Insecurity and Arrogance

On Sunday (Nov. 25) we revisited the issue of insecurity and arrogance during the sermon.  I said because insecurity and arrogance come from a reliance on self, the solution to the problem of insecurity and arrogance is to wait for the Lord, to be still and know that He is God.  In the areas of life where we exhibit insecurity and arrogance, it is often the result of trying to make something happen in our own power or finding our identity in what we accomplish.  God is encouraging us to trust him and cast our cares on him because he cares for us.

One more comment about waiting on the Lord is probably necessary.  As we keep emphasizing during our study of 1 and 2 Samuel, it is only by looking at the heart can we truly know a person’s motivation.

For example, outwardly a person who is waiting on the Lord and a lazy person can look the same.  They both may appear to be dragging their feet on making a decision or seemingly refusing to put forward the kind of human effort we think will make them successful.  Likewise the person who is busy with activity may actually be submitting themselves to the Lord and obeying what he has told them to do.  Or alternatively, a busy-looking person may simply be taking matters into their own hands. You can’t tell just by looking at outward activity.

How do we evaluate our lives in this area?  It requires discernment and honesty.  If we think that we can get by with just doing nothing – that’s laziness.  If we are praying and actively listening to God before doing something – that’s waiting on the Lord.  That is why there is not a list of outward activities that I am prescribing for waiting on the Lord, but rather an attitude of the heart.

If we trust God, know that he loves us, realize that he is our only hope and believe we should submit our will to his – the activities that spring from that attitude will be those consistent of waiting for the Lord.  If we only give lip service to God, think that it takes too long or too much effort to follow God, or if we believe obeying God will only cause our lives to take a sharp turn towards miserable – then the activities that spring from that attitude will be consistent with looking to ourselves to solve our problems.  As a result, all the insecurities and arrogance associated with such an attitude will be present.

I hope these additional thoughts on this very big and complex issue are helpful.

Blessings,

Jim

National Adoption Month

Did you know that November is National Adoption Month in the U.S.?   It is also when we recognize Orphan Sunday, a Christian effort to promote and assist families with adoption.

Jim and I are so thankful that Calvary has a rich history of families opening their homes and their lives to orphans.  They have hearts that beat with God’s heart to “defend the fatherless” (Deut. 10:18), to “take up the cause of the fatherless….” (Isaiah 1:17) and to practice religion that “God our Father accepts as pure and faultless…to look after orphans….”(James 1:27).

But it is not just a historical emphasis at Calvary. We know of at least three families that are actively in the middle of their adoption process, and we look forward to welcoming their children into our church family.

This November, adoption is also personal for my family.  My brother and sister-in-law will return from Uganda at the end of the week with two children, three-year-old Elsie and one-year-old Ki.  Because of their desire to seek the Lord to see if He had additional children for their family, my extended family will now include not just Europeans and Arabs, but Africans as well.

And it is not only my extended family that is becoming more diverse but our church family as well.  Adoption is one way Calvary looks a little more like heaven, as those circled around God’s throne will reflect all the shades of earth’s ethnicities.

During our recent series in Ephesians, Jim preached a sermon in which he showed a brief clip of our friends, Jason, Amanda and their two grade school daughters, meeting their two sons/brothers in Ethiopia for the first time.  We have been friends with Jason and Amanda since Oxford, and we are so grateful for our friendship despite the fact that they in California where Jason teaches at Biola University.

This Thanksgiving, we received a beautiful thanksgiving card with a picture of their family and a link to a video sharing glimpses of their story in bringing Elle and Yuni to be part of their family.  I hope you enjoy it.

All is well,

Lisa

Gratefulnesse

A favorite poem of thanks we share with you — have a blessed Thanksgiving,

Jim and Lisa

GRATEFULNESSE

by George Herbert, (1593-1633), Welsh-born English poet and Anglican priest

Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart.
See how thy beggar works on thee
By art.

He makes thy gifts occasion more,
And says, If he in this be crossed,
All thou hast given him heretofore
Is lost.

