The Town Crier

“Hear ye, hear ye!”

Long before Facebook, before Google, before cable news, and before newspapers was the Town Crier. Dating back to the 18th century, Town Criers were elaborately dressed men who would deliver the news to the town. Often carrying a large bell to gain the attention of the townsfolk, they would then declare out, “hear ye!” When the crowd had gathered, they would deliver the important news. Back in those days, if you wanted to “share” a story, you actually had to tell someone.

The Town Crier was an important part of society, keeping the people apprised of current events. But long before the Town Crier, David instituted his own version of it: the Town Prophesier. This person had an even more important job than keeping the town up to date on the current events or town scandals. His job was to announce the Word of the Lord.

1 Chronicles 25:1 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.  

Can you imagine this job? The job description might have looked like this: hear from the Lord and declare it to the people. What a cool job! They even had their own band that followed them around. I’ve always thought it would be cool to live life with a soundtrack, but these guys literally had that. Set apart for the ministry of prophesying… how about that?

As I reflect on this verse this morning, what strikes me is how important it is to hear from the Lord and declare it out. It has always been important. But we don’t need Town Criers; we don’t need professional prophesiers. WE can hear from the Lord. The prophet Joel said that God would pour out His Spirit on all people and it happened in Acts 2. Now YOU can hear from the Lord. YOU can prophesy. YOU can declare out what God is saying. 

You just have to take the time to ask and to listen.

The Leadership Factory

There’s this show on TV called “Shark Tank.” The premise is that entrepreneurs pitch their small business to savvy investors with the hopes that they will help take their business to the next level. Often, these people are producing their products in their kitchen or their garages. They come with their meager beginnings and hope to leave with a prosperous future. Often, these business owners desire to move their production from their homes to a factory. The demand has increased and so it is time to increase their productivity.

Once they land the deal, it’s go time. Many of these products get a huge spike in interest from the show, causing the business owners to scramble to meet the new demands. Production is outsourced, new employees are hired, and growth ultimately happens. Well, that’s the goal. The fact is, some businesses are more successful than others. Some flourish beyond expectations and others don’t do much at all.

In the Bible, there’s a story of a priest who flourished beyond the others.

1 Chronicles 24:4 A larger number of leaders were found among Eleazar’s descendants than among Ithamar’s, and they were divided accordingly: sixteen heads of families from Eleazar’s descendants and eight heads of families from Ithamar’s descendants. 

Eleazar’s family was a leadership factory! There were twice as many leaders found from his descendants than Ithamar’s descendants. We don’t know why this was or how he did it, we simply know that his family was full of leaders. Were they just inherently great leaders or was it more than that? I’d like to believe it was more that that; because leaders are developed. Leaders are trained, equipped, challenged. Leaders are given opportunity to lead and to learn.

Often, we just stand by and hope some great leaders show up to help us do the work. We pray that God would send us people that can lead alongside us. But the truth is, leaders don’t just appear; leaders are made. If we want leaders, we must train leaders. If we want a legacy of leaders, we must become a leadership factory. Be intentional with your children. Be intentional with your grandchildren. Look for potential leaders around you and begin to invest in them. 

Eleazar was a leadership factory. You can be, too.

Professional Praisers

There are a plethora of occupations in this world. You can drive a truck or drive a race car. You can stock shelves or sell stocks. You can farm a pasture or pastor a farm church. So many choices for so many people. God made each of us with a unique personality and a unique calling. As I was reading my Bible today, I found an interesting occupation: professional praisers.

Dec. 6, 2009 – Miami, Florida, USA – The Adrienne Arsht Center presents Free Gospel Sundays at the AAC in Miami Dec. 6th, 2009. Credit Image: Mitchell Zachs/MagicalPhotos)

1 Chronicles 23:30 They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord. They were to do the same in the evening.

Imagine that – praising God was in their job description. It had nothing to do with their mood or their circumstances. It was their job. They praised Him when things went well and when they didn’t. They praised Him when they felt great and also when they felt sick. They simply praised Him because that’s what they were called to do.

You know what? So are we. And there is so much to praise Him for. Some days it seems like it is hard to find something to praise about. But the truth is, there is always something to praise God for. So praise Him in the morning and praise Him in the evening. Praise Him when things are going great and when things are hard.

Praise will change your outlook and it will change your countenance. It will focus you and it will center you. But most importantly, it will connect you with your God, who is able to do more than we can ask or imagine. So be a professional praiser today! Try it and see what happens.

The right guy for the job

Sometimes you just got to know when you aren’t the right guy (or girl) for the job. Something about me: I’m willing to tackle new projects even if I don’t know how to do them. Replace boards on my deck – no problem. YouTube how to repair something minor on my care – sure thing. Build something from Ikea – maybe. But I also know my limit. For example, when my house needed a new roof, I knew I wasn’t the right guy for the job. When my transmission went out on my car, definitely not the right guy for the job.

Now all that has to do with skill set and the bravery to try new things. But sometimes you actually do know how to do something, but you also know that you aren’t the right guy for the job. Maybe someone else is called to do it. Or maybe someone else could do it, but the right guy for the job is YOU. In 1 Chronicles 22, we find that David had been told by God that he was not to be the one to build the temple. God told David that he had someone else in mind and that someone else was Solomon. So David did all he could to get Solomon ready for the calling God had for him.

1 Chronicles 22:11-13 11 “Now, my son, the Lord be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the Lord your God, as he said you would. 12 May the Lord give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. 13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.

I love this moment where David turns to his son and says, “NOW is your time. THIS is the moment God has prepared you for. And as you go, I pray that the Lord gives you wisdom and understanding. I pray that the Lord gives you courage. Don’t be afraid. Do NOT be discouraged. Just follow the Lord and He will give you success.”

You might be a David today. You know that you aren’t the right guy for the job, yet God is calling you to do all that you can to prepare the next person for success. You see, David didn’t just take a break knowing this wasn’t his assignment. Instead, he did all that he could to set up Solomon for success. What would happen if you poured in all your resources, not for you, but for the person coming after you?

You might be a Solomon. And now is the time for you to step into the assignment that God has for you. Will you follow God with all that you’ve got? Will you heed the wisdom of those who have gone before you? Will you give into fear or will you tap into the courage of the Lord?

God may be calling you to step into a new assignment or a new calling in the season ahead. Or he may be calling you to invest in one who will someday come after you. Whichever place you find yourself in, look to the wisdom of David and be the right guy or girl for THAT job.

Math is from the devil

I was always pretty good at math. That is, until my freshman year of High School. It was a tough year for me when it came to math. I had always got A’s in math, but this year would be different. I stayed after school almost every day to get help with the homework and I barely squeaked out a B-.  My confidence was shot and I started to question my ability to succeed in this area.

The subject was geometry. No longer could I relish in the concrete solutions for the letter x. Now I had to memorize theorems and postulates. I had to figure out areas and angles. It was like math mixed with art… and I was pretty sure it was from the devil. Math is supposed to be black and white. Math is a fact, not a theory. What is this geometry? Get behind me, Satan!

1 Chronicles 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

See! I told you math was from the devil! Do you know what a census is? It is counting people by groups and then adding them together. And here in 1 Chronicles 21, Satan made David do math. Okay, I’ll admit it – that’s a bit of a stretch. Maybe math isn’t really from the devil. So why was this census such a bad idea? Why did God explicitly instruct David NOT to take a census?

The problem with the census was that it would cause David to put his confidence in his resources rather than in his God. David wanted to know how many fighting men he had in case he was attacked. He wanted to calculate his odds at winning a battle. Even though God had consistently fought his battles for him, David still had this need to discover if what he had was enough. Unfortunately, this math experiment turned into a giant disaster for him. Math did him in.

Don’t we do the same thing that David did? We let anxiety and worry lead us to our calculators. We fret over all the possible alternatives and the inevitable outcomes. We lose sleep over the fact that no matter how hard we have thought about it, 2+2 simply does not equal 8.  We are short on resources and it looks like we are gonna lose this one.

God isn’t intimidated by math. He doesn’t worry about geometry. Not enough resources? No problem. Having a hard time getting all that you can gather to add up to 8? He doesn’t need 4+4. He can make W+S=8 if He wants to. You just bring the W and He will bring the S and it will all work out. What is the W you ask? It’s your weakness. The S is HIS strength.

Your God has all the resources you will ever need. You don’t need to put your trust in math. You can simply put your trust in Him. He has always been the one to fight the battles. He has always been the God who provides. He will not let you down. In the words of Proverbs 3:5-6,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

The six-fingered man

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. 

This famous line comes from the movie “The Princess Bride.” Inigo Montoya is a on a quest to avenge his father’s death. So he rehearses this line over and over again to get himself ready to face the six-fingered man who killed his father. He travels long distances to find the man. He doesn’t know who he is, but he knows that this guy has six-fingers. When they finally meet face-to-face, Inigo recites his rehearsed line to the six-fingered man.

As I was reading in my Bible today, I came across another guy who Inigo Montoya may have wanted to fight to the death. Check it out.

1 Chronicles 20:6-8  6 In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot—twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. 7 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. 8 These were descendants of Rapha in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his men.

Way to go Jonathan! Inigo would be proud. This guy with 24 fingers and toes was huge – a giant. Verse 6 tells us that he was a Raphite. You know who else was a Raphite? Goliath. Now maybe you remember a story about a young man named David and a giant named Goliath. Israel was afraid of Goliath; no one wanted to fight him. But David stepped up in courage and faith. With only his sling and a rock, he took out that giant. Yes, David was the giant killer!

It seems that David did more than just kill one giant. He set off a chain reaction down his family line. Because when we look here in 1 Chronicles, we see that more giants would fall at the hands of David’s family members. We see them fall by those under his command. The victory over Goliath went beyond David and into the next generation.

You may have giants you are facing. You may be unsure if the fight is worth it. It is! Because your victory is more than your victory. It is a victory for generations to come. You can do more than be a giant slayer. You can raise up a generation of giant slayers. So go to battle, take out the giants of sin in your life. Take out addiction that has been plaguing your family for generations. Slay those giants not only for yourself, but for you children, your grandchildren, and for generations to come.

Paranoia

Paranoia is a funny thing. It can take the most level headed person and turn him into a anxious worrier. We’ve probably all been there – seeing and believing things that aren’t really there. I know that I’ve been sure I was being followed at night in downtown Tacoma and ended up running to my car and locking the doors. Of course there was no one in sight. Ok, I better elaborate on that or I’ll just sound like a wimp.

I was in my early 20’s attending University of Washington in Tacoma. At the time I attended, the area was still a bit sketchy with crime and all. We had campus security at all times. Parking for the school was less than ideal. You couldn’t really park on the street because those were 1-2 hour spots and classes ran longer than that. So you had to park a few blocks up the street away from the campus. Now at the time, the school had made an announcement to be careful at night walking to your car because incidents had been reported. Mugging, burglary, car break-ins, etc. If you felt uncomfortable, the security guards would walk you to your car. That’s cool, but I was a dude. I got this. Except that announcement made me paranoid. And sometimes I ran to my car.

Paranoia will mess with you. It clouds your judgement. It will cause you to make bad decisions. Just look at this story out of 1 Chronicles…

1 Chronicles 19:2-4 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.  When David’s envoys came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites to express sympathy to him, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven’t his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved them, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.

Can we stop for just a moment and realize how funny this is? I mean, it’s absolutely terrible. But c’mon, who is the guy who thought of this? “Hey King Hanun, I’ve got an idea. Let’s make it so these guys moon everyone on their way back home.” I imagine they snickered like 12 year old boys as they watched these guys leave. I can almost see the pokes and jabs as they laughed hysterically, “it’s gonna be a full moon tonight!” (*sigh) Boys will be boys.  I digress.

The whole problem with this situation is that David actually sent these guys in peace to give his sympathy to Hanun. But paranoia ruled in the hearts of the Ammonites. That paranoia messed with their heads and made them think that David was out to get them. They thought he was sending these guys in as spies. Their judgement was clouded and they made a poor decision. In fact, instead of peace, this whole situation turned into war. And the paranoid Ammonites lost badly.

Are you living paranoid? Are you always wondering what bad thing will happen next? Do you spend time worried about what others are saying about you? Have you convinced yourself that everyone is out to get you? Friends, that is no way to live! You belong to a God who is for you. He declares Isaiah 41:10 over your life. “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”

Take heart today. Take refuge. Receive peace. Find joy. He is your God and he will hold you up. There’s no need to be paranoid any longer.