Tag Archives: Solomon

Dancing with Joy – My Tuesday Three

I was on vacation all last week and did not have any time to read blogs, not even my favorites. I managed to post every day only because most of those posts were written and scheduled before I left. So once again My Tuesday Three will not showcase three blog posts. I promise I will get back to that, but I am thankful for more flexibility in discerning My Tuesday Three.

Yesterday as I thought about what to write, I came across a post by my fellow blogger Pastor Bryan Lowe titled Just One More Dance to Go. It got me thinking about how much I love to dance, and how dancing for the Lord is the best dance of all. I know there are some Christian denominations that frown upon dancing, but the Bible clearly indicates that dancing with the right attitude towards God is a good thing.

King David is one of the great figures of the Old Testament, considered a man after God’s own heart. David loved the Lord and did what was right in His sight. Although David did sin, when confronted with his sin David repented and sought God’s forgiveness. Scripture has this to say about David and dancing:

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart. 2 Samuel 6:14-16 (NIV).

I have always found it interesting that the Scriptures record Michal’s reaction to David’s dancing. As I read this passage, I see that God was pleased with David but not with Michal. To me, Michal represents those who don’t truly know the joy of the Lord as David did, and so despise and are jealous of those who have that joy and can express it outwardly as in dancing. Although dancing is an outward activity, it is the attitude of the heart that is most important.

David’s son Solomon was another great figure of the Old Testament. He prayed for wisdom and was granted his prayer and more. He shared much of his wisdom in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. One of the most well-known passages of Ecclesiastes also supports that dancing, at the appropriate time and with the right attitude, is a good thing.

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV).

Although I love to dance, I know that it is not always appropriate. One does not dance at a funeral or in a courtroom. One does not dance in history class or on the front lines of war. But when it is time to celebrate the blessings of the Lord such as a wedding or the birth of a child or the offer of a new job, then it is appropriate to dance. Even during a worship service in church I believe it can be appropriate to praise the Lord with dance. There is nothing cuter than to see a small child dancing in the aisle during an upbeat song at church.

Someday dancing before the Lord will be appropriate for all as we celebrate the blessings of the new heaven and new earth. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah wrote of a time when the Lord would return all of His people to Him, a time that is still yet to come.

For the LORD will ransom Jacob
   and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.
They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;
   they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD—
the grain, the new wine and the oil,
   the young of the flocks and herds.
They will be like a well-watered garden,
   and they will sorrow no more.
Then maidens will dance and be glad,
   young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
   I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
Jeremiah 31:11-13 (NIV).

The Lord Jesus has already come to ransom Jacob (Israel). The time will come when all the children of Abraham, including the Gentiles who have been grafted in, will be gathered to the Lord. All “will dance and be glad.” Oh, what a dance that will be, filled with the joy of the Lord, when sorrow will be no more. That is the dance Pastor Bryan looks forward to in his post. It is the dance I look forward to as well. In the meantime, I’ll keep dancing with joy to celebrate the blessings of our God.

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Friends

Where would we be without friends? Life just wouldn’t be the same without them. Friends are there when you need someone to talk to. They send you nice e-cards that arrive at just the right time after a hard day, even though they don’t even know how much you would need it. They laugh with you and cry with you. They help you figure things out when you don’t know what to do.

There was a time in my life, long ago, that I didn’t really feel like I had many friends. If I was struggling with a problem, I didn’t know who to call. And I was afraid to call the people I did know because I wasn’t sure they would want to talk to me.

But then someone who considered me a friend invited me to a Bible study, tried to bring me out of my shell. It took time, but one day I realized that God loved me enough to die for me, so that I could be with Him for eternity. Then it dawned on me that if I was good enough for the Creator of the Universe to love me so, then perhaps mere mortals could like, or even love, me too.

Now I don’t know what I would do without my friends. They are there for me when I need a day away from the daily grind. They are there when I need a shoulder to cry on or just want someone to bounce an idea off of. They are there to go with me when I need a pedicure or want to go to farmers’ market or clothes shopping. They are there when I just want to have lunch and be with friends. They are there to comment on my blog when I need a bit of encouragement.

