Monday, August 21, 2017

If no one calls 911 does that mean we don't need help?

I came across a word the other day.  As it so often happens, my agenda to study a certain passage or word is set aside when I see a light shining in another doorway and the Lord is whispering, "Come check this out."  It's so annoying when he doesn't let me study what I think I should be studying.   So, I give a good eye roll and walk through the door that is opened down the hall, promising myself, "I'll only be gone a minute," as I look back at my tidy and organized thought processes written out and begging my attention.

I see this word on the door, and I nod my head and say so haughtily to the Lord, "So?  I get this word, I get its relevance in this passage.  I get this story.  I've heard this story, over and over and over again.  Yes, you have saved me.  Yes, you saved me by dying for me on a cross.  Yes, I get it, Lord, you've rescued me.

Do you know what rescue means?  We're not talking the romantic hollywood version of rescue where the damsel in distress is pushed out of the way of an oncoming car and she and her knight walk arm and arm into the sunset.  We're talking about rescue, rescue.  Like the Arnold Schwarzenagger kind of rescue or the Seal Team six kind of rescue.....sort of, but that's still not it.

What kind of rescue are we talking about then, Lord?

Remember when your daughter was lost in Sesame Place?  Remember when you searched and searched and searched for her, telling everyone what she was wearing, what color her hair was, begging everyone within shouting distance to LOOK FOR MY LITTLE GIRL!  I CAN'T FIND HER AND SHE WAS JUST HERE A SECOND AGO, I SWEAR!  SHE HAS BLOND HAIR AND IS WEARING A WHITE JACKET WITH TINY BLACK POLKA DOTS AND NEON PINK AND NEON GREEN STRIPES ON THE SHOULDER.  HAVE YOU SEEN HER?  HELP ME FIND HER, PLEASE!!! SOMEONE!  HELP ME FIND HER!

Yes, I remember.  I was very afraid she had been snatched by someone or hurt somewhere we couldn't see her.

Remember what you felt when you found her sitting in that theater, the lone child who just wanted to watch the play one more time?  Were you happy to see her sitting alone in that big theater?

Yes, and so relieved.  So very relieved.

Were you glad for her she wasn't hurt or more glad for yourself she wasn't hurt?

To be honest, I guess I was more glad for me.  She was having a good time and was mad at me when I made her get up and leave because the field trip bus was leaving.

So you were glad she was back with you, even if she had been hurt, you would have been glad she was back with you?  Even though she was crying you were taking her away?

Yes, I knew she was safe and I was so glad and mad and relieved and irritated and so very thankful.

Now you have an idea of what rescue really means when I put it in my word.  Take a look.

So I looked and this is what I found.

I was having a blast in Colossians 1:9-12, basking in the concordance and original Greek, finding new hope, being reminded of constant truths and when I was just ready to close my notebook another word jumped off the page, just a few words into verse 13.

The word I pooh poohed earlier and said to myself, "Yeah, I know what that's all about.  I'm done for the day."  I closed my notebook and my bible and pushed myself up from my desk and walked away.

Now, I meditated throughout the coming days on the passages I had studied, but "rescued" kept interfering with my thoughts, shining a light on the door yet to be opened wide if I would only press in.

So here I am today.

Rescued, in Jesus' way, by Jesus.

Not just a rescue that saved me in death, but a rescue that reached down and snatched me and pulled me away and dragged me away crying from what I was innocently enjoying, yet was not where the Master wanted me to be, away from Him.

He rescued me, he has rescued us.

To rescue, rhyomai in the Greek means, "from rhyo (Key word study Bible)
to draw, drag along the ground.  To draw or snatch from danger, rescue, deliver."

Biblehub.com says it this way:
"rhyomai - to draw or rescue a person to and for the deliverer.  In Matthew 6:13 (the Lord's Prayer) rhyomai is used in the closing sentence "deliver us from evil" - i.e. "Deliver me to Yourself and for Yourself."  That is "Lord deliver me out of my Personal pains and bring me to You and for You."

Here are the other places this word is used in forms of rescue or deliver:

Matthew 27:43
Luke 1:74
Romans 7:24
2 Timothy 4:18
2 Peter 2:9

Matthew 6:13
2 Corinthians 1:10

2 Thessalonians 3:2
2 Timothy 4:17
Romans 11:26

He didn't rescue us solely for our own good as I didn't search for my missing daughter solely for her own good.  He rescued us and I searched for my daughter because I needed her to be safe and to know she was safe.  He searched for us and rescued us because he needed us to be safe and to know we are safe.

He risked our tantrums and kicking and screaming and thinking we know best and ignored our threats to find a way to save ourselves and he reached down and snatched us from the dominion - (the authority, the physical capability to do something, the right and authority to carry out the action) of darkness - (spiritual darkness, implying ignorance or error; sin and misery).

Why?

Yes, for our sake, but as a parent, for His sake too.

No parent wants to lose a child.  No parent wants harm to come to their child.  God is certainly no different than us in that regard.  If we could, most of us who are parents would take every ache and pain and grief our children experience just so they don't have to suffer.  But also, if we're honest here,

so we don't have to watch them suffer.

He rescued you.  For many reasons, but only one that matters.  Because He loves His kids.  He broke through heaven's gates to come and rescue us in a way no other God or human being would ever do again.

You, my dear Reader, have been rescued by the God who wants no one to perish but for everyone to come to a knowledge of the truth.

That God rescued you, when you denied needing to be rescued, when you hated to know you had been rescued, he still pulled you out of darkness, for your sake and for His.  He's a good dad who hates to see his kids suffer.  He took the punishment we deserved, the suffering you would take for your own child if possible, and rescued us when we least wanted it or needed it or  believed we needed it.

Your God rhyomai you, for your sake yes, but for His sake too.

Peace,

Ronda







Tuesday, July 25, 2017

You're turning violet, Violet!

It's been a busy summer.

Four years ago we left our Tennessee home of fifteen years and moved to our home state of Wisconsin.  At the time our grown children were all married, but there were no grandchildren and no indication of any in the near future (that all changed on the day we handed over our keys to our daughter and son in law who informed us that we were indeed going to be grandparents).

What was done, was done.  The place of living was changed, boxes unpacked, pictures hung, a garage was built, and our new life in our old state began.

It was working well.  The driving between Wisconsin and our southern children was doable.  FaceTime was working fairly well for daily interactions with the newest member of our family.  It still was working when #2 grandchild was born in 2015.

Last summer, right around this time, we were anticipating the birth of #3 grandchild to be followed about a month later by #4 grandchild.  All was well, we were making it work.  I had scheduled time off from work so that I could be with both of our daughters after their babies were born.  We were managing.  We were making a tough situation doable.

Until.....

I had spent a good portion of August and September driving across the state of Tennessee helping out both of our daughters who lived on opposite sides of the state.  After #3 grandchild was born and my husband and I were on our way to assist the parents of #4 grandchild, I experienced at the time what I was sure just emotional grandmother blues.  My babies were having babies and I would have to leave them and be at least 700 miles away from them.  At least that's what I told myself it was and I told my husband too, because really, who in their right mind would move.....again.

I kept telling myself it was emotions and they would pass.  I'm always telling myself to not let my emotions rule my decisions.  As much as this "felt" emotional, it also "felt" different.  Like a pressing on my heart that something was up, much bigger and more detailed than planning 700 plus mile drives at Christmas and birthdays.

I told my husband this too.

He looked at me like I was crazy.

I felt crazy and emotional, and to be honest, a little out of control.

But in-between babies being born he made the call to our realtor and we decided that we would put our beautiful lake front Wisconsin home up for sale.  We would leave it in the Lord's hands that if we were meant to move, it would happen and if it was purely emotion, it wouldn't sell.  And, we would give it a year.

The contract was signed at the end of September.

Who buys lake front property in the winter, in Wisconsin no less?  This house wouldn't sell.  We'd be in Wisconsin through September and the house would go off the market and we would continue to make our long distance relationships work.

And then we got an offer on our house.

In February.

By March 31st we were moved out, our belongings in storage, and we had moved in with my parents.  In June we closed on our Tennessee home with a small acreage and here we are.

