2 Corinthians 12:10 |Content in Weakness

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I am rarely content. I think it is a sickness to always want more. It is part of the sin nature to covet and desire. Always comparing myself to my neighbors and coming up short. It eats away at the soul to always want more.

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV

Contentment while having a lack of money and power and contentment with actual hardships points to a diminished sense of self and selfish desires. Paul found strength to live like this through Christ. Wealth is a dangerous power because it creates an illusion that the possessor of the wealth has control over life and can live independent of God. We control less than we think. Wealth only separates one from dependence on God temporarily like the foolish prodigal son who left his father to live a life independent of any care for tomorrow.

12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13 ESV

That is not to say wealth in this life cannot and should not be taken advantage of when it is used for God’s glory according to his leading. The strength comes not from the wealth, in fact it is a weakness, strength comes from Christ and Christ alone.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

Whatever your circumstance, rich, poor, happy, sad, strong, or weak give thanks to God that he has given Christ. Give thanks to God for giving you life to live. Be content where you are today and be grateful for all that you already have secured through his love.

Acts 17:30 | Ignorance or Holiness

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If someone called me ignorant my initial reaction would be to throw up defensive shields and turn on my offensive arguments of war. However, the truth is that I am ignorant on a great many subjects. Yet to call someone ignorant does seem to be an insult in an age where information is literally at the fingertips of anyone with a connected device. At this point in life I may remain ignorant of a specific topic unless or until there is a need for me to be educated. This brings me to the book of Acts with one of the most interesting chapters where the apostle Paul makes a stop in Athens Greece. While on this stopover he is invited to speak to the Areopagus. The Areopagus was a location where a council of the most educated, likely wealthy, men and women of Athens gathered to “spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21 ESV) This crowd is not ignorant. These are the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers that helped to build the foundation of western society that I materially benefit from today. Yet Paul addresses them and tells them that they have been ignorant.

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:29-31 ESV

The old saying “Ignorance is bliss” highlights the fact that being unaware of the complexity and realities of this short life people blissfully unaware of the impending dangers that lay ahead. The fact that ignorance about a topic or event may eventually get one into trouble in no way slows the trouble or prevents those events from unfolding. Paul tells us all that while we like to make God into an image of our own choosing God has revealed himself and will no longer overlook such ignorance. A day of impact and judgment has been set when the time of mercy and grace will end. At that moment God will call men and women both alive and dead to account. Paul uses a word for ignorance here that is not a general kind of ignorance. These people of Athens he is speaking to are not ignorant people. Paul calls them a special kind of ignorant ἄγνοια (agnoia). This is an ignorance of divine and moral knowledge. While for their time these people of Athens may have known about the physical world they were ignorant about the moral implications and the dead spiritual conditions that shadowed their minds. Much like the modern world of today.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ! Ephesians 4:17-20 ESV

Do not be ignorant Paul preaches to us today. Do not be ignorant of the moral and spiritual darkness of the land we live in. Repent, turn away, from that darkness. Flee from the selfish life of lust, sensuality, and greed. Do not be ignorant because God will hold against people a life impurity. Even more God has made the Bible, his revelations, available to a majority of people the world over. Ignorance is not an excuse because God will not overlook sin when that person has at their literal fingertips access to direct revelations about Christ and salvation.

Christ is the opposite of ignorance. He is the truth. He is the life. In him is found self-control, unselfish love, and a beating heart. This is what is learned when in Christ and how we become a new creation no longer darkened by ignorance of a former life.

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct 1 Peter 1:14-15 ESV

Acts 2:42 | Public Faith

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The prevailing ethic of the day in regards to faith goes something like this… “My faith is my own and it is something I keep private.” In the public square, at work, at home, at school, in government, and out shopping there has been a push to scrub Christianity and promote secularism. When I bring of the topic of God, Church, or spiritual things in public or with friends and family there is an awkward moment before the conversation moves forward. The question then is a private and personal faith hidden from the public square or hidden from ones own family biblical? It is right to podcast a preacher and call that church? Is that acceptable to God?

