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January 7, 2004

A Pile of Rocks

"May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us." Genesis 31:53

Laban and Jacob had a godly heritage, but they hadn't made it their own. In truth, they were worldly men who approached their relationship in worldly ways. They cheated one another. They deceived one another. In the end, I believe they both realized how they hadn't been completely forthcoming, for they took an oath to not harm the other. They made a pile of rocks and said, "May the Lord keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other."

But how different would their lives have been if they had both embraced the God of their fathers? If they had been seeking God's will in their relationship, how much good would have come from it?

Do I have relationships that I approach in worldly ways? Am I seeking God's will, or will I someday see the fruit of my selfishness? Will I someday make a pile of rocks and promise not to cross it to harm another?

Father, help me to include You in all my relationships. If I am using someone to meet a need in me without giving of myself in return, forgive me. Help me to embrace Your ways in all I do.

January 12, 2004

A High Cost To Pay

But they replied, "Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?" Genesis 34:31

Jacob's sons appointed themselves as judge, jury, and executioner when their sister Dinah was raped by Shechem. They convinced Shechem and his father Hamor to have all the men circumcised. Then, Shechem would take Dinah as a wife. But all along, the plan was to weaken the city in order to affect revenge upon them for Shechem's actions. When every man was hurting, Simeon and Levi killed them and took all they had. The men of Shechem weren't blameless in their thinking. They merely saw an opportunity to increase their wealth. By doing this, they would have access to the flocks that belonged to Jacob.

I think one of the most amazing aspects of this story is the righteous indignation of Jacob's sons in light of where their story leads. Eventually, they will sell one of their brothers into slavery, yet they couldn't accept Shechem's sin. Jacob's reaction is also interesting. He is upset with his sons, as one would expect. But his concern is over how the Canaanites will treat him. He doesn't seem to care about the simple things - like deception and murder.

I wonder... if Jacob had addressed the real problem with his sons - the heart problem, would the outcome of their story have been different? Would Joseph have been sold into a life of slavery? Would Jacob have experienced the pain of losing his favorite son?

The story ends happily, but the road that leads there is full of lies and pain. All of it worked together for good because God had a plan from the very beginning, but the broken hearts were a high cost to pay.

Lord, help me to seek Your ways along the journey. I know Your plans will be successful, but I don't want a life of pain and trouble. I want to walk with You - to enjoy You - to live in peace and joy. Help me to seek Your face today.

January 13, 2004

Honor Your Father

Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is Hebron) where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. Genesis 35:27

Jacob had been gone for a long time. He returned to Canaan with many sons and camped near Shechem. Eventually, God told Jacob to settle at Bethel, the place where God appeared to him when he fled from his brother Esau.

With all this moving about, there is an unexpected trip. Jacob went to Hebron. His father Isaac was still alive.

I'm surprised.

For one thing, Isaac was already feeble when Jacob left. Now, he must have been almost an invalid. I guess the other thing that surprises me is that Jacob didn't immediately go to Hebron. If his father was still alive, why didn't he go there first? There was obviously not a strong relationship between them. But regardless, Jacob honored his father by being there to bury him.

Lord, I feel convicted today. This is not the first time that You have challenged me with the thought of my own father's death. Can I move past the many years with no relationship to honor him when he dies? Jacob apparently did. I believe Jacob received just about as much from his father as I have from mine. What he got, had to merely accept; very little was freely given to him.

Father, help me to continue on this journey of forgiveness. I may not have the type of father-son relationship I would prefer, but I can accept what I have. I can honor my father at the end.

Help me to bring honor to You, Lord. Stay near today.

January 14, 2004

The Second Son

Esau too his wives and sons and daughters and all the members of his household, as well as his livestock and all his other animals and all the goods he had acquired in Canaan, and moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. Genesis 36:6

Esau moved away. Despite his favored relationship with Isaac, he moved away. He settled in Seir, the land of his father-in-law Anah, whose daughter Oholibamah was Esau's wife.

A father-in-law can be such a blessing. Although Esau had a good relationship with his father Isaac, he lost the blessing. Nothing that belonged to his father would be his. Jacob had stolen it. But Esau started a new life, and my guess is that his father-in-law Anah was a big part of it.

Lord, my father-in-law helped make me the man I am today. It is his strength and care that I attribute to my areas of strength now. My childhood was broken. My father was uninvolved. My greatest weaknesses and struggles took root under my father's care.