When we sat in the closing office the previous owner told us about a blueberry patch on the property.  She told us that there had been up to 100 gallons of blueberries in a season.  Being the non garden, non country girl, non any type of plant girl that I am, I had no concept of what that meant, nor did I care.  Blueberries were the least of my concern at that particular moment.

A few days after we closed my husband and I strolled out to see the blueberry "patch."  They looked like this.




About two weeks later, when the pages of the calendar flipped to July, those green balls suddenly became blue and this green in the garden city girl has been picking blueberries like her life depended on it.  We are quickly closing in on those 100 gallons.





What a difference a year makes.

It's been a bittersweet transition.  We said good-bye, again, to extended family and renewed friendships.  We said hello to little people who are just beginning to grow and learn and explore and hope and pray and believe.  We sit in a house, hubs and I, with a project list a mile long and just as wide, shaking our heads and marveling at how we got here.

Just like we were sling shotted up to Wisconsin four years ago is how this move seems too.  I quit using the word never four years ago, but I really hope this is our last move.  (Please, God).  And so I will pick my blueberries and relish the sunsets off my back deck.  I will watch the deer and the turkeys and enjoy today.  I will praise God for the wild ride He seems to think is good for me.







And I will pray that this is the last move.


Peace,

Ronda






Sunday, July 2, 2017

No exchanges or returns

One word.  One time in all of the New Testament.  Its context can be discussed by the theologians and those smarter and more learned than this gal but this word has been swimming around in my brain, not rattling, swimming.  Floating on its back, enjoying the sunshine on its face, every once in a while rolling over to tread water when it sees I've drifted a little too far from shore.

Irrevocable.

The English definition according to MW is

"not capable of being changed; impossible to revoke."

The Greek definition of the word ametameletos

".....about which no change of mind can take place, not affected by change of mind....without regret or remorse for an action because it was done from deep conviction (true concern)."

Would you like to know where that word sits among the flowers of God's word?

It's tucked in a verse that really has nothing to at all to do with my present day troubles or concerns and it speaks to me not as Paul intended its readers to understand in regards to his fellow Jews.  God's word is funny like that.  What is written for one, benefits many.

A verse or a word or a chapter or a book taken without full instruction on Hebrew or Greek, ancient practices and history, jumps across time and rests in the heart of a woman far removed from the original writer or intended Roman readers.

".......for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."

The words and sentences surrounding these 8 words really are not very comforting for this Gentile as they are written for and about the Remnant of Israel.  The truth of these words, especially the longest word - irrevocable - make my heart sing praise to Him who has freed me from the bondage of sin and made my heart clean.

God doesn't take back his gifts.  Once he gives a gift, it's for keeps.  Once he gives a gift, even to a passive or ungrateful heart, he is bound to himself to never change his mind, never regret, never have remorse that he gave the gift.

Why?  Why God?  Aren't you ever sorry you made us?  Aren't you ever sorry you saved us?

I think his answer would be:

"No, because the gift was given out of true concern for my creation."

He saw us in our sin, and where you or I may leave us wallowing in it until we learned our lesson, God pulled us out, gave us a new heart and said, "It's yours to keep.  No returns or exchanges accepted."

He never regrets saving us or calling us out of our sin.

Never.

No matter how wicked and evil the times are, he never regrets saving us.  We would rather see some serious punishment for some of the evil we are living in and through, instead of the free gift of salvation still available to the most vile offenders. (Like I often, often forget I once was).

But God?  Nope.  He doesn't regret giving us the gift that will never be taken back.

So, tucked in Romans 11:29, out of complete context for this 21st century woman sitting at her computer with bed hair and great peace, is a singing hope -

for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable

I rest in knowing that his gifts that I so often misuse and abuse and not use, and the call on my life to be who I am, where I am, doing what I do - none of it's a mistake.  None of it was done on a whim.  The gift God bought for me was not an impulse buy.  He put great thought into just the right gift of salvation.  He put great thought into just the right place in history where he would put you and me.

And he made both of those irrevocable.

For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be the glory forever!


Peace,

Ronda

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A to Z reflections

This was the fifth A to Z challenge I have participated in and I wish I could claim I made a lot of new friends, visited a lot of new blogs, expanded my thinking and all such things one hopes to glean from this activity.

If I may be frank, up until the end of February I really hadn't put a lot of thought, let alone prayer, into what I may write about if I participated this year.  The days between the 2016 challenge and the days during the 2017 challenge were rough on many levels.  Blessings abounded, but the political atmosphere in 2016, the personal professional challenges, and the new changes my husband and I are once again finding ourselves in left little motivation to come up with a twenty six item list of things to write about, let alone find a theme for.

But, silly girl that I am, I forget what God can do.

I was challenged not only by my theme - a bunch of war ready boys - but I was challenged to put myself in David's shoes and Joab's sandals and even Benaiah's.  No, I wasn't facing what they faced, but the more I studied them, the more I gleaned for practical application personally.

I didn't hold an opinion as to the changes with the linky list vs. posting on Facebook, except I will say that is one of the reasons I didn't visit other blogs.  Since the election I have tried to limit my Facebook time, so I did not spend any time visiting blogs through that route.  This is not to say that I won't in the months ahead, but I did find the linky list convenient for getting to and seeing where I've been.  I never had expectations of visiting all of them, but I did like the layout of the previous method.

All that being said, I had one faithful visitor and commentator of my blog who gave me a personal shout out on her blog, so I will return the compliment.  Barbara was a great encourager this year.  Just when I thought I was going off into no man's land with my topics, she was there with an encouraging word to spur me on to keep plowing in unfamiliar territory.  Thank you, Barbara!

All this being said, I truly do find this writing challenge personally rewarding and encouraging.  I love, love, love to dig in God's word.  This becomes truer each year I have participated.  The answers to the problems of God's people lies in the ancient words.  Please search, please hunger and thirst, please dig.  This is our time.  This is your time.  No one is expecting you to have all the answers immediately or ever, but you won't have any answers if you don't ask!

Dig, Church, Dig!


Peace,

Ronda

p.s.  I do have my 2018 theme picked already!  Isn't God good?  :)






Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ziklag

Ziglag had been given to David by Achish, king of Gath (a Philistine city) while Saul was king. Ziglag was a place of refuge for David.

In the 1 Chronicles account of David and his mighty men, this is said about the place called Ziglag:

"These were the men who came to David at Ziklag, while he was banished from the presence of Saul son of Kish (they were among the warriors who helped him in battle; they were armed with bows and were able to shot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed; they were kinsmen of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin)."

Two significant events unfolded in Ziglag at the beginning of David's pre king and early kingship days.

The first being it was at Ziglag David heard Saul and his son Jonathon were dead.  (2 Samuel 2:1).

The second event, occurring before Saul died, was a a moment in David's life where the rubber met the road.  If there were going to be followers following his lead they would be tested right then and there.

And they were.

"When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive.  So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.  David's two wives had been captured - Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel.  David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters.  But David found strength in the LORD."

Ziglag was the place where the true and loyal followers of David rose to the top.  It was at Ziglag where those men becoming Mighty had to make a choice.  A hard choice.

While in bitter grief and despair.

They could blame David for the destruction and kidnapping of their wives and children.  Or they could fight the real enemy.

It was at Ziglag where the would be Mighty Men walked the tightrope line of resentment and character.

Young David, having been pursued and harassed by Saul over and over and over again, was in the beginning stages of forming a mighty army.  It could have all fallen apart right then and there at Ziglag.  But David.....

"found strength in the LORD his God."

While David went from hero to potential dead man walking, he "found strength in the LORD his God."

Not in his weapons or his logistical warfare abilities or his popularity.

No, he found his strength in the LORD his God.

When all those around him were battling grief and despair and living in the crisis of the moment, their thoughts not clear, their reasoning clouded by pain, David found a way to not take the pain of his men personally, but instead he found his strength in the LORD.

Another bite of humble pie the LORD needed to feed him was fed at Ziklag.  Those who were committed to David and his cause were sifted out, the cream rose to the top and in the end six hundred of those grieving and plotting mighty men, came back to David's side and fought next to him.  David "recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives.  Nothing was missing; young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken, David brought everything back."

