Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Consider the 3 Dimensions of Relationship Building

About Relationships – Pursuing God
(Written by Kevin A Hall   05.2017)

These past months have given me cause to reevaluate the impact of my life. It is true what they say, “When you get older, your priorities change”. What of the years I spent pursuing selfish dreams? How about futile relationships?   How about attempts to reach high up the corporate ladder? How about now, having passed the 40-year mark…Is my marriage what I envisioned it to be? What of my sisters and brothers…Do they really know me? And then, most importantly…What of my relationship with God? The day I decided to quit my job in pursuit of Christ was a landmark moment in my life. I never told anyone this but I share it today – I lived and breathed “work”. I wanted nothing but excellence! And I achieved much of my goals. Yet, there is always some force to contend with in relationships. My last boss was selfish. He wanted to make a name for himself, but at whose expense? I played along with the game as best as I could, yet, months in, I realized this was a dead end struggle. I was determined not to lose my sanity in the process. It was during this time that I found solace in spending more time with God. I felt God’s call to connect with Him on a deeper level – a deeper level. It was clear as daylight that it was time to leave the job. The phone call was not difficult. The difficult part was leaving years of toil and sweat and successes, and hopes and dreams and relationships, even failures behind. I really loved what I was doing. But it was time to go. Since that phone call, and I remember it well (June 18, 2016 @ 2:10 pm) it feels like I have achieved in one year, more than I have in the past 10 years. I attribute the achievements to one thing – The Intentional Pursuit Of Christ. To that end, I have been reading simultaneously two books related to Spiritual Disciplines. Here are some takeaways on cultivating relationships:
Mike Breene introduced the concept of a Life Shape – consistency in maintaining and developing relationships. The triangle outlined 3 dimensions of relationships: UP – as it relates to God; IN – as it relates to those in our circles; OUT – as it relates to those around us.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How King David Faced His Sin

Practical Steps to Dealing with Sin - Lessons From The Life Of King David
 (Written by Kevin A. Hall  12.2015)
David had the blessing of God upon his life. He was now about 50 years old, reigning as king about 20 years, made a name for himself as a man of God, a composer of Psalms, a shepherd, a valiant warrior and leader. With so many accomplishments in his life, David began to overlook compromises in his lifestyle. His life at this point can be characterized as “a neglected sea wall standing constantly against the barrage of the tide and the waves and the ever – pounding sea"(1).

 It was during this time when his guard was down, a weak moment, that Bathsheba enters the picture and he pays a terrible price. Now, Israel had a long line of kings after David, but initially God had set a few ground rules for the king of Israel’s life:
                   God’s requirements for a King of Israel
1.      A king must not multiply horses for himself or allow his people to    return to Egypt to multiply horses
2.      A king must not multiply wives for himself
3.      A king must not greatly increase silver and gold for himself

         The hand of God was upon David and he was immensely blessed – “David realized that the Lord had established him as king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel”(2 Samuel 5:12). However, David was allowing compromises to form in his private life. These were “chinks in his armor” [1]. Compromises are easily overlooked with God’s continued blessings upon one’s life. “Meanwhile David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron; and more sons and daughters were born to David”(2 Samuel 5:13). David fulfilled two of the three requirements for the king of Israel listed above. However, he consistently compromised in the call to “not multiply wives”. David thorn in the flesh was...It would seem that David thought he could satisfy his desires by adding to his harem. He was wrong. Every time he gave into his lustful desires, it only increased his desire for more.  Such was the case with Bathsheba, she was just one more. This at a time when he was weak and vulnerable. “Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all of Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem”(2 Samuel 11:1).
David simply was not where he should be. He was supposed to be in battle, not at home. His actions did not happen overnight. His compromises kept him home. Sinful indulgences will lead us to places outside of God’s will for our lives – “Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the kings house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance”(2 Samuel 11:2).
David already had a harem full of wives and concubines. Yet when put to the test with Bathsheba, his life of indulgence and compromise led him to commit adultery and murder (He killed her husband in an attempt to cover up their sin.)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Dealing With My Sin - King David (2)

                    The Path To Renewal & Restoration
(Written by Kevin A. Hall)

What do you do when you have hit rock bottom? What steps does a person need to take in order to be restored to God? At some point you will eventually need to cross this bridge, as I have. I have a Tshirt from my trip down that path with safe return, thank God. I thought about the Psalmist David and   found in his writings a guide for such a trip. If you spend time reading his letters of praise and/or reflection, you can sense his passion. My thoughts go back to a time of David's greatest pain – running away from his own son (Psalm 27). Yet again, we see him in reflection after his failure with Bathsheba. 
What do I do to get back in good grace with God? What of my spiritual state after falling so badly? Psalm 51 is a surrounding text in which David describes his experience in greater detail. Do you remember the details of David's failure? He took another man's wife, covered up the affair, she became pregnant, David frames the husband, the husband dies as a result. Some time after, God seeks out David with a confrontation by the man of God:
                                   The Path to Renewal and Restoration - Psalm 51

o   Call out to God for forgiveness - In verses 1 – 2 David asks God to have mercy on him and wash away his sin. He calls on God after being called out on his sin because he knew and recognized God’s character of love and compassion. This is revealed during the time of Moses in Exodus 34:6 – “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

o   Don’t minimize your sins. In verses 3 – 5 David encourages us not to hide or cover up our actions. While our sinfulness affects others, we are really sinning against God.
o   Get back into fellowship with God – In verses 6 – 12 he expresses the contrast between being in fellowship and out of fellowship. He longs for the joy of fellowship:
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice” (51:8)
Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (51:12) 
Spend time with God and the people of God.

o   Pray for a Pure Heart. 
“David had been a slave to lust, drunk with power and stained by murder.” How does such a person get back into fellowship with God? David knew God’s nature so he prayed “Create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (51:10), and he goes on.. “and sustain me with a willing spirit.” (51:12)

We know that God is in the Forgiveness and Restoration business. Guess what? He is also in the Heart Purification Business - The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). The following is a helpful guide along the path to Renewal and Restoration: