Sounds good to me

“Sounds good to me.” A statement I have uttered countless times. People have ideas; some people have good ideas. And when those ideas are presented to me as a leader, I often think they sound like good ideas. But sometimes, after putting some more thought and prayer into it, I realize the idea is actually not a good idea. What do I say then? I have to go back to that person and let them know that their idea was not actually as good of an idea as I said it was. That’s awkward; I don’t like it one bit.

This actually happened to a prophet in the Old Testament by the name of Nathan. One day, King David came to him for some advice. You see, he thought since he had a nice house, that he should build one for God, too. Not exactly for God, but for the ark of the covenant. Here’s the answer that Nathan gave him.

1 Chronicles 17:2 Nathan replied to David, “Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you.”

What a great confirmation for David. He asked a prophet of the Lord what he should do and he got the green light. Surely this brilliant idea came from the Lord. Except for what happened next. In verse 3 it says “But that night the word of God came to Nathan…” Hold the phone! You mean Nathan “the prophet” didn’t actually inquire of the Lord? He simply said, “sounds good to me.” That’s a problem.

God in his faithfulness spoke to Nathan what he should have told David. So Nathan had to have that awkward conversation. “Remember when I said, ‘sounds good to me?’ Well, it actually isn’t good. That’s not what God wants.” Back peddling is not fun, especially when someone is enthusiastic about your advice.

We will end up in the same back peddling situations as Nathan if we are too quick to answer. If we don’t call upon the Lord for His word and His guidance, we will be saying “sounds good to me” to things that are no good at all. So if we want to actually live in wisdom, we need to go to the Lord before we answer. We need to inquire of Him before we make our move. If we do, He will lead us in the way everlasting.

Now THAT sounds good to me!

Praise Him!

Today’s post is going to be a little different. As I was reading this morning, the words that David penned for his worship team resonated with me. So I am simply going to give you a portion of that. I hope that these words fill your heart with praise today.

1 Chronicles 16:28-36

28 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come before him.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his[e] holiness.
30     Tremble before him, all the earth!
    The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.

31 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
    let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
32 Let the sea resound, and all that is in it;
    let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them!
33 Let the trees of the forest sing,
    let them sing for joy before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.

34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.
35 Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior;
    gather us and deliver us from the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name,
    and glory in your praise.”
36 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.

Then all the people said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.”

More than enough

Recently, I was shopping at Costco with my son. When we got home, I asked him to help me unload the car. There were lots of things to bring in so I handed him a box to carry. He told me that he could carry more than that, so I gave him more. Then I gave him more and more. “That’s enough,” he told me. The truth is, it was more than enough! He started laughing at the hilarious sight he knew he was, and attempted to carry in this tower of boxes.  He almost made it, too. It was when he tried to set them down that they all came crashing. We had a good laugh.

too-many-boxes

As I was reading Exodus 36 today, that picture of my son carrying the boxes came to mind. You see, Moses had been collecting offerings in order to build the tabernacle. People were so generous and just kept giving and giving. It was awesome! Then this happened:

Exodus 36:4-7  So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more,because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.

Moses, please tell the people to stop giving; we have too much! Can you even imagine a scenario in your life where this is the case? This is some pretty extreme generosity. You see, the people saw the need and wouldn’t rest until it was met. How awesome is that? They not only gave enough, but they gave more than enough!

I’m not so good and giving more than enough. Don’t get me wrong, giving is awesome. It’s really cool to get to help someone meet their needs. I don’t mind buying someone lunch. But the Israelites not only bought lunch, they went for dessert, too. That’s some extreme generosity!

All this causes me to reflect on my own heart of generosity. Do I give of my time and my resources up to the point I am comfortable giving? Do I look first at what I can spare and give that? Or am I like the people of Exodus who just keep on giving to the point of overwhelming someone with extreme blessing?  The truth is, I’ve never been told to stop because I was too generous. The truth is, I tend to look at what I am lacking instead of what have. But the people of Israel didn’t let that stop them, nor did it stop the church in Corinth. In fact 2 Corinthians 8:2 says “their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” 

With our generosity, God can take poverty and turn it into richness. He can take the very little we have and overflow us with joy as we give. I am challenged today to be more giving. As we enter this season of giving, let’s be mindful that no one has probably ever told us to stop giving. Until that happens, there’s room to grow our generosity.

 

Better attitude than mine

Genesis 45:4-5 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

bad attitudeI try to have a good attitude. I really do. But sometimes life gets the best of me. Red lights, long lines, mean people, injustice, incompetence… the reasons are vast.  I just get frustrated sometimes. Frustration is a normal part of life – it happens to all of us. However, frustration can easily turn into a bad attitude. A rough morning can turn into grumpiness and an unfavorable situation can turn into a whine party. I don’t do it often, but I must admit… it happens.

Joseph wasn’t much of a whiner. He didn’t really complain. The brother had some bad days! That whole “sold into slavery” thing was kind of a bummer. Then the “falsely accused of trying to sleep with Potipher’s wife” situation was also quite unfortunate. Or how about the cupbearer and baker who “forgot” to tell the Pharaoh about the Israelite prisoner who helped them? Are you kidding me? I’m just gonna come right out and say it: Joseph had a better attitude than me.