David would not be officially anointed as king of Judah in Ziglag (it would be Hebron where the physical anointing would take place (2 Samuel 2)), but I can't help but think that the invisible king clothes were put on David in Ziglag.  A city of the enemy may have been the invisible birthplace of the king after God's heart.

Z is for Ziglag.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Youngest

David, the would be king with a heart after God's was the youngest boy in a family of seven boys.  The youngest.

Not the oldest.  Not the middle child.  Not the second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth.

The youngest.

The baby of the family.

God seems to find it beneficial to use the least likely of families to do mighty work.  Remember Joseph?

What about the youngest in your family?  Are you the baby?  Are you annoyed by the baby of your family?  Do you see yourself with the potential to be a leader coming from a life of following in the footsteps of your older siblings?

What made David different than his brothers was only one thing.

The Spirit of the LORD upon David in power.

The Mighty Men devoted their lives to following a baby of a family.  The baby who grew up to slay a giant and become king started out as the youngest in a houseful of boys.

Hebrews says this about David:

"And what more shall I say?  I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.  Women received back their dead, raised to life again.  Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection.  Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison.  They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.  They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated - the world was not worthy of them.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground."

David, leader of the Mighty Men whose sufferings, no doubt because they followed David, were also part of this list, was born the youngest.  His brothers, if they were like any big brothers today, would have never believed their little pimply faced, lazy, daydreaming, musical brother would ever be listed in the great hall of Hebrews wall of Faith.

But he was.  The youngest, leader of the Mighty Men, fought in a world not worthy of him.

Y is for youngest.

Hebrews 11

Friday, April 28, 2017

Xylograph

Xylography - the art of making engravings on wood especially for printing.



This is all I have for X

X is for Xylography

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Weapons of Warriors

When the LORD rejected naughty Saul as king he used the prophet Samuel to find his replacement.  The Lord sent Samuel to Jesse of Bethlehem because he had "chosen one of his sons to be king."

Samuel had preconceived notions of what a king should look like and when the first son of Jesse, Eliab, was brought to him Samuel thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed stands here before the LORD."

Brother after brother after brother after brother after brother was rejected.

It came down to the youngest boy of seven boys - David.

When David was brought to Samuel, the LORD said, "Rise and anoint him, he is the one.  So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power."

He was anointed, but David wasn't officially king yet.  And there is so much more intrigue to the story.

King Saul was being tormented by an evil spirit sent from the Lord when the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul.  (Check it out for yourself and read Saul's relationship with the LORD and why the LORD rejected him).

A king without the Spirit of the LORD.

Rejected by the LORD.  The rejection wasn't just a turning away, but the LORD sent an evil spirit to torment Saul.

God left.  Evil entered.

David's first weapon, the one before the slingshot and five stones......was a harp.

A harp was the weapon that caused the evil spirit to leave Saul.

One of Saul's servants said,
"I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the harp.  He is a brave man and a warrior.  He speaks well and is a fine-looking man.  And the Lord is with him."

The weapon was placed in David's hands, the strumming would begin...

"Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play.  Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him."

A young son with a harp and a sling and five stones would become a leader of hundreds of thousands whose weapons would bring death and destruction to all who God allowed.  The Mighty Men were trained, their weapons ready.

Oh that a harp would be the only weapon needed.

W is for Weapons of Warriors


1 Samuel 8-31





Volunteer


When I start playing with an alphabet list of words for the A to Z challenge, I first scour my concordance looking for words that fit my theme.  Or, I come up with my initial list and find words using a dictionary and/or thesaurus to fill in my holes.

The Mighty Man theme was a little more challenging then the past years simply because the information about them is minimal.  So today's word, volunteer, was first supposed to be "victories" until I saw this passage when I was working on the M post.

"All these fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks.  They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel."  (1 Chronicles 12:38).

As I always do I start with my good ol' Merriam Webster app and found the definition for volunteer there:

to offer to do something without being forced to or without getting paid to do it

This definition seemed to fit what the English translation of this passage was saying.

Until it sorta didn't.

Bible Hub says it this way:  "All these he of war that could keep rank heart with a perfect came to Hebron consult with David over all Israel and also all the rest of Israel heart of one consult David.  (Written left to right by me but if you click on any of these links you need to read it right to left - the Hebrew way).

But what I see in these words are Mighty men who saw a leader who could lead and were given a God given peace to follow without doubt.  Were their eyes on David's God or were their eyes on David's eyes watching God?  We'll find out in heaven.  But the peace that the Bible describes, it was deep, it was wholehearted as they followed a king chasing God's heart.

They were of one mind.

They saw their leader as a leader following the King of Kings.

I have a sneaking suspicion that it was a no brainer for each and everyone of these mighty men who "volunteered" to follow a God chaser into battle, they were following a king who would carry the line of their Messiah.

V is for volunteer




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Uriah the Hittite

Even if you are not religious, even if you have had little or no exposure to the things of Judaism or Christianity, chances are you still may have heard of the story about David and Bathseba.  You remember, don't you?  King David - humble, "man after God's own heart," that King David - "in the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king's men and the whole Israelite army....But David remained in Jerusalem."

Why did he remain in Jerusalem?  Did he have a cold?  Was there a death in the family?  Did he just not feel like going to work?  Was his ego getting so big that he felt he could take the spring fighting off and just stay home?  Was he just tired?

God leaves those details out. He does that a lot, doesn't he?  Maybe if we knew WHY he stayed home it may change the way we judge WHAT he did because he stayed home.

The story is told:

"One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace.  From the roof he saw a woman bathing.  The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her."

David found out that it was Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.  But even when he knew who she was and whose she was he "sent messengers to get her.  She came to him, and he slept with her."

If you're a viewer of soap operas and current pop culture you already know what happened.

Yep.  Bathsheba got pregnant, David found out, and so what did the King after God's own heart do?

He brought Uriah, her husband, a loyal Mighty Man of the King after God's own heart  in from the war zone, told him to go home and spend some time with his wife.  But Uriah, probably having had taken notes from his fellow Mighty Men in the water for the king exploit, refused to go home.  He had one of those annoying honor among comrades things going - I've heard of many many guys who come home feel guilty for leaving their fellow soldiers behind.  Uriah was like that.  "The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord's men are camped in the open fields.  How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife?  As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!"

It's a fascinating story.  One I hope you pick up and read.  It is a story that knocks King David off the pedestal we put him on when we realize that the man after God's own heart had it in his sin poisoned heart to take out Uriah to push down the feelings of guilt he surely was having.

Because Uriah was so honorable and David so human, Uriah was killed.  Not by David's hands, but by David's plan.

Uriah, honorable and loyal and trustworthy and selfless Uriah, died at the hands of someone else's sin.

U is for Uriah the Hittite.


2 Samuel 11

Monday, April 24, 2017

Tekoa

Ikkesh, the father of Ira, one of David's Mighty Men was from Tekoa.  There is not a lot of pre-David Biblical information about Tekoa but long after David and his Mighty Men were dead, the shepherd who would become prophet, Amos, came from Tekoa.  Amos prophesied during the time of Uzziah, King of Judah and Jeroboam king of Israel.

In relation to the Mighty Men, there is not a lot of biblical data provided about Tekoa.  However, I did find in my research that at one time the olive trees from Tekoa were used in the Menorah during Chanukah.

Only the purest of olive oils was used for the Menorah. Do you know how it was prepared? Well, to begin with, no ordinary olives were used for the oil of the Menorah. Preference was first of all given to the oil of the olives growing around the city of Tekoa. No, not Tokyo, my boy, good heavens, no! Tekoa is a town in the Holy Land of Israel, where the Prophet Amos used to live. This town was located in the province belonging to the Tribe of Asher, whom Yaakov blessed with the words: "Asher's bread shall be fat and he shall yield royal dainties" (Gen. 49:20). The olives had to be grown on virgin soil which had not been artificially manured or irrigated. The olives had to be ripe and fresh from the tree, and only the first drops gently squeezed out from such choice olives could be used for the Menorah!

