Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Most Beautiful Feet

Prostrate I fall
Face to the floor
I reach out to touch the most beautiful feet.

Normally disgusting
Cringing, withdrawing
Somehow these feet welcome me home

Eye level with carpet
I know my place
Is to respond with worship, to feast upon grace

My hands have never touched
such beautiful skin.
So precious, so strong ~ encouraging strength within.

Feet of love
Feet of flesh
My savior has come that I might have rest.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Back Stage Pass or Dinner for Two? (1 Samuel 16)

Imagine not being invited to the party, but instead being assigned shepherd duty while your father and seven brothers got back stage passes with Samuel. Samuel was a prophet people trembled before. To be a guest at one of his sacrifices and meals required a special invitiation. To your surprise your dad gets an invite for the whole family, but SOMEONE has to stay behind with the stinkin' sheep. Guess who gets picked? That's right, the youngest. David was the youngest of his seven brothers and held the position of least honor as the youngest male. When Samuel's invitation arrived at Jesse's household, David was left with the responsibility of the flocks while the other males went to meet with Samuel.

At the party, Samuel was eager to anoint one of the sons of Jesse as Israel's new King. Samuel, looking at appearance and height of stature, was quite certain that the oldest son was he. Interrupted by the Lord, Samuel was reminded that the Lord looks inwardly into a man to make his selection, as opposed to relying on outward physical characteristics to enable a man to fulfill the role of King well. Then, one by one, each of the older brothers got passed by. The Lord had not chosen any of them.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch and to David's surprise, he was wisked away from the sheepfold to stand before Samuel. God had chosen him. Smelling of sheep and not of the same physical presentation as his impressive older brother, the last to be presented was indeed God's man who would be annointed as King.

God can look into the heart. He is able to do what man cannot. In our story, He is willing to withhold the judgement of a man as influential as Samuel in order to bring his will about in the life of an individual. God must really want David's leadership in Israel to happen, because He additionally enables David to accomplish the task by giving him the gift of himself, the "Spirit of the LORD"(v.13).

As a Christian and in like manner, God is so sold on my part in His plan to bring the good news to all nations, that he has enabled me fully to do it by giving me the gift of Himself, the gift of the Holy Spirit. Beyond living with Him and loving Him, I have a commission before me. His good news is to reach all nations, and He's been moving toward that goal since the first sin of man. Yet, I am worth more to Him than a hired worker or a concert attendee. I have a special place of intimacy in his heart.

Now, If I were David, I would have had a pity party because I did not get the back stage passes. I have a friend who amazingly wins regularly from contests on the radio. She's always getting the goods! She's got a magic cell phone, I tell you! I really want to go to the concerts, to be included in all the great prizes. But the truth is that God has a dinner for two planned. He's given me the larger gift by looking into my heart, commissioning me in His will, and giving me the gift of Himself.

I guess the question I ask myself today is this:
Is the backstage pass my greatest desire? Or am I trusting and relishing in dinner for two?

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Monument to Oneself (1 Samuel 15)

Having already shown public impatience for waiting on God's timing and command (Ch.13), Saul's rejection of God's sovereignty came full circle in this chapter. God gave a specific command to Saul before he defeated the Amalekites. But as victory came by God's hand through the Israelite soldiers, Saul chose to disobey. He obeyed only the portion of God's command which required no personal sacrifice. He lost nothing in that portion of obedience. But those portions of the spoil that could be of great benefit, Saul chose to keep them for himself with a good dose of religious justification. In doing so, Saul officially was removed from the throne as Israel's King.

After the battle Saul erected a monument to himself in Carmel. Also, instead of killing Agag (King of the Amalekites), Agag was kept as a living monument to Saul's greatness. Agag's people had been wiped out, but as Saul's prisoner he would be a living reminder to everyone of Saul's victory. This time there was no mention of the Lord's victory from Saul's mouth.

When Samuel appears to confront Saul, the first words from Saul are, "I have carried out the command of the Lord"(v. 13). Nice try. When confronted by Samuel, Saul goes on to explain the disobedience by blameshifting. It is now the people who chose not to obey...and according to Saul they were just on our way to make a sacrifice and give it all to the Lord. So smooth with his justification! But God saw beyond the lies. He looks at the heart.

In contrast to Saul's monuments to his own greatness, Samuel speaks of the Lord in a new and unique way. The Lord is named, "the Glory of Israel." This name directly contradicted Saul's actions in building monuments to his own glory. The reality that Saul faced that day was a choice each of us face. Will it be our greatness that we erect for people to see? Or will it be the Glorious One who people recognize as we live out our lives?

May the Lord continue to discern and discipline the workings of my heart
as I seek to use well the gifts He has provided in my life.
© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Friday, November 10, 2006

In Need of Rest? (1 Samuel 14:24-52)

Eager to please God after being rebuked (Chapter 13), Saul gave a command that wearied his troops. They may not eat until they have accomplished victory against the Philistines. Jonathan publicly disobeyed his father's declaration and led the people in gratifying their hunger. Abandoning self-control, the soldiers began slaughtering the spoil and eating the meat with blood still in it. For Israel, eating the blood of an animal was not acceptable according to God's Law. But they were very weary, and fulfilling their hunger was their first priority after withholding for the duration of the battle.

Jonathan's wisdom told him that his father made a poor leadership decision as King. But in his own rebelliousness, he ate and led the people against the King's command. In judging his father, Jonathan also made a poor leadership decision. Israel's soldiers responded with self-fulfillment as their first priority.

The author of 1 Samuel repeated, "the people were hardpressed," "weary," and "very weary;" and couples it with the closing comment, "Now the war against the Philistines was severe all the days of Saul" (v. 24, 28, 31, 52). Their strength was waning as a nation and as individuals. By the end of the chapter, I feel pity for this young nation.

Sin brings about chaos, both publicly and privately. It creates unrest within the soul. Sin sends us striving for affirmation, for personal victory without God, for anything that will bring us temporary rest. It is at the foot of the cross that we rest, through grace that cannot be earned. Our place of rest and exaltation is the cross of Jesus Christ. He did the work to salvage our souls.

Can you rest today? Is the work of Christ and His greatness enough for your soul to relish in, though life may be chaotic? Rest, my friend. One thing is enough (Psalm 27).

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

One Man's Bravery (1 Samuel 14:1-23)

What a man! Jonathan is my hero for the day. We don't know much of him yet in 1 Samuel, only that he is overseeing some of his father's troops (King Saul) while they are facing the Philistines for battle. After being introduced to King Saul's strong fear and impatience with the Lord's command in chapter 13, we now see his son take active, bold faith in God's ability to save.

With only his armor bearer, Jonathan says, "Let's go...perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few"(v.6). Sneaking over to enemy territory, the two of them set the pace of war by putting many Philistines to death. Following his son's lead, the King jumps into the battle with his troops. Even those who had gone A.W.O.L. into caves and hiding places began to pursue and take down the Philistines.

One man's bravery jump started the nation into God's awaiting victory.

Can you imagine being the armor bearer, following a brave man into battle like that? Even the armor bearer got some of the action and was willing to risk his life in following. There was bravery in the heart of the armor bearer, too, though he was not the leader.

Lucky me, I got to visit a high school classmate this summer and attend Fellowship Church in downtown Dallas. The sermon was on this very chapter. Though Gary Brandenburg's thoughts were to those serving alongside the leaders of the church, I couldn't help but think of how it applied to being a future wife. Mr. Brandenburg brought out three qualities of the armor bearer in this chapter of 1 Samuel:
1. He prompts the decision to go
2. He affirms the direction of their plan
3. He joins in the action, letting Jonathan know "I am with you"

Does anyone else see the role of a wife in this? As women, (I've been told) we have unique influence and insight within the marriage relationship. Though we have a role that may not lead out front like men often do, God has designed us with just as much bravery through faith. The armor bearer even got to fight in the battle! (Maybe it is widsom that causes us to think before acting, though you have to love men's drive to face challenges despite their emotions and bravely dive into the unknown.)

I want to be a woman who directs my husband to lead in God's direction. I long to be a wife who affirms the unity of the plan. I am eager to stand beside my husband in the ways that I can, letting him know that I am with him in the battle. God is able to accomplish by many or by few, and one day I will stand proudly beside a man of faith so that it will be said of our God in the end, "The Lord delivered that day" (v.23).