At the end of the day, Joseph made this statement, “it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.”  How could he say that? How could he look at his miserable circumstances and give praise to God? Oh… wait a minute… maybe he figured out that it wasn’t all about him. When he looked back at his hardship he was able to see that God used every bit of it to raise him up to great places. He realized that even though it was hard, he was put in a position to save his family.  That’s perspective.  And that’s an attitude that’s better than mine.

*Some days I need an attitude adjustment. How about you?

 

Work harder, not smarter?

1 Kings 2:1-4 ​When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son. “I am about to go the way of all the earth,” he said. “So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’

(This one is mostly for the men out there, although it applies to everyone.)  We’ve all heard the old saying: work smarter, not harder?  Well I personally believe we should work both smarter and harder, but whatever.  The point is, wisdom tells us to think about what we are doing so that we don’t wear ourselves out with work that is pointless.  We practice this principle at our jobs, our ministries, and our sports endeavors; but I wonder if we practice it in our homes?

David was a wise man who gave some great advice to his son, who by the way became the wisest man who ever lived.  His advice? Son, it’s not so much about what you accomplish while you are on the throne.  The quantity of your work isn’t what is going to matter in the long run.  What really matters is that your descendants serve the Lord with their whole hearts.  If you can instill that in the generations to come, our family will always be on top. 

Now for some reason, men in our culture have put much more stock in what we accomplish today than what will matter tomorrow. We have relegated the responsibility of raising our kids to our wives, schools, sunday school teachers, and disney TV shows. We would rather they “go find something to do” than interact with them on a personal level.  It’s not okay, people.  It’s NOT OKAY! 

We must take a cue from David.  It’s not about what I accomplished at work today.  It’s not about the wars I will win or the money I will make.  It’s about me investing in the next generation.  It is about me taking an active role in preparing them to serve the Lord with all their heart and soul.  Someday, my great-great grandchildren will be on top because of it. 

The burden of unforgiveness

2 Samuel 3:26-27 26 Joab then left David and sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah. But David did not know it. 27 Now when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the gateway, as though to speak with him privately. And there, to avenge the blood of his brother Asahel, Joab stabbed him in the stomach, and he died.

What is up with these people?!  They just keep killing each other like crazy.  Is that really the best solution that they could come up with?  Here we have Joab who is still pretty ticked off about his brother Asahel getting killed by Abner.  Not to mention that Abner had told Asahel to stop following or he would kill him.  So Joab gets all bent out of shape when Abner tries to make peace with David… and he kills him.

That’s the best response you could come up with Joab?  After all this time you are still that messed up that you have to kill the guy?  There was another option, you know.  He could have forgiven.  It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.  Here he was, living with that feeling inside him that he needed to get even.  It kept him trapped, locked up, imprisoned.  The only way to take care of that feeling was to act on it.

If only he knew the power of forgiveness.  It takes that burden away and places it on the shoulders of our God, who can handle it.  It gives us peace and restores order to our hearts.  Forgiveness.  It’s what Jesus died for.  If you are trapped today by wrongs done to you and feelings of hate and anger, you have a choice to make.  Will you kill that person in your heart or choose to forgive?  I promise you that if you will choose forgiveness, you will find that you are the one who is truly set free.

I’ll fight with my dentures

1 Samuel 31:4-6 4 Saul said to his armor-bearer, “Draw your sword and run me through, or these uncircumcised fellows will come and run me through and abuse me.” But his armor-bearer was terrified and would not do it; so Saul took his own sword and fell on it. 5 When the armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. 6 So Saul and his three sons and his armor-bearer and all his men died together that same day.

We all have the opportunity to leave a legacy.  It is comprised of the values we esteem, the impression we leave on others, and the choices we make.  It is defined by the way we lead and the way we serve.  And it is wrapped up by the way we finish.  While we all have our bumps along the road of life, the finish line is what really matters most.  A strong finish can make you forget all the mistakes in between.  But what happens when you fail to end well?  How would it feel to know you have failed at leaving a worthwhile legacy to those behind you?

Such is the case with Saul.  He started off so well.  He was the first king that Israel ever had.  Sure he made mistakes along the way, but he had the opportunity to finish out his reign and his life with dignity and pass something onto those behind him.  Instead, he spent his latter years consumed with trying to hunt down David and kill him.  He visited a medium to call up the spirit of Samuel because he couldn’t get God to answer him.  Just really bad choices, people!

What sticks out to me the most, however, is his miserable finish.  He doesn’t go down fighting valiantly defending the honor of the Lord.  No, he fell on his sword and killed himself.  Lame.  And that was it, the end of the first king of Israel.  All that I can remember about his reign was the fact that he was a miserable failure who died a cowardly death.  Legacy FAIL.

There is no way I am going to follow in Saul’s footsteps.  I am going to finish well.  Even if I have no sword and I have to fight the enemy with my dentures – so be it!  I will be marked as a man of God, full of courage.  And I am going to think about the legacy I am leaving too.  Because we leave one whether we try to or not.  Some people might leave a legacy of alcoholism, abuse, violence, or anger.  They don’t mean to, but they do.  So I am going to think about what I am passing on.  I am going to work at it.  I am going to consciously leave a legacy every day of my life.