T is for Tekoa the home of the Mighty Man Ira's father, Ikkesh.

Further interesting reading about Tekoa







Saturday, April 22, 2017

Shammah


Shammah, or Shamhuth in 1 Chronicles 27:8, probably was one of the Three who risked their lives to get a drink of water for the king.  He and Eleazar shared a bond as the only two who were described as standing their ground in a field while everyone else fled.  Shammah, "when the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils....took his stand in the middle of the field.  He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory."

There's no detail of his hand being frozen to a sword but I can almost hear the two of them boasting about the victory.  Just when their egos might be getting too inflated perhaps a gentle reminder from the Holy Spirit might have come, "Boys, the LORD brought about a great victory.  You two are the ones who got to hold the sword and watch."

We all carry the boasting strand mixed in our DNA.  We tell our war stories building ourselves up in all that we did or didn't do, but in the end, when the miracles are the only explanation for the trouble we were able to find our way through, the humble person knows they had nothing at all to do with winning the fight.  It is indeed the Lord who brings about our victories.

I wonder, as Shammah and Eleazar stood in those fields of lentils and barley, their swords raised, were they hearing the words Moses had heard generations before:

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Perhaps the LORD is saying the same to you, dear reader.  Be still.  The LORD will fight for you.  He didn't tell Moses he might fight for you or he'll think about fighting for you or even that he'll decide if you're worth fighting for.  

He WILL fight for you.

Just

Be still.



S is for Shammah

2 Samuel 23:11-17
Exodus 14


Friday, April 21, 2017

Ribai, father of Ithai


The loyalty of David's Mighty Men is something that God seems to want me to be sure is understood in the stories of their exploits and devotion to the man after God's heart.  Ribai's son, Ithai would become a loyal follower of David and be counted as a Mighty Man.  For whatever eternal purposes these stories have made their way into the scriptures, it seems to me as I am studying these Mighty men, God has placed a strong emphasis on the leader's need for loyalty among those who follow him.
As we read yesterday, life and limb were risked by David's Mighty men for a simple drink of water for their leader.

Ribai's boy carried the qualification of loyalty too.  A native of Gath, he left his native Philistine city and committed himself to David.  When David's son Absalom rebelled against David, Ittai went with the king and refused to return to Jerusalem even after David said, "Why should you come along with us?  Go back and stay with King Absalom.  You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland.  You came only yesterday.  And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going..."

Ittai's loyalty is admirable.  He answered David, "As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be."

He was loyal to David through all difficult changes and circumstances.  Because of this loyalty, David made him a commander of a third part of his army, along with Joab and Abishai.    

R is for Ribai's son, Ithai.  A foreigner loyal to a king.



2 Samuel 15:18-22; 18:2, 5

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Quench


There is a story recorded about a day David was thirsty.  He was surrounded by his enemy, the Philistines, and said, "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem"(where it just so happened to be where the Philistines were).  The story goes then "So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David."

But what did David do?  His "Three" risked their lives for their leader's thirst and when they brought it to him, "he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD.  'God forbid that I should do this!' he said.  'Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?'  Because they risked their lives to bring it back, David would not drink it."

The leadership of David was such that the Three risked their lives for his thirst to be quenched.

Q is for Quench

1 Chronicles 11:15-19

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Philistines

There is a saying "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."  No truer saying could be used to describe David's relationship with the Philistines.

The Philistines, on more than one occasion were an enemy to the Hebrews, especially under King Saul.  However, they were a friend to David, who even after killing their giant warrior Goliath, years later would give David refuge when Saul was hunting him down to be killed.  (1 Samuel 21:10-15; 27:1-28:2; 29:1-11).

Perhaps during those years of "friendship" were when David studied and learned things from the Philistines that he would later use to his advantage when he and the Mighty Men battled them before, during and while he was king.

On the battlefield, one can never be certain your friend one day may become your enemy the next.  David certainly could attest to that.

P is for Philistines.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Obed

I remember the first time I saw the movie, "October Sky."  The topic on which the movie was centered around, building rockets, had no interest to me.  However, the story behind the man who would go on to build rockets for NASA, Homer Hickman, was a story that almost gave me the desire to learn about rocket building.

Almost.

Suffice it to say, I never pursued a degree in physics or aeronatics from watching October Sky, but I have forever since been intrigued by the story of Homer Hickman.  An ordinary boy, son of a coal miner who would grow up to be a great scientist and NASA engineer.

Ordinary beginnings led to extraordinary discoveries.

At the end of the list of David's Mighty Men, and only in the 1 Chronicles 11 list, is the name Obed.  He is the second to the last name listed as a Mighty Man of David.  I've wondered as I've studied these names and looked for clues about their upbringing and histories, when the list was being "chronicled" by David, was Abishai or Joab or even Josheb standing behind him giving him all the names to be listed.

Maybe it was a scene like this:

David:  Okay guys, do I have everyone?

Ronda's imaginary consultant for David:  Let's see, Asahel?  Check.  Elhanan?  Check.

On down the list they would go, easily remembering those guys who stood front and center in their minds for whatever acts of bravery that stood out from the others, or perhaps it was their confidence that stood out and so their names were more easily remembered.

Whatever the case, I can't help but wonder if Obed, seemingly very ordinary to be listed second to last, and making only one of the lists, was remembered at the last minute, just before the ink dried and the scroll got rolled up and past on to the keeper of the Holy Scrolls.

David:  (Hitting his head)What was that kids' name?  You remember, kinda quiet and stood back most of the time....What was his name?  He hung out with another quiet kid and that Mezobaite?  What was his name?

Ronda's imaginary consultant for David:  Started with an O....Obadiah....no, that's not it.  Othniel?  No.....Wait, I know!  Obed!  Same name as you're grandpa!

David:  That's right!  Obed!  How could I forget that name?

There's not much to tell about Obed.  Just pure speculation as to what he may have been like, what he may or may not have done.  God did not find it necessary to tell us too many details about him except his name and that he was considered one of David's Mighty Men.

Probably an ordinary man, used by God, to do extraordinary things for an ordinary man who became king.

O is for Obed.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Nahari

Nahari was the armor bearer of David's nephew Joab.  To use a golfing term, he was a caddy of the war kind.  An armor bearer carried the soldiers weapons.  I read they often carried the shield in front of the soldier.  They were on the battle field and apparently Nahari took notes on the actions of war techniques of Joab because he was one of David's Mighty Men.

As you come across Joab's name in the Bible,  keep in mind, when you read what Joab is doing, most likely Nahari was there witnessing it and/or supplying the right weapon for the job.  Joab was a loyal confidant of David but they had a contentious relationship where David often overruled Joab's advice when it went against David's often clouded judgment.

Nahari was from Beeroth, a Canaanite town.  During the time of Joshua, the residents of Beeroth formed an alliance with the Gibeonites and other surrounding areas and deceived Israel into making a covenant with them, even though God had told them not to.  When Joshua found out they had been deceived, instead of killing them, he made them "woodcutters and water carriers for the community and for the altar of the Lord."

Nahari, possibly a child of a woodcutter or water carrier, and an armor bearer to the commander of the King's royal army became a Mighty Man under the leadership of King David.

N is for Nahari

Joshua 9
For Joab's and Nahari's stories start at 2 Samuel 2.




Saturday, April 15, 2017

Multitudes of Mighty Men

While King Saul was still alive and seeking to kill his replacement, God was building up David's army.  As yesterday's post showed, the loyalty of David's men was admirable.  The number of men specifically named in the Bible as supporters of David pale in comparison to the numbers of soldiers who were part of David's army.

If my math is correct, and please feel free to check my work, here is the breakdown of David's army and the tribes they came from:

Judah - 6,800 carrying shield and spear and armed for battle
Simeon - 7,100 warriors ready for battle
Levi - 4,600 including Jehoiada, leader of the family of Aaron, with 3700 men, and Zadok, a brave young warrior, with 22 officers from his family
Benjamin - 3,000 - most of whom had remained loyal to Saul's house until then
Ephraim - 20,800 brave warriors, famous in their own clans
Manasseh - 18,000, designated by name to come and make David king
Issachar - 200 chiefs who understood the times and knew what Israel should do along with unnumbered relatives under their command
Zebulun - 50,000 experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon to help David with undivided loyalty
Naphtali - 1.000 officers with 37,000 men carrying shields and spears
Dan - 28,600 ready for battle
Asher - 40,000 experienced soldiers prepared for battle
Reuben, Gad and half tribe of Manasseh - 120,000 armed with every type of weapon

Total:
339,922 fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks.  They volunteered to make David king over all Israel.  They were "of one mind to make David king."