But I am overcoming the failures. Everyday, my understanding of godliness increases; this took root under my father-in-law's hand. Interestingly, my pursuit was changed by something I wished had never happened. The death of my father-in-law gave me no choice but to become a man - to step out - to take control when no one else would lead. Even in death, he teaches me.

Lord, how I miss him so! He poured so much into me - his second son. I was seventeen when he adopted me. No, I wasn't married until I was twenty-one, but my father-in-law became my dad long before that.

Jesus, help me to some day be a great influence on my son-in-law. Help me to love my second son like I was loved.

January 15, 2004

The Pain of Favoritism

His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. Genesis 37:11

Jacob understood the power of dreams. He understood that sometimes they were more than entertainment. Sometimes, they were prophetic. Sometimes, they help us see God's plan in ways we otherwise might not understand.

Jacob also understood the power of favoritism. He understood the pain it causes - the dissension it brings. His own father favored his brother Esau. Yet Jacob favored his son Joseph. His brothers hated him for it.

When Joseph dreamed dreams of prophecy, Jacob realized something was different - something was special. A day came, however, when Jacob's dreams for his favorite son were dashed. Joseph's brothers took revenge.

Father, help me to understand the pain of favoritism. Help me to love all as You love them. Help me to be more like You.

April 7, 2004

Could I have a taste?

Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings. Leviticus 2:13

How does the Christian life so easily lose its flavor? It should be exciting and filled with joy, but too many days it seems like we have chosen to eat bread without salt. We all know it - that pasty taste of flour without salt. It makes our tongues stick to the tops of our mouths. Something that we expected to be wonderful was dreary and bland.

Somehow, we have forgotten that God intended for us to live our lives to the full. We spend our time grieving the things we have left behind, rather than enjoying the One with whom we walk.

Lord, I think I have forgotten to add the salt of the covenant to my offerings. Lately, it seems my Christian walk has become routine and mundane - lacking the flavor of joy. Although I spend time in Your Word, I haven't made the time to spend with You. It's interesting how there is so much we can glean from Scripture; the principles found in its pages bring life. Yet, You long for us to know You, the Author, and not just the words You have written. Somehow, I stopped seeking You. Somehow, I started to look for ways to please You without spending any time with You.

Hmm... this sounds like marriage. Anyone who has been married knows what it is like to live in the same house without really seeing each other. Days can pass without really conversing. The greatest human relationship in your life can somehow become bland, boring - lacking flavor. Maybe my walk with You isn't my only problem.

Jesus, help me to put the salt back into my life - into my relationship with You - into my relationships here at home and at work. I want to live a life that makes others ask, "Could I have a taste?"

April 14, 2004

Sacrifice with Purpose

These, then, are the regulations for the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering and the fellowship offering... Leviticus 7:37

For someone in the modern day church, understanding animal sacrifice is sometimes tough. Now I see a clearer picture. The sacrificial system was more than a mechanism for controlling the animal population. It was used to bring the people together, first to honor God, then to build relationships among the people themselves.

Hmm... sounds like a good old fashioned church picnic and barbecue to me!

God knew what He was doing. There are few things that can unify people more than food. The offerings presented by the people served more than one purpose. Some were meant to atone for sin and were completely burned. Others were meant to be shared and enjoyed in the spirit of fellowship.

So why is it so tough to understand?

Lord, You laid a foundation through the laws given to Moses for what was to come. One day a pure Lamb would be given. We share in His body and blood every time we take communion. Bring Your people together, Father. Continue to build Your Church, so we might honor You.

April 18, 2004

A High Price to Pay

Aaron replied to Moses, "Today they sacrificed their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord, but such things as this happened to me. Would the Lord have been pleased if I had eaten the sin offering today? Leviticus 10:19

What an awful day it must have been for Aaron. The joy of serving at the Tent of Meeting was decimated by the loss of his sons Nadab and Abihu, but he couldn't show it. Moses commanded that Aaron and his remaining sons carry on as if nothing had happened. To show outward signs of mourning would have brought further wrath from the presence of God.

From the outside, it seems that Aaron was cold - barely shaken by the deaths of Nadab and Abihu. But I believe it shook him to the core. This was serious stuff! Aaron knew it like no one else did. Aaron knew it like never before.

I'm surprised by Moses. He seemed to disregard his brother's predicament. He scolded Aaron for allowing the goat from the sin offering to burn up on the altar. But Aaron couldn't bring himself to eat it. The goat represented the sins of the leaders. He experienced firsthand what it was to sacrifice a sin offering; his sons were that sacrifice. How could he celebrate? Aaron paid a high price that day. The sacrifice was greater than he had expected.

Lord, keep my children from sinning against You and protect them from the sins of others. I don't think I could pay the price Aaron did. I long to see my children's children someday. Please, never let me experience a day like Aaron's. Keep my family safe from harm.

Let Your will be done.

May 21, 2004

Memorials

Also at your times of rejoicing - your appointed feasts and New Moon festivals - you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be memorial for your before your God. I am the Lord your God. Numbers 10:10

God commanded trumpet blasts at appointed times. These were to be a memorial to the Israelites.

Now, I don't know if I would call a trumpet blast music or not, but there' something about music and memorials. Music helps us remember important times in life.

For me, there are certain songs I hear that remind me instantly of my younger days. I can remember riding with the windows down on a hot summer day enjoying "Forever in Blue Jeans," by Neil Diamond, with my young girlfriend - who twenty-five years later I call my wife.

Music provides a link - to our hearts - to our past.

Lord, today is a day to be remembered. My firstborn graduates from high school today. Today, he also turns nineteen years old. So much has happened over the course of time. Do we understand how you have carried us through? Will he be able to look back and fondly remember the times we have had.

Today, my son's musical memorial is a guitar of which he has been dreaming. It's a surprise that I cannot wait to share. Thank You, Lord, for helping me provide for my family. May we always remember You when my son plays.

May 29, 2004

Commissioned into His Service

"From now on the Israelites must not go near the Tent of Meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die." Numbers 18:22

Only the Levites could go near the Tent of Meeting to do the work of the Tent. Furthermore, only Aaron's descendants could go near the holiest place. Even some of the temple articles were wrapped in the cloth of the Tent before moving, so no one saw them except the priests.

I wonder about the artists and craftsmen whose handiwork made the Tent and all its articles. Unless they were Levites, they too could not go near.

Lord, there are things in life that we can hold for only a short time. Like the craftsmen for the tabernacle, we are required to commission our handiwork into Your service. As an artist, I can empathize with this. When a piece of artwork is purchased or given, I may never see it again. But there is another handiwork that requires even greater sacrifice when we let it go... our children.

Lord, a day is coming when both of my children will be commissioned to follow Your will on their own. Very soon, I will need permission to have any say in their choices and actions. Pushing in will soon become pushing out, for any attempt to control will only cause them to move farther away. Without respect of their independence, I could face a day when I rarely see them. I am proof of that.

Father, take care of my children as they become independent adults. Watch over them when I cannot be near. Help me to trust that they will not depart from what they know to be right. I lay them into Your loving hands. May Your wonderful will be done in their lives.

August 17, 2004

Finding the Truth

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. John 5:39-40

Isn't it interesting how people are drawn to the truth? Yet until they seek a relationship with the One who came to save us, they can never really find it. One can spend his entire life reading the Scriptures and still be lost without Jesus.

I've heard it time and again. It's not about religion; it's about relationship.

Lord, I feel like I've forgotten about You. I have been a miserable, needy friend. Whenever our relationship is distant, I know I've dropped the ball. Forgive me, Jesus. Can we spend the day together?

September 11, 2004

Broken Trust

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2

Broken trust is probably the number one killer of relationships. A husband betrays his wife by looking outside his marriage to find himself; a man betrays his friend by sharing a secret that foolish promises have kept hidden. How can trust be rebuilt? How can a marriage be saved? Or a friendship restored?

It is only in God's faithfulness that we can find hope. He is the Great Restorer - the Great Rebuilder - the One who desires unity for His children.

Lord, I am hurting, and I have no one to blame but myself. For years I have taken trust lightly. I have disregarded one promise to uphold another. What kind of life have I made for myself? My wrong choices have finally overtaken me. Now, I am challenged to rebuild trust. How can it be done?

Father, I plead for Your mercy. My steps have strayed from Your path, but I believe Your Spirit has the power to restore. Help me to seek Your will. Help me to know Your will. Help me to walk in Your will. Open the doors of healing - for my mind, my body, and my spirit. Open the doors of healing for those relationships that have been harmed by broken trust. Forgive me, Father, for the ways I have proven unfaithful.