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Wait (1 Samuel 13)

And you shall go down before me to Gilgal; and behold, I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and show you what you should do. 1 Samuel 10:8

Waiting agitates my desire for control. When I wait, I humble myself to someone else's decisions and timing. Waiting requires time, in which I subject my mind and heart to faith in someone else coming through on their promise. In relationship to God, waiting requires faith and taking Him at His word. In the above conversation between Samuel and Saul at his private anointing as King, Saul was promised that after he preceded Samuel to Gilgal, Samuel would offer sacrifices to the Lord and would give Saul instruction on what to do. The new King must wait on God and take Him for His word.

Little did Saul know that the occasion for gathering at Gilgal would be in the context of oncoming raids and battle with the Philistines. Because of Isreal's previous unwillingness to completely wipe out the Philistines when they moved into the neighborhood (the Promised Land), the Philistines had market control over ironworking. In their quest for control, Philistia cut off Israel from being able to have swords and modern fighting equipment. Saul and his son Jonathan were the only two who owned swords. Three thousand Isrealites with their axes, hoes and practical workman's tools gathered against the 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen of Philistia.

Israel was terrified. They were running across the border (crossing the Jordan), hiding in caves, and trembling at the thought of facing the Philistines. Not only was Saul's army miniscule compared to his opponents, but the lack of weaponry and declining morale mounted stress on Saul as a national leader.


Did God really expect Saul to WAIT on Samuel?

Samuel's seven days were up on Saul's stopwatch. The impounding stress and fleeing Isrealite soldiers created a circumstance that seemed to need quick action. Waiting on God looked foolish for someone laying their bet on a worldly solution. God may have previously confirmed Saul's kingship with a victory over the Ammonites, but that was a far cry from Saul's stressful circumstance. The people expected a King to deliver them, and Saul was ready to give into his and their fears.

We see Saul flounder in this account, taking action into his own hands and offering the sacrifice. He decided not to wait any longer for Samuel. In divine timing, Samuel arrives just in time to rebuke Saul and remove him from the divinely appointed role as King over Israel. Through impatience, Saul lost God's blessing.

I can very much relate to Saul's impatience in waiting. I often take comfort in having control in my own hands. When I do this, I don't have to see with holy eyes the pain, fear, or selfishness that truly are a part of my heart. . .I seem righteous when I take matters into my own hands. But when I wait, allowing prayer, the Word of God, accountability, or wise counsel to examine me, I see my sin and can focus my attention on becoming a woman after God's own heart. In that, I do not need my own righteousness, because I rely on Christ's power in me and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I wait in His shaping to change my attitude or ability to have victory in a challenging circumstance.

Saul chose not to rest in God's promise and God's proven character. Are you resting today in God's promises and His proven character to be the Almighty, the Counselor, the Redeemer, the provider, the lover of your soul, etc.?

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Woman with the Big Head

Yesterday, one of the Korean girls had her senior recital. I was amazed at the clarity, depth, and magnitude of the voice that came from such a soft spoken little woman! She did a wonderful job...and she's not the woman with the big head, by the way. My Korean friend is studying music, hoping to work with Bible translation in missions, using music as a way to incorporate the gospel message into culture as they work to translate the Bible into a new language. What an amazing vision and passion! Her mother traveled all the way from Korea for the event, and I got to meet her. (She's not the woman with the big head, either.)

As I began to walk onto campus toward the Music Hall, I realized that God had developed me from being a young woman, into being a woman. Somewhere along the lines of the past several years, I stopped associating myself with collegiate life. The mid-twenties were such a mix of learning life outside of college, though I really related to college life more than adult life. Walking on campus made me confirm in my head that I was in a new life stage.

I was dressed in clothes from work, and sticking out like a sore thumb among the students. Though I was older and had different responsibilities, I realized that my life now has just as many unknowns. Faith is required of me now, as it was in college when my financial means were less and when my future looked like a blank sheet of paper. Faith is always required in relationship with God.

Instead of faith, I chose to make my head big and think myself as better because I was older. Self-righteousness began to separate me from the ones that I should have compassion on. In my attitude, I turned my back on the Lord's sheep and goats.

"Do you love me?" Jesus asked Peter. "Then feed my sheep." (John 21)

I am the woman with the big head. Instead of faith in God, as a woman who seeks to do His work with her life, I chose to appease my fears with self-righteousness. My head grew and my heart shrank.

May the grace of God lead us to recognize and confess our sin, and to pray for one another in our daily need for Christ's work on the cross.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Keep Your Lawn...I mean Heart...With all Diligence (1 Samuel 11-12)

In my household of women, I've taken on the responsibility to care for the lawn. With the summer's drought, most of the grass died, and my job was easy. With the sprinkling system broken, our yard became a yellow crunchy field where weeds thrive. A small bit of rain revived the yard, and we now can see some green; both the good and bad are thriving together.

The worst of the weeds are the stickers, which attach themselves to our shoes and make their way into our carpet. I often find them with my bare feet as I walk through the house. They must be at their prickly best in the fall, because I reached my limit of tolerance for them being tracked throughout the house. Yesterday I spent several hours working on the yard, including pulling up each of the sticker grass sprouts by their roots. They thrive in the hot, dry climate because of their very shallow root system, and easily strangle out the good grass. Who knows how long my effort will last!

As the Lord confirmed Saul as King in chapter 11, we again see that God divinely enabled Saul for the task at hand. Israel had victory over the Ammonites, confirming God's anointing for Saul as King. Samuel then lead the nation in faith, gathering them for the public anointing (Ch. 10 was more of a public presentation). Saul's official reign as King began with God's confirming victory. It all seems swell, right?! No sticker grass here.

Then, in chapter 12, Samuel communicated the boundaries and situation for the King that God was giving them. Gathered as a nation at Gilgal, the Lord reminded them of His works in leading them from Egypt, establishing them in the land, and providing for their national needs. He showed them how good it was to have Him as King. Then the Lord rebuked them for their tendency to forget Him, their perpetual cycle of sin, and for rejecting God as King. The Lord's will was to answer their plea for a king, but He was not condoning the sin in their hearts.

Israel was very celebratory over their King, yet God sends them a terrible storm to confirm his anger over their evil. Their harvest would suffer because of the storm. The people fear, but God reminded them that apart from Him their pursuits are futile. He will not abandon His people according to His promise, but He will discipline them. They must be able to recognize the sticker grass which threatens their trust in Him. If they do not learn to love Him wholly, the stickers will strangle out what is good from their hearts. Instead of fruition, the end result would be pain and unrest as the stickers do their damage.

Sin so easily entangles. Its roots do not have to run deep to do much damage. God sees our sticker grasses, instructs us, and desires our ability to rest in him. As we allow the Spirit of God to convict, remember that removing the sticker grass means that your hands will likely be pricked and it will require some sweat, but the end result allows for a fuller trust and rest in God. It's worth the work. Keep striving with the Spirit of God to keep a lush and fertile heart!

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A New Thing (1 Samuel 10)

It's so hard to draw out any lesson in chapter 10. God is doing something so new in Israel, that I have to stand back and just watch with suspense. He's answering the people's plea for a king to rule over them, and chooses Saul. We see Saul's private anointing by Samuel, his hiding the news from an uncle, and then hiding himself among the baggage when Samuel presents him publicly as king to the people. This is new business between God and Israel, so I'm content to sit back and observe. Here's some things I noted:

1. The LORD had earlier said the people would do this, and that it was not motivated for God's glory, but by a rejection of Him. He's allowing it to happen in His sovereign will. We don't know why, but in v.18-19 Samuel speaks the words of the LORD, specifically that this is happening because they have rejected the LORD as king.

2. Take some notes on Saul. His father is a mighty man of valor (9:1), so he comes from a lineage of brave men. That makes him seem a good choice for a king. Secondly, he is taller than everyone around. His stature seems to promote strength. Thirdly, he is reluctant to assume the role as king, hiding and withholding information.

3. God is the one enabling Saul to be king. His Spirit comes upon Saul and changes him. He seeks Saul out to be annointed. He lifts Saul up in front of the people.

4. Even though Saul is king, he is expected to live and rule under the authority of God. He must obey Samuel's instructions throughout the chapter. This is not a role he can fill without the hand of God moving for Him. The king is dependent on God.

My rule of thumb is this: when you don't know exactly how to apply (and even before you seek to apply the Word of God to your life) be a good observer. Watch God do His work and listen to Him through Scripture.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Morning's Random Thought

After running this morning with a wise and fun woman, I soaked in some of the Lord through prayer and 1 Samuel. Afterward, there was a wonderful 10-minute span where I knew I could satisfy my fleshly craving for more sleep. Giggling at myself, I jumped back in bed to lavish myself in pretend sleep.