I have learned something over the last 10 years that eluded me when I was younger on this topic. God is relational and in order to be in fellowship with him in a way that is meaningful in this life one must establish like minded relationship with others in the community. Jesus demonstrated this with discipleship. The early church lived this as they started a community of Christians. If you are a Christian then you must follow in those footsteps and live out the example that was set thousands of years ago.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42 ESV

While one could podcast sound Christian teaching all day long one cannot podcast “fellowship” or “breaking of bread”. One might be able to pray privately, as we all should, but without a church community one will not be able to devote themselves to “the prayers” that come with a corporate and community need. Living a life of private faith unannounced and without fellowship will be shallow and stale. God desires that we serve each other. That we disciple each other. That we are accountable to each other. That we eat in each other’s homes. That we share our lives with each other. This is what God has called us to. Do not let secularism quiet what should be a public acknowledgement of what Christ is doing in your life. If you never talk to your children about what God is doing and where he is at work what would they conclude? Is your faith real or imaginary?

13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:13 ESV

It is amazing to me that two people on opposite ends of the earth may instantly share a common bond through the Holy Spirit in this life. One might be free the other a slave. They might have cultures that clash as much as Jews and Greeks yet in Christ they work as one sharing the same spirit.

Do not miss the dynamics, of discipleship, fellowship, prayers, and relationship, that God desires in every Christian’s life because you might be different than the people in the church. If you are drinking from the same spirit God will bind together one body for his glory. Don’t be afraid to integrate into a church family because everyone who is saved is a child of God and therefore brother and sister before the Father.

Acts 1:4-5 |A Heart of Stone No More

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Religion is man striving and working to secure the favor of God. Live this kind of life, go to this kind of church, give money to the poor, follow the ten commandments… I could write for days all of the things people must do in the name of religion. Religion even carries a dark undertone when used to oppress those that do not follow the rules. It is an ugly business when one group to curry favor with the gods will crush another group who follows different rules for life and becomes offensive to those around them. Beyond this ugliness religion also has a major problem. How does one know when they have done enough or the sacrifice outweighs the guilt before god? I can’t even keep a new year resolution more than 60 seconds how do I know God will accept me and the life I have lived?

The answer is we don’t and so I hear from people all the time. “I hope my good is good enough” or “God knows I have done my best he will not hold it against me”. The problem is that these attitudes are subjective wishful thinking of people who have not spent enough time pondering this most important mystery.

God however knows that religion is not going to save anyone. We should understand that also.

In the days of old God set up an elaborate system of laws that the Nation state of Israel agreed to live under. These laws included religious observances that included ways to ask forgiveness for sins against God and neighbors. The people of Israel did not live up to the laws of that state very well and so after many generations of rebellion God dispersed the people all over the known world. This was a very violent dispersal in a very violent world. Yet even in this dark time God continued to reveal a plan and a promise that would impact the future we current live in.

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 ESV

God through his prophet told the people that his plan was to give his people a new heart and a new spirit. This promise is fulfilled at the conclusion of the earthly ministry of Jesus. After Jesus was raised alive from the dead one of the last times he physically met with the disciples he asked them to wait what turned out to be a few short days for the promised Holy Spirit. The new spirit would be poured out generously to those who would chase after Christ.

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5 ESV

So what does this new Holy Spirit have to do with Religion? What does the Holy Spirit an a new heart have to do with our hope that we have been good enough? The Holy Spirit is the fruit of the salvation that Jesus secured on the Cross. Without the Christ and the Holy Spirit living in me the gulf between God and man stands impassable. I can’t be good enough. So, God destroys the hard heart of religion and frees us to stand before him has rightful children. We stand before our heavenly father in full rights of relationship. Our communion takes place through the ministry of this new spirit that God has poured out on those who call on his name in Jesus.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

The Holy Spirit is the promised heart and down payment of a guarantee. Not a hope not a work to be good but a guarantee that our relationship with God is permanently restored and one day, come soon Jesus my savior, I will be fully in possession of God’s presence in heaven to give him Glory for all eternity. Don’t live life with a cold religious doubt eating your soul. Submit now. Surrender now. Seek salvation now from Christ who has the authority to give you a new transformational heart of living breathing grace by way of the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 2:10 | The Task Ahead

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Ever have one of those weeks where the schedule is so full that the calendar is hour by hour events that must be attended, work to be completed, or deadline that overshadows life? Sometimes I wonder how I get myself into these situations. Bring on the panic attack and the disappointed friends. If I can just endure and push until after this last event or deliverable then I can relax. The problem being that time to relax most likely is weeks away. Non-essential time like sleep, time with the kids, or maybe even food will be pushed aside. Even then the work accomplished is sloppy. I hate when the schedule backs up like that. Most of the time this kind of crazy is my own fault. Saying yes when I should have said no.

