I Want To Be: Ready and ABLE (A Study on David), Part Two

“Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!  47And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
-1 Samuel 17:46-47

I’ll be honest, I wish I had the strength and the faith to be able to say that. I am not at this level of just..confidence..that I can take on the giants. And yet I am, at the same time. It’s weird. I think that, what it really comes down to, as we talked about last time, was the readiness of David-at a moments’ notice-to go into battle for the Lord. To develop that mindset, to be ready in season and out of season, it takes time. I have no doubt I can get there; I very much want to. And you should too. So while I may not be there yet, in disciplining myself to be at that level I am, in effect, ready at all times. So with the help of the Lord, I can always give an answer for what I believe.
Isn’t that interesting? That God doesn’t call us to necessarily come to serve Him when we have achieved some X, Y, and Z list of goals that prove we are ready. He uses those who are willing to learn and willing to fight, even if they feel themselves inadequate. He will always give us what we need, but we have to be willing to try and to strive. And that was a huge factor in David’s life. He was ready, and God made him able.

Why is there a distinction between ready and able? it’s a matter of spiritual…readiness, for lack of a better term. Some people are completely ready to go all in for the Lord-but God has to temper their spirit, and show them a thing or two before they are able to do the work HE has for them. And others are very much equipped and blessed by the Lord to do His work, but aren’t ready to make that leap into His service. They are two sides of the same coin, because they go hand in hand. David was ready to serve the Lord-He dropped everything at the sight of injustice being done to His God. And he was also spiritually able enough to go into battle, because the Lord was with Him. Look at verses 32-37 (a long passage, but bear with me.)

32 “Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” 33 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”

34 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, 35 I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. 36 I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!”

Saul finally consented. “All right, go ahead,” he said. “And may the Lord be with you!””

I want to look at two things here: David’s able spirit in terms of the people, and the giant.

1. Being able to stand against the people

Saul never questions David’s willingness-his readiness-to go fight. What he questions is His ability to carry out the task at hand. The world may do the same thing to you-heck, even those who call themselves “Christians” may do the same thing whenever you face giants in your life. Nobody can question your readiness and willingness to fight. But everyone can plague you with doubt, asking if you’re really able to do this, if you’re able to deal with the pressure,

if you’re able to come up with the “right words” and “right speech” to win over that person,
if you’re able to muster up the courage to give a speech that centers around Christ at your school,
if you’re able to withstand the criticism and mockery of carrying around a bible at school all the time,
if you’re able to take on the criticism of giving most of your money to buy food for the poor,
if you’re able to deal with the world coming against you on whatever you do because inside, you know it’s what God wants.

if you’re able to deal with everyone coming against you because the “right” thing doesn’t fit in with what’s acceptable-in the world or in the church. What’s worse, is that everyone will try and tell you how you SHOULD be doing it. Saul, even when he consents, gives David his armor to go fight the giant. But David refuses it, because he already has a plan given by God. I’m not saying to refuse all counsel-advice from people who are deep in the Lord, or have been in similar situations, is good. But anyone who tells you something contrary to the word of God-the people in the world who say you shouldn’t do it, it’s not worth it; or those in the church who want you to soften your message, to fit in, to use this five-step plan instead, to use this gimmick, to not preach hell..those people do not deserve your ears. People may even have good sounding ideas. The armor wasn’t a bad idea; he was going to fight a giant. But, like the armor, that kind of advice can weigh you down and burden you in trying to do your work for the Lord.

And the thing is, on our own, we can’t be able. We can’t withstand these attacks and attempts to “help” and such things.
But Christ is able.

David says that he defeated the lion and the bear, but he says it was because the Lord was there with him.  On our own it’s so hard to not succumb to the pressures of this world, but with Christ we can stand up to everyone that tells us we aren’t gonna be able to accomplish what we set out to do. If we really are in God’s will, and doing what He would have us to do, nothing can stop us. He makes us able.

2. Being able to stand against the giant

As well as being able to stand up to people around you, God equips us to be able to stand against the giants in our lives as well. David went in there, not with the wisdom and the weapons the world tried to give to him, but literally with the belief that God already had the victory. This is one of the more trusting moments in the Bible-David, a strong man, but still completely unprotected versus a giant who had been fighting all the days of his life. But isn’t this how God works? He takes those who are seemingly unfit for the job and it turns out they are the only person for that job. God knows exactly what He is doing with you and I, no matter what situation we may be facing. It may seem like something that we have no clue how to deal with-we’re completely exposed and unprotected, and all we have is the fact that God is with us. Joshua 1:9 says that “9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”. It’s also mentioned numerous times throughout the Old Testament. It is a COMMAND that we not be afraid. With the Lord on our side, whom do we have to fear? Now, of course, being human, we do get afraid.