Imagine that.  Over 300 thousand people of one mind.  All volunteers.  All ready to do what it takes to see that a mission is successful.  They were armed and ready warriors, prepared for battle, experience oozing out of some of their pores.  War was not their first rodeo.  War was a part of them.  It didn't come upon them by surprise.  They were ready.

The elite among them, the Thirty, the Three, and the Chief of the Three didn't act in a vacuum.  Their logistical and tactical support team/infrastructure was immense and priceless.  Eleazar could only stand against the Philistines with his hand frozen to his spear because the unseen support of over 300,000 men were not far away, (hiding, depending on who is telling the story), but they were there.

They were ready.  They were willing.  They had their weapons.

Are you ready?  Are you willing to fight the battles you are facing?  Do you have your weapons sharpened?

M is for Multitudes of Mighty Men

Peace,

Ronda

Ephesians 6:10-18
2 Corinthians 10: 3-5




Friday, April 14, 2017

Loyalty

To be loyal means "having or showing complete and constant support for someone or something."

No one was more loyal to David then his Mighty Men.  Some of them, the Bible says, used to be loyal to King Saul but then went over to David's side. There were other warriors not listed as the Mighty Men who "came to David at Ziklag while he was banished from the presence of Saul of Kish (they were among the warriors who helped him in battle; they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right handed or left-handed; they were kinsmen of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin)."

Then there were the Gadites who defected to David at his stronghold in the desert.  "They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear.  Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains."

There were other Benjamites and some men from Judah who "also came to David in his stronghold." When David came out to meet them he said to them, "If you have come to me in peace, to help me, I am ready to have you unite with me.  But if you have come to betray me to my enemies when my hands are free from violence, may the God of our fathers see it and judge you."

But Amasi, Chief of the Thirty said, "We are yours, O David!  We are with you, O son of Jesse!  Success, success to you, and success to those who help you, for your God will help you."

Then there were men of Manasseh who "defected to David when he went with the Philistines to fight against Saul."  The Bible says they helped David against raiding bands, for all of them were brave warriors, and they were commanders in his army.  Day after day men came to help David, until he had a great army, like the army of God."

Some of them, the men of Benjamin, the kinsmen of Saul and who had remained loyal to Saul, when they reached their fill of what Saul was doing, up and left Saul and transferred their loyalty to David.

Loyalty doesn't just happen.

Loyalty is a result of a leader respecting those he or she is leading.  If the leader doesn't respect the followers, loyalty will not make an army an army.  You may have a small division or two but to build an army of loyal followers it is best to have respect for those who are giving up everything for your cause.

David's mighty men and the other warriors were loyal to David because he was loyal to them.  There were things David did that proved to his followers he was loyal to them in return.  Their allegiance was valuable to David.  His allegiance to them produced undivided loyalty.

L is for loyalty.


Peace,

Ronda

1 Chronicles 12

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Kill

This letter didn't come easy for me.  There are not a lot of K words that fit nicely into this theme.  Believe me, I've looked.  I tried to find something other than the word that I have for today's post. King...Weird K named regions of Israel...anything to not have to do this word; the word that keeps reverberating in my mind like a church bell trying to gets its last dong in, hoping to call the last sleepy eyed straggler out of bed.

This really isn't a girl word.  Or a Christian word.  Or a word we like to line up with the beautiful things of mercy and grace and peace and forgiveness and all those other sparkly words that fill our feeble hearts with contentment, if only in short-lived moments by moments.

But kill was a part of what David and the Mighty Men did.  They killed.  A lot.  They trained to kill.  They were good at killing.  They were experts at killing.  They were the Seal Team 6 of ancient Judah.  They didn't need high powered scopes and night goggle vision.  They got the job done without satellites and radar and heat sensitive tracking devices.

And God knew what they were doing.  In fact, as we've already seen, God gave them the victory!

How does one reconcile a loving God full of mercy and clothed in redemptive powers with a God who seems to be ok with letting a world run wild with acts of violence and murder?

How come the "man after his own heart" was honored even though his life was filled with killing human beings?

How come God lets us read about a group of men whose soul purpose it seems was to kill in battle or needless revenge?

Why are there wars?

Why do people kill each other?

Why does a good and loving God allow such things?

Why, for crying out loud, doesn't the God of the Universe put a stop to all the killing?

Anyone?




Since Adam and Eve first choose their selfish needs over their perfect relationship with God, mankind has suffered the poison of that broken relationship.  Children are the first to suffer for the parent's shenanigans, and Cain, and most certainly Abel, were the pioneers of such truth.  Cain, the child of Adam and Eve, committed the first kill.  Adam and Eve couldn't blame it on TV or video games or the bully at school or anyone or anything else.  When you are the only four people on earth, the finger of blame doesn't point very far outside of the family home.

The potential to commit violence entered into the hearts of Adam and Eve the second they turned away from their Friend who walked with them in the cool of the day and instead listened to the serpent's enticing question, "Did God really say.....?" and has continued to be an (un)welcome guest in the heart of every human being since.

If you're like me, you like to read past the parts in the Bible where God's people are truly violent, where God seems to give the ok to slaughter and wipe out whole communities no matter the age or the sex.  Violence is a reality in our world and it most certainly was a reality at the time of David and his Mighty Men.  Kill or be killed if you believe what historical documentation records in the history of civilization.

Death, whether by violence or sleep or illness....kills.  Permanently.  Forever.

The deaths on tv and movies, as we cover our eyes or look away to avoid the blood and the gore even though we know the actor will get up after the shot and walk away, then clean himself off and go to the next studio to shoot the next scene of perhaps a comedy or drama, aren't real everlasting deaths.  They have no eternal consequences.  They are pretend.  People are payed, sometimes very well, to pretend they have been killed or they have killed.

Fake news about fake death.

Real killing though leads to real death.

David's God, your God too if you believe, let Himself be killed.  He let himself be tortured.  He let himself be violated in painful and humiliating ways.  Perhaps the techniques that the Mighty Men of David used on their enemies were passed on through the generations to the men who tortured and killed the King of Kings.

Violence is part of a world separated from the Kingdom of Heaven and bestowed on the King of Heaven.  With his permission.

Killing is not part of God's good and perfect will, but killing was and is used for God's good and perfect will.  How can those two sentence both be true?

Soon, the day will come, the killing will stop, the Mighty Men will be out of a job.  Violence will not be the means for pseudo peace between humans, for the Prince of Peace will forever overthrow the prince of violence.  The death the Prince of Peace suffered was the only death that was not permanent and made the way for those who believe in him to not suffer permanent death.

The violent death of the Mighty Prince of Peace led to Resurrected life.  His death leads to my resurrected life both in my Spirit now and in my body when it dies.  My death will not be permanent.  I will enter into resurrected life where all my questions will be laid aside as I fall at the feet of the King of Kings in all his glory.  Death could not master him, and because it could not master him, it will not master me.  

Until then, until my body still has life for now, I struggle to accept I won't know or understand the paradox of a merciful God and his unending love for a violent world.  But I will trust in the God who is a God of mercy and longs to show mercy on a world whose heart is prone to violence and death.  Death is not the final answer to those who belong to the God who led David and his Mighty Men.

K is for kill.


Peace,

Ronda


If you are a regular reader and a reluctant student of the word because you come here, open up a new tab, see the one next to this window?  Yes, that one.  Open it up and type in Biblegateway.com and then type in the word death in the search bar.  Look up all the places in the book of Romans where Paul used the word death.  When you're done, ask yourself, if you've never asked yourself this question before,

"Do I believe what Paul said is true?"