September 14, 2004

Right Where I Am

Each one should remain in the situation he was in when God called him. 1 Corinthians 7:20

Paul's words about marriage and ministry are tough to reconcile. Is it best to remain single - to be free to serve where God calls? Is it best to marry - to have divided interests between God and the things of this world? In Paul's words, either is good. Speaking of his own situation, he believed being single was better because it left him free to minister as he had been called.

Many people don't fully understand what Paul is saying. He is not saying to leave spouse and family to pursue God's work. He is saying to consider who you are - who God has called you to be - and to remain in the situation you are in when He called you. He is saying to consider things wisely beforehand. For those who are already married when God calls, Paul encourages contentment with where God has them. Even with divided interests, God can use us to literally change the world. We are not to pick up and leave the place we are living or working merely because God has changed our hearts through His saving grace. We must watch for His plan.

Lord, there are times in my life when I have questioned if I am where I should be. Should I have married? Should I have pursued this career or that career? Should I have done it differently? In some cases, yes, I should have done it differently. But the fact is: everything in my life has made me who I am, and You will use me just as I am to bring about Your glory.

Father, sometimes I want to escape where I am because staying seems to be too tough. Help me to follow Your will - right where I am. Give me eyes to see Your glory - right where I am. Help me to become Your man - right where I am.

September 25, 2004

Be Broken

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 2 Corinthians 3:2

There are certain people who write on our hearts. The impact of their friendship literally changes us. We become better than we were before - simply because we know them. They challenge us to be real - to be righteous - to follow God's path. And because of them, we strive to meet the challenge.

Lord, I have a friend who has written on my heart. Like Jonathan was to David is this man to me. He challenges me to be whole; he challenges me to be broken. I want to please him, for he strives to please You. May the letter I write on his heart be as cherished as his words are to me.

November 16, 2004

A Confidant

The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. Psalm 25:14

To whom do you tell a secret? Someone who will tell everyone about it? Or someone you can trust to hold it in confidence?

Everyone needs a confidant. There are things of which I am ashamed that I want no one to hear, but I cannot keep them hidden; I need to tell someone. On the other hand, there are dreams that are so precious that I long to share them with a fellow dreamer. I cannot keep them hidden.

Do you have a confidant? Do you have a trustworthy friend? Are you a confidant for someone else? Are you trustworthy enough to protect the heart and reputation of another? I have a best friend in whom I confide my secrets. His love has carried me through many struggles. He has never abused a confidence. I am blessed with a best friend. He has made my life more fruitful.

But even so, we are human and imperfect. God is the only perfect friend, and interestingly, God confides in me. He believes in me enough to share His secrets. He makes Himself intimately known.

Lord, I am unworthy to be Your confidant. Too many times I have disregarded Your wonder. Too many times I have been untrustworthy. Too often I have taken Your secrets lightly. Yet You continue to pour Your Spirit into those who fear You. Through the blood of Your Son, I am made worthy - I am made trustworthy. Continue to teach me Your ways. Continue to tell me Your secrets. Help me to reach out to Your children. Help me to impact the world for Your name's sake.

December 9, 2004

Mortal Agony

My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, "Where is your God?" Psalm 42:10

We have an enemy whose chief desire is to cause us pain. As individuals - as the Body of Christ - he hates us. There is nothing he will not do to harm us. His greatest pleasure is found when we are in mortal agony, so just imagine what he feels when the Body turns on itself. Like a cancer, spiritual pride has been the downfall of many in the church.

Lord, I am easily angered by those who judge me - by those who look down upon me for the splinters in my eyes. Help them to see that Your greatest desire is unity - Your greatest desire is wholeness. Teach me to forgive those who may never seem to understand the power of Your touch. The enemy may be taunting, but I know where You are. Stay beside me, Spirit. Keep me from anger. Keep me from agony.

June 15, 2005

Like Dew Drops

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion... Psalm 133:3a

There is something so peaceful about dripping dew or droplets of rain after a spring shower. So light and delicate, it is as if the drops float in mid-air before touching the ground. And when they land, it is like feathers, so soft and quiet.

To hear dew dropping... My, that is quite a peaceful picture.

That is what our unity is to the Father. When we pull together to live in peace and harmony, it is like listening to dew.