But I personally am striving to have a David attitude about situations. I don’t want to worry, I don’t want to be anxious anymore. Instead, I want to go right into the situation, following His lead. Like David says, the LORD rescues His people, but not with the conventional wisdom the world possesses. He does it in extraordinary ways, in mysterious fashion, to show everyone that He is God. I want to believe that and trust in that with everything in me, like David does. I want to be ready and willing to fight when need be, and I want to trust that God can give me whatever it is I need to be able to fight the good fight.

I want to be ready, and able, for my God.

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Watching Your Words, Day 0-2: The Final Words

The-End-is-Near-2     It’s been a joy, dear reader. This is the last of the last of the blog posts, although I may just follow up from time to time. This has definitely been one of the more interesting of the three topics, because it’s the one I struggle with the most. But what have I learned? Where are the accomplishments? Have I succeeded with  my goals? Will Batman ever escape the clutches of the felonious fowl, the Penguin?
But I digress.
I believe that this one is about half and half. I am definitely more aware, now, of the flaws that I have in my issues with words. I know that I can be sarcastic-that this is my default mechanism. I know that I have issues with being tactful, because I am a harsh worded individual. I also know that I have issues with being honest, tied into my tactfulness because I need to learn how to speak nicely, while still being firm and assertive.
The one thing I have definitely improved on is my sarcasm. I have taken great efforts to not be quite so sarcastic and sly, and it has helped in numerous areas. It’s good to know that my taking action has resulted in something positive. I still need work in being tactful, and therefore being willing to be honest, but it’s coming along. I am most certainly trying. I don’t believe anything has gotten worse since the beginning of this class.

Overall, I can say that my communication has improved drastically since the start of the school year. This class has given me an understanding of communication that I have never had before. It has also made me so much more aware of my own communication style, and has helped me improve things that otherwise may have gone on for years. Now, I can continue to strive towards bettering myself in terms of interpersonal communication. Things can only go up from here!stock-footage-the-end-signs

Watching Your Words, Day 12: Honestly, What’s Good Honesty?

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     It is a hard, hard thing to be honest about your feelings. I have learned this. I don’t know why, but I get myself into numerous situations where what I’m feeling, in that moment, is something that completely contradicts whatever is going on and will undoubtedly make things worse. Put on top of that that the situations are often high-stakes, it’s a hard thing  to be honest.
     Where is the line where being open and honest stops? Is it ever okay to keep your feelings inside, sometimes, for the sake of the other person? I don’t know.
This is one thing that I struggle with, honestly. 

Get it? 

     1 Peter 3:10-12 says that “For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (ESV).  This is speaking, of course, to the sin of lying-and I believe that when one doesn’t tell the truth, it is the same as a lie. So in this regard I feel it is wrong to lie, and lately I have been focusing on being more honest-actually admitting when something is wrong, or telling someone how I really feel. But then this gets me into trouble too (it’s situation specific, but nonetheless). On the whole, however, I feel it is better to be honest about my emotions than to deceive someone. I think my problem goes back to my lack of tactfulness. I do not know how to be honest without being brutally honest, which is a problem. I think, that if I learn how to be honest in a more loving manner, things will go better for me. 
     For example. I was in a discussion with someone and they asked me if I wanted to work it (a difficult situation) out. At the time, I honestly wasn’t sure, and I said so. I made sure to say that it was just in that moment, but I really couldn’t answer one way or another. The person was upset by this, and I felt at a loss. I didn’t want to lie. But I don’t want to hurt people,either. I think that overall it worked for the best-I talked myself through it, got some sleep, and today had a decision that was more favorable. I have been learning that honesty is very valuable to people. I just have to learn how to tell the truth in a more uplifting, positive way. But this goes back to my last blog-sometimes, the truth just hurts. And in that case I can’t feel TOO bad, because I was being truthful. 