While doing so I daydreamed about what I would tell a group of young women. The thought was convicting to me because it was truth in my own life. Here's what I would say:

We spend so much time in front of the mirror, caring for the details of our presence, our look. We must be content with the image in the mirror, so we think. We must show others that we have value and worth. Looking at the image in front of us, we expect it to reflect our glory. But let the truth sink in deeply: that image is not our glory.

Our glory is reflected in the cross. There we are the desperate beauties, wanting and longing for a savior. There we are deemed the height of beauty because we are found complete and forgiven in His glory. Rescued, cherished, bravely won...Christ is our glory. May our eyes for ourselves fade, and our attention to the significance of Jesus become sharp and bright in our hearts' eyes.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Friday, September 08, 2006

He is Lord of All Time (1 Samuel 9)

The Hebrews/Israelites had such a verbal history, passing down stories to be remembered. The way this portion of scripture works is a reminder that we are reading a narrative history. It is not a cold and hard timeline, but an interactive narrative to draw us into the lives and events during this time of history. The seeds of the story will help hearts to remember God and his ways. The people in our narrative history were actively allowing us to see success and failure in what God has already specifically commanded.

I love the Hebrew narration in chapter 9. We've been introduced to Samuel already, but in chapter 9 he was referred to at first in honored, esteemed and general terms like "man of God," "held in honor," "prophet," and "seer." Finally, in verse 14, the suspense ended as the author name-dropped "Samuel." It's as if Saul was ignorant of this man of God and his role in Israel (not a fact, just my thought). Saul sought Samuel for help in finding lost donkeys, but God had this timely collision of the two perfectly planned.

Saul was clueless. Need I say more? God had not yet informed Saul of his future role as king, but it was coming straight for him. In fact, the two are seeking each other for very different reasons. Saul sought donkeys. Samuel sought God's chosen king. Saul, the man looking for his lost donkeys, was surprisingly invited to the sacrificial meal and given the choice seat. He was placed in honor above the other 30 guests there! Samuel had the chef set aside a choice portion for Saul's meal saying, "it has been kept for you until the appointed time"(v.24).

What this chapter does for me is to strengthen my trust and peace in God's timing. I can relate to Saul in not having any special revelation from God about the specifics of when and where in life, which puts me in a place to trust God's ability to move on my behalf. I live according to His ways and according to the repentance required of a sinner, and He will take care of the rest. Peace, brothers and sisters. God is in control, even when it is not according to American standard time.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Straight on to Salvation (1 Samuel 8:10-22)

En route from Egypt, Moses foretold Israel, "When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, "I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me..."(Deuteronomy 17:14). Though the Hebrew nation of Israel was wandering in the dessert for 40 years, God gave Moses instruction about how to live in their future homeland. Knowing that the people would ask for a King, God instructed Israel through Moses generations before it took place. As we read the second half of 1 Samuel 8, this instruction of God should be ringing in our ears. God foreknew that Israel would reject Him, yet in love He continued to give them of His promises, His protection, and His love.

1 Samuel 8 is a sobering passage to read as we recognize our sin in relation to Israel's rejection of God's best ~ that which He had specifically instructed to them in the way they should live. Yet it is a delightful passage to meditate on in considering the character of God toward sinners. God had planned, from the days He led little Israel by the hand from Egypt, that when they grew into adolescents and flexed their muscles of autonomy, that He would allow them to experience what they asked for. More than that, the place and timing of their hearts would be right on track as God headed straight forward to His coming Messiah.

Taking apart vv. 10-22, we see a progression in God's message to Israel through Samuel:
1. Your sons
2. Your daughters
3. You
4. THEN...you will
5. Nevertheless

"Your sons," "your daughters," and "you" were first instructed to give to God their very best. The first and best portions belonged to God, and then Israel enjoyed the rest of God's blessings among themselves. Under a king, not only would their best go to God, but also then they would give of their own families members, produce, and earnings to support an earthly king. Even the king's servants would eat from the best of Israel, and then the nation would supply for them from what was left. (Reality check!) Under the king, their families, their economy, their national defense system, and their agriculture system would all be adapted to support the king. They better hope for a kind and gracious king, and one who trembles under the fear of God! A self-serving king would be able to lead them into poverty and even greater moral demise.

Next, God foretells that they will cry out from under their earthly king. Note in v. 18 how often "you" is used, and for that matter, note how often it is used in our whole passage today. God is making a statement about the responsibility behind the consequences. When the situation gets undesirable, that finger of blame has one way to point ~ to the "you" in our passage. Sovereignly and with a good heart, God grants their sinful request so that maybe they would see why God's best is best. He's not to be the place of blame for their future grief. Sin is a serious offense, with death as its wages (Romans 6:23).

Lastly, we have "nevertheless" used. This should be a red flag, telling us that Israel has rejected God's warning through Samuel and pursued the desires of their own hearts. Verse 19 says that they refused to listen to God and demanded that they be like all the nations. God's instruction to them was to be holy as He is holy (emphasized repetitively in Leviticus), but the allure of second best had captured their hearts.

Isn't God full of mystery and wisdom? In the midst of Israel's sinful rejection, He chooses still to go straight toward His coming Messiah. His promise, His word drives Him. He embodies truth and faithfulness. God later promised through the lineage of King David, that his throne would never end. Historically we see it does end when Babylon and Assyria become world powers, yet the coming of Jesus, the Messiah and a descendant of David, is the securing of the throne for eternity. Human rejection will not stop God from His own will. His love for us is too great to stop short of the goal.

In the midst of our sin, God's wisdom says, "Straight on to my salvation! Straight on to the greatest of rejections upon the cross! I want my people with me, and I will provide the way!"

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Allure of Second Best (1 Samuel 8:1-9)

The repentance of chapter 7 was short lived. For a time the Israelite's eyes were turned toward God under the leadership of Samuel. Verses 15 through 17 of that chapter give us a summary and closure of Samuel's leadership. He was still acting as a priest, prophet and judge in Israel after this point, but leadership in the nation was being transferred.

Israel relied strongly on a leader to direct their spiritual lives. So as one generation ended and another began, God slowly faded from supremacy in their hearts. Samuel was old, and his sons caved in their choices. Taking bribes and perverting justice, they forecasted a troublesome future for the nation as Israel depended on them for leadership. The nation has seen this before in Eli's sons, and they have decided that they will not tolerate it. While seeming a wise decision, Israel had not fostered continual repentance before God in their hearts. They are relying on leadership to be the manager of their spiritual health.

No man can stand under that weight unless it is the Lord at work. God had not placed a man as a political or governmental leader over the nation. He set priests in the center of the people, next to Himself, in order to serve and exemplify how to live in relationship with a holy God. Unfortunately, during the conquest of the land, Israel slowly reverted back to pagan worship. They began subscribing to their magazines, letting their lusts for second best grow. Soon, they had altered their plans for how to inhabit and manage the land, though God had given some specific directions.

Yet, Israel was convinced of what they wanted. And what they wanted was so easily justified as a need outside of faith in God. The other nations' systems had immediate benefits. Fearing those nations instead of God, the governments and advanced military systems looked shiny and new. They were so alluring, as well as having religious systems that thrived on idolatry. Those other nations could trust in what they saw leading them, but this generation of Israel was expected to trust in God who they could not see. Faith was required, but it was hard.

Not building a foundation for their worship and relationship with the Lord, Israel fell to the allure of second best. God had been their King. He was unseen, but had proven His character, His might, and His miracles since the days they left Egypt. Yet, verse 8 says, "Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt...they have forsaken Me and served other gods." The inclination of their hearts, and our hearts, is sin. We have a natural bent to want and desire second best, even when God shows us miracles.

Ultimately, Israel rejected God as King and asked for a king to be set over them. This grieved Samuel in His old age, but in conversation with God he was told to listen to the people. God is sovereign, able to act for His own good in every circumstance. In this portion of chapter 8, we see that God was allowing the allure of second best to be gratified. He was allowing sin and circumstance to be a teacher for the nation. They are about to be reacquainted with the reasons that God is the one true King.

Second best is so alluring, isn't it? Wants get so easily justified as needs, freeing my heart to follow after sin actively. By selfish desire, I quickly and easily displace God as King in my heart and set myself upon a lesser throne. I don't so easily mean to reject God, but in my heart I have not fostered repentance. Like Israel I may easily stray from my foundation of faith in God. What I set before my eyes seems a more alluring king. Do any of you women out there feel this well up in you when you walk the shops at the mall or get lots of magazines to look through at home? I'm so vulnerable, and notice a war start to arise in my heart when I am not careful with these things. Each of us has areas where we easily debunk God as King. Be aware of where yours are, and beware of your interaction with those "other nations."