One of my best, true friends sent me an email the other day about a Stanford psychiatry professor who taught his class about the importance of friendship to women. The email said:

One of the best things [a woman] could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends. Physically this “quality girlfriend time” helps us to create more serotonin– a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. 
     
Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. [Men] rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going.  Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters, and evidently that is very good for our health.  He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.
     
There’s a tendency to think that when we are “exercising” we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged– not true.  In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking! 

But we don’t need modern psychology to tell us that it is good to have friends. Solomon wrote about the importance of friends in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

9 Two are better than one,
       because they have a good return for their work:

 10 If one falls down,
       his friend can help him up.
       But pity the man who falls
       and has no one to help him up!

 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
       But how can one keep warm alone?

 12 Though one may be overpowered,
       two can defend themselves.
       A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Friends love you even when you aren’t perfect, just like Jesus does. True Christian friends are the best, because they understand you aren’t perfect, but they forgive you when you mess up. Plus you can spend time sharing about how much God loves you and them and what He has been doing in your lives. Christian friends will also pray for you and with you when you need it most, even if you don’t know you need it. I am so grateful for all of my friends. They are a wonderful gift from God.

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A Heart Longing for Eternity

This morning I was listening to my Christian music playlist on my iPod while I was getting ready for the day. A song I have only heard a few times came on and at first I didn’t recognize it. It is by the Australian Christian rock band Revive from the recently released CD Blink. It’s called “Welcome to Eternity.” The first verse and chorus are:

Oh we sat around and talked for hours
About our dreams and the future in our power
Oh such fools we were
To ever think that this was it
To think ourselves as permanent
And forget the immanent

And inside the tears rose
As I pray for your soul
Oh what can I say?
To make sure that you believe
On the day you receive
Your welcome to eternity

Before the line “Oh such fools we were” I was crying uncontrollably. My heart was aching and I felt this terrible burden in my soul.

You see, I have several very old friends who don’t know Jesus as their Savior. They know what I believe, but they have chosen a different path. I want to share the joy of my faith with them, I want to know what I can say to make sure they believe when they receive their welcome to eternity, but the words never come. But I do pray for them regularly and earnestly.

God has given all of us freewill, including my friends. In our society today, we are supposed to just let people believe what they want to and not try to “impose our beliefs” on others. But I wonder, if my friends were walking towards a cliff, about to fall off, and I knew it but they had chosen to believe land would continue on across the chasm ahead, wouldn’t I tell them? Wouldn’t I warn them? Wouldn’t I feel it was so urgent that they be saved from this danger that I would call out, “Stop, wait, don’t go that way!”

As a Christian, I feel this same sense of urgency about the direction my non-Christian friends have taken. The older I get, the closer we get to our “welcome to eternity,” the greater the urgency. I grieve over the thought of spending that eternity without some of my best and dearest friends. The time I get to spend with them in this short life is not enough. It’s just not enough.

King Solomon wrote: “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11. Writing before the cross, Solomon went on to say, “So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.” Ecclesiastes 3:12-13. This side of the cross, the human heart still longs for eternity. At least I know mine does. And I long for that eternity in the company of all of my friends and family. So I will continue to pray for their souls and perhaps God will give me the right words to share with them.

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Is Servant Leadership an Oxymoron?

Are you in a leadership position? Do you administer a ministry in your church? Do you manage a group of employees for your job? Do you have kids that you are called to lead and train? If you think about it, most people are in a leadership position of some sort, whether it be large or small. We may not all be CEOs of multi-billion dollar corporations, but most of us are in charge of directing someone else at one time or another.

The Bible provides some great insight for effective leadership. Last night I was reading the story of when King Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, became king of all Israel after Solomon’s death. The people came to King Rehoboam complaining of the heavy burden King Solomon had put on them and asking that he lessen their burden, saying they would always be loyal if he did. Before he answered the people, King Rehoboam sought the advice of his father’s wise elder advisors.