     I have no resolution to this, and I am not sorry. Honestly, I have way more questions about this than solid answers. It’s a topic that I am going to have to just learn about, and from, as I grow in life and with different experiences. I do know, however, that I want to be an honest person. I just need to figure out how. 

Watching Your Words, Day 11: Saying the Hard Things

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     It is an extremely hard thing when we have to give bad news, or tell a hurtful truth to someone. How do you go about saying something hurtful without it coming out mean? This is a hard thing to learn, and I don’t even know that I have it down at all. But I have been learning how to try. Breaking bad news, or telling someone something that could be hurtful, takes a good balance of effective and appropriate messages. This means getting your point across, with an appropriate amount of tact and good judgement. For me, my messages seem to fall into the either/or categories. I can tell and effective message, but it may come across as blunt and unfeeling. Or I can say the “right” appropriate message, but it’s a watered-down version of what I’d actually like to say. It’s a tricky thing to do, find the center of the two.
But there are some extremes to avoid.
     There is the extreme of saying the appropriate thing, but not the truthful thing-just accommodating  someone so you don’t hurt their feelings. This is bad for a few reasons. One, they won’t know that what they are doing is really hurting you, or offending you in some way. Two, it establishes in their head that whatever it is, it’s okay-which may cause problems in the future. Three, it isn’t good for you, because you may still feel upset at whatever they are doing, and they won’t know why. It causes a lot of miscommunication when you just let someone do something, so you don’t have to talk about the subject. A step towards good communication is being willing to talk about the things that personally bother you, or things that may not be pleasant to discuss. 
     The other extreme is being completely blunt with a person and saying everything you feel. This causes a few problems as well. One, it may make the other person feel inferior, like they aren’t able to do anything right. Two, it imbalances the relationship towards you-in an unhealthy manner of controlling. And three, it may make the other person feel like they can’t do/say things around you, for fear of harsh criticism. This can also cause them to accommodate YOU, which leads to the misconception that everything is fine, even when it isn’t. It also may mean that they don’t want you to be their bearer of bad news-even if you mean well, a harsh, blunt demeanor is very off-putting to people. 

     It’s a fine line to walk-but there is a good balance in being truthful, and being appropriate and nice about it. This goes back to being assertive-being able to state your position, while acknowledging the other person and respectfully disagreeing. It takes a lot of emotional intelligence to know when the right time in a conversation it is to say something hard. Sometimes, it’s something that may not need to be brought up. Other times, it may need to be out in the open in order for a conflict or misunderstanding to be resolved. It just takes diligence and a lot of good listening to figure out if now is the time to bring up a particular subject, or later, or whatever. Hard truths and bad news are delicate subjects. It just takes some time to figure out when and where and how to say it. Personally, I struggle with this kind of thing. I am not a particularly tactful guy, and a lot of things I say might be taken differently if I knew how to word it, or when to say it. It’s something that I at least know now, and am starting to work on. Good things will come, eventually. It just takes practice. 

Vocabulary: 

Effective/appropriate messages: messages that achieve the goals you and your partner have for the interaction, that conform to the social/relational/ethical expectations of the situation. 
accommodating: resolving a conflict by satisfying the other person’s needs or accepting the other person’s ideas while neglecting one’s own needs or ideas. 
emotional intelligence: the ability to monitor your own and others’ emotions and to use this information to guide your communications. 

 

Watching Your Words, Day 10: Explanation is Key

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     This is how I feel all the time. The top part-the simple explanation-is in my head. Then, when I try and say it to someone else, it comes out like the bottom part-all mixed up, jumbled around, until I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. You see, to me, there is a specific way that my brain works-same as everyone. But in my head, I can handle things a certain way that don’t always sit well with others. Because I know what I mean, and the feelings and intentions behind my train of thought, it makes sense. That doesn’t translate to other people-because they don’t know the internal thought and emotion that’s behind it. What my challenge is, is to take my simple thoughts from the top part and make them work outside my own head. 