The problem is that there are so many things that I want to accomplish. There are things I want to see my church, my business, my kids, my community, and my friends accomplish. All of this, all of it, requires my participation, engagement, and love. Paul when he wrote to Timothy said much of the same.

10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 2 Timothy 2:10 ESV

There is a task that Paul desperately wants to see accomplished. His task is urgent and his task is life consuming. Paul wants to see others fall into the saving grace and eternal glory that only Jesus provides. The difference between Paul’s need to endure hardship for his task differs from my over-packed schedule in three ways. First Paul’s task and desire has eternal ramifications. His overriding desire is to share Christ with everyone. My task and schedule do not rise to that level nearly enough if at all. Am I prioritized the right way? Second Paul unlike me has nothing but time on his hands. He reveals in the verse right before this that he is bound by chains. Most of my life is consumed by frivolous time wasters. Paul’s time was consumed by the knowledge that he could not freely execute the passion in his heart. This most urgent task of preaching Christ was outside of his ability to accomplish in the way he would have liked. My most urgent tasks are outside of my ability most of the time but my tasks are not nearly so urgent as Paul’s. Finally Paul gladly endures prison and even eventual death because he knows God is going to accomplish a great work through Paul’s obedience. Paul is walking in a long line of Godly examples as found in the prophets who endured all kinds of hardships to proclaim God’s message of salvation.

10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:10-11 ESV

How the Lord is merciful indeed. My scheduled is consumed by things that are of importance to me even though most of those things are temporary. God wants me to focus more time on the primary task, for the sake of the elect, that others may see eternal glory and salvation in Christ. While Paul is imprisoned his task, given by God, falls to me, even in some small measure. Do I adjust my schedule to make it God’s schedule for my life? Do I slow down and listen to God’s direction for today? Would I remember the main thing when I interact with people today? Would the thought that the cranky and rude person I bumped into may need and want the gospel of Christ today get in the way of my current distraction and waste of time?

Romans 10:8 | Spoken Commitment from the Heart

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This year will be the 19th anniversary that I have been married to my friend, companion, and wife. We have lived some awesome days and some incredibly blessed days together. These last few years have not been as much fun for various reasons but the stress has not separated us. We are still drawn to each other and we are still committed to this life God has given us together. We promised each other that we are committed to this marriage until God separates us in death. Thankfully God has given us much grace and mercy to follow through on that promise up to this day. In a world where opinions change daily, where people will change jobs every few years, and where marriages are fewer with more ending in divorce commitment seems to be tied directly to how we feel at the moment. Mad at your boss? Quit. Spouse not living up to your perfect expectations? Leave. Worse yet no attempt is even made to commit by many. The many commit to nothing dodging all responsibility or requirement to serve anything or anyone other than themselves.

There is one commitment that no one will be able to dodge forever and that is the commitment to Christ. No amount of self service and avoiding a commitment to others is possible in the end. God likes paradoxes. He has a rule that the person who serves others (the person who is last) will be the person most highly exalted (the person who is first). God also likes to set the example so he humbled himself and took on the form of man to serve all of humanity.

8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11 ESV

Because Christ is the name above all others because he committed his very life to the world we should rightly submit to his leadership and authority. We should commit to him and his cause. When I married my wife 19 years ago I did so with the knowledge that this commitment would consume the rest of our lives. It was not a commitment taken lightly.

While I have been married for these 19 years I made a greater commitment even earlier in my life and that was to Christ. I acknowledged him as the King of kings and as the rightful owner of my service and devotion more than 30 years ago. This commitment while not fully understood at that time has grown over the years and the commitment has become even more powerful as I mature and more fully grasp the power and majesty of God.

My hope is that anyone and everyone reading these words would commit to Christ now in the time of grace. Saving grace is at hand already secured. Serve him freely and commit to his plan because he deserves the commitment. Christ will change your life for the better and for eternity.

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 10:8-10 ESV

There is only one way to make this commitment and that is by speaking out loud what is happening in your heart. The body and the spirit will agree with God who will then act to transform your selfishness into a new saved life that cares for others. It is a scary idea to give up your plans but really how is that going anyway? My plans and commitment to myself always ends in a mess of broken relationships.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 ESV

Romans 5:10 | Enemies Reconciled

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Life creates friends and enemies. Movies are made of the most epic friendships and enemies. Stories are told of war and the bond of brothers who fight enemies both physical and psychological. But even normal people like myself find that some relationships become estranged or alienated for minor reasons. Family relationships seem to be the effected for me. Why all the walking around on egg shells and not dealing with the situation because someone was hurt? Most of these hurts start unintentionally. I have done my best to reconcile hurts and slights that I have stumbled into but sometimes that is not enough so the relationship remains estranged and broken. I forgive and I move on with my life ready to restart the relationship if the other parties are ready.