They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” 1 Kings 12:7.

King Rehoboam also sought advice from his younger advisors.

The young men who had grown up with him replied, “Tell these people who have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter’ -tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist.  My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’ ” 1 Kings 12:10-11.

Ultimately, King Rehoboam took the advice of his young friends and did not heed the advise of the wise elders. The result was that the people revolted and he lost all of the kingdom of Israel except Judah. After King David had served the people of Israel so well for so long, “only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David” after King Rehoboam took the throne. 1 Kings 12:20b.

Servant leadership is a hard concept to grasp. As one in power, it is easy to be filled with the pride of leadership and seek to succeed on the backs of those one leads. This is often seen in industry and business in our society, as CEOs get rich while the pay and benefits afforded to the workers is slashed.

But servant leadership is exactly what Jesus modeled. Although He was God incarnate and clearly their superior, Jesus became the disciples’ servant when He washed their feet at the last supper before His death. See John 13:1-17. Even after His resurrection, Jesus continued to be a servant leader to the disciples. As they hauled in a miraculous catch of fish, He was on the shore building a fire and cooking them breakfast. See John 21:1-14. It seems that the disciples should have been making breakfast for their risen Lord, but Jesus was the kind of servant leader who turned such thoughts on their heads.

When He knew that the disciples had been arguing about who was the greatest, Jesus said something to them that has always intrigued me:

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.

 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:33-37.

To be first, you must be the very last! Not just towards the end of the line, but the very last. You must put others, including children who you teach and lead, ahead of you. This can be a particularly difficult concept to put into practice with kids. My son has complained several times over the years that adults who are supposed to be his teachers or youth leaders at church don’t listen to him or take him seriously. These adults have failed to grasp the concept of servant leadership when it comes to the kids who cross their path on a regular basis.

In the various capacities in which I lead others, both adults and kids, I try to keep this principle of servant leadership in mind. Being a servant leader serves both to encourage others to follow and to allow them to succeed in the endeavor you are asking them to embark on. I don’t always succeed in putting this principle into practice, but because of my servant leader Jesus I am improving in my efforts to do so.

Think about those you lead, and be creative in making that list. Then think about how you have treated them. Have you acted as a servant leader to them, or have you, like Rehoboam, made their burden heavier just because you have the power to do so? If the Creator of all things can humble Himself to be a servant so that He might be a better leader, perhaps His example is worth following.

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Discerning Lies

Speaking of the devil, Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44. Today the father of lies has great influence in our society. Everywhere you look there are lies, thinly disguised. For the unwary, they are almost unnoticeable and can creep into their everyday thinking, coloring how they act.

One of the biggest lies that people believe is that they are more important than others. Along with this one is what the world considers an appropriate response to or solution for a given situation.

The advertising industry seems to employ the tools of the devil more than any other that I know of. Today I saw a commercial that depicted a school principal who discovered that someone had parked in his parking spot. He was so angry that he yelled violently over the school loudspeaker for all the teachers and students to hear that he was going to get whoever it was who had taken his spot. Then the announcer says, “Don’t have a meltdown, have a Meltdown of cheesy chips.” I was an advertisement for a microwave nacho cheese and chip product.

The first thing that struck me about this commercial was how the principal exalted himself above everyone else. He thought he was so important that he had a right to yell at the whole school over the loudspeaker because of a parking spot. The second thing was the suggestion that the solution to his anger and self-importance issues was melted cheese on chips.

How easily we can be deceived by the lies that permeate our society today. Paul wrote of his concern that the deception of Satan would permeate even the Church:

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. 2 Corinthians 11:3-4.

We must be ever vigilant and wary of the lies of the evil one as they are sometimes quite subtle. A little exaltation of our works here, a little suggestion that Jesus isn’t necessarily the only way to God there. Soon we are worshipping a God other than the one we were first devoted to. Often that God is self.