Every day I need the gospel. Every day I need the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sin. Only by Him am I made anew and shaped for His glory. Oh but what glory there is, because I have been changed. Doing what I could not do in my own strength or by my own intellect, God has made me anew. "He who hears my Word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24).

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Repentance (1 Samuel 7)

In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel took his stand as a national leader and called for the gathering of all Israel at Mizpah. The nation of Israel had come to trust Samuel, because the Lord chose to reveal Himself and His Word through the young prophet. Now, after a major catastrophe with the precious national centerpiece (loss and return of the ark), Israel had 20 years to review their hearts and accept conviction. Verse 2 says, "...all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD."

After this time, Samuel uses his influence to preach a message of repentance. Repentance in this instance contains four action steps for Israel. With hearts of genuine remorse, they were to:
1. Return to the Lord with all of their hearts
2. Remove the idolatry and foreign worship from among them
3. Direct their hearts to Him alone
4. Serve Him alone
These steps are applicable to me, also. As the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, in genuine remorse I should turn my heart to the Lord. I give it wholly to Him and begin removing stumbling blocks from my life that have caused me to sin. Not only do I return and remove, but I actively should direct my heart to Him. Where idols were removed, I need to fill my heart and mind with Him. True heart change will happen by His hand. This can happen through spending time in prayer, fellowship with other Christians, and studying the Bible to know Him better. Dying to myself, I then spend my energies in service to Him instead of my own selfish desires and empty idols.

Back in our chapter, Israel uniquely worshiped God as they gathered and fasted in repentance. During those twenty years after the ark made its way back from Philistia, they saw their need for His centrality in their lives. The LORD was living water to the desert of their sinful hearts. Responding under Samuel's leadership, Israel drew up one of their most precious resources in that region - water - and poured it out before God as an act of worship. In repentance and conviction, they acknowledged their need of God and poured out their hearts to Him.

God's living water seeps into the parched areas of the sinner's heart. Moment by moment His grace sustains and prepares the soil. If a human heart is to be a fertile place to bear His fruit, then one must depend on His part in doing it. For the Israelites, this meant pursuing God each time they were tempted to turn from Him.

The Philistines again came to tempt them into submission, and Israel was afraid. Yet, they asked for Samuel's prayer and stood for battle. As a fulfimment of His promise should they repent, the Lord acted mightily on their behalf to defeat the Philistines. Samuel's response to this victory is one that will help us in our own repentance. He built an altar before the Lord and remembered, "Thus far the Lord has helped us."

As we are again and again tempted, each in ways that are unique to our own weaknesses, we should ask for prayer from those Christains around us. Though we may fear our own moral failure in the beginning, we will stand for battle in obedience to the Lord. Each small step taken that is victorious should cause us to ascribe victory to the Lord. We build a memorial in our hearts to remind us that the Lord helped us thus far. Then, we stand again and look ahead to the next small step of victorious obedience.

Thus far the Lord has helped us. He will again help us in the next temptation.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Precious Purity

As a 28 year-old virgin in a gynecologist office, I expect gasps and sideways glances when I speak about my lack of sexual activity. Today was different.

My new male doctor was referred to me through the church. This being my first visit, I spoke with him about my past, and my desire to have his female nurse practitioner do my breast exam. He then shared with me his policy on exams for virgins, which is much less intrusive. He also offered for the nurse practitioner to do the whole exam. We discussed details to make sure that this would be the best measure. While many doctors are sensitive to women in situations like this, this doctor takes a stance on honoring purity in the fear of God. I had come expecting the normal, yet not so comfortable, situation for women. But what I got was a lesson from God.

Just two days prior, I had been walking along a four-lane road in our town. I usually have my workouts planned along long, populated roads. I like the protection advantage that many eyes can provide, though I prefer to work out along trails and quiet roads. Unfortunately on this prior day, a man in a car decided to harass me during a large portion of my workout. I even darted across four lanes to get to the other side as he pulled into a driveway in front of me. Sadly, this is the social transaction I've come to expect. It's so normal for people to look out for their own interests instead of the ways of God. (I'm as guilty as anyone in this.)

As I left the doctors office today, tears streamed down my face as I thanked the Lord for what I didn't know I needed. I needed to have a man make a decision to honor my own purity in the fear of God. I've not had someone knowingly and intentionally do that before. I entered the doctors office expecting the norm, though not horrible in itself. I left with a dose of grace.

Grace comes washing over us at times, like a heavy rain in a sun-parched land. There's so much of God's abundant grace that the soil of our hearts can only take a portion of it in. Even that small, small bit of grace absorption leaves us beyond our saturation point.

I see both of these incidents as a lesson from God. He showed me the world's ways, and he showed me the potential of how a man can honor me through fearing God. In this I know better what to look for in a husband. I also have hope that there is protection and rest in God's ordained boundaries. A man who fully ascribes to God the glory due Him will treat precious what is of great worth and value in His sight. . . for example, our sexual purity before marriage and heart purity once married.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hair in the Popcorn (1 Samuel 6)

One night during my high school years I was at a movie theater with my friends. I purchased a bag of popcorn to eat during the movie. At that age I was a serious long distance runner and did not have much concern for the gallon of fatty, fake butter that was poured over my corn. It was a delightful mouth of salty butterness. Some time into the show, I froze. Danger. Very serious danger was in my mouth! Trying to keep composure of both my outward reaction and my gag reflex, I began to pull a very long tangled mess of popcorn and hair out of my mouth. Even worse was the fact that I had unknowingly swallowed part of it though it was still attached. Extracting it was NOT fun.

At that point, what do you do? You can complain to the manager, but none of that theater's popcorn is going to make its way back into my mouth. The ordinary (someone else's hair) had already mingled with the holy (my popcorn). May it never be!

The closing of 1 Samuel 6 is quite similar if you think creatively about it. The Ark of God was holy. And God intended for Israel to also be a holy nation. ("You shall be holy as I am holy." Lev. 11:44-47) On the contrary Israel mingled with the ordinary, Godless nations around them. It affected how they treated the Holy God.

For example, Israel saw the Ark being carried home by two milch cows pulling a cart and made a burnt sacrifice is made from the cows and the cart. As I read I think, "They've got it. They are using the ordinary to honor God." Yet, ignorant and enjoying idolatry, Israel forgot the holiness of God. Men curiously peered into the Ark as if it were ordinary, but God had instructed them otherwise.

By their sin these men fell to death at the hand of a holy God. What is holy was not intended to be mingled with ordinary, Godless elements. Holiness is meant to define the ordinary, but in our sin we use the ordinary in rebellion against God. Like a hair in the throat of God is our ignorant mingling of the holy and the ordinary for selfish pursuit.

To apply this principle, I find myself convicted of worshipping the image in the mirror as if it defines who I am and what I will be worthy of, but God has instructed me to find my worth and my value in Him. He is the source of my worth and my very body is called a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). By letting the ordinary define my life, I will have a failing standard to judge by. But keeping my heart tuned to the Holy One allows me wisdom and help in removing the unholy hair from my popcorn.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hot Potato Ark (1 Samuel 5)

In chapter 4 God did not show up to help when Israel used the Ark as a lucky charm in their battle with the Philistines. Israel was living in an unholy way by mimicking the pagan religions around them. The nations around them viewed gods as limited to particular elements like controlling the sea, having power over fertility, or having powers within a certain nation's borders. Israel lived apart from God in their hearts, yet assumed that God was contained by the Ark of the Covenant. If they brought it to battle, so God would be with them. Unfortunately, their plan did not work and God chose to remain silent and unmoved while they were spanked in battle.

It almost seems like a paradox in chapter 5, when the Ark of God gets passed around Philistia like a hot potato, receiving a bold shout of disapproval from God. Each city it goes into is struck with plagues, confusion, and pestilence. Among these Godless people, the Ark represents the presence and power of a God greater than their own gods. After 7 months, they finally decide to return the Ark to Israel so they can resume their lives of peaceful idolatry.

To each nation, God disciplines like a wise father. He chastises and communicates to each so that they will understand who He is. To Israel, who has known God, He withdraws his presence when they limit Him and try to manipulate him. His silent resistance communicates disapproval. Their worst fate is the loss of Almighty God, and they get to taste the loss of His presence and favor. Though still blessed with His presence because of His choice to make them His people, they do not have freedom from experiencing the consequences of their sin. A holy God among sinful people requires people to be made holy. Holiness is immutable, therefore it is Israel who must be transformed before God and not God before Israel.

