Thursday, April 26, 2007

Life to Dead Bones

(A Creative Paraphrase of Acts 3:1-10, 16)

From dust made and in dust I sit.
I earn my keep at the Beautiful gate.

Longing to worship,
Longing to embrace.
The worthy gather, while outside I wait.

I sit.
I lay.
I remain.

Is a man still a man when he cannot walk,
Cannot work,
Cannot earn?

Is a beggar worth more than dust of the earth,
A glance of pity,
Alms from a man’s hand?

By day.
They pass by.

But news.
Of One.
Gives me hope for new life.

He gave sight,
Gave truth,
Gave life.

He died.

No man like that has ever lived,
To give to the blind what no man can give.

If only Jesus could pass by me,
One last time and set me free.

This body is a prison,
A mule that will not budge.

I cry out to men, I cry out to God,
I hold out for hope for the news of One.

He has died, but his students still live.
They preach and pass by,
And by His name forgive.

Better than money,
Better than esteem,
These men speak truth,
And in power they pray.

For me.

My legs did not know to walk or to run,
Since birth they have been numb.
Yet I walk, I hop…I RUN!

Stronger than ever.
Have I become,
Like the body of Jesus,
Life has come to dead bones.

Indeed this is a Beautiful gate!
Today I have supped with hope on my plate.

A banquet today,
A feast for the King!

Compassion He has,
Power He brings.

You trust.
In the name.

Of one.
Whose love.
By death is displayed?

The lame will walk,
The blind will see,
Have faith my friend.

Follow me!

© 2007 by Kendra Hinkle

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Your Defender is With You (1 Samuel 24)

In the peak of the tension between David and Saul, our scene slows to take in the moments of their confrontation in the cave. I can imagine the silence of the dark, cool cave that echoed every small sound. Even the breaths of David and his men might have given away their hiding place. A drop of sweat might have been a my imagination. Yet, they went unnoticed.

So close was Saul that David cut off the edge of his robe. Cut off his robe?! Why the pity? Saul had been trying to kill David since he was a therapeutic harp player. Saul chased him out of his home, tried to pin him to the wall with a spear, attempted to convince his servants to kill David, and even sent him into battle hoping for death. After David's constant flight to spare his life, is it possible that this sinful human would still lean toward faith and hope in dealing with such a hateful person?

With a soft heart of conviction, David walked out of the cave toward the hungry pack of wolves. He laid himself prostrate on the ground in a position of surrender and weakness. It placed David without the ability to defend himself in their presence. God was the defender who would see David through yet another perilous meeting.

In their confrontation David thrice indicated to Saul that the Lord was His judge and avenger - a concept that required both wisdom and faith. David had no reason to retaliate. God promised David that He would be King. Thus it was sure to happen. Yet, beyond the promise, God gave no plan. David had to wait with hope and act in obedience until God chose to discipline Saul and lift David up. Being lifted up for others to see was an act belonging in God's hands, not David's. The stresses of want, uncertainty, and discord in David's life could have convinced other men to retaliate against Saul. Yet David knew that God was with him as he came out of the cave.

Surprisingly, Saul responded with repentance in his hatred toward David. Tears were shed and promises made between the brethren tribes of Benjamin and Judah. David's wisdom and loving confrontation convinced Saul to completely change his course of action.

I appreciate David's dependence on God. He first rebelled a little bit in secrecy by cutting off a bit of Saul's robe. Then, in conviction, realized that he must lovingly confront as well as confess. Secret backlashes are not befitting of God's people. We must deal honestly in the light with our weaknesses and our stregths as we relate with others. Our place is not to lift ourselves up against one another as if we are in a competition, but to lift Him up as we deal in uprightness by the faith and hope that are ours as children of God.

Likewise, Paul also upholds the same conduct and teaching as he faces unfair treatment. He too shows us exemplary conduct in the midst of trial. Read below and note the similarities between David's and Paul's attitudes:

"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with shich you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showimg tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3 NAS)

"Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and therby fultill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is notheing, he decieves himself..." (Galatians 6:1-3 NAS)

"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other...Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful." (Colossians 3:12-15 NAS)

Probing Questions to Think About:
When we are surely grounded in the place and hope of God in our life through Jesus Christ, it flows from the faith in our hearts into the actions and behaviors we exibit to others. Is God's approval through the blood of Jesus Christ enough, or do we need to secretly cut off the corner of another person's robe to prove our worth to men? Are we competing with another for a prize that will not outlast this life? Are we secure enough to be lovingly honest and to receive loving honesty from others? In what way can you be building up a suffering relationship in your life?

Please remember, your defender is with you. You are not on your own.

© 2007 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.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Vote is In: I Ate Worms

Yesterday at lunch I was eating the last of my chili. It was the last bowl of the batch, which I had eaten over the course of the week. About halfway through lunch, I discovered small, scary wormlike objects in my bowl. Frightened, I decided to take a poll of my office co-workers to see if there might be hope that I was not eating worms.

The poll came in at a saddening 50%. Half thought worms. Half thought part of the chili beans.

50% simply was not strong enough of a vote to continue eating the chili. Should someone have offered money for a dare, I might have taken them up on it...being that I had already surely consumed some cooked worm-like unknowns prior to that point.

Warning: Stay away from cheap cans of white northern beans.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Tuning with the E String (1 Samuel 23:1-14)

For a couple of years in high school, I played around on my mother's guitar and then took a guitar class in college. Musical gifting is not one of my strengths, so the skill did not develop like I had hoped. One useful thing I remembered, though, was that I could tune the E string to a standard, and then tune the rest of the strings according to that one accurate pitch. When the low E string was tuned to the standard, I could descend down the other five strings, tuning each accordingly. Should the reference pitch be off and my E string be out of tune, I won't be able to reproduce good music.

