chasing the wind

Category : God, old testament

 

The temple in Jerusalem played a huge role in the lives of Jews.  Not only was it part of their cultural heritage, it was where God resided.  But despite this significance, the Jews weren’t always good at taking care of it, and several times it had to be repaired.

The original temple was a masterpiece, and was constructed during the reign of Solomon.  Now Solomon was a guy with some serious cash.  He was the Bill Gates of the day.  Despite his wealth, Solomon listened to God and built his temple accordingly.  And so it honored God.

Fast forward a few hundred years to the time of Jesus.  And we find a man named Herod as the ruler over Jerusalem.  And once more it was time to “improve” the temple.  Now Herod had two problems.

1.  He didn’t really follow God

2.  He wanted to impress pagans

So he decided to build an elaborate temple that rivaled the much larger pagan temples which had been dedicated to Greek and Roman gods.  But he found himself stuck – the dimensions of the original temple were limited by what God had commanded.  So Herod struck out on a new idea – he would build several outer courts of the temple.  That way he could make it match the size of the pagan shrines, but still not break the legalistic requirements of the temple size.

He was consumed with the idea that showing off his money and wealth would bring him glory.

After spending something like 40 years constructing the temple it was finally completed.  Seven years later the temple was destroyed by the Romans.

Solomon once said,  “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income…As a man comes, so he departs, and what does he gain, since he toils for the wind?”

Solomon realized something that escaped Herod: building things and having great wealth doesn’t bring you success and glory.  Every physical thing, at some point, will fade away.  And that basic reality was why Herod had started his building campaign.

How often do I try to make things fit with my will instead of God’s?  How often am I chasing after wind?

thinking of yourself first

Category : God, faith, old testament

   

Some days I think I’m firmly following God.  But if I look closely at how I’m living my life, it’s apparent I’m not.  Usually it’s nothing major.  But it almost always means trouble is soon to follow.  I’m sure if I stopped to think about my actions, they would scream “Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!”  But I don’t.  I often don’t even realize I’m on that path until it’s too late.  Usually I don’t realize it until I’ve sacrificed closeness with God for some tangible, worldly thing.   And then I always say, “why? what was I thinking?”

I wonder if it ever occurred to Solomon that this was happening to him as he built his own palace.  You see, it took him 13 years to build a home for himself, but only 7 years to build one for God.  (1 Kings 6:38 – 7:1)

Despite all of his wisdom, I imagine that difference never occurred to Solomon.  But if he had paused to consider what that implied about his love for God verse his love for wealth, would he have ended up rejecting God in the last years of his life?

relating to David

Category : David, God, hope, love, old testament

   

There are some people in the Bible that I can relate to better than others.  David is one of those people.  And let me be upfront, it is not because I carry a sling!  So who was David?  Not only did he ultimately become the king of Israel, he was also this courageous, adventuresome, bold man – this is the guy who volunteered to fight the precursor to Arnold Schwarzenegger after all…  David had a lot of guts.  And, well, I decidedly lack guts.  I would have been one of those soldiers cowering in fear, not the one challenging a behemoth.  So I can’t really relate to his acts of bravery or leadership.

What I relate to is how often David screwed up.  David, like all of us, made some bad decisions.  Now that’s something I can identify with!  In perhaps his most well known screw-up he not only sleeps with the wife of one of his soldier’s (and gets her pregnant), but in order to cover up his affair he has the soldier killed.  

David had many other sins as well, such as pride, lust, a temper, and rebellion towards God.  Not exactly the stereotype we have when we think of “godly” men.  So why is David so important?  What is it about David that made God love him so much?  He certainly doesn’t sound like a particularly good role model! 

At the core of David’s story is encouragement and hope.  What separates David from Saul (the previous king of Israel and someone God rejected), is that every time David was confronted with his sin, he honestly, fully, and completely turned to God to seek repentance. David admitted that he screwed up, and he asked God for help. 

It was that simple act that separates David. 

And every time he did that God forgave him.  No matter how badly David screwed up, God forgave him.  This isn’t to say there weren’t consequences to his sins – 1 and 2 Samuel are full of the consequences of David’s sins.   

David’s love of God was so strong, and so complete, that he always turned back to the path of God, no matter how far he strayed from it.  That’s a lesson that all of us can use.  No matter how far from God we’ve become…  No matter how horrible the things we’ve done…  No matter what pain we’ve caused… God loves us.  And if we turn back to him in true repentance, he will always welcome us back.

That’s why I can relate to David. Because David reminds me that no matter what I’ve done, God still wants to know me. 

who am I?

Category : God, Saul, bible, choice, faith, old testament

Sometimes God calls us to do scary things.  He calls us to leave the comforts of our homes and become missionaries.  He calls us to change jobs so we can start ministries.  Sometimes he even asks us to do something really terrifying: talk to our friends about him!  

In my life it seems every time God asks me to do something crazy I go through the same process.  First I say, “I’m sorry, you didn’t really just say that, did you?”  Followed promptly by “d’oh!” when I realize (alright…admit) I heard him the first time.  When I begin to submit to the path God has for me, I find myself honestly asking “who am I to do such things?”

Who am I to do great things in the world?  Aren’t there more qualified people?  Better educated?  Less fearful?

In the Old Testament book of Samuel, God uses a prophet by the name of (wait for it……wait for it…..) Samuel to establish a king over Israel.  Up to this time Israel had been ruled by God.  So by demanding a human king, Israel was quite literally saying God was not good enough.  They wanted to be like everyone else, and if that meant rejecting God, they were okay with that.  They wanted to do it their way, not God’s way.     

So God goes about establishing Israel’s first king, a guy by the name of Saul.  Now not everyone has a great first day of work, and that’s certainly true of Saul.  Instead of a stirring speech, or exciting victory, we find Saul hiding with some baggage.  Not a great way to start when you’re supposed to be replacing the creator of the universe…

But Saul had a big problem: his desire to do things on his own.  (Kind of like Israel’s desire, huh?)  Saul had repeatedly demonstrated that he wasn’t interested in looking to God for help.   He wanted to do things by himself.  Who knows if he wanted to be The Man, or if he was just impatient?  But whatever his reasons, he always chose to strike out on his own. 

I think that is why he was hiding.  I think when he was selected as king he was asking himself: “who am I?”  And the answer hearing was “no one.”  And so he did something entirely reasonable – he hid.  I think if I would have been Saul, I would have hidden as well.  How could you possibly take God’s place as ruler over his chosen people?  How could your resume ever match God’s?  And to make matters worse, Saul believed he had to rely on his own abilities; that he had to do it all by himself.

His fear must have been crippling.  And so he hid. 

Whenever God asks us to do something for him it’s bound to be terrifying.  God is a radical God after all.  And we often don’t like doing something that’s different.  When God moves in our lives, we will often stand out from our friends.  We will occasionally look foolish to the world.  But we are never alone.  And we never have to do things by ourselves.  In fact, God doesn’t want us to do it alone.  Part of the reason he gives us such outlandish tasks is to show us (and the world) that he is control.   We are supposed to turn to God and ask for help. 

So the next time I’m asked to do something that scares me and I find myself asking “who am I?”  I need to follow that up with, “is God with me?” or “am I alone?”