For Philistia, a nation ignorant of God, he also speaks in terms they understand. When the Ark is placed next to Dagon (a pagan god), the people of the city thrice find it face down in the dust next to the Ark. Pagan gods had no power outside of their boundaries, but God shows His power in every city that the Ark enters to rest. The pagans may not know God, but they see and experience his almighty power and dominion. A holy God living among sinful people requires them to be changed. Ignorant of God, Philistia returned to their former ways by choosing to remove the holy from their presence.

Overall, what we see in both situations is this:
--living in the presence of a holy God requires a sinner to be changed
--God's will is for His own glory among all people
--He is directing His purposes, even when things seem to have gone so wrong
--He will not tolerate untruth (Israel) or ignorance (Philistia)

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Return to Me (1 Samuel 4)

Lip service cannot hide the heart.
I am not fooled by guile.
In true repentance should my daughter return,
her heart would be safe in me.
Yet, Israel has forsaken her first Love
with a ferocious appetite for the wind.

Her walls of protective blessing obey my voice,
crumbling before her enemies.
Adamantly in desperation she raises a flag of victory in my Name,
but pretending my presence does not hide her bleeding heart.
“Return to Me, my love, and you will be safe.”
But she does not want the Holy.

Decisively, in glorious array, I sit unmoved and silent
as a tidal wave of Philistine fury rises from my deep.
Tragedy upon tragedy sweeps away her men of renown.
Wisdom wails through her pain, “The glory of God has departed!”
I have chosen to chasten her hard heart
so she might wholly return to me.
© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Obedience to the Call (1 Samuel 3)

Samuel definitely gets press time in this chapter. He was the ignorant boy who acted with a right heart, while the High Priest's educated and highly positioned sons brought down the house of God with their selfish ambition. Samuel was obedient and faithful. Eli's sons were impatient and greedy. God's character ultimately allowed Eli's son's be ruined in their folly, while He raised Samuel to a place of honor. Remember that "man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart"(1 Samuel 16:7b).

Samuel slept in the Holy of Holies at the center of the Temple to make sure that the golden lamp stands did not extinguish before sun-up. Samuel heard God call His name one night while sleeping there, and the Bible reminds us that Samuel had not yet experientially known God. The boy was obedient to authority and in learning, but three times he runs to Eli instead of responding to the voice of God. He was ignorant of God's voice. Eli discerned that Samuel was being called by God and taught the boy to humbly listen.

The first of the two characteristics that I really like in Samuel is obedience. Samuel was a student and a servant for Eli. He had the job of sleeping in the Temple floor and putting oil into the lamps. As a faithful servant according to Eli's instruction, there was no glory by human standards. But Samuel had a great heart. Later in the chapter, Samuel must be obedient to God and faithfully deliver his first prophesy. Though he is afraid, Samuel must speak painful truth to his earthly mentor and surrogate father, Eli. Samuel's obedience is tested not only through human authority, but through God's authority.

Secondly, Samuel does not make a place for himself to be honored. As he places himself into the center of God's will and listens, Samuel is directed to a place of honor that only God could give. From lamplighter to national leader, God chooses to exalt Samuel to lead the people back to God.

It is very tempting for me, in my desire for an official job in young women's ministry, to make much of myself. Within, I have the very heart of Eli's sons. Self-promotion and greed motivate me. Yet, through Christ I have the capacity for obedience and a God-ward motivated heart. His great act of mercy through Jesus enables me to trust that He has chosen to exalt and make low according to His purposes on earth. I do not need to make much of myself, but to trust that He knows better than I what will bring Him the glory. As I faithfully serve in what I know, He will make a straight path before me.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Set Upon His Own Glory (1 Samuel 2:22-36)

Recently, we saw the downfall of Eli's sons. Instead of serving as priests for God's glory, they chose to pervert His ways for personal gain. Usually, this type of perversion in the House of God was punishable by death. Though Eli spoke warning to his sons, he did not follow the example and teaching given through Moses regarding the holy things of God. Ultimately, God chose to discipline Eli for honoring his wicked sons above honoring Himself.

Through this historical event, as students of the Bible, we should ultimately be growing in a relational knowledge of our God. Today, instead of focusing on a summary and interpretation of the text, we will be looking for specific characteristics of God's character. Here's a few that I pulled out of 1 Samuel 2:22-36:

  1. God will discipline those who are His. Discipline helps us to navigate our relationship with God. It leads us closer to Him.
  2. The knowledge of God in all nations is His will. - Those who are most influential in Israel were to be an example to the whole nation. The nation, as a result, would then be a shining example of relationship with God among the world. God was and is concerned about Himself being known by all the earth.
  3. God provides hope. - Though this portion of the chapter is focused on the decline in the priesthood, Samuel is noted twice (v. 21-26). He is growing in favor with the Lord and men, a light of hope in comparison to the decline. God frequently gives us hope to sustain us for His purposes.
  4. God is set upon His own glory. - He disciplines to reveal His greatness within us. He seeks for truth (Himself) to be known by all people. He provides hope as we live in His will. He is the source and center of life. This truth is core to everything He does.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Corruption of the Sacred (1 Samuel 2:11-21)

At the Temple in Shiloh, Hannah relinquished her newly weaned son as a faithful completion of her vow to God. Verse 11 says that Elakanah returned home, which means that he confirmed his wife's choice and relinquished to Eli the fatherly authority to raise Samuel as a servant in the Temple. This transference of guardianship ends our time with Samuel's family.

The Scriptures now have us peering into the current state of the worship in Israel. Eli, the High Priest, had two sons who were very rebellious. They used their position as priests to greedily demand and steal portions of food from worshippers, to eat the fat of the sacrifices (belonging to God alone), to deal harshly with the people, and to have sex with women serving there. The fear of God was not in them.
Serving the Lord as a priest was a sacred position. It was reserved alone for the tribe of Levi. The books of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy expound upon the role of the priests, who were lifelong servants before God. According to these books, the Levites blessed the other 11 tribes of Israel by standing between them and the presence of God. Holiness befits His house, and the Levites were to fear the holiness of God in the way they dressed, ate, and ministered. Their lives were a constant reminder to the people that God is not to be approached irreverently.

The corruption in Eli's sons is a heavy thought to weigh. It is repulsive in comparison to the holy standard of God. Through them, I am reminded that my own sin should be repulsive to me as I consider the holiness of God. I am loved and have a life purpose in God's will, but I still must daily choose between sin and obedience. Having a relationship with God did not, and does not, remedy the nature of my flesh. I, as Eli's sons were, am still tempted by my own evil desires. I am daily tempted in my sin to lower the standard on what is sacred.
With gladness, God gives me hope. Samuel, even as a youth, stood as a stark contrast to the rebellion of Eli's sons. You and I are to be that contrast to the world in our present time. As sinners, we blend in with the world around us. But as the saved, we stand apart because of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Day by day, God is working to grow us before Himself as He did with Samuel. Temptations abound, but we have the blessing of a responsive relationship with God to lead us in repentance and being made new in Christ.

As you seek to honor the Sacred One, be wise in recognizing, confessing, and repenting from sin and fleeing the temptations to lower His standard. Consider these wise words by Charles Swindoll in his sermon "It's the Work and It's Sacred":

The work of God is Sacred.
It is not our place to lower His standard.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hannah's Song (1 Samuel 2:1-10)

The character of God which I see most illuminated by Hannah's song is His incomparable power and willingness to heap blessing upon those who are His. He is the judge and one who weighs men's actions. He sets the world on its foundation, allowing blessing to all, but choosing more specifically to exalt certain ones. He is a rock who alone is holy, whose decisions shatter the might of those who oppose Him and bring honor to those who love Him. Hannah witnesses to us through this song -- more than filling a human need, the love of God is extravagant to those whose hearts are fully His.

The lyrics to this song include those attributes and characteristics of God to which Hannah has been exposed. She found herself very lowly, only to be exalted by God's choice. What seems impossible is the very thing that God uses for the display of Himself among all people. This is not a God who needs anything from us. Instead, He is pleased to reveal himself through us. The song says that from the dust heap and the ash, one is seated among the noble. Those who are lowly receive honor that befits Him and His ways. It is for His glory. Hannah was included in God's plan to bring glory to Himself. He chose a barren woman to birth a boy who would do what is right in Israel. He would grow to be a man to lead all of the people in relationship with God. In choosing the lowly, God reveals His compassion and ability.

