What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Accurately Handling the Word of God

Some thoughts from 1 Samuel 24. I know I’ve missed sharing from 1 Samuel for a few weeks, but I felt there were more important things to talk about at those times. Today I get back to my 1 Samuel study.
In chapter 24 we find the familiar story of David cutting off the edge of Saul’s robe while Saul was “relieving” himself in a cave David was currently hiding in. Perfect opportunity to end Saul’s reign was at hand. That’s exactly what David’s men told him to do. They even said it was God’s will by attempting to quote what God had told David.
1 Samuel 24:4 tells us what the men were thinking.
The men of David said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the LORD said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’”
David’s men interpret that promise to David as a warrant/command for David to destroy Saul. It was a great opportunity; however, not every opportunity is from God. And, what David seemed to think was good in this situation was to cut off Saul’s hem but spare his life. Even doing that bothered David’s conscience because doing that was an assault on Saul’s dignity and position (verse 5). In verse 6, David explains to his men his remorse:
So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD’S anointed.”
David was not a typical man seeking to ascend to the throne. He was committed to letting God determine the path and would not take anything as serious as killing a reigning, anointed by God king into his own hands. That was the sign that this was a different kind of kingdom – not at all like the kingdoms around them where the standard was for eliminating kings to gain the throne or eliminating possible contenders for the throne. David’s kingdom (because it was God’s kingdom) would be much different – one that relied on the one true God to rule and determine the leadership.
Side notes done, let me tell you what my application is from the first part where David’s men purported to know that God told David to take advantage of this opportunity to kill Saul and begin his rule over Israel. It’s quite simple really. I need to be careful to handle the Word of God carefully – not stretching it’s meaning or diminishing it. We are told this same thing in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” For me, that means studying the Word, consulting commentators about the Word, talking with my Bible study partner about the Word we are studying, and, most of all, praying about how the Word applies to my life (and then doing as I’m instructed).
What does “accurately handling the word of truth” mean for you?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Hope Within

It’s different this time. I have hope. Where does this hope come from? Why am I not pessimistic like during times past? There are two simple reasons.
First, I know I do not want to die. Two years ago I discovered this truth. I was diagnosed with cancer and suddenly realized that I had a lot of good stuff (and some bad stuff) yet to live for. During most of my childhood, teenage years, young adult, and middle age I’ve thought that dying (i.e. suicide) was always a way to end my pain. But in that one moment in February of 2017, I knew I wanted to live and suicide became a non-issue. It was completely off the table and no longer an option. Since I no longer had a “way-out,” I needed to find new ways to think and feel about the suffering in my life. This includes the ups and downs of my bipolar.
Which brings me to the second reason things are different. I have hope. In the past I viewed my illnesses as enemies to be beaten into submission. And I felt it as a losing cause. There would always be problems with no solutions and everything could only get worse. Yet, my life had proven over and over again that my mood will change and will even stabilize at some point. But I thought it was only temporary and I waited for the other shoe to drop, living in dread every day of my life. There was always something hanging over me.
As I said, my life story should’ve proven to me that there was always hope. I just couldn’t see it, but with no other options available to me, I decided to believe. Believe in a God who saved me through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe in the principles of the AA program. Believe in my professional caregivers. And, last but not least, believe in myself. All those beliefs together give me an incredible amount of hope.
Let’s live in hope today.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Hills and Valleys

Where are my keys? Did I take my medicines this morning? What was I supposed to get at the grocery store? Do I have to make dinner? Do I have to make that phone call to the doctor’s office? Do I have to deal with the insurance company? Can I wait until tomorrow to work on the book? Can I wait until tomorrow to write a blog article? Can I just take a nap? Why am I so distracted? Why do we have to decorate for Christmas? Do I have to wrap presents? Do I have to feel these feelings?
Those are the questions flying around my head recently. I haven’t felt like doing any of those things – except the nap – and I know I have to anyway. There are other things I’m having trouble enjoying that I usually get great pleasure from. Everything is beginning to feel like a chore. Ever been in this place?
For me these questions are warning signs. Bright flashing yellow lights. They are the signs that a valley is approaching in my life. I’ve been enjoying a mountaintop with the beautiful sights and closeness to God. Now, I realize that I’m sliding down the side of the mountain and have some choices to make. I may not be able to prevent the sliding (my bipolar disorder will cause me to make swings in moods – often without my being able to do anything psychologically, physically, emotionally and, even, spiritually to prevent them).
My pastor recently shared from the book of Habakkuk in the Bible. Habakkuk experienced the let downs of feeling distant and alone, separated from God. Habakkuk felt God was letting the whole nation of Israel down. He felt God was letting wickedness to prevail. And he railed at God to do something about it.
Then God says, in verse 5, “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days – You would not believe if you were told.” The point for me is that even in the midst of what seem like terrible times, God is at work. I just can’t see everything He’s doing. I can’t see how He’s going to use the current situation for His glory. I need to rest assured that He is at work carrying out His promises. I also need to be praising Him and thanking Him for what is to come. This is where my hope comes from each and every day.