O Lord, if only we could live life in such a delicate fashion. Too often, we merely think of ourselves without consideration for others. Forgive our disunity. Bring peace where there is turmoil. Bring life where the enemy wants death. Make us one as You are One.

June 22, 2005

An Upright Life

Surely the righteous will praise your name and the upright will live before you. Psalm 140:13

I've spent a great deal of time concerned about what others think. If only I could be as concerned about living an upright life before God. He sees every secret choice. He knows every time I am tempted to fall away. He rejoices when I stand firm. He weeps when I fail.

Lord, I'm struggling this morning. How should I respond to the lies of a friend? Normally, I am so concerned about how others perceive me. My response is usually to gloss it over - to quickly forgive - to move forward in hopes things will improve.

Who am I trying to impress?

Can I stand upright before You and know that I have enabled a friend to harm himself or his family? Can I merely sit back and watch as he wears a mask of righteousness and pursues worldly desires. Save my friend. Spare his life. Help him to someday praise You again and to live upright before You.

June 28, 2005

The Power of a Grandparent

One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your might acts. Psalm 145:4

Nothing brings hope like stories from a grandparent. There's something magical. Hearing tales of difficult times - times where there was great need and too little money - times when there was more love in the house than food... hearing of these times makes the troubles of today seem a little less significant.

Unfortunately, too many grandparents don't understand their power. I never really knew my grandparents. We moved quite a bit, but even living on the same property for three years didn't make the difference. Kids were a nuisance. Sometimes I wonder if life wouldn't have seemed so tough if I had known them better. Would I have struggled to love myself if I knew they loved me just because I was me? It might have helped counterbalance the rejection I felt from those closer to me.

Lord, I am not a nuisance. I missed out, but they did too. What an opportunity we have to bring hope to this world by sharing ourselves - with our children and eventually our grandchildren. I am still a few years away from being a grandfather, but it's never too early to ask for Your blessing, Father. Help me to someday bring hope to many children. Help me to nurture the relationships with my children, so I will always be welcome. Help me to commend Your works to a thousand generations.

September 10, 2005

Petty Conflicts

Jephthah then called together the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. the Gileadites struck them down because the Ephraimites had said, "You Gileadites are renegades from Ephraim and Manasseh." Judges 12:4

With all the enemies that Israel faced, the continuation of Jephthah's story surprises me. The greatest conflict during the time of Jephthah wasn't with a foreign enemy but between the Ephraimites and the Gileadites. These men were descendants of Joseph the favorite son of Jacob.

Didn't they have enough to worry about from outside forces? Why did they spend so much time and energy fighting among themselves? Forty-two thousand Ephraimites died during this time, and why?

The conflict seemed to begin when the men of Ephraim complained to Jephthah because he didn't ask them to fight beside him against the Ammonites. But the real reason stemmed from petty jealousies and insults. The Gileadites wouldn't stand for being called renegades, so they fought against their brothers.

Dysfunctional families are like that. There aren't enough external problems to maintain a certain level of turmoil, so internal strife takes its place. As an adult, it amazes me to consider the petty family battles of my childhood. Some of the most damaging experiences in my life were caused by those who should have stood by me and fought for me - not against me.

Lord, thank You for helping me to break the cycle of family turmoil. My own home has not been devoid of strife, but it has been filled with forgiveness and love. Watch over my children. Protect them from petty conflicts. Draw them closer to You.

October 14, 2005

A Son's Way

But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 1 Samuel 7:17

What is a father to do if his son chooses a wrong path? Every son will forge his own way, but what can a father do if that path leads to the sad emptiness of a worldly life?

Samuel witnessed the sadness Eli the priest experienced when his sons didn't walk in their father's way - the ways of the Lord. Eventually, his sons died in a battle with the Philistines in which the ark of the covenant was stolen. Samuel saw all this, yet his own sons followed suit - pursuing the ways of the world.

If I am honest, I sometimes question the character of a man based upon the actions of his son. I might wonder what kind of a man he is if his son has wandered so far from the truth.

The fact is: Every man possesses a free will. The most any father can do is to reach out in love and pray for the Spirit's intervention.

Lord, my heart is heavy this morning. I have a friend whose son has not followed Your way. My friend knows mistakes were made, and now he would do anything to make amends. Unfortunately, his son is now a man who must make his own choices. And now, as a man, he refuses to hear his father's attempts to speak to love him. How do I help him? What do I need to say that will bring healing to this broken relationship? What can be done to bring this son back to You?

