Shepherding Talk: My New Website and Podcast

You all have been such a blessing and encouragement to me since Men’s Daily Briefing began in 2016. It began as a focused way to encourage men, but evolved into daily encouragement to a general audience. The feedback and support has been awesome! There have been times life dealt me a blow or two and others willingly carried the ball for awhile (Shane Blackmer, Andy Harrison etc.). I’m so blessed to have such great friends!

During the past few months, I’ve been working on a new website called Shepherding Talk. This website, blog and podcast are all devoted to teaching leadership through the Biblical lens of a shepherd with his sheep. The Bible is full of this imagery and that is how God relates to us, as a Shepherd with His sheep (Psalm 23, John 10).

At this point there are 40 plus articles on the website. Many articles from Men’s Daily Briefing will eventually be migrated over there.

Shepherding Talk

The Shepherding Talk Podcast will be a weekly interview with various leaders sharing their perspectives on Biblical leadership. Right now, there are 7 podcast interviews on the website. I’ve interviewed church leaders like Max Dawson, Roger Shouse and Benjamin Lee about various aspects of leadership. More interviews are coming, Lord willing!

The Shepherding Talk Podcast is available on platforms like Apple, Spotify, IHeartRadio, etc.

We will spend a lot of time on church leadership, but we will also talk about other ways we are shepherd leaders: in our families, marriages and communities. Everyone is a leader, and everyone can have a shepherd’s heart.

We will talk about the attitudes of leadership. For example, see Episode 7 where Benjamin Lee shares his passion for a positive “I Can Do” attitude.

We also will deal with current events like Racism. The next podcast to post tonight is Part 1 of a conversation about racism with Benjamin Lee.

Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter! Instead of a daily newsletter, we will post an article and podcast every week.

If you like it, please recommend it to your friends!

Men’s Daily Briefing. I’ve chosen not to continue the Men’s Daily Briefing website for practical reasons. I don’t want to focus on two websites at once! Again, thanks so much for the great encouragement!

My personal goal is to take the articles from both websites and turn them into books soon. Please pray for me in this effort. Thank you!

A special thanks to Benjamin Lee for being such a spark of energy and encouragement to get the Shepherding Talk website going. Also thanks to Roger Shouse and Max Dawson and Jason Hardin for helping me get the podcast off to a great start!

Extreme Ownership

I want to send out a book recommendation today. This is an awesome book on leadership written by two Navy Seals who led successful Seal operations in the battle of Ramadi in Iraq. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin developed some incredible insights on leadership of successful teams during some of the most bloody and intense combat situations in Iraq.

As I listened to this book on Audible, I saw so many parallels to Biblical concepts of leadership. It’s a must read in my opinion.

I’m on my second time through this book, and I highly recommend it.

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals LEAD and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

 

So the king did not listen to the people

The picture attached to this post is one that is very encouraging, and there are many examples of this going around in the country. Police officers are kneeling, praying and marching with protestors to show that they hear and understand the cries of racial injustice. That’s what we need.

Here is a contrast in Scripture to that positive example. The following is what NOT to do when you are in positions of authority.

In the Scripture below, we see that there was a time in Israel when people came to the leadership and cried out about oppression. The people came to King Rehoboam, son of King Solomon, and presented their case.

Their “yoke” was heavy. Solomon apparently had really taxed the people to the point of oppression, and the people wanted relief. They peacefully came to the King to ask for change.

The King, Rehoboam, had two sets of advisors. One group counseled the king to be a servant to the people and be kind to them. Hear their requests and serve them, and they will serve you forever. The other group of counselors advised the King to be even tougher than Solomon. Bring the hammer down on the people, they said.

So, the king listened to the second group, threatened the people, punished them for speaking up and pushed them away. This led to the nation literally dividing (as God had prophesied would happen).

“So the king did not listen to the people…”

What does God want from his leaders? People who listen. Those who hear the cries of the hurting. It’s one thing for those in authority to say they aren’t racist, it is entirely another when a police officer lays down his baton, takes off his helmet and hugs those in the crowd who are hurting and afraid.