Have you taken the time lately to respond to God in your own creative song? These days I have few hiding places where my voice could be hidden if I were to sing, but it used to be common for me to sing prayers to the Lord, to sing praises, and even some worship songs that related to the place of my heart before God. I miss it. Hannah's song reminds me to sing new songs to the Lord. Such a responsive relationship with God is an honor, a place of undeserved mercy, and a place for holy fear.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Responsive God (1 Samuel 1:19-28)

The book of 1 Samuel has so far introduced us to sin's effect in the marriage unit and the family. It is a reflection of the deterioration of a God-centered nation. The revelation of sin's effects will get worse, but before it does the author gives us a promise of hope.

God hears. God responds.

Looking ahead (3:1) we will see that a word from the Lord was rare in those days. Yet, outside of what her experience may tell her, Hannah makes a petition based on the character of God. Unchanging and reliable, Hannah believes that though God has been silent, He exists, hears, and has full ability to act. She humbles herself before His mighty hand, and He chooses to exalt her in her request for a son.

I've made plenty of petitions in my prayer life, but a petition based on God's character is a mature action in prayer. Many of my petitions are quick thoughts about what I think is best, but really I'm just moving my way through a mental shopping list so I don't have to feel responsible any longer. I did my part. Check it off the list. I should learn from Hannah in her remembrance of who God has faithfully shown himself to be through history, and her bold faith to request based on His character.

What a romancer is our God! He hears the words that Hannah didn't speak. (She was saying them in her heart, but not making a noise. The Priest, Eli, accused her of being drunk.) Then, according to His will for her, he opens her womb and she is given a son. The son's name is Samuel, which sounds like the Hebrew for "heard of God" (NASB Study Bible footnotes on 1:20).

Hannah is a woman of her word. She vowed to God that she would dedicate the boy to His service should God grant the request, and so she did. Samuel became a lifelong servant leader to the nation of Israel. God had in mind a man pleasing to Him, who would humble those involved in the corruption in the priesthood. From one broken woman who had nothing to offer God, He supplied in a way that would bless the whole nation of Israel. Samuel was no Savior, but He was a breath of hope for a disobedient nation.

Knowing that He hears and is able to respond, run into the arms of your dear Savior. Recount His great ways in saving you, or ask Him to show you more of His ways. He is a great Romancer, wanting of our dependent relationship with him.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Good Girl, Bad Girl - Part 2 (1 Samuel 1:8-18)

Peninnah and Hannah have had quite the battle going on year after year. While both of these wives of Elkanah are sinners, Peninnah acts on selfish ambition to the detriment of those around her. She is a contrast to the broken vessel of Hannah, who eventually chooses to act upon faith.

Elkanah blessed Hannah with love and double portions, revealing no grudge against her in their childless marriage. Yet, Hannah allows herself to sink away from faith in God. As Peninnah provokes her to tears each year, Hannah accepts despair as an appropriate state of mind in her relationship with God. She is distracted from worship because of what she feels she is missing out on. Honestly, her future was bleak outside of God's hand, for sons would carry on their family inheritance within the Israelite tribe. In that day, it was normal for women to outlive their husbands, so widows were common. Sons would be a boast of God's blessing upon a family, as well as breadwinners able to care for their aging parents and widows. Hannah had a mountain of evidence waiting to affirm her despair.

Yet, one day her husband challenged her despair by offering the blessing of himself. He suggested to her that what she needed was right in front of her. Her husband's willingness to alter the family dysfunction opened a door for healing in Hannah. I assume that God whispered into Hannah's heart, moving her to believe that what she needs IS right in front of her. Next, Hannah went straight for the Tabernacle where she poured out her heart to the Lord. Hannah loved her husband, but her greatest need was the Lord.

Ladies, as much as we may want a man who gives of himself and desires to be our pursuer, there is no replacement for the centrality of Jesus Christ in our heart. If I were Hannah, it would have been so easy to rest in the man's assuring words, not moving to a place of active faith in God. I may have simply rest in the advantage of a supportive husband. I admire Hannah for acting dependently on God to rule over her situation. More than comfort in her husband's love, Hannah allowed her desperation to become God's business. As women, we are responsible for seeing that we choose to yoke ourselves with men who love the Lord and serving Him in their masculinity, but who also push us to greater faith in God instead of allowing us to rely on him for all of our needs. (How exhausting would that be for him to bear!)

You've got to love the expression of Hannah's heart in the temple. The priest confronted her as if she were drunk, but Hannah confessed complete dependence on God. Her expressive prayer has an audience of one. Though it was her prior reason for hiding in shame, Hannah now shared honestly with the most honored man in all of Israel, the High Priest. She had no reason for shame any more, because the Lord had accepted her into His house and heard her plea.

We have no reason to cower in shame. Those who approach the Lord through the High Priest (for Hannah it was Eli, for us it is Jesus) have appropriately approached God. There is no reason to hide our expression of love for God, nor relent when the highest of the high come before us. We stand secure in the righteousness of Christ and may rest in the peace of having our place before God. As Hannah did, so we too may go our way, eat, and have a face that no longer bears the sadness of sin's weight. Truth lives in our hearts and is replacing the lies of the evil one.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Good Girl, Bad Girl (1 Samuel 1:1-7)

Welcome to 1 Samuel! As a quick review, the time of the Judges showed us a depressing outlook for the nation of Israel. Under Joshua, Israel had begun to conquer the land promised to Abraham so many generations prior. But, Israel did not obey God's command as they overtook the inhabitants of the land. This created an open temptation to chase after loves of the flesh, such as beautiful, exotic women from other nations. Israel intermarried with the nations around them, an act of disobedience to God. Instead of trusting in God's use of them to bless all nations, Israel intimately joined themselves to that which God forbade. Judges showed us that man's potential in sin was headed quickly away from their LORD, though the initial sin seemed reasonably beneficial. Isn't it so easy to disobey, especially when the infringements look minimal in the beginning? But the seemingly minimal infringements, not fully conquering the land and marrying women from the other nations, would soon catch up with Israel. The worship of God was now in competition within the homes of Israelites. Foreign gods were now being exalted alongside the God who calls Himself "jealous."

With the decline of true God-centered worship, the family, the religious system, and the leadership of the nation are corrupted and begin their plunge farther away from God's holy standard. We see this in part as 1 Samuel opens. A man of God has taken for himself two wives, Hannah and Peninnah.

If we learned from history, we'd remember that we've seen this before. Firstly, polygamy appears in the Bible with Lamech (Genesis 4:19, 23-24), a man who exalted himself in his sinfulness. Then we watch as Abram listens to Sarai's faithless plea for children through marriage to her maidservant, though it is noted as the LORD who chose to close Sarai's womb at that time. Both of these situations contrast the monogamy of Adam and Eve, as well as the Law given through Moses. God's command and Biblical history both cry out for us to live by faith, but human nature is to live apart from faith in God.

Once again in 1 Samuel, we start with the work of God among a sinful people, His people. They've missed the mark, but His own glory and purposes still include the sinners He has entered into a covenant relationship with. He loves them with patience and steadfastness, allowing their sin to be a part of His fatherly discipline and consequences.

Our good girl, Hannah, is the husband's favorite. She receives a double portion for the yearly sacrifice, though she has born no children for him. Her barrenness is the work of the Lord's hand. Peninnah, our bad girl, is also a sinner. Yet, her character is shown in contrast to that of Hannah. Peninnah jealously provokes and hurts her co-wife, seeking destruction and selfish ambition. While everyone is feasting as part of a yearly celebration in Shiloh, Hannah is so upset and mournful that she will not eat. Peninnah knows how to play her cards to her own benefit.

Hannah and Peninnah keep their home in a yearly roller coaster through jealousy and competition. Can you imagine what the children and the husband felt like with this cat fighting going on each year? Ladies, we would be wise to note that we can strongly influence the climate of our homes. We have the honor of influence as we either set our hearts upon God or upon our own selfish ambition.

So, in response to the Lord's teaching about these women, what is the climate of your home right now? How are you contributing to it as either a single woman or a married woman?

In your relationships with other gals, especially those you may feel twinges of jealousy toward, do you pursue opportunities of self-promotion (destruction for them) or do you rest in dependence on God's hand, who has chosen to make you "barren" in the area of your jealousy? If God is allowing you to see the areas of your jealousy, then begin to search out what about you seems to be "barren." What do you feel you are missing out on, and how does it compare to the Bible's teaching about you? What truth can you cling to this week as you seek to live with character that edifies instead of destroys?

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mother's Day at the Zoo

My mom, sister and I spent the day at the zoo on Mother's Day. Here's our self portrait...after many tries. I've also encluded some other nice pics.

Begging for attention.

Begging for solitude instead of being the freak show.

A giraffe who decided that licking the building was tasty!