God loves you and wants you to know that the death he experienced, he experienced for you.  It wasn't because of anything good you did or might do in the future, he did it just because he loves you enough to keep you from dying permanently for all eternity.

Your death will be final.  There will be no getting up and washing off the fake blood or emptying yourself of the illness that lives inside you.  Are you sure you want to live the rest of your life fearing your death?  Fearing how you will die for it is not a matter of you might die....

You WILL die.

Lord Jesus, for the person reading this who can't answer this last question, I pray your clear and certain answer to pour into their mind and heart.  I pray that you pour out your love on them in a way that they have never experienced before.  I pray that you fill them with a peace that makes no sense.  I pray that you bless them with a hunger to know you, to seek you, and to ultimately follow you.  Bless this person Lord, in your mighty powerful loving way and make us all men and women after your own heart.







Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Josheb


Josheb-Basshebeth in 2 Samuel 23 and called Jashobeam in 1 Chronicles 11was chief of the Three.  He killed eight hundred men in one encounter.  There is a discrepancy in the number of men he killed in one encounter.  Samuel records the number of men killed by him as eight hundred, where as the writer of Chronicles say it was three hundred.

A difference of five hundred men, but who's counting?  I doubt there are many of us today who could have that a fraction of that number written next to our name, except maybe our exceptional military members.  The weapons of war in Joshebeam's time differed greatly from the weapons of the 21st century.  

At any rate, I think we can agree, Josheb was pretty tough.  

The Mighty Men weren't playing war, they lived and breathed war.  

J is for Josheb or Jashobeam, a Mighty Man of David.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ithmael the Moabite

Along with some of his fellow Mighty Men, Ithamel's place of origin and identity may be one that is not part of a proud introduction.  Especially when your hometown is among those being warned of by the prophets to repent.  Ithmael, identified in the Mighty Men as being "the Moabite" is another warrior who, if given the chance to edit the Bible may have asked for that detail to be deleted.

Just call me Ithmael.  Please.

Who knows?  I certainly don't have any idea of how the human version of any of these Mighty Men would react to seeing their names in the Bible.  The glorified version that now sit with the Father in heaven, I would hope, see it an entirely different way than what I am proposing, but let me let you draw your own conclusions about what Ithmael may think about being identified as "the Moabite."

Moab was the grandson and simultaneously the son of Lot.  You read that correctly.

Before you go off on a tangent of questions as to how many children after Adam and Eve were produced by incest, let me help keep you on task here.

Lot's daughters got their dad drunk when they were hiding in a cave after Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.  The girls were worried about carrying on the family name so that the family line could be preserved. Unlike you or I, (wink wink, who would NEVER take matters into our own hands) they took matters into their own hands to fix what they thought was broken, and got their dad drunk.  They preceded to than sleep with their father, the older daughter first slept with her dad one night and the next night the younger girl slept with her dad.  The Bible says that both times, "He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up."

So daughter number one gets pregnant and gives birth to Moab, the father of the Moabites and daughter number two gets pregnant and gives birth to Ben-Ammi, the father of the Ammonites. (Genesis 19:30-38)

There are several characters in the Bible all centered around the area of Moab and the Moabites.  You can find them in Numbers 22-25; 31:16; Judges 3:12-14, 30; 1 Samuel 22:3,4; 2 Kings 3:4; Amos 2:1-3.

The line of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world came from Ruth, the Moabitess.  You can find her story in the book of Ruth.

Ithmael, the Moabite, among The Thirty shared hometown roots with the Savior of the world.

I is for Ithmael, the Moabite.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Hittites


Trying to trace the ancestry and places listed in the Bible is like trying to untangle mardi gras beads on Ash Wednesday.  They are twisted and tangled and the detective in me does not have a big enough white board to try and keep them all straight.  The complexity of early civilization and who came from whom after the flood....and were they part of the good guys but became the bad guys....or were they forced out by the Israelites because God said they could is one hot mess of genealogy and place of origin that someone smarter and with more time than me has already sorted out.

Trying to lasso the Hittites is one of the messes I keep trying to straighten out in my mind so I can wear my pretty beads of knowledge.  Alas, I still have several big knots to untangle.  Thus far, I can only tell you a few simple things, and I will keep the more important piece of info for Day 21, so for now you'll just have to bear with me and probably be disappointed that my H post is more messy than clear.

This I know:

The original Hittites came from Noah's son, Ham.  Noah, a good guy, was the originator of what turned out to be not so good people.  If I were a history buff I could really lay it on thick, so all I will do is challenge you to google Hittites and see how intermingled they are with ancient Turkish history, Egyptian history, and Mesopotamian history.  You'll need about two weeks to get an idea of the complexity one group of people can have over history, if that gets you excited.

If not, here are a few interesting Biblical references of the Hittites:

Gen 15:20; 23:3-20; 26:34; 27:46; 36:2; 49:29-32; 50:13

Exodus 3:8,17 

Numbers 13:29

Deut 7:1; 20:17 

 Joshua 11:3
 Judges 3:5-6

1 Kings 11:1

Ezra 9:1

Ezekiel 16:3, 45

After King David, Zondervan's Dictionary describes the Hittites this way:

"Solomon reduced the Palestinian Hittites to bond service (1 Kings 9:20), but one of Ahab's major allies against Assyria at the battle of Qarqar in 853 was Irkhuleni of Hamath.  The Hittite stronghold of Carchemish fell to the Assyrians only in 717 B.C. (2 Kings 19:13).  Independency continually plagued the Hittites and their law codes exhibit mildness toward the feudal aristocracy.  This indeed produced a commendable humanitarianism, in restricted death penalties and regard for womankind.  But it also legitimatized serious moral laxity.  In the service of their depraved mother-goddess of fertility, "Diana of the Ephesians" (Acts 19:24-35), the Hittites became guilty of "a bestiality of which we would gladly think them innocent" and which corrupted God's people Israel (Ezekiel 16:44-45)."

Only one of David's Mighty Men was a Hittite.  We will look at him later.

Until then,

H is for Hittites.  Even Hittites, despite their reputation, produce Mighty Men of God.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Gibeah

Ithai, son of Ribai, was from Gibeah.

Gibeah, like many modern cities today have a history tied to it that can make one cringe when reminded.  Memphis, TN is famous for Elvis and B.B. King and Sun Studios, but also will forever be remembered in history as the place where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, and the place where slaves were auctioned.  Events long past can forever shape the reputation of a city.  Famous residents of a city or town can make one proud to be from a city and equally embarrassed to be a resident of one with a bad reputation.  What greater embarrassment or elation when your town is remembered in the Bible of all places?

Some of the events and famous people that shaped Gibeah's and its residents' reputation were the following:

In the time of Judges, the abuse of a concubine belonging to a Levite ended up starting a war between  between Benjamin and the rest of Israel (Judges 19, 20).

King Saul was from Gibeah.  The pride of the hometown son made king might have been quickly diminished when Saul's leadership skills turned out to be not what the people had thought they were getting (1 Samuel 10-26).  After Saul's death seven of his descendants were hanged in Gibeah to avenge the blood shed caused by Saul against the Gibeonites. (2 Samuel 21).

The ark of God was taken to Abinadab's house in Gibeah after the Philistines returned it (1 Samuel 6-7).  David was the one who brought the ark from Abinadab's house into Jerusalem (2 Sam 6).

And Ithai, son of Ribai, a part of the Mighty Men of David was from Gibeah.

The stories told to him with pride may have been embellished to avoid the stories of embarrassment and shame.

Whatever Ithai experienced as a resident of Gibeah, and a fellow citizen along with King Saul, he was of the David's Mighty Men.

Surely he had some stories to tell his grandchildren.

G is for Gibeah, home of Ithai, of David's Mighty Men.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Fearless


What made the Mighty Men act with such seeming fearlessness?  Were they afraid when they took on Philistines and lions and thousands of troops and enemies bigger and heavier with weapons more fierce and with greater ability to kill?  Were they all faithful warriors who knew the LORD, who witnessed his power and acted upon that knowledge?  Was it fearlessness that motivated them or did they fear the God of their leader, David?