Rehoboam had the opportunity to sit down and listen to the request of his people. He had been offered an olive branch to peacefully bring a resolution to what was hurting the nation. However, in his arrogance and in his thirst to assert his authority and dominance, he drove most of the nation away from him.

That is our choice as leaders. As parents. As spouses. As church leaders. As leaders in business. As leaders in the community. When those under our leadership cry out from broken hearts because of how they are being treated, how will we respond?

Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away. Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs. And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’” So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
(1 Kings 12:1-15)

Saul was a King, David was a Leader

1 Chronicles 11:1-3 Then all Israel gathered together to David at Hebron and said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh. In times past, even when Saul was king, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over my people Israel.'” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD. And they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD by Samuel.

Look at what Israel said to David!

Even when Saul was king, it was you (David) who led out and brought in Israel.

Who was the king? Saul. Who was the real leader in Israel? David.

To whom did the people go to for leadership? David. Who was the person who understood the real enemy of Israel? David. Who was the one who had the courage to face the giant with God’s help? David. Who was the one who encouraged the hearts of Israel to trust God and take on the enemy? David. Who was the one who walked among the people and knew the people? David.

What was Saul doing? Hiding. Doubting. Cowering. His focus was his power, his image and keeping his throne. He was incredibly fearful and jealous of David and anyone who supported him. He devoted the rest of his life to chasing David all over Israel to eliminate him because he was a threat to Saul’s power. In fact, you can see that Saul lost focus of the real enemy, the Philistines, until they had completely surrounded him and it was too late.

You see, the people of Israel were smart enough to know who the real leader was. That is still true today. It is evident in churches, homes, businesses, sports teams, politics, etc. The people in charge are not necessarily the ones who are really leading. Sometimes it is a husband who likes to assert his authority all the time, while the wife and mother is the one really leading the kids. It might be in a sports team where the “captain” of the team is just bossy but another player is the one who inspires the team. We see it in businesses, where the CEO is a controlling, micro-managing type, and there are a few others who really make that business what it is.

So, what about you? Are you a boss, or a leader? Are you an elder, or a leader? Are you the “head of the home” or a leader? Leaders inspire, set examples, communicate and build relationships. There is an atmosphere of welcoming and safety around a leader. Leaders don’t have to go around asserting their authority all the time to do so. Look around, are people following you because they respect you or because you are in charge? Also take a look, are people continually going to someone else instead of you? It might be that you have asserted your authority way too much and they don’t feel safe coming to you. How do you respond when others get the praise and recognition, yet you are in charge? Do you encourage and welcome that or are you intimidated by that?

God’s encouragement for you today is to be a leader like David, not a king like Saul.

Could This Thing Be?

But Elisha said, “Hear the word of the LORD: thus says the LORD, Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour shall be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, at the gate of Samaria.” Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned said to the man of God, “If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” But he said, “You shall see it with your own eyes, but you shall not eat of it.”
(2 Kings 7:1-2)

In the days of Elisha, things got bad, really bad in Israel. The nation of Israel was rebelling against God, the king was a wicked son of the wicked king Ahab. Syria (Aram) came against Israel and besieged them. Look at how bad things were economically in Israel:

Afterward Ben-hadad king of Syria mustered his entire army and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver.
(2 Kings 6:24-25)

We think we’ve got it bad that there is no toilet paper on the shelf? They were paying a high price to eat donkey brains and bird poop! Yuck! It even got so bad that some moms agreed to eat each other’s children (2 Kings 6:26-29). It’s sad that even in this destitute condition people were not turning back to God. Even worse, the king of Israel was blaming God. God was the problem, how could He be part of the solution?

And he said, “If the LORD will not help you, how shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the winepress?”
(2 Kings 6:27)

And while he was still speaking with them, the (King’s) messenger came down to him and said, “This trouble is from the LORD! Why should I wait for the LORD any longer?”
(2 Kings 6:33)

That’s what brings us to the beginning of chapter 7 when Elisha through the Spirit promises that the change and recovery will happen overnight. They were paying high prices for donkey brains and bird poop, but by tomorrow they will be paying cheap prices for barley and flour. Would you believe that if a prophet of God said that to you? Would I believe it as I am eating donkey brain soup? We can see in verse 1 of chapter 7 that a captain who was very close to the king didn’t believe it. He said,

“If the LORD himself should make windows in heaven, could this thing be?”