Thursday, May 04, 2006


In the dark hours of the morning, I gathered with others from my church for THUMP (Thursday Morning Prayer). Getting ready for such an early morning was a sleepy struggle, but gathering with the saints and coming before God in concentrated, corporate prayer was priceless. I walked away with truth that continues to challenge my flirtatious heart.


During prayer, a wise, older sister in Christ was confessing to the Lord that we flirt with sin. We like our sin. We like it so much that instead of accepting the truth of God and His Word, we entertain sin to please ourselves. We won't fully reject God, but we will definitely flirt with sin as though it is harmless. James 4:4 says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?”(NIV) If you've read from the Bible, you'll recognize that hatred toward God is definitely not harmless!


My Christian sister’s prayer was teaching me that I am a flirt. For example, I may desire excessive food, lustful thoughts, or to be secure through my public image. Instead of resting in Christ for His timing and provision of my natural desires, I decide to take action into my own hands and flirt with indulgence. As a flirt, the 5th piece of pizza, the daydreaming about a crush, or the pining for people’s approval seems so harmless. Yet, the consequence is that I’ve devoted myself to being my own greatest reward and my own source of ultimate pleasure.


On the other hand, I flirt with sin by living according to law. I require myself to be righteous through excessive exercise, refusing to admit sin in public, or requiring others to live by my rules. My legalism leads me to devote myself to being my own source of wisdom and my own source of righteousness. In that state I have no need for Christ. What seems like righteous acts is really developing in me the heart of an adulterous woman who does not remain committed to her true love.


Whether through indulgence or legalism, God becomes less and less my greatest pleasure, my redeemer, my wise counselor, and my great reward. My mouth acknowledges Christ, but in my flirty flesh I worship myself. The truth is that my need is Christ. My desperation is Christ.


Is there any sinful thought or action that you or I may be tempted to flirt with, whether by indulgence or legalism? James 4 goes on to instruct believers to draw near to God and to resist the Devil. As you see your sin (It’s there, don’t worry about having to look too hard!), remember that you have a great and merciful God. Draw near to Him in the reality of your sin and resist the Devil’s schemes by remembering what He has taught you in the Bible, by confessing your sin to Him, and by relating honestly with other Christians as you celebrate Christ.


Remember: Nobody likes a flirt.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Monday, May 01, 2006


On Saturday, I attended a party for a Korean woman who was here studying musical conducting. These gals in the picture are some friends from China who invited me to the party. Cindy (on the far left) and I teach Bible study together on Friday nights. Can you imagine that I am the tall one in the picture? That's a first!

Later that night, our town had a huge Jazz & Arts festival. It was all free!!! I was able to attend with a couple of Korean young women. I love the crowds of people! Is anyone else an introvert who loves crowds?

The two ladies I "jazzed" with attend prayer in Dallas every morning at 6am with their Korean church. Talk about dedication and accountability! They are definitely being faithful to the Lord while here in the states. Their steadfastness is a lesson to me.

I got a job at my church working admin part-time. I also have a resume in for a Sorority House Director position living with the college gals. Please pray! I'd love to serve there, but also might be better fitted with my gifting elsewhere.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Plain and Simple

Select three common objects in your car, your home, or your office. I choose a wooden spoon, my ink pen, and the ash tray in my car that collects coins. Nothing too spiritually significant there. These objects don't have much importance to me at first thought. But, as I consider many of the women in the Bible who were commended for their faith in action, I'm reminded that the ordinary became grounds for the extraordinary because of obedient hearts.

There was Mary, mother of Jesus. She was a young woman, initially naive to the Lord's great plan for her as a part of the Savior's life. She was simple and faithful, a woman with an obedient heart who said, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be done to me as you have said" (Luke 1:38 NIV).

Secondly, there was Martha. Once corrected by Jesus in her irritation at her sister, Martha continued as a servant in the kitchen, practicing hospitality. No wonder Jesus went to the home of these familiar friends as one of his last stops before being crucified in Jerusalem. On this last stop with friends, Martha is not rebuked, for her heart has been corrected. "Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served..." (John 12:1-2 NIV)

The last example is from the book of Judges. It was often the women's role during the time of the Judges to set up the tents that a nomadic family lived in. Jael's arms and hands were acclimated to the practice of nailing tent pegs into the ground. Jael took the tools she was familiar with to practice obedience to God's will, killing the enemy king who was fleeing from Israel's military leader. Her hospitality and bravery gave her opportunity to use the hammer and tent peg that were a familiar part of her life. Jael received the honor of Israel's victory because she was willing to use what she had for God's glory. (To see the whole story, visit Judges 4.)

My challenge to us as women, is to faithfully and thankfully work with the Spirit of God to produce obedience through all things, even through the most simple and seeming insignificant objects and opportunities. Are you in on the daily adventure?

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Responding to Jesus - Your Unique Opportunity to Worship

This Week I finished a paper on the discipleship of Christ found in the gospel of John. I had some hilarious mental pictures going on at the end of the book that I wanted to share.

The risen Christ's last moments with His disciples on this side of heaven show us that we can respond to Christ, pleasing Him through unique worship. John does not end his gospel with the ascension of Christ as the others do. He chooses to end his eyewitness account with different responses that the disciples and Christ-followers had when seeing Him anew after His death.

For Thomas it is a moment of doubt followed by the exclamation, "My Lord and my God!" (20:28, NAS) Awe and amazement come from Thomas.

Then, Mary, in good womanly emotion, clings to Jesus so that He must say, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father" (20:17). Mary wanted to never let go of Jesus, and I believe she probably clung to Him in her heart for the rest of her life.

Lastly, in pure Peter style, with boldness and quick action, he threw himself into the sea to swim to Jesus on shore while the rest rowed in the boat with the miraculous catch of fish. (I'm pretty sure it was a cannon ball or belly flop for emphasis.)

Just as John began with the glorified Christ in writing this account, He ends in the same way. The joy of Christ is made complete by those who were once dead in their sins, as they now are made alive in His presence and respond to Him with all of their hearts. Those He discipled are worshipping Him with the gift of their lives, each in their own unique way.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Friday, March 17, 2006


When I go to sleep at night, I know that I have a great need. I fall asleep in the arms of God, aware that I am in a very vulnerable and weak state. I can't defend myself when I sleep, nor can I function well the next day without it. I must sleep. I was designed with a physical weakness, a need for rest. It is my daily reminder of my neediness for the One who created me.

God is not like me. He does not need to refuel and detox from the day's events. His energies are endless. His strength without bounds. So, He designed me to need Him at night when I close my eyes. I feel like I am the baby, whose sleep is necessary so often. He is the adult, adoring the weakness and loving the opportunity to watchfully protect.

Each night as I lay down, I look into the heart of God and worship Him for making me weak and needy. In such a state I rely on Him and trust Him for who He is.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Unmoved in the Tide of the Jordan

I've begun my adventures in Joshua, and have a really great visual thought to share with you. As Israel begins its first steps into the Promised Land...an amazing moment in their history...the Ark goes before them into the Jordan River. As the priests carrying the Ark stand firm in the center of it, the waters have been withheld and stand in a heap. Just as the people of Jericho have feared (they are about to be obliterated), the Israelite people are walking across DRY ground as their God allows them to cross the Jordan onto the desert plains of Jericho.

For those watching this event occur, there are two amazing things to note. First, these people are dependent on the Lord's leadership. Israel, though great in number, is completely reliant on the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord to go before them, leading them in places where they have never been. They do not have scouts leading them, but from afar...it looks like a box is leading them across the Jordan. What Jericho doesn't know, is that the box is the Ark of the Covenant, representing God's presence among His people. It is the Lord who is leading them to Jericho, the thought of which should make Jericho begin to tremble.

Secondly, what the people of Jericho fear is not so much the people themselves, but the God who is parting the waters of Jericho and who has everything under His command. Jericho has already begun to melt away in courage because they've heard the rumors of a God who split the Red Sea to let this people walk through and to then drown the armies of the great Egyptian Pharaoh. This people is not dependent on a far off God like their false Baal, but He is in the midst of Israel and is headed straight for Jericho. Consider the hundreds of thousands of people crossing the Jordan at one time. A sea of movement around one immovable object at the center of the river. The Ark stands unmoved. It is the Lord's presence that allows these people to move forward, who is commanding the natural elements of the earth to do what they naturally do not do. Everything is operating around the immutability of this one object, this one presence...the Lord of all the earth.

Jericho should be shuddering, and so should we! This is our God! He is not our puppet to bow to our wants. He is the Lord by which we move forward in every endeavor of life. He stands immutable while the movement of our lives crosses the Jordan. I like that visual...that everything else is moving and acting upon the very command and breath of God, while He remains unmoved and unchanged.