Fearful people don't fight three hundred men at a time or jump into a cave and kill lions.  Fearful people can only see what bad might happen if something is tried; fearless people see what bad could happen if something isn't tried.   At least that's what seemed to drive the Mighty Men.

They had to know the danger.  They had to taste their own fear, feel their own hearts beating out of their chest as they fought battle after battle against warriors better equipped, bigger and stronger and better protected.  What kept them going?

Fearlessness or fear of God if they didn't fight?

Fear is a powerful motivator.

Who or what do you fear?  David's God or your own Goliath?  Which one wants you to win your battles?  Who will rejoice with you in your victory?

Fear's simple definition is:

False

Evidence

Appearing

Real

What false evidence makes you fearful?  Is your enemy's armor bigger and heavier than yours?  Is your enemy's armor the only armor that can win your battle?  Maybe you only need a sling and stones instead of breastplate and a 7 1/2 pound spear head.

What evidence of truth gives you a shaking in your boots, heart beating out of your chest fearlessness?

Oh you, Mighty man or woman of God, who do you fear?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  I imagine that fear looks a lot like fearlessness.

F is for Fearless




Thursday, April 6, 2017

Eleazar


There are two similar versions to the story of Eleazar and what he did as a Mighty Man.  2 Samuel 23:9-10 says this:

"Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite.  As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim for battle.  Then the men of Israel retreated, but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword.  The LORD brought about a great victory that day.  The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead."

Dodai's son, when everyone else turned tail and ran, stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword.  But the 1 Chronicles 11:12-14 version of the story says this:

"Next to him was Eleazar son of Doda the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men.  He was with David at Pas Dammim when the Philistines gathered there for battle.  At a place where there was a field full of barley, the troops fled from the Philistines.  But they took their stand in the middle of the field.
They defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory." 

The one common denominator and the detail that is present in both versions is this one:

The LORD brought about a great victory.

Eleazar had a great story to tell for the rest of his life.  Can you hear it?  Shared over a beer in a local pub, "My hand froze to the sword.  It took all day and all night for it to open up and let go."  I would imagine as time went on and the fish tale grew the story grew too.  Day turned to days, days turned to weeks.  Perhaps he'd hold up the very hand, still contracted into the position it held fighting off those Philistines.

Maybe he'd tease those who ran away, but who didn't run too far.  At least they stayed close enough to stand their ground in the middle of a field.

Imagine the war stories Eleazar and those warriors could have told in their retirement years.  But both stories give credit where credit was due.

The LORD.

The LORD brought about a great victory.

Eleazar stood and fought alone, the others ran and fought in a field, but the victory came from the LORD.

Eleazar knew that.  So did David and the others.  God's warriors know where their strength comes from.


E is for Eleazar, Dodai the Ahohite's son.  




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dodo's son


Dodo's son, Elhanan from Bethlehem, was among the Thirty.  There were a handful of men listed among the Thirty who were first introduced in the list as someone's son.  To have your son named among David's Thirty truly must have been an honor for those dads.

We don't know anything else about Dodo or his son except that they are listed in the Thirty.  Did Elhanan and the other warriors who were listed as "Sons of" feel like they were only recognized for who their father was or was the honor of being among The Thirty so great that both sons and fathers shared the public esteem?

I wonder, and because I'm not a man or a son or a father, my wonder is pure speculation.  There were over half of the Thirty whose names were followed by "Son of" someone.  I'm not a Hebrew historian so if anyone has insight on this I would love to learn more.  I've seen enough American television and movies to know that there are many men who try to break out of their father's shadow and make a name for themselves on their own.  Perhaps being among David's Thirty was just such a way to being their own man.

Or, perhaps, the honor was graciously shared, son to father.  We all have a past that rides along with our present.  Some of us have family that support and love us through everything we attempt to achieve in our life.  Some of us don't.  Some reading this are fighting their present battles with a painful past at the helm.  Maybe some of the Thirty, not identified as a son of someone were part of the latter.   I wonder if even those listed as sons may have had the same battle.

Do our modern relationships with our fathers still carry the same DNA as our ancestors?  Are our relationships new to our time or are our modern day relationship challenges as ancient as the challenges of David's Mighty Men?  What do you think?

D is for Dodo's son.  




Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Carmel


There was not a Mighty Man whose named started with the letter C, but there was a town called Carmel and Carmel has significance to the story of David.

A man named Nabal of Carmel was "surly and mean in his dealings."  He had a wife, Abigail, who was "intelligent and beautiful."  Nabal's men and David's men exchanged words, which quickly escalated to drawing swords and spears, and it took the calmness of Abigail to prevent bloodshed.

When it all shook out, Nabal died after Abigail told him all she'd done to make peace with Nabal's enemies, and Abigail then became David's wife.  

That Carmel produced a Mighty Man named Hezro.  We don't know anything else about Hezro, a Carmelite, except that he was counted among the Thirty.  Perhaps Hezro had had surly and mean dealings with Nabal and it was easy for him to cross over to David's team?  Who knows, but isn't it a juicy story?

You can read more about David and Nabal and Abigail in 1 Samuel 25.

C is for Carmel and Hezro, the Carmelite.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Benaiah

Benaiah was the son of Jehoida the priest.  We can assume then that he was of the tribe of Levi.  You might say he was a "preacher's kid."  He grew up around the rituals his father participated in as a Levite in the Tabernacle.

The preacher's kid made army commander over 24,000 men.  He was a mighty man among the Thirty and was over the Thirty.  (2 Chronicles 27:5-6).  Benaiah was there at the end of David's life when David called for his son Solomon to be made king. (1 Kings 1:28-40).

Benaniah was a "valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits.  He struck down two of Moab's mightiest warriors.  He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.  And he struck down a huge Egyptian.  Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club.  He snatched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear.  Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoida; he too was as famous as the three mighty men.  He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three.  And David put him in charge of his bodyguard."  (2 Samuel 23:20-23).

Benaniah, PK turned warrior.

B is for Benaniah.






Saturday, April 1, 2017

Abishai

Abishai was David's sister Zeruiah's boy.  His brother was Joab. Abishai had the well earned honor of being named "Chief of the Three."  The Bible says,  "He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three."  Interesting tidbit, the Bible also says, "Was he not held in greater honor than the Three?  He became their commander, even though he was not included among them."

So he was own department.  He was more special than the thirty and even more special than the Three.  Did his bravery earn him his title?  Probably so.  His methods weren't always what we would call honorable, he did want to help David kill a sleeping King Saul.  (1 Samuel 26:6-9).  He helped his brother Joab in the revenge murder of Abner, who had killed their brother Asahel (2 Samuel 3:30).  He wasn't one to let criticism of his family go unpunished when he told David he would cut off Shimei's head for criticizing his uncle. (2 Samuel 16:1-14).

One of the last acts he committed on David's behalf, perhaps with the memory of David himself killing Goliath as a young teenager, a giant whose armor was too heavy for a young David to wear, was repeated when Abishai struck down Ishbi-Benonb, whose bronze spearhead alone weighed 7 1/2 pounds.

Fearlessness seemed to run in Abishai's blood.  The influence David had on Abishai most likely went unnoticed by David, but Abishai seemed to have kept mental notes of a brave uncle, a fearless leader in the making, running towards a giant.

Abishai was courageous and loyal.  Chief of the Three, a Mighty Man who stood alone as he fought for his uncle the King.

A is for Abishai.



Monday, March 20, 2017

A to Z 2017 Challenge Theme

This theme may be way out of my league.  It probably would be better served if written by a guy because I think the guys would really like this theme.  If you like things like Seal Team 6 or anything warrior-esque than this blogging challenge may be right up your alley.

There was a little group of guys the Bible calls David's Mighty Men.  They are listed in two places in the Old Testament:  2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11.  There were two groups among David's comrades:  The Thirty and the Three.  You'll get to know some of them but not all of them.  Because this is an alphabetical theme there are not enough English names to fill all the holes of the alphabet so there will be some other tidbits stuck in the nameless spots.

So what does mighty mean?  In English it means "having or showing great strength or power; very great; possessing might; powerful; accomplished or characterized by might; great or imposing in size or extent.

The Hebrew word transliterated is gibbor, which also means strong or mighty.  Some of the other English words used to translate gibbor in the Bible are:

Champion
great
helpers
heroes
men
men of outstanding
mighty
mighty warrior
strong
valiant warrior

One who magnifies himself, behaves proudly, a tyrant, who is bold, audacious.

If you're a movie buff, I'm picturing an Arnold Schwarzenagger or The Rock or Sylvester Stallone or other some such person of physical prowess.  We didn't live in the times of David and his mighty men, but as we go through the month of April I think you will see that these were probably some really tough dudes.

So, enjoy the ride.  I know I will.


Peace,

Ronda

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Truth is Hard

There are truths that I love about God.  I truly feel better when I dwell on them.  I feel calm.  I feel safe.  I feel refreshed.  There are many truths that give me the warm and fuzzy feeling all over.  It doesn't take much for my mind to accept these kinds of truth because I feel so good when I meditate on them.

Truths like:

Jesus loves me.

Jesus forgives me.

Jesus died for me.

Jesus fights for me.

Jesus is my friend.

Jesus is beside me.

Jesus died for everyone and wants all to be saved and to know him.


Don't you feel good just reading those words.  If you're like me it doesn't take a lot for your mind and heart to agree on those truths, does it?

The gospel, we like, in a nutshell.

Under these truths life is simple.  And peaceful.  And restored.  These truths bring comfort.  (At least to me, anyway).

I made the conscious choice over 25 years ago, when my warm and fuzzy feeling was getting backed into a corner by some harder truths, to search out the Source of all Truth.  My life has not been the same since.  I still get my warm and fuzzy feelings, but in the process, the Source has shown me some harder truths too.  Truths I don't like to really think about or dwell on or declare, like I'm going to in a minute here on this screen.

(My fingers are already a little worried about what their task will be).


Truths that are hard and I don't much care to dwell on them so I pretend they don't exist:




Jesus loves those who will never love him back.

Jesus forgives those who will never want his forgiveness.

Jesus died for those who will never die for him.

Jesus fought for the souls of those who will never believe him.

Jesus longs to be a friend to his enemies.

Jesus is beside me even when I sin.

Jesus died for all, but not all will be saved.


Ugh.

I don't feel warm and fuzzy when I read those truths.



Another truth I shied away from for a long, long time and kind of left sitting in a corner, knowing it was there but hoping it would somehow, someway just magically disappear was this truth:



There is evil in this world.




I'd read the passages about prowling lions and deceitful snakes and sneaky foxes but I still hung on to my Pollyanna persona that there is good in everyone and with just the right amount of love and patience evil could be stamped out of a person.

Which is true, and most certainly possible with the authority of Jesus.

But the reality is this:

There is evil in the world and not all evil is recognized as evil, but it disguises itself to be fair and loving and just and right  even though.....it's quite the opposite.


Ugh.


Truth is hard.  I don't feel warm and fuzzy in these truths, so does that mean they are not true?

We can't truly be free until we recognize that the very truth that frees us is both warm and fuzzy and gut wrenchingly frightful.  We can't believe one without the other.  Well, we can, but we're not really free if we choose to ignore one and just live on the wisps of the other.

God's truth is hard.

Recognizing we are sinful people, with hearts of evil, not good, is a hard truth to reconcile when the world is telling us otherwise.

The more I read God's word the more I realize the bigger picture is much bigger than I ever imagined.  The battle is real.  The war is won, but the battle is real.  God's side is the only side true believers can be on (and there you go, I can hear you already, "Ronda, are you saying I'm not a true believer because I don't agree with you?" - No).

But I am saying God's side is the only side true believers can be on.  If we're not on his side seeking true justice, true mercy, true humility, true surrender to his authority, we're not true believers.  (Calm down you who may be thinking I'm declaring a works salvation - that is NOT what the point of this is either, and the truth about that one is hard too.  Jesus spoke his harshest words to the very people who all thought they had one foot already in the door to heaven.  We would be wise to assess our own hearts beside his "woes" and those words "Away from me you evil doer."  Our hearts are what will be judged, not our actions or affiliations.  Just sayin'.  Our actions can do a great job disguising our hearts).

True believers want what God wants, not what we want God to want.

True believers want His truth to reign.  All His truth.  In every issue, in every circumstance, in every heart.

True believers love God's truth, the hard truths as much as the warm and fuzzy parts.

That's where the battle is left to be fought, in our own hearts.  The battle is having the courage to look at the hard truths when, if you're like I was and still am at times, would rather look at the warm and fuzzy truths and shout those out loud and strong and hope the hard truths are told by someone else.  The cost may be high if God is calling you for such bravery.

You may lose a lot of friends.  Family may shun you.  Even those you fellowship with might not see it the way God is showing you.  That is hard.  But Truth is hard.

It is wise to count the cost of seeking all Truth.  But when you're done counting, don't be afraid.
Here's what I know about seeking Truth even while knowing the cost:



It's worth it.



Every misunderstood conversation and lost relationship is worth the misunderstanding and/or loss if it means knowing Jesus Christ in the fullness of His truth.

Every lonely moment you spend crying out to him instead of going with the crowd is worth it.

He's worth it.  His truth is worth it.

He'll show you and remind you and enable you to rest in this truth:  that in the end it will all make sense.  In the end what can't be celebrated together here will be celebrated together with him, There.

The Lord loves unity, but unity can only come with individual hearts surrendered to Him, not to a party line, a denominational line or any other color of line.  When all hearts surrender to Him and his ways and his methods and his workings, THEN.....

Then there will be peace.

Then . . . .

He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.  Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken.  All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever...He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.  And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.  And he will be their peace...


Seek His truth.  The courage you need is waiting to be used by you.

Peace,


Ronda


Matthew 23; Matthew 19:28-30; Luke 11:14-54; Luke 14:25-35; Micah; Matthew 7; Luke 13


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Winter keeps no secrets

Driving around the countryside of Wisconsin in winter can be a little depressing if you're looking for pretty things.  There are only three colors right now:  brown leafless trees, fields of white snow and gray/black snow along the roads.  The pretty blue waters of the lake nearby is covered in white.  Even the birds that come to our feeders only have a smattering of red (woodpeckers) on them.  The cardinals and blue jays come but their visits are less frequent than the nuthatch or the chickadees that visit daily.

It's just an earth tones time of year.

The interesting thing about this time of year, amidst the barrenness and lack of vibrant color, is what is revealed in winter that stays hidden in summer, hidden behind leaves and vibrant bushes and other foliage that mask the secrets only winter can tell.

If you drive around, you can see houses that are normally hidden in summer, there are long abandoned cars that jut out of the landscape, the rust peeking out of the snow blanketed covering.  Fences are seen, hunter's tree stands jut out upon the white landscape, resting and waiting for its hunter's return.

So much is revealed when winter comes.

The harshness of winter is not afraid to lay bare its unseen summer mysteries.

It seems we are in a winter of sorts spiritually/politically/emotionally as a country right now.  To separate one from the other would be foolish because they connect us in ways that only reveal themselves in winter.  Sort of like the spiritual winter we seem to be in right now.  There's nothing like an outsider to politics turned president to reveal the winter of our hearts.

What is it about us that when change comes we resist so much?  What is it about our fear of what man may or may not do that can send normally reasonable and fun summer people into such turmoil?  Do we sleep in summer, lulled by the pretty landscapes of color and foliage and nice summer breezes, so that when winter comes we are unprepared, even surprised by the coldness and fears of our own hearts?

The spiritual winter of our souls are being laid bare and it's not a pretty picture.

The hatred and angst, the fear and discontent, hidden in summer's beauty, now showing its ugly head when its costumes are off.

Winter's secrets are only revealed in winter.  Soon summer will come again, but even though the secrets will once again be covered up by summer's beauty doesn't mean the secrets are gone.  The homes will still be hidden among the leaf covered trees, the tree stands will be less noticeable, the fences will be disguised, but not one of them will have disappeared permanently.

Our winter heart can easily be seen when the times of testing come.  We can cover it in summer, but just because we can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there.



Peace,

Ronda

Psalm 66: 16-20

Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.  I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.  If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.  Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!