As a reminder, do you remember Saul in one of his first acts as King (1 Samuel 13)? He was to wait for Samuel to offer a sacrifice before God prior to going to war. As stress mounted and the Philistines gathered in mass quantity for battle, Saul's men began desserting him. Saul chose to reject God's instruction to wait, offering the sacrifice himself impatiently. Saul's internal heart strings were not tuned to an accurate E pitch. Without God as the accurate reference pitch, his actions were out of tune and the nation would falter.

In contrast, David was also surrounded by stress in 1 Samuel 23:1-14. He had lost his home, was daily on the run for his life with 600 men depending on his leadership, and had come into knowledge of Keilah's (a city) need for defense from a Philistine attack. David approached God to inquire what to do. In those moments, David was using God as his reference pitch. He was tuning his low E string by which he would be prepared to tune his others decisions as a leader. As tuning goes, you tighten and loosen the string to find the correct pitch. It's not an immediate find. David similarly was tuning his heart to God. It was not a perfect first try, but as the relationship was growing, David was learning life with God.

With a heart accurately tuned, he led his men into battle against their will, trusting that God's sovereigty and power would act on their and His own behalf in victory.

What is your reference pitch? Are you, like David, able to daily tune your heart to the solid truth of Scripture and active, prayerful relationship with God through Christ? Or, like Saul, are you depending on your own actions and flesh to deliver you through the day, thus tuning your heart to an out-of-tune pitch that will affect all other parts of your life?

Tune well, my friends. Find the reference pitch that is accurate, beautiful, and immutable.

© 2007 by Kendra Hinkle

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Light in the Darkness (1 Samuel 23:15-29)

David obediently rescued the city of Keilah from Philistine attack, but was then divinely directed to leave the city's protective walls before they would turn against him. He was considered a hero while the need existed, but would be rejected into the hands of King Saul should he stay.

On foot and fleeing from Saul with his growing band of nearly 600 men, David was expending himself according to God's will. We can see that God's eyes are closely on him, twice providing light in David's situational darkness.

Firstly, Jonathan came to David's hiding place to remind him of their covenant in friendship. Jonathan, son of King Saul, rejected any future claim to the throne. Jonathan respected God's anointing on David and subjected himself to it, loyally serving David as the future King. Jonathan's arrival brought a welcome word of encouragement following the deliverance of Keilah. He specifically reminded David of the future throne over Israel, of his loyalty to their covenant (18:3), and of Saul's inability to find David. What a timely encouragment to help prepare David's heart for what comes next!

A second light in the darkness came just before Saul trapped David and his men. So close to capturing the small Davidic army, Saul abandoned the chase. God's hand allowed the sin of the Philistines to again rise up against unfaithful Israel. As King, Saul rejected his pursuit of David in order to protect the land and the people. Saul decided that this in-house scuffle between a Benjamite and a Judean would have to wait.

The Lord's encouragment to us is not a promise to remove suffering, trial, or difficulty. Instead, his encouragement to us often comes as a reminder of who He is. Trials seem to encompass us on the dark mountain. Nearly surrounded, God gives us the light of hope to see His ability to bring us to what lies beyond our dark moment. He is a God who communicates hope, and allows our situation to teach us to cling to Him in trust. David was learning to cling and to rest in a God of hope as he lived in a world of darkness.

© 2007 by Kendra Hinkle

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Live by the Spirit, not the Flesh (1 Samuel 22:3-23)

The transition of authority and power for Israel's Kingship is at hand. Suspense is heightened as Saul's rage and jealousy have consumed him to the point of large scale murder.

The feeling in my gut when I hear about Saul, as he slayed the priests and people of Nob, matches that of 9/11. That morning I watched television reports displaying horrid evil deeds. Something is so very wrong, so my gut says. In each instance human depravity (our sinful nature and its evil potential) reared its ugly head in the form of mass injustice and hatred. This should cause our hearts to react.

Saul called the priests before him, accusing them in the same way that he had formerly accused his servants (22:8). With Saul's hatred seeking a target, the fate of the priests was chosen before they appeared. Saul was in rebellion against God, and the victims of his rage were ultimately an act of spite toward the God who had disciplined him and taken the throne of Israel from him.

He killed Levites that day. They were priests whose life work involved worshiping God by serving the Israelite people in the sanctuary. They were not warring men in their God-ordained role. This tribe of people represented God's holiness in interaction with humanity. Levites were an example for the nation of Israel. They were a living example of life with a holy God.

In sin we, like Saul, are not theocentric. Rather, we are egocentric. It takes God in us to regain a theocentric life. Saul's progression into greater rebellion and hatred was a process. According to God's Law, Saul had a responsibility to keep his heart theocentric. Yet, the life he developed convinces me that he did not. Sin became a driving force in his life, not held to account by his relationship with a holy God.

To me this is a reminder of the importance of the work of a sanctification in my life. I have a personal responsibility in working with the Spirit of God in the process of being made like Christ. My sin nature always has the potential to rebell against God's ways. But the Spirit in me gives me hope that I can continue to be made into a reflection of God's holiness.

My potential to hurt, hate, and live out the sinful nature is as real today as it was before I came to know Christ. Yet, I have the gift of the Holy Spirit teaching me God's ways through faith in Christ Jesus. I can't speak divine judgement upon Saul, but for Christians today we have teaching that bids us toward obedient love:

"So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God." (Romans 8:12-14 NAS)

© 2007 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.