Even Solomon, in all his wisdom, turned to the worship of other gods in his old age.

As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done. 
* * *

The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command. 1 Kings 11:4-6, 9-10.

Because Solomon worshipped other gods, the Kingdom of Israel was taken from his son Rehoboam and he was left with only one of the tribes of Israel to rule over. His wisdom alone was not enough to protect Solomon from being deceived by his many foreign wives.

The fact that Solomon, in all his wisdom, could be deceived teaches me that I need more than just the wisdom that I have already asked for and been granted by God. I need to remain in His Word and diligently test every thing I hear against the plumb-line of His truth. Reviewing Solomon’s worship habits I learned something else.

Three times a year Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar he had built for the LORD, burning incense before the LORD along with them, and so fulfilled the temple obligations. 1 Kings 9:25.

My worship needs to be more consistent and more often than Solomon’s. And I need to do more than “fulfill my obligations.” My faith in Christ is not an obligation, it is a privilege and a gift. I must guard that gift with the greatest diligence I can muster, and call upon God to help me at every turn. The evil one would love to deceive me and pull me away from my God, to exalt and rely on my self. But by His grace I will stand firm.

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Choosing to Hear Wisdom or Folly

This week I started reading Proverbs, the words of wisdom passed down to us by King Solomon, wisdom which was granted to him by God. In the New Living Translation the heading at the beginning of Proverbs 8 is “Wisdom Calls for a Hearing.” In this chapter, Wisdom stands on the hilltops and at the crossroads calling out for all to listen.

4 I call to you, to all of you!
      I raise my voice to all people.
 5 You simple people, use good judgment.
      You foolish people, show some understanding.
 6 Listen to me! For I have important things to tell you.
      Everything I say is right,
 7 for I speak the truth
      and detest every kind of deception.
 8 My advice is wholesome.
      There is nothing devious or crooked in it.
 9 My words are plain to anyone with understanding,
      clear to those with knowledge.

It seems in our world today no one listens to wisdom, though it is available to all who seek it. Verse 9 says that if we have knowledge, wisdom will be clear and plain to us. But so often people gain human knowledge and believe that alone is enough. They don’t consider whether ideas and advise are wholesome, truthful, and right. Deception and devious motives abound.

Just the morning on the news I saw a story about how diet frozen dinners often had more calories than the box indicated. A seemingly plausible reason was given, but the essence of the company representative’s comment was that it didn’t matter if the nutrition information was wrong.

Another story highlighted potential misinformation provided by BP regarding the Gulf oil disaster. It seems BP executives knew they were cutting corners on safety before the leak started and didn’t do anything to avoid the risk. Many Gulf-area residents have been financially damaged because of this disaster, but it is taking government action to force BP to see the wisdom of setting up a fund to pay them for the damage done.

Yesterday I read a blog about human trafficking that brought me to tears. Evil people use deception to lure young women and children into slavery for the sex trade. Often the lure is through a fake job offer, other times it is through preying on the poverty of parents in poor countries. These evil people despise wisdom and do not listen to her voice.

Even in our daily lives most of us cannot avoid having to deal with lies and deception. The world puts more emphasis on winning or succeeding at any cost than it does on truth and justice born of wisdom. People use knowledge to gain riches at the expense of others or the environment or our children’s futures.

In her call for a hearing, Wisdom goes on to say:

18 I have riches and honor,
      as well as enduring wealth and justice.
 19 My gifts are better than gold, even the purest gold,
      my wages better than sterling silver!
 20 I walk in righteousness,
      in paths of justice.
 21 Those who love me inherit wealth.
      I will fill their treasuries.

The wealth that Wisdom promises is far better than all the money, all the gold, all the jewels, and all the oil in the entire earth. It is treasure that is stored up in Heaven, but it is also the treasure of peace and joy in your heart. It is the treasure of a mind that is content and satisfied with the gifts God has seen fit to grant us. It is the treasure of a heart free from always striving for more, then when more is attained, striving yet again.

