There are no phones to ring. Trees do not hold ticking clocks. The ground may be uncomfortable and the weather may be cold but the air is clean and perspectives change. Sitting around a campfire for hours, the mind begins to clear. Beads of stress from a culture of busyness evaporate under stars without competition from neon lights. The sound of a rushing river soothes the soul. The cries of a vigilant falcon pierce the air with the anthem of freedom.