My poor choices and selfish desires have also caused a rift between myself and the Creator. Paul in his letter to the Roman church states that my sins are greater than just a rift.

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Romans 5:8-10 ESV

My choices and life have made me an “enemy” to God. I have destroyed the relationship and walked away from him. I have crossed the line and joined into a camp if not at war with God then ready to be at war. It is a harsh word to call someone an enemy but that is how God views the situation and my actions toward him and others demonstrate it is justified. The situation is epic and greater than any Hollywood movie could ever depict.

God however does something unexpected. Instead of treating me like an enemy He confronts the situation head on and he harbors no ill will. In fact God’s perfect love is demonstrated in the fact that he dies on a cross for me while we were still enemies and sinners. God covers over the offence. God restores me. Paul uses the word “reconciled” to describe what God has done. God’s love reconciled his enemies and no longer are they called enemies but sons and daughters is the plot line of this epic story.

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 ESV

God has done all the work. He has opened lines of communication. He has paid the price that justice demands. He has bridged the gulf of separation. If he would do this for us when we were enemies then now that we are reconciled how much more will he do? If you have not come home to Him and rejoined the family as a child of the one true Father then now is your time. One can state it no better than Paul does here “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”.

Self-Driving Cars: Programmed to Fail

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The next big life changing advancement in modern society must be the self-driving car. When I was growing up I thought cars would fly but that practicality has never materialized. The idea that a car could drive itself is even now at this moment something many may scoff at. Except the technology is already here. Cars are on the road driving themselves based on destination information provided by a user. The technology is being integrated into production cars at a fast pace. In production now are cars that will stop on their own to prevent a crash, cars that will parallel park themselves, and cars that auto pilot once on the interstate. This technology is a game changer. A car could be ordered and it would arrive at your location without the need for a driver to bring it. The application of the technology in long haul trucking or other businesses is far reaching. Proponents claim that computers will be safer than human drivers and that may well be the case at some point however self-driving cars will still never be perfect. There have been deaths in the past due to errors in the computer programming and there will be deaths in the future.

However, what is more interesting about this technology is that developers will need to make ethical choices in the computer logic. They have programmed the car in the right situations to crash endangering the driver verses a crash that might hit something else.

Self-Driving cars will never be perfect. They will always fall short of being perfectly safe. Just like the self-driving car that will never be perfect we are not perfect. We fall short before God’s perfect expectations.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 ESV

It is a sad state that is hard accept. All have sinned. All are broken. All fail. All are second place. There is no way that we can be perfectly safe any more than 100 years of self-driving cars can be programmed to be 100% safe.

But God is better than the best programmers. Programmers are stuck working with the laws of physics and limited knowledge of what other cars or people are doing. So they must write code that could decide death for the passenger. God does not need to deal with the ethics of programming failure. God is literal perfection and his solutions will always be perfect. He knows all things so there are no surprises that he must account for. So what is the solution? How does God break out of our earthly failure to give us heavenly perfection?

21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. Romans 3:21-22 NLT

God’s solution, his heavenly perfect solution, is to save people apart of the laws that highlight our failures. No longer is second place a problem. No longer is my brokenness a hinderance. My sins are no longer held against me.  God has made me right when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ. It is not works, privilege, power, money, or family. Faith in Christ is freely available to all no matter where or in what time.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 ESV

Isaiah 43:1 | Claim the Prize

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Isaiah 43:1 | Claim the Prize

In contemporary English when I think of “redeem” I think of a transaction where a coupon or voucher is used in place of money to purchase something. Specifically, I think of tickets that I have redeemed at the fair in an attempt to win a prize. Years ago, I purchased a ticket to throw a baseball at what looked like aluminum jars. There were two jars on the bottom and one on top if I remember correctly. The vendor gave me the ball and then turned his back to walk off to the side when I threw at the jars. It must have been a perfect shot because all the jars went down. I was young and thought I could do anything so I was not surprised. But what I remember most was the shock on the vendor’s face when he turned around and saw my accomplishment. He was stunned almost like he had no idea what to do next. Upon reflection I realized that the game must be rigged in such a way that all of those jars should not have fallen. The satisfying part of my success was that the vendor pulled down the largest and the plushest of all the stuffed animals as my reward. The crew I was with shared carrying around this gigantic toy the rest of the day at the fair drawing attention from everyone we passed. When I redeemed that voucher to play the game of skill I got everything I could have wanted.

