Wednesday, August 17, 2011

lectio divina:: 2 chronicles 20

I was reading in 2 Chronicles today at lunch and found something that I haven’t found before- it’s a story about king jehoshaphat- and he has a big problem-

verse 2 says: “Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea.”

that’s a big problem. what does king Jehoshaphat do in response?
I guess the bigger question is, “what do you do when you have a big problem?”
what do I do?

I usually freak out for a bit- worry, feel sorry for myself, and think about how I’m going to get out of the big problem. sometimes I try to just work and work until my problem is fixed. some people talk about the problem or throw money at the problem (unless money IS the problem). look at what Jehoshaphat does:

verse 2 says: “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah.”

Jehoshaphat first response was to pray about the problem. I need to develop this habit. Jehoshaphat resolved to pray about the problem- and he invited everyone else to pray about it too- because it was their problem too. I love what it says in verse 4: “The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”

I love that! even though it must have been really scary, everyone got together and prayed and sought God and His help. this is a cool moment.

as a leader- I really appreciate jehoshaphat’s humility here. as leaders we want everyone to think that we know what to do in every situation. we want everyone to feel like we’re the best person for the job because of how smart we are.
but in this situation, Jehoshaphat doesn’t know what to do- or maybe he does.
the best thing to do is not to preach or teach or administrate or delegate, the best thing to do is to pray. even his prayer are pretty cool.

verse 5 says, “Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard and said:

“O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.  O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?”

he doesn’t start his prayer with a big “HELLLLLPPP! fix my problems! get me out of my mess! be my magic genie!” he begins with worship- and reminding God (but really himself) just how powerful that God is.

then he gets to the requests:

verse 10 says, “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, … coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.”

verse 12 is my favorite part: “…we do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

I love that prayer! it represents so much humility and wisdom-
and I think it was the tipping point that urged God to act. what happens next is pretty amazing:

verse 13: “All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD. Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel … as he stood in the assembly. He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

how wild is that?! they were all just standing there, waiting for God to answer, and this message bursts out of this guy Jahaziel- wouldn’t that be amazing if that happened every time we prayed? I think I would pray a lot more! and I love his message to the people: “for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

when are motives are right, and our cause ir right, God has the freedom to step in for us like a big brother and say to us, “I’ll handle this…” and He is so much better at handling our problems than we are. there have been several situations that I can remember where I have been stressed over a problem and God just seemed to handle it for me. I didn’t need to get in an argument or confrontation, God stepped in and made it all better.

verse 17 says, “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’”

that will give you confidence- the LORD will be with you- and we can have that confidence if our cause are our motives are right.

I love what the Israelites did as they stepped into this battle:

verse 18: “Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.”

they didn’t get overconfident, they just kept on praying and worshipping.
I wish I could say that I did that too in every problem that I‘ve faced-

verse 20: “Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever.”

how is that for leadership?! “you guys are in charge of the singing and worshipping!” somehow jehoshaphat knew that prayer and worship- and really humility, were the keys to winning this battle and getting on the other side of this problem.
God loves humility- and its amazing how people are drawn to it and want to work with humble people.

God did defeat their enemies just like He said He would. Jehoshaphat worshipped his way into this problem, and then he worshipped his way out of it-

verse 27: “Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets.”

I love it. what a model of humilty, faith and leadership-

I don’t know what problem you’re facing today, but before you talk to your friends about it or seek advice from the internet, talk to God about it. before you act and start fixing it, stop and tell God that He is big enough to step over the obstacle that is in front of you. take time to say to God, “I do not know what to do, but my eyes are upon You.”

God is love.


Monday, August 1, 2011

a brand new me-

a few months ago I started counting calories, and I have now lost 35 pounds! that's kind of cool!

its fun to have my clothes fit loosly on me and to get good news from the scale in the morning.

I miss a lot of the junk that I used to eat- especially starbucks and mcdonald's- but I'm really grateful for skinny cow ice cream and KFC grilled chicken!

I've got some weight-loss resolutions- or things I've seen other people do when they've dropped weight that I don't want to do:

  • I'm not going to judge what people eat or how they look. you won't catch me saying "are you areally going to eat that?" I can't stand that.
  • I'm not going to start flirting. I've seen a bunch of guys lose weight and think that every lady out there is after them. its sad and it does a ton of damage to people.
  • I'm not going to give people unsloicited advice on how to be healthy, how to eat right or what they should or shouldn't be eating. ugh. 
so many of my friends have inspired me with their own healthy choices- my friends chris, adrian, niki, marc and my wife deanna. thanks for modeling for me how to make good choices and how to get results. I'm hoping to drop a few more and to keep it off for a long time just like all of you have done.



a friend of mine gave me a copy of eugene peterson's book, the pastor- I just finished it this morning. it too awhile to finish- but its not a book that you want to read too quickly. its very similar to his translation of the bible- every word is chosen carefully, and each sentence takes time to digest.

peterson introduced a concept in the book that has had my mind spinning- the pastor as artist.

artists work for art, and they work for art for free- because they love art. they are compelled to create. they don't do it because they have to or even expect to be paid for it- as a matter of fact- many artists work a job to pay the bills- but that job doesn't define who they are or what they do- who they are and what they do is art. their jobs may be menial, but their art is serious.

artists would love to make it big and get paid for their paintings, their sculptures, the acting or dancing, but even if they didn't get paid, they would still do it, because being an artist is a vocation, not a job. its a calling, a burden, a service to the arts itself.

peterson writes: "Being a pastor is a vocation, not a job. But when I became a pastor, I soon learned that I was living in a culture that didn’t know the difference between a vocation and a job. Artists were the first men and women who gave me a way to discern the difference."

there are thousands of pastors around the globe who function as artists. they do a job to pay the bills, but they aren't defined by that job- they are defined by the mnistry that they create- they are pastors. they don't do their ministry to get a paycheck, they do it out of service to the Good Pastor- the Good Shepherd Himself. what they do is a calling, a service, a burden, a joy, a vocation.

the prophet jeremiah said,
"But if I say, “I will not mention him
or speak any more in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot."

he was an artist.

I'm an artist too. although sometimes I forget that. sometimes it doesn't feel like art at all. I don't want to become one of those artists that made it to the big time and started getting paid for their art- the ones who care more about the pay than the art.

peterson asks, "how do I keep the heart of an artist? how do I keep myself from thinking that what I do is just a job? How do I keep my calling and my vocation from becoming just a job description?"

I don't have an answer. but I think that his words have got me on the right path-
or maybe back on the right path.

I need to remember that whether paid or not, I'm an artist serving the Creator-
the ultimate artist.
and I need to remember that when I began this journey- it wasn't about pay or a title, or a status or an image, it was all about the art; and the exhilaration of creating something that would endure forever. in the end its not about a job, its about a vocation.
being a pastor is a vocation, not a job.
"never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."

God is love.