Holy Spirit, intervene in the lives of sons where fathers may have failed them. Entire generations have been lost because fathers haven't sought Your solution. You are the only answer. Help ours sons to see You - to turn to You - to live for You.

November 28, 2005

Masculine Love

"I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women." 2 Samuel 1:26

We live in a country that has forgotten the power of masculine love. How many men today would willingly admit that the love of another man was more wonderful than the love of women? Somehow along the way, love has become equated with sex, and most men fear what others might think if the truth were known: Inside every man is a little boy, and every boy has a God-given need for the love of men. There probably isn't a man alive who doesn't desire the love of another man - specifically the love of the first man in his life...

Interestingly, King David loved another man more than any woman, and he was not afraid to say it. In fact, he required that every man in Judah learn a lament that proclaimed it. There wasn't a man who didn't know what Jonathan meant to him. Obviously, David was completely unafraid of what others might think. He was God's anointed king. He knew that the approval of men is fleeting, and only God's opinion matters.

Lord, for so long I have been afraid of myself. There is nothing like the love of a brother. This is especially true for a man who so desperately longed for his father's love and never perceived it. You have placed so many brothers in my path. I am not afraid to say the words, "I love you." Help every man in America come to understand the importance of masculine love. Make us unafraid to be real men.

December 20, 2005

Who's on your side?

They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Recab and Baanah slipped away. 2 Samuel 4:6

Saul's kingdom was gone.

His son Ish-Bosheth had been made king at the behest of Saul's cousin Abner. But Abner lay dead at the hand of David's nephew Joab, who had avenged the death of his younger brother Asahel. Now, Ish-Bosheth was dead - killed by two men from his own tribe - two men he trusted.

What a miserable scene!

Interestingly, these two brothers, Recab and Baanah, felt they could benefit from their handiwork. Taking the head of Ish-Bosheth to David, I'm sure they expected great accolade. Instead, they met a man whose heart for Saul and his family remained unchanged. David loved Saul; he was God's first anointed king. Saul's son Jonathan was his dearest friend. Despite the years of hiding from Saul's rage, David respected the king - the position and the person. These brothers, so proud of their accomplishment, quickly met their death by David's command.

This story says a lot to me about the character of two men - not the brothers Recab and Baanah, but about the brothers-in-law, Ish-Bosheth and David.

David surrounded himself with men who would die for him. Ish-Bosheth chose leaders who turned against him at the first sign of trouble. Ish-Bosheth ruled a kingdom given to him by his father's cousin, the leader of the king's army. David ruled a kingdom given to him by the very King Himself. Ish-Bosheth trusted in his own name. David trusted in the Name of Another.

In the end, the only hope we have is in God's choice. No position, no title, no lineage will remain.

Lord, help me to be like David. Place me where You want me to be, then give me the wisdom to surround myself with men who Love You.

December 29, 2005

Bad Advice

So Hanun seized David's men, shaved off half of each man's beard, cut off their garments in the middle of the buttocks and sent them away. 2 Samuel 10:4

New leaders should always be careful about the advice they choose to follow. Hanun was the new king of the Ammonites, and he had a great deal to learn about who he should trust and who he shouldn't. His father and David apparently had a cordial relationship. His own relationship with Israel, however, wouldn't be as nice.

Following the death of Hanun's father, David sent an entourage to pay his respects. Unfortunately, those David sent as an act of kindness, returned humiliated as suspected spies. Hanun had listened to the advice of his nobles who suggested that David's men were there under false pretense - that their real intention was to spy out the land in order to overthrow it.

There is an important lesson here. If a mighty king sends a group of men to you to express kindness, be careful about questioning his motive. Regardless of his original intent, treating his delegation with contempt will most certainly determine his future treatment of you.

Lord, help me to make wise choices when I am given opportunities for new alliances. Give me the ability to weed out the bad advice, so I don't bring a bad situation from good.

January 16, 2006

Irreconcilable Relationships

"Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him." 2 Samuel 14:14

The world wants us to believe that God is all about judgment - that He is ready to strike us down for the smallest infraction. But the truth is: God is about love and reconciliation. He will devise ways to draw us back to Him - no matter how far away we might be. If we feel estranged from God, the estrangement is our doing. He longs to have us close.

Lord, I am saddened by this. There are times that I feel estranged from You, but You stand with open arms. All it takes is a little movement on my part, and we embrace. Yet, there are those in my life with whom I am estranged and no amount of movement on my part seems to help. Why do I hold on to the hope of any response? Why do I continue to care? Help me to let go of those who refuse to be held. Help me to live a life that shines with Your light - a life that is no longer darkened by the shadows of irreconcilable relationships.

February 6, 2006

Walk Your Talk

"Far be it from me!" Joab replied, "Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy!" 2 Samuel 20:20

Joab was the commander of King David's army. He was also the king's cousin. He was very successful; however, if I had him on my team, I would be careful about trusting him.

His success came with a price. Most who threatened his place in David's kingdom met an untimely demise.

The former commander of King Saul's army, Abner, was murdered by Joab. Although it was done to avenge the death of Joab's brother Asahel, it is interesting to consider the fact that Joab killed the primary threat to his position. When Absalom rebelled against the king, it was Joab who ignored David's order and killed him. And now, Amasa, the man appointed by Absalom to replace Joab as the commander of Israel's army stood in his way. King David had determined that Amasa would remain as commander, but Amasa died at Joab's hand.

Although Joab said the right things and succeeded in his endeavors, I wouldn't have trusted him. However, David did.

No matter how much I think of King David (he is a man I want to emulate), this is an area of disagreement. Too often I feel David didn't fully consider how others reflected upon his leadership. A man of integrity would be wise to surround himself with other men of integrity. Yet David's primary focus was on success. Joab delivered, so David looked the other way at times. How would things have been different if David had taken the high moral ground? Would there have been the same turmoil in his kingdom?

Lord, help me to learn from David's liaison with Joab. I don't think Joab was trustworthy, but I don't know if I would have had the courage to replace him. David was a great leader, but even great leaders make poor choices. Help me to make the right choices. Make me a man of integrity. Surround me with others of integrity. Surround me with men who walk their talk.

June 13, 2006

Honoring Your Father

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. "Honor your father and mother - which is the first commandment with a promise - that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:1-4

How do we honor our fathers when they have exasperated us? How do we grasp the promise - that it may go well with us and that we may enjoy long life on the earth - when all we know is distance and pain?

Too many fathers have checked out on their families! More children today are being raised without a father than ever before. Even fathers who live in the same house are often emotionally miles away. Kids are lonely. Wives are frustrated. How can we turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers?

The first step is understanding.

No father, except our Heavenly Father, is perfect. And every father is scared. Oh, it may not be socially acceptable to admit it, but ask any man. One of his greatest struggles is probably fear. He may be thinking, "How can I provide for my family? How can I be a father when no one ever taught me?" Perfect love drives out fear. Every father longs to be loved in ways that overcome his fear. Understand him and choose to love him.

The second step is respect.

Men have a deep, heartfelt need for respect; it is the way they are wired. A father needs to know he is loved, but greater still is his desire for respect. Even fathers who do little to earn respect - especially fathers who do little to earn respect - can benefit from knowing their children and wives respect them.

The third step is to break the chain.

Children are punished for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. Every father is a son. Unfortunately, too many sons are living with the sins of their grandfathers. But this generational curse doesn't need to continue. "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"

Choosing Christ is our only hope. Choosing the One who has forgiven us gives us the power to forgive. Choosing the One who died for us brings life in ways we cannot comprehend.

Understand him.

Respect him.

Break the chain.

Father, help me to honor my father for the things he has given me. Help me to forgive him for the things he hasn't. Help me to become the type of father who brings blessing to a thousand generations.

September 4, 2006

Do you really want to be first?

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. 3 John 9

How do you want to be remembered?

I'm sure Diotrephes had no idea that all of Christendom would remember him as one who loved to be first! His rejection of the Apostle John wasn't a very wise choice.

Since all of Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, I wonder if Jesus had anything to do with the way Diotrephes is remembered. Wouldn't you want the world to know how someone had harmed your best friend? I'm sure Jesus carries no malice, for He is without sin. But it makes me chuckle when I consider how we remember an adversary of the "one Jesus loved."

Lord, I know what it is to have a best friend who has been harmed by someone. My human nature wants to tell the world about it. But it is not my place. Give me a heart of compassion and forgiveness. Help me to be remembered as on who is content with being last rather than first.

About Relationships

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to The Potter's Hand in the Relationships category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Reflection is the previous category.

Sin is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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