The voucher I redeemed at the fair was practically worthless. There was no reasonable expectation that my throw should have accomplished what it did. If it was that easy the vendor would be out of business on the first day. In the Biblical language redeem is used to identify a person who is acting on behalf of someone else. If a husband died then the next of kin would step in and be a kinsman-redeemer to provide children or financial support as needed. The redeemer would take on the burden for someone who was not able to carry out their responsibilities. Redeemer is a concept that God wants us to understand and so he built the model into the culture of Israel.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1b ESV

He wants us to know that we are the prize. He has the ticket and he is exchanging that voucher in order to win our hearts. The game that must be won is overriding the curse of our sin and rebellion. God’s standards, his perfection, and his laws are broken by our selfish desires. So God created a voucher that he could use to exchange our sin nature with a life lived perfectly.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us Galatians 3:13a ESV

When it comes to God’s laws I can’t win. There is no way I can live without falling short. Perfection is non-existent for me. Some people think they are perfect but their mother knows they are not. Even in America is it impossible to live life without breaking laws. Speeding laws are broken every time I drive. Attorney Harvey Silvergate wrote a book with the catchy title Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. It is impossible to win.

4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7 ESV

God “Abba! Father!” has redeemed me. He has exchanged his perfect life lived out in Christ for my sin filled wrongdoing. My sins were punished on the Cross of Christ fulfilling the requirements of the law to set me free. He only needed to redeem one voucher to turn the tables on the carnival and win me forever.

*Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/@markusspiske

1 Samuel 8:5 | Not my President

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Leadership is a valued focus of the world we live in. Books on leadership are endlessly published. At the university level there are entire classes focused on leadership. The Kindergarten teacher recommended my daughter be held back not because she was deficient in the core academic competencies but because she was immature and lacked leadership skills. We spend billions every four years to pick a leader for the country.

In the Old Testament God laid out a very strange culture and government for the nation of Israel. It was a culture that was an anti-leadership program. The government was decentralized where families and communities lived their lives free of a King. As needed the Israelite life relied on judges. These judges were not voted into office. They did not come from prescribed class or family. Sometimes they were male and sometimes female. They were priests and they were average joes. Judges were chosen by God according to his will as they were needed. They were imperfect people with all their own strengths and weaknesses. Notable judges like Samson was hardly a model citizen. Deborah a woman. Gideon came from a small insignificant family. And Samuel served as priest as well as a judge. These men and women came and went. No family dynasties. No privilege was created to carry over into succeeding generations. This type of non government is outside of human nature and must have been very difficult for the populace to accept.

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 1 Samuel 8:4-5 ESV

This was not the first time the people wanted to install a king. Gideon had been so successful as a judge that the people tried to make him a king. They were desperate to install a family dynasty to rule over them.

22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” Judges 8:22 ESV

It seems so very strange. But is it? History class told me that Americans wanted to make George Washington a king and he refused. Look at modern government today. If we had polling numbers how big would the percentage be that would want President Obama to be King and rule for the rest of his life? Or how many people would want President Trump to set up a kingship with his children to rule over us into the future? I bet those percentages would be more than expected. The desire I think is born out of insecurity.

19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 1 Samuel 8:19-20 ESV

So why did Israel not have a King like “all the nations” around them? Both Gideon and Samuel answer that question and it is an answer that all of us living even today should take to heart. The reasons they provide apply just as directly to how we live our life and how we approach the world, church, and even our own governments.

23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.” Judges 8:22-23 ESV

6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 1 Samuel 8:6-7 ESV

God organized the government into Judges because He is the King. God is the only King. The people did not need a king to rule them or to fight their battles. They had access to the very creator of the universe. When we cry out for leaders to rule over us (take ear evangelicals that are desperate for Trump to save Christianity from a liberal society! Take ear those who are woke and want government to lead society into the promised land of perfect morality and reparations!) we are rejecting the King of Kings. We are rejecting the true ruler of all things. We are clamoring for a god made in our own image and it is an evil selfish image. Salvation will not be found in books on leadership or the people who wrote them. Salvation will not be found in wall street or the mega church. Salvation will not be found in Republicans or Democrats. Salvation and true leadership will only be found in God through Jesus the King of Kings.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17 ESV