Will you give Wisdom a hearing? Will you heed her call? Will you enjoy the treasure of peace, hope, love, and salvation?  The alternative is to listen to Folly. This is what she has to say in Proverbs 9 as she calls for a hearing, too:

 13 The woman named Folly is brash.
      She is ignorant and doesn’t know it.
 14 She sits in her doorway
      on the heights overlooking the city.
 15 She calls out to men going by
      who are minding their own business.
 16 “Come in with me,” she urges the simple.
      To those who lack good judgment, she says,
 17 “Stolen water is refreshing;
      food eaten in secret tastes the best!”
 18 But little do they know that the dead are there.
      Her guests are in the depths of the grave.

It seems to me many in the world have chosen to listen to Folly. They mistakenly believe that stolen water is refreshing and food eaten in secret is sweet. But I choose Wisdom for her ways are just and good, and she is a gift from God. How about you?

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A Prayer for Wisdom

Six or seven years ago I decided that I wanted to read through the entire Bible, so I downloaded and printed a Bible-in-a-Year schedule from www.heartlight.org. I put it in my Bible and checked off each chapter as I read it. It took me almost two years, instead of the scheduled one, but I made it. Having done so gave me a much broader view of the overarching story of the Bible than I ever had by reading bits and pieces before.

This weekend, I decided I wanted to do it again, only with a different translation. The first time I read through the New International Version (NIV). So I went back to www.heartlight.org and printed off another schedule. This time I am going to read the New Living Translation (NLT), and I am hoping to actually accomplish it in the year allotted, but time will tell.

I started last night with the entry for June 10. I know it was June 13, but I had a reason for starting at an earlier date. The assigned passages for June 10 were 1 Kings 1-2 and John 19-20. I have read John many times, and didn’t really want to start at the end. Starting today, the passages from 1 Kings are paired with chapters from Proverbs. So last night I read 1 Kings 1-4. (I can see already that this multiple chapter per day schedule is going to be a challenge!)

As I read, I came to this passage in 1 Kings 3:

5 That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

 6 Solomon replied, “You showed faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued your faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.

 7 “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. 8 And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

 10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 14 And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”

I marveled at the wonder of God that this would be the passage I would start with on the first night of my new reading plan. I am familiar with this passage, and was even talking with my son about it on our way to his youth group meeting, which was before I sat down to read this. But I had forgotten that it was located in 1 Kings and so was not expecting it as I read. Especially after the blood and gore of chapters 1 and 2, where Solomon becomes King in place of his older brother Adonijah.

For the past few weeks, as I have done off and on over the years, I have prayed each morning for wisdom for my day and for certain situations that I knew I would face. In answer to that prayer, God has granted me His wisdom for how to handle what has come my way. I have not always heeded that wisdom, though most times I have. And when I have, the result has been good. When I haven’t, I’ve had to do a little backpedaling to set things right. Then just today I was reading another blog about how Solomon didn’t always heed God’s wisdom either.

What I find interesting about this passage is God’s response when Solomon humbly prays just for wisdom. God gave Solomon wisdom as he asked, but He gave the king so much more. God gave him wealth, fame, and power greater than any other king had known or will ever know. I have experienced a small bit of the same myself. As I have prayed just for wisdom, God has granted me blessings right and left. I do not have wealth, fame, and power greater than any other, but I have received unexpected blessings that I did not ask for. They are as varied as a new best friend, a wonderful group of blogging buddies, changes at work that have reduced stress and changed the focus of what I do to quality instead of quantity, and (silly as it may sound) front row tickets to my favorite Christian rock band Third Day.

But what occurs to me in thinking about all of this is that I must avoid the temptation to start relying on the blessings and overindulging in and trusting the good things God has blessed me with. Solomon fell into this trap with his 900 wives and concubines and a myriad of other sins. When he was old, he returned to the things of God and the wisdom he had received. My challenge is to stay focused on the wisdom of God and to always remember that the blessings are just that and are only mine because God has granted them to me for now.

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