But thou didst reckon, when at first
Thy word our hearts and hands did crave,
What it would come to at the worst
To save.

Perpetual knockings at thy door,
Tears sullying thy transparent rooms,
Gift upon gift, much would have more,
And comes.

This not withstanding, thou wenst on,
And didst allow us all our noise:
Nay thou hast made a sigh and groan
Thy joys.

Not that thou hast not still above
Much better tunes, than groans can make;
But that these country-airs thy love
Did take.

Wherefore I cry, and cry again;
And in no quiet canst thou be,
Till I a thankful heart obtain
Of thee:

Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare days:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.

Casting of Lots in I Samuel

From the Winchester Bible, a lavshly illustrated 12th-centry English Bible

Here is an interesting observation from 1 Samuel 10 that I had to pass over during the sermon on Sunday morning due to time constraints: Saul was chosen to be king using lots.

The reason I find this passage interesting is it provides additional Biblical support for how Calvary selects elders and deacons. Acts 1 is the best passage for affirming the practice of casting lots to choose leaders, but here in 1 Samuel 10, Israel’s first king is chosen by lots.

Lots will also be used just a few chapters later in 1 Samuel 14 (part of our passage for this week) to highlight Jonathan as the person who ate food when everyone was commanded not to eat. This example gives further evidence to the common use of casting lots in Israel and the way that God speaks through them.

It is important to note that we do not have any examples of the casting of lots in the Bible where the lot falls to the wrong person. In the case of Saul in 1 Samuel 9-11, Saul had already been anointed as king by Samuel in a secret ceremony but only God, Saul and Samuel were privy to that information.

If Samuel anointed Saul, why did there need to be the casting of lots?

Because even though God had selected Saul, there needed to be a way to communicate that decision to the people, which would be recognized as being from the Lord as opposed to being the will of Samuel. So casting lots became the second step in the process. There is actually a third step in the process in 1 Samuel 11. After Saul is chosen by lots to become king, the Spirit comes upon Saul and he leads Israel to great victory. After the victory, the people acclaim Saul as king, affirming the decision made through the casting of lots, which itself was an affirmation of the secret anointing ceremony between Saul and Samuel.

If the casting of lots was used to select Saul as king, why wasn’t David selected in this way?

I believe David was selected using a different method because when David was chosen to be Israel’s future king, Saul was still the reigning king. And during the time between David’s anointing and his ascension to the throne there were many years for God to prove that David was his chosen king. As a result, the casting of lots was not necessary to affirm God’s choice of David.

Both Saul and David were anointed by God to be king. At the time of his ascension, Saul was known by very few people in Israel and time constraints mandated that he be selected immediately. At the time of David’s ascension, everyone in Israel knew who he was and could affirm God’s calling on his life to be king.

If you are interested in how lots are being used today in Egypt, check out this article on the selection of a leader for Coptic Christians on ChristianityToday.com.

Blessings,

Jim

 

This is Not Where I Belong

What images does the word “home” create in your mind?

The dictionary definition of “the place where someone lives permanently” doesn’t capture the feeling of walking in from a long day, tired and weary, taking off the uncomfortable shoes and clothes stained and wrinkled from the day and slipping on comfy clothes and slippers, nestling into your favorite chair with a cup of coffee and letting the day drain away.

Home.

Or perhaps you remember being a college student drained from a long semester of assignments, living in a dorm with its industrial furniture and cafeteria food, and then the feeling of walking into your old room with its familiar surroundings and favorite smells from the kitchen, the memories flooding back.

Home.

The idea of home for Christians is that same longing.  In one of my favorite passages of scripture, Hebrews 11:13-16, the writer talks about biblical men and women of faith saying:

 

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they have been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be their God, and he has prepared a city for them.

While we may shrink back from the thought that we are strangers and aliens in this world when our flesh desires to belong, there is actually great relief in admitting that we were made for heaven.

So, this week when so much attention will be focused on the election and its outcome, I can’t think of a more appropriate anthem than the following song by Building 429.  The chorus says:

All I know is I’m not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong

 

All is well,

Lisa