Have a sit, and remember that One stands unmoved in the midst of what you face today.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Treat Him as Holy

One day this week I was angry with God over my circumstances. In my unbelief, I allowed worry and elevated emotion to overcome the joy that is mine in Christ. I sat with Him in my anger, having liberally spoken what was on my mind. Then, the Holy Spirit began to convict me using scripture.


I am finishing my study of Deuteronomy. Through it I've watched as Moses gave his last words to Israel before they crossed the Jordan to take possession of the land promised to their ancestors (Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob). It was a long road from Egypt, with many learning opportunities as God’s trials allowed them to see what was in their hearts. On the opposite side of the Jordan River and looking across it into their future, anticipation was building. But one man had yet to die on this side of the Jordan before they could enter - Moses.


In His last days, Moses chose to recount to Israel their journey and all that the Lord had done for them. He also challenged them to courageous obedience for the warfare ahead. These last words of a faithful lover of God bring humiliation to my doubting soul. Moses was forbidden to enter the promised land because he failed to treat God as holy before the people (Numbers 20:8-12). God allowed Moses to ascend Mt. Nebo to look over the land where Israel would soon enter, but he could not go in as a consequence of his sin (Deut. 32:48-52).


God is faithful to the glory of His own name, and Moses’ failure to treat God as holy before the people at Meribah could not be overlooked. Imagine that! Moses was the man allowed to be hidden in the cleft of the rock to see God’s glory pass by, whose second nature was to fall prostrate before God and seek His counsel. Such favor with God might bring us to think that Moses got special treatment, but God’s zeal for His own name would not consider it.


Deuteronomy finishes with the faithfulness of Moses. In being disciplined, he does not puff himself up as He did at Meribah, nor did he disregard the specific commands of God. Instead, rebuke successfully taught him to fear and honor God no matter what the circumstances. He stands before the people to raise high the banner of God’s glory, with both them and him aware of his inability to enter into the promised land. There is no zeal for the name of “Moses,” only a love and fear for the name of God.


How much more should I, a woman saved by God’s son, treat Him as holy? Trials have revealed my unbelief and a loose tongue. I am learning to balance fear and transparency before God. He allows me to lay all of my emotions down before Him, as David did in the Psalms. But accusing God according to my unbelief dishonors His name. I was wrong to accuse God of unkindness and forgetfulness in my unbelief.


In contrast to myself, Moses words in his last days show that he believes God. Moses understands that being disciplined does not mean that God has forsaken him, something I previously was confused about. My heart has been challenged to grow in treating God as holy, as well as doing so for his commands for us as the church. My circumstances, my emotions, and even my rationale may seem to justify sinful dishonor…but God is the one who does not change.

In all spiritual wisdom, may you and I be able to revere and laud the holiness of God, just as Moses did in the midst of being disciplined:


There is none like the God of [Israel],

who rides the heavens to your help

and through the skies in His majesty. (33:26)


Ascribe greatness to our God!

The Rock!

His work is perfect, His ways are just…

Righteous and upright is He. (32:3-4)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Have in Mind a Blessing for the Needy

Deuteronomy is a challenging book to consider. On one hand, it hold the last words of Moses and he makes his last address to the new generation before they enter and take hold of the land God had promised their forefathers hundreds of years before. No longer slaves to Egypt, they have been taught, shaped, tested and readied for God's great plan ahead. Underneath the repetition of laws and instructions found in Leviticus and Numbers, there is a building anticipation for God's fulfillment of His promise to Abraham.

On the other hand, I am reading through the same instructions again. The repetition is challenging my attention span as a Bible student. None-the-less, I found a shout from God among the chapters I read today. This little shout shows me much about the heart of God. Take a look at these verses:

When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back and get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. (Deuteronomy 24:19, NAS)

Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt, how he met you along the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God. (Deuteronomy 25:17-18, NAS)

In all that God has been doing to make this gathering of ex-slaves into a nation, there is a repeated concern and demand that the Israelites practice sacrificial love toward those in need. In the abundance of what God will provide in the land, there will still be those among them who have need. God will be caring for them from the abundance He provides the rest. So, each man who has enough (grain, olives, grapes) is responsible for having in mind a blessing for the needy. What he worked to grow and harvest is not for him alone. The needy are to share in His blessing.

The second verse about Amalek shows God's great anger toward anyone who disregards and seeks to take advantage of the needy and weak. They are a disgust in His sight and show a disregard for the holiness of God. Not even the memory of Amalek is to remain in the future of Israel. As Amalek treated the weak, so God will treat him.

I received this challenge today, to have in mind a blessing for the weak and needy. It is proactive and decided in advance, that what you have is not yours but rather God's. Our blessings are there to share as an extension of the heart of God. He is the defender of the weak and brokenhearted. He is concerned for the hurting and needy. Let's not communicate the opposite to the world we live in. They need to see His heart lived out through us.

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.

Scripture marked “NAS” is taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pounding the Streets of Austin

Austin was freezing...literally. We started with a 28 degree temp and warmed up to 34. When I committed to the race, I thought that there was no way it would be cold in south Texas. I was wrong! The misty wetness made it cold before and after the race, but during the race the temp was perfect.

I was able to beat my goal time of 2:05 for the half marathon. I actually got right at 2 hours, which was my dream time. The race felt really good this time. Having one under my belt from 2004 helped so much. Good luck to y'all in Indy who will be doing the half in May.

I met lots of young ladies on my trip, some who are from Denton and some from Austin. Their company was an encouragement to me...and I love to meet new people. I also learned a new phrase:

Keep Austin weird!

Friday, February 17, 2006

A Bump in the Road

Tomorrow I have an etiquette dinner to attend before I head to Austin for my race. (Yes, they are trying to teach me to be a lady. The suspense is killing me. Can they do it? ) I've had a few bumps in that my car is now unable to make the trip to Austin. On Wednesday, my car started to overheat. I got it into the shop and made partial repairs and am babysitting the other problem for the moment. I have a ride down to A-town, but not one returning before work on Monday. I've made some calls to other runners heading down and surely one will work out.

The car scenario was perfectly timed for somethings that have been on my heart in relationship with God. He's teaching me greater trust in Him.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Heart of the King

This week, I was reading through Deuteronomy 17. Moses is giving his last address to the people (the whole of the book) before he dies and the new generation of Israel enters to take possession of the Promised Land. Knowing that they will possess the land and then desire a king to rule over them like the other nations, God lays down some guidelines about the man He will choose to be king. I liked thinking of these guidelines as indicators of character in the man I will marry, and as a test for my own heart. God says that the king:

  1. Should be from among Israel, and not a foreigner.
  2. Must not acquire great numbers of horses (military strength which would be like tanks and aircraft today)
  3. Must not take many wives or his heart will be lead astray
  4. Must not accumulate large amounts of silver or of gold for himself
  5. As King, he must copy the Law for himself to read all the days of his life

What I see in those qualities that relates today is that my husband should be from among the Christian brethren. His core values should reflect a Christ-centeredness. Second, his greatest strength is not his ability to bust his shirt by flexing muscles or having a great car, but deep down his confidence and strength are found in Christ's righteousness. As women, we can encourage men so they know that we respect them greatly, but first it comes from their relationship with Christ. (We should never be a substitute for Christ in a man's life.) Muscles and cars are not sinful things (preach it, sister), but they are not to be the source of a Godly man's confidence. Thirdly, gratification of his desires is held to account by other brothers in Christ. Women, or other sources of gratification, can act as seducers to lead a man away from God. In the Old Testament, foreign women were seducers who led sinful men to worship other gods. A man being called to account by other brothers in Christ is important, because sinful battles don't dissipate with marriage. They are lifelong and part of the sanctification process. Fourth, his bank account does not rule him. God granted his kings great wealth, a blessing to the king and to the kingdom. What is financially acquired should be treated as kingdom property, under God's and the individual's authority. It is not a boastful possession, but a matter of stewardship while on earth. Lastly, the words of God are near and dear to his heart. The OT king had to copy, a long and careful process, his own scroll of the Law. The words of God are read by this man all the days of his life so that he fears and honors God appropriately.


A man who fears the Lord...isn't that such an attractive quality?! I'll never have to be his nagging wife or his disciplinarian, because God's got that under control. There's a country song that reminds me of this. It uses the phrase, "Because she never asked me to." The husband does all of these honorable things for her, because he can love freely instead of by her nagging.


All of this talk about Godly men makes me want to be a better Christian woman. Now, how do you and I measure up to these same qualities?

© 2006 by Kendra Hinkle.