     One problem with my explanations is that a lot of them are extemporaneous– that is to say, spur of the moment. A lot of times someone will ask me to explain what I mean, and I have to come up with the explanation then and there. This is the first problem. I already know what I’m thinking to myself, so I don’t think really about WHY I feel that way. Then, when someone else asks, I have to scramble to think of some way to explain what I already just know in my head. Lately, I’ve been trying to implement STEMS (See the first blog in this series for a refresher), which helps me to slow down and think before I speak. It’s helped some, but I still have troubles. 
     Another problem that I have in explaining things is that I like to figure them out as I go along. I have a habit of thinking through everything first, and then coming to whatever explanation or conclusion I have to give. I know this has been confusing especially with my girlfriend, as we have been discussing some serious matters lately and my answers have definitely been confusing. In my head it makes sense-I know what my bottom line is. But I don’t communicate that well to her, and my thinkings and perusings are oftentimes more hurtful than helpful. I believe it would help me to formally state, BEFORE I begin, that these are just thoughts-that it doesn’t necessarily reflect on the explanation or conclusion I will give. I think that may help as well. 
     Lastly, I know I have troubles with not being other-centered about my statements and thinking. As I said in the opening, I KNOW how things are going in my own head, and therefore I make the mistake of thinking that everyone around me will understand just as I do. Then, when they don’t, I get frustrated even though it’s my own fault. Again, I think STEMS can help with this-slowing down, thinking through my statement…what I really need to do is evaluate whether this is a statement that will only make sense to me, or if there is something I can do to help this make sense to others. 

Overall, I think I have improved in this area a little bit. It’s definitely something I can work on, and I do plan to. 

 

Vocabulary: 

extemporaneous: uttered in the spur of the moment, without any lengthy pre-planning. 
other-centered messages: communications that focus on the needs of the person requiring support through active listening and expressions of compassion, understanding, and encouragement. 

 

Watching Your Words, Day 9: On the Decline…

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      There are some people who just don’t care what others think. They go out, and do their thing, and speak their mind. They say exactly what they feel and they don’t care what others may think about it. It seems to work for them, and sometimes I wonder if it would work for me. I could be more assertive. I could say what I want to. 
     Of course, I know that this would cause major problems. I know that I have a tendency to be sarcastic. Lately I have noticed that I’ve been increasingly sarcastic with my roommates. At first, I didn’t quite think of it as a problem, but as I look back I can see that it has definitely been a recurring issue. My mind just will automatically go to come up with a sarcastic response, and that’s not healthy. I cannot let this continue. But in order to move forward, I should look at the root of the issue itself first.
 I think that part of the problem is that I feel I need to exemplify the masculine culture that this society has fostered. If I am always nice all the time, I am not really that much of a “man”-because I am not asserting myself, and letting the other men walk all over me. Now, this isn’t actually the case, but it may subconsciously exist that way in my head. Another reason for it is the perception that if I am not sarcastic, or joking, I won’t fit in with them. Again-I don’t think that way in my mind, but it is a feeling just below the surface. And so lately, I have been making more and more jokes lately. It’s not fun. When I step back and look at myself, that is not the kind of person that I want to be. I need to be able to watch and check myself more frequently, in my head, when I talk to people.

Overall, things have been getting better. This past week or so has just been a bit of a down week. I’ll bounce back!

Vocabulary: 

Masculine culture: a culture in which men are expected to adhere to traditional sex roles. 
perception: the process of attending to, organizing, and interpreting the information that we receive through our senses. 

I Want To Be: READY and Able (A Study on David), Part One

16 For forty days, every morning and evening, the Philistine champion strutted in front of the Israelite army.

17 One day Jesse said to David, “Take this basket of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and carry them quickly to your brothers. 18 And give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring back a report on how they are doing.” 19 David’s brothers were with Saul and the Israelite army at the valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.”

“26 David asked the soldiers standing nearby, “What will a man get for killing this Philistine and ending his defiance of Israel? Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?
-1 Samuel 17:16-19, 26

 

When I read this passage, two things stood out to me. How David ended up there in the first place, and his attitude once he found out what was going on.

     We never know when we are going to be used by God. David is sent by his father to go bring food to his brothers, and stumbles upon a battle for the honor of the Lord. Doesn’t this ring true for us today? We may be called to do something we think is simple, and realize that the task is way bigger than we imagined. Personally I’ve seen this-being asked to just say hi to someone, or welcome them in, turns into a spiritual battle for their eternity. It’s tough, being willing to be used by God. This isn’t to say that God is tricking us all the time into doing things for Him-not at all. But it’s a call to me (and us as a church body in general) that we need to be aware of the fact that NO task we are given is small.  
     Maybe I’m reading into this too much. But I believe that there are hidden gems within the Word, and this is one of them. David is sent, by his father, to feed his brothers. Isn’t that what we are called to