Monthly Archives: October 2009

I’m still working and thinking

DAVID…Shepherd, musician, poet, warrior, King, adulterer, murderer, forgiven sinner
My purpose in these studies about “God’s Comeback Kids” is not intended to be an exhaustive biography. At best, these are only brief sketches, designed to answer simple questions about how some of the best know examples of faith sometimes blundered or had their vision blurred. You’ve noticed that once someone has faltered or failed, or has been brutally treated, I began to look for clues about how they managed their crises, and how they were able to recover spiritual balance, courage, hope and direction. I’ve also attempted to learn from their experience and apply the lessons they learned to my life. And, if what I’ve discovered is worthwhile, I share it with you gladly.

Having said that, you’ll see some things I don’t, and won’t, address. The violence, especially in the Old Testament is sometimes troubling to me. The crude customs baffle and occasionally amuse me.* There are times when I simply do not understand what God is doing, or why. . . and am not too proud to admit that. Nor is there anyone among my acquaintances or among the numbers of scholars whose lectures I’ve heard or whose books I’ve studied who can claim such understanding.

Sometimes Scripture is tough reading. It’s a rough assignment to try to polish it up and make sense out of some things, or make some actions sound holy or sacred or even civilized. But it is in the real world that God makes His presence a reality. It is through (and to) flawed humans that God speaks. It is into the midst of the havoc humans wreak that the Son of God enters the fray. Out of the wreckage and carnage we make when we ignore His holy and clear commands He can erect something holy, beautiful, useful and inspiring.

Without reluctance, I concede the fact that God is God and I am not. And when a truth is visible, clear and unclouded, my intention is to discover it and attempt to accept and apply it directly and correctly everywhere it is most evidently needed in my life. That is my choice. Others may take another approach. I do not see the wisdom or necessity of tying my mind in knots, or trying to untangle all the great, hidden mysteries and deliberately overlooking the great, equally profound, easily grasped “simplicities.”

The story of David’s life, feats and defeats, accomplishments and failures, is recorded in the Biblical books of I and II Samuel. In earlier posts I considered the beautiful comment about David being “a man after God’s own heart.” That struck me as central to his character. It was true of him almost all his life, and when he faltered and fell that must have been a key to his comeback. Since the compliment seemed so important, it captured my thinking from the very beginning of my study of King David.

While I’ve been raising a question about how some of the most prominent figures in Biblical history wavered under pressure, I’ve also been asking how they came back once they failed. The things we do and say sometimes contradict what we believe. And who we really are. In times of great weakness, or temptation, we may buckle. It seems, though, that David’s most defining character trait was: “He was a man after God’s own heart.”

Scripture never trivializes sin of any description. It never overlooks sin, even the “small” ones we take for granted. It paints an accurate picture of man at his weakest, worst and darkest moments. But on the other hand, there is the consistent declaration of a Love which knows no boundaries. The Bible tells of a God whose grace is greater than all our sin. It records a long history of Redemption, of a loving God who will forgive and cleanse those who come honestly to grips with their sin, recognize it for what it is, and repent.

David did all those things. The story of his comeback does not gloss over the grave sins he committed. I’ll talk about that next time, and I’ll share some more results of my examination of this forgiven sinner who came back from really terrible mistakes to be forgiven and restored. He really is one of “God’s Comeback Kids.”

In the meanwhile, a friend has helped me set up a website for the book I’ve been writing. You’re invited to visit http://www.godscomebackkids.com or http://www.godscomebackkids.org when you have time. We can begin taking orders for God’s Comeback Kids now with about a two week delivery time expected. If you have occasion to visit the site, you must already know that I would greatly value any suggestions you make or try to answer any questions.

God’s servant and son, your friend and fellow student, ~donkimrey

*One example of what I’m saying is the “dowry” Saul asked of David when trying to marry off one of his daughters. David had no money. He had no blue blooded references or credentials to offer. For devious reasons, Saul suggested an alternative: namely: “Go out and bring back one hundred (100) foreskins from Phillistine warriors!” David must have been pretty motivated. He went out with a few troops and pretty soon came back with two hundred (200) of those suckers! So help me, I winced. And then my imagination wandered and I wondered: “What on earth would Saul do with all those things! Make key chains? They’d hardly seem like appropriate wall decorations, even with ornate frames and under glass! The prospect of sautéing them cost me my appetite. And, I thought, “We used to think Indians were savage for taking scalps!”

I’ve already told you the Bible is straightforward. I believe it is the inspired Word of God. But I bet you’ll never hear this story in Sunday School!

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Man After God’s Heart (Part two)

(Preliminary note; I hope I’m never so naive that I think I can fathom the depths of profound thoughts in a single post . . . or in multiple volumes. The notion that a man could be defined with such words has captured my thinking for quite some time. I know some people feel a man’s life is defined by his mistakes. The greater and more public the mistake, the more he diminishes in stature. What if, instead, we were to able to isolate a single characteristic which could become the sum of his character ~ in spite of glaring mistakes? Obviously, he was a man of flesh and bone and blood.
His sins were exposed to shaming, humiliating glaring light. History has recorded them in blaring headlines. Those facts along with our appetites for sensational scandal, are the way we think. The Bible says it this way:”Man looks on the outward appearance; but God looks on the heart.” How thankful we should be for that fact! How worthwhile it would be for us to set such a goal for ourselves: “people who desire the heart and mind of God more than anything! Knowing I’ll never reach such a goal, it is still worth a try!

“But now your kingdom shall not continue; the Lord has sought out [David] a man after His own heart, and the Lord has
commanded him to be prince and ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” I Samuel 13:14

I may be the only guy I know who gives the answer to a question he’s going to ask even before he asks the question. Go figure.

When I think of David, for example, he made some tragic, costly mistakes. And the consequences of those mistakes hounded and harassed him for the rest of his life and are known to history. They were exposed plainly, showing us that we can “be sure our sins will find us out.” As much an embarrassment as the failure of His anointed must have pained the Lord and David, there was no cover-up. Before any television commentator used the phrase, we here encounter a true “no spin zone.” The sins stand as an indelible stain on an otherwise exemplary life and career. It is, as well, a lesson which we seem never to have learned.

The post I made earlier is, I believe, an important insight into how Joseph was able to get past those errors. That may seem premature in light of the fact that the purpose of this exploration was to ask: “How did he mess up?” Then, after addressing that and attempting to answer it as reasonably as possible, I would pose the next logical question: “How did he come back?”

To give you the main reason he was able later to recover spiritual equilibrium and direction before ever saying how he strayed off course may be another classic example of putting the proverbial cart before the proverbial horse! Sometimes, admittedly, I think in reverse. I gave you one of the answers before even raising the question!

But the logic (whether it’s inductive or deductive reasoning) seems to work. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he’s old, he will not depart from it,”* isn’t just a wise proverb. It is a timeless truth. I believe it was Horace Bushnell, one of education’s great voices confirmed the same truth. Michael Apted** a great British film director did a documentary, following the lives of fourteen British children for forty years. The main theme of his study was Give me a child until he is 7, and I will show you the man.”

I happen to believe that early childhood gives you a pretty good idea of the kind of person someone will become. If a child starts out early and continues lying, sneaking, stealing, disobeying, bullying, treating others with contempt, being cruel to animals, etc., you get a pretty accurate idea of what that person will become in later years.

Think about David as you consider the phrase: “A man after God’s own heart.” To even attempt to grasp what that means, I need to understand how he grew. It’s easy to discover that much of his early life was spent in solitude, out in the desert tending sheep. Sometimes that put him in a dangerous place. He risked himself to do his duty, to carry out faithfully the menial tasks he was assigned for his family. Much of his time as a youth was spent in solitude, out beneath the desert sun and stars. There, without the distraction of bright lights and honking horns, ipods, cellphones, computers and jangling telephones, he learned the art of meditation, and prayer, and praise. Somewhere out there, it seems, he learned what it means to “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

David is credited with having written many of the Psalms. Look them over when you have the time and you get a sense of what was really in the young man’s heart. Sure, he made some bad mistakes. Sure, he tried to cover them up and in doing so he made an even worse mess. But there runs through his life a steady current of love for the God about whom he wrote so many psalms.

In spite of the blunders, you can examine his record and learn that he really longed to know God. And there seem to have been times when they were so close, it shows through in his writing, his music, those early psalms. We must not discount early experience in seeking to understand later developments in life. If you’ve been on a steady course since your youth, you will be what you have been becoming, even if there are momentary lapses.

All of us know it is possible to kill a conscience by repeatedly ignoring or defying it. But any of us who has been exposed to a godly influence or felt drawn to faith early in our lives KNOWS that is like a magnetic pole which draws us steadily back. I don’t doubt that some have succeeded in breaking that attraction, but if it is recognized it will always draw us back to our true center.

In ways I can remotely understand, David early in his life developed a strong attraction to God. Even when he strayed, that was a force which helped him return.

For all his flawed humanity, the record still attests that David was a “man after God’s own heart.” Think about it. Remember times and places when you felt God was as close as your own heartbeat? Perhaps you can even now hear His faint calls for you to come home where you belong.

If you will listen, I’m sure you’ll hear.

(Concluding thought: When David finally did admit his sin and repent of it, the lesson of Scripture does not minimize the wrong he did. Rather, it focuses upon and maximizes clearly the magnificent grace of God.).

God’s son and servant, your friend and fellow student, ~donkimrey

*Proverbs 22:
**With this simple premise, Michael Apted, prolific in both scope and accomplishment, began his illustrious career as few successful feature directors have, doing documentaries. In 1962, Apted began chronicling the lives of fourteen English children, all aged 7, and from sundry walks of life. Then, a researcher at Granada Television he has followed most of the original participants, for more than forty years, spacing interviews and broadcasts seven years apart.

PLEASE PERMIT US TO PAUSE…

My journey is about to reach a milestone. The editing of final chapters of God’s Comeback Kids is being done as I write. Next step is getting it in final format, and I have the good fortune of knowing and loving two experts in that area (my sons Tim and Jon) who have taken on that task.

Also, a website is up. Needs tweaking, but you will be able to witness its growth and development. You’ll also have opportunity very soon to record your suggestions and thoughts. I welcome that.

There’ll be a brief pause after publication of GCBK before I strike out on the next adventure. At least a couple things are on my mind, and some who read the blog have suggested those: viz, (1.) a workbook to be a companion piece and study guide for the first installment of Comeback Kids, (2.) at least one sequel to “comeback kids” in the Bible and (3.) a book about current examples of heroic comebacks.

As always, I welcome and appreciate your response. I’d also be grateful if you invited some of your friends to join us on our journey. Don’t do that, though, if you doubt the value of the book and its author’s purpose.
God’s son and servant, your friend and fellow student.

Oh, by the way, the website is http://www.Godscomebackkids.com or org

You may be aware that I’ve been wrestling with the idea of the contents in the idea of David being a “man after God’s Own Heart.” Since I believe that is perhaps the key factor in the man’s rise to fame and power to begin with, and also it was perhaps the main key to his comeback, I’m trying to discover how he acquired such a compliment. What was there about him that he was considered so special? What did that have to do with his being restored after having committed such grave sins against God and crimes against man?

Thinking takes time. Thinking seriously and prayerfully, looking for insights into my own failures and achievements and aspirations takes even more time. But I believe it is worth every effort and every minute. Speaking of that aspiration (i.e. becoming a “man after God’s own heart), here’s a poem which has long been perhaps my favorite. As far short of it as I fall, it remains the pinnacle to which I aspire.

“I have one deep supreme desire:
That I may be like Jesus.
To this I fervently aspire,
That I may be like Jesus.
His spirit fill my hungering soul,
His power all my life control.
My deepest prayer, My highest goal:
That I may be like Jesus.” (T. Chisolm)