God has made windows in heaven. Remember the flood in Noah’s day? It is clear that the captain here did not believe that (1) God had the power to make such a quick change, nor (2) could God make such a change happen overnight.

Elisha said, “Oh it will happen. You just won’t be able to enjoy any of the blessings of it.” What happened is that as the people were rushing out to get the food and supplies, the captain was trampled by the crowds (2 Kings 7:17). This leader could not see nor believe that God was able and willing to restore goodness to His people.

But God did make windows in heaven, and God did care, and God did make immediate changes to care for His people. God is good, and God is all-powerful.

Sometimes things are so bad we have a very difficult time hoping that there will be any improvement. But this passage reminds us that we serve an awesome and loving God, and that even when things are at their darkest, God can make incredible changes in a hurry!

He sat where they sat

The Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the LORD being strong upon me. And I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who were dwelling by the Chebar canal, and I sat where they were dwelling. And I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days. (Ezekiel 3:14-15)

Ezekiel was sent to prophesy to his brethren who were captives exiled in Babylon. Before he could effectively reach out to them, he “sat where they sat” for 7 days. He sat overwhelmed among them seven days.

This is our thought for today. Can I effectively reach out to people and lead them when I do not seek to understand where they are “sitting”? Have I placed myself in their shoes and have I looked at things from their perspective? Ezekiel was forced by God to sit where they sat. You can see that God’s hand was “strong” upon Ezekiel to place him right where those captives were living.

Maybe God won’t force you today to sit where other people sit, and He probably won’t force you. But can you and I take some time to force ourselves to look at things from another’s perspective? What would happen if you and I sit down in another person’s seat and consider things from their point of view?

Some Thoughts on Gossip

2 Corinthians 12:20
For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish–that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder.

Proverbs 20:19
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

There is a time to talk about a situation or about another person. David told Samuel all that Saul had done to him (1 Samuel 19:18). Paul and John exposed the sinful behavior of specific brethren in their letters. But we find ourselves justifying talking about people and situations way too much.

The Oxford Dictionary defines gossip as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.”

What are some thoughts from the Scripture that will help us define what gossip is?

Gossip is talking about people and situations without seeking a solution.

Proverbs 18:2
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

Proverbs 29:11
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Romans 12:3
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Are we just venting to others? Are we just telling our side of the story? Is our purpose to find a solution and seek reconciliation, or is it just to tell others how right we are and how wrong others are? Gossip comes from pride, we simply think too much of our own opinion that includes our opinions and conclusions of others.

Gossip is imagining the worst motives about a person and repeating that to others.

Psalms 41:7
All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me.

If our tone and our words are simply running somebody down, then what’s the point of that? If we keep thinking the worst of others, and we keep finding out that those things aren’t true, shouldn’t we look in the mirror and see that we are maligning others? God wants us to believe all things and hope all things, but if we are creating the worst possible scenario on people’s actions, words and motives, then we are not living in love.

Malign, according to Oxford Dictionary, means “to speak about (someone) in a spitefully critical manner.”

James 4:11
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.

Gossip is going “house to house” and repeating the story to person after person.

1 Timothy 5:13
Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.

Just as the gospel is spread “house to house” (Acts 20:20), so is gossip. Are we spreading the gospel or spreading gossip from house to house? We have to look in the mirror and ask if we are talking about a situation to too many people.

Leviticus 19:16
You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

2 Thessalonians 3:11-12
For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

Gossip is uncovering what should be covered.

Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.

1 Peter 4:8
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Proverbs 17:9
Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.

My words have great power, including the ability to separate close friends. Maybe we need to be more like Noah’s sons, who walked backward to cover their father’s nakedness (Genesis 9). There are times to expose the sin, and the Bible is full of those examples. We especially need to expose those who are stirring up discord among God’s people. But as we are talking with others, let’s prayerfully consider whether we are seeking to cover sins or to make others look shameful before others.

Gossip must be stopped and silenced.

One of the jobs of shepherds in the church is to “stop the mouths” of those who are causing trouble. Gossip is one of the 7 things God hates. Shouldn’t we as God’s people seek to stop what God hates? The apostle John was going to personally stop the mouth of Diotrephes (3 John 9-10). Paul told Titus that the brethren’s idle mouths at Crete needed to be stopped (Titus 1:10-13). Paul knew that some people’s idle babble will spread like a cancer (2 Timothy 2:16-17). There was a time that Paul “delivered” certain brethren to Satan so they would learn to better use their mouths (1 Timothy 1:20).

Proverbs 6:16-19
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Titus 1:10-13
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,

We stop gossip by:
  • Not repeating it. Gossip is like a chocolate cupcake, it sure tastes good to hear and really makes a great story to repeat. But God says this is sinful (Proverbs 11:13; 18:8; 26:20-22). Where there is no wood, the fire goes out. Stop adding fuel!
  • Not listening to it. The Bible says not to “associate” with a gossip (1 Corinthians 5:11; Proverbs 20:19; Romans 16:17-18). It amazes me that sometimes brethren are more concerned about disciplining a brother who has stopped attending church rather than stopping the gossip that is destroying the church. Gossips don’t make good friends. They just bring you down and you become like them. Proverbs says not to make friendship with an angry man lest you learn his ways and it be a snare to your soul (Proverbs 22:24). Gossip comes from angry hearts. Don’t hang around that kind of behavior.
  • Understanding that there are two sides. Love the other person who is being gossiped about. Love them enough to consider that you haven’t heard from him. Love him enough to go and hear from him. The Proverbs says that “the first one to plead his case seems right until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Have you ever had someone gossip about you, and then that other person swallows that stuff hook, line and sinker without even coming to you? That hurts doesn’t it?
  • Following Jesus’ simple guidelines for resolving conflict (Matthew 18:15-17). Jesus told us, no he commanded us what to do. Are we smarter than God? Do we think we have a better way to resolve conflict? As Dr. Phil may ask, “How’s that working for you?” Is our way working?

Jesus will stop all idle mouths one day. The passage below is Jesus saying that we will give an account of those idle words one day. We will give account for every one of those idle words…not to my friends, not to the church, not to my boss, but to Jesus.

Matthew 12:33-37
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Here are a few questions a shepherd gave me that he has used to ask others:

  • Did they tell you about this matter because they wanted you to go with them to try and reconcile the situation?
  • Did they tell you about this matter because they wanted your thoughts on how they could best approach them?
  • Did they tell you about this matter because they wanted you to pray for them?

James 3:5-18
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 5

Today we wrap up our study of the account of David, Uzzah and the Ark of the Covenant (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13 and 15). We are going to zoom in on the concept of worshipping God in spirit and in truth. There is a perfect example of this with David and the Ark of the Covenant.

David learned the value of worshipping in spirit and in truth.

There were two worship services we can observe in our texts for this week. The first is full of spirit-filled worship (1 Chronicles 13), but they were transporting the Ark in a way that disobeyed God. They were not worshipping in truth. Uzzah died. The second worship service came three months later (1 Chronicles 15; 2 Samuel 6:11-15) after David and the Priesthood looked into the Word to see what God instructed. They made the necessary corrections, and then we see a second worship commence. That worship service was just as spirit-filled and full of emotion and passion, with even more reverence than before. This time, however, they were worshipping in spirit AND in truth.

First Worship Service – Spirit WITHOUT Truth

1 Chronicles 13:1-4
1 David consulted with the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with every leader.
2 And David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and from the Lord our God, let us send abroad to our brothers who remain in all the lands of Israel, as well as to the priests and Levites in the cities that have pasturelands, that they may be gathered to us.
3 Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.”
4 All the assembly agreed to do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.

What they were about to do for God and how they were going to worship God was based on what was right in the eyes of the people. They all consulted with each other on what to do.

1 Chronicles 13:5-10
5 So David assembled all Israel from the Nile of Egypt to Lebo-hamath, to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim.
6 And David and all Israel went up to Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim that belongs to Judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord who sits enthroned above the cherubim.
7 And they carried the ark of God on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahiowere driving the cart.
8 And David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.
9 And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled.
10 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.

David and all Israel were rejoicing before God with “all their might” in the worship service. They had great passion and fire for God, and their motives, I believe, were right on point. But God was angry and Uzzah died. They were worshipping with all the spirit, but without the truth.

Second Worship Service – Spirit WITH Truth

1 Chronicles 15:1-3
David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it.
2 Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever.
3 And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it.

The first worship service began with people making agreements and consulting with each other on how they think things should be (1 Chronicles 13:1-4). The second worship began with people asking God how things should be.

1 Chronicles 15:13-16
13 Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.”
14 So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel.
15 And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.
16 David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.

We can take note here of the reverence for God’s word when it comes to worship. They had not sought God according to the rule (verse 13), but the second worship service was “according to the word of the Lord” (verse 15). That did not change their spirit, though. They still played loudly and raised sounds of joy to the Lord (verse 16)!

2 Samuel 6:11-15
11 And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.
12 And it was told King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing.
13 And when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal.
14 And David danced before the Lord with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod.
15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

Do you see the reverence and care in verse 13? Do you see the rejoicing in verse 12, the dancing in verse 14, and the shouting in verse 15? They were absolutely careful to do things God’s way, but they did not lose a bit of passion in doing so!

1 Chronicles 15:25-29
25 So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of thousands went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-edom with rejoicing.
26 And because God helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams.
27 David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, as also were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and the singers and Chenaniah the leader of the music of the singers. And David wore a linen ephod.
28 So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouting, to the sound of the horn, trumpets, and cymbals, and made loud music on harps and lyres.
29 And as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and rejoicing, and she despised him in her heart.

Spirit AND Truth

It seems, by my limited observation, that many times people either have spirit OR truth. We are either worshipping with all the genuine passion and emotion and not obeying God’s instructions for worship, or we are doing things “by the book” but everyone looks like they are at a funeral! God wants our hearts and our obedience! He wants spirit and truth!

John 4:19-24
The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

In His discussion with the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus first dealt with the “Where” of worship. There was a debate between Jews and Samaritans of the proper place to worship. Jesus said there was a time coming when the “where” won’t matter. Jesus also addressed the “What” of worship, and clearly said the Samaritans were worshipping in ignorance. Finally, Jesus instructed her on the “How” of worship. As you can see from what Jesus said, God is “seeking such people” who will worship Him in “spirit and in truth.” He added an exclamation point with the word “MUST.” This is not an option, this is how God wants it. Spirit AND truth.

So, how about you? Personalize it and put these words from Scripture in your heart. God wants all of you in worship. We are to love God with all our hearts, souls, spirits and minds. Are you worshipping God with all of your being? Do you seek and search out what God wants for you in worship or are you like those in the 1st worship service? Do you just go along with what everyone around you agrees is the right course? Remember these lessons from David and Uzzah, because it truly does matter to God. We hope it matters to you, too.

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 4

Efficiency and Expediency

We are focusing this week on the account of David and Uzzah (2 Samuel 6, 1 Chronicles 13, 15).

If you were transporting a heavy, very valuable piece of extremely important religious history…wouldn’t you try to find the most efficient and expeditious way to move it? Add this factor – You are transporting this sacred box over miles and up a mountain.

What if you are in that leadership discussion with David and the Levites and someone brings up, “Hey, let’s build a new cart and pull it with oxen.” Without any guidance from God’s word, wouldn’t you think, “Hey, that’s a great idea!” Makes sense to me! That would make this great work of God more efficient.

What we can see from these texts is that our ideas for efficiency and expediency will result in big problems if we don’t look first for God’s authority. In order for something to be helpful it must first be lawful.

How is it that over 2,000 years of church history we have had all kinds of things introduced into the church even with the best intentions? Maybe others responded to those ideas with, “Hey, that’s a great idea, let’s do it!”? Is it any different than what happened in the days of David? We have great ideas, ways to “improve” and make the church better. But have we fallen prey to the same problem of David and Uzzah? Did we look into God’s word to see if that’s what God wants?

We can look at the Reformation Movement for great examples of this concept. People started reading the word and then they realized that many of the established practices of the day were not founded on God’s Word. Did you know that many of the Reformation leaders rejected instrumental music in worship because they found no authority for it in the New Testament? This is just one example of men and women who did like David and “sought God according to the rule.”

Has God changed since the days of Uzzah? Is He any less concerned about our obedience to His instructions?

Jesus told us that in order to worship God “we must” worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). When Paul wrote about how the church at Corinth was to worship he said that those instructions were the “commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:36-37). As Paul wrote the young evangelist Timothy, he said that those words were from God so they would know how to behave in God’s church (1 Timothy 3:15). Nope, God hasn’t changed (Hebrews 13:8). If we want to do great works for God, we still need to look in the Word and see what God has to say first.

David and Uzzah: It Matters to God, Part 3

Have you ever purchased a gadget or piece of equipment, but fail to read the owner’s manual? A lot of folks like me do that – we just try to “figure it out.” Then months go by, and you wonder why something doesn’t work right or you say, “What does this button do?” You go dig through your piles of important stuff you have yet to file and you find that handy owner’s manual that came straight from the manufacturer. After a minute, you slap your head and say, “Oh, that’s what that button is for!”

In yesterday’s article we saw from the Law of Moses that God clearly described and indicated how the Israelites were to transport the ark of the covenant.

Exodus 25:10-15 – “… And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.

It makes me think that the people by the time of David are staring at those poles and saying, “I wonder what those are for?” Here’s why I think that. Look at the text of 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13.

2 Samuel 6:5-11 (1 Chronicles 13)
And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.

When Uzzah was struck dead, David was at first “angry,” then “afraid of the Lord.” I can understand why at first David was angry. He is, with a pure heart, trying to do a wonderful thing for God and now Uzzah is toast. David was angry, but God’s punishment was just. The next emotion is “fear of the Lord.” Remember that the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). David is now afraid, and he asks a great question in utter confusion as Uzzah lies dead on the ground.

“How can the ark of the Lord come to me?”

He did not know! David’s (and everyone else’s disobedience) was not based on a rebellious spirit like King Saul where they said, “Who cares? We’re going to do it this way!” They were genuinely trying to do good for the Lord. But they were doing so in ignorance of God’s plain instructions. Someone at our congregation, Josh, suggested after my sermon that the priests used the poles to get the ark on the cart. Great point. But again, we will see that they did not use the poles as God intended.

So the next thing we see is that David parks the ark of the covenant for 3 months at Obed-Edom’s house. That goes well for Obed-Edom, but keep in mind that this great work of God is now halted for 3 months while everyone figures out what to do.

Here is where 1 Chronicles 15 comes in. By the way, if you only read the account of David and Uzzah from 2 Samuel 6, you will miss some very important details that are mentioned in 1 Chronicles.

1 Chronicles 15:1-2
David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever.
1 Chronicles 15:11-13
Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab, and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.”

Notice a few things in that passage:
  • No one may do this but the Levites.
  • No carts…you have to carry the ark.
  • We got in trouble with God because the ark was not carried, it was put on a cart.
  • Because we did not seek Him according to the rule.

What happened in these 3 months? David and the rest of the leadership eventually got the Book of the Law out and searched to see what God had to say about it. They did not seek Him according to the rule…that means even the priests and Levites were unaware of this 400-year-old instruction from God. Even religious leaders can be ignorant of what God says in His Word! But again, ignorance joined with zeal for God is not a pass for disobeying Him.

Romans 10:1-3
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

One final note for today: “We,” not “You” or “I”

David, as a leader, took ownership of his own failings. He said, “We” did not seek God’s instructions. He did not say, “You” failed. As a king and as a humble servant of God, David knew that he had his own personal responsibility to search God’s word. I’ll leave you with this final passage from Moses about Israel’s kings. It needs to be true for any leader of God’s people whether in politics, in the home, at work, or in the church.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20
“When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the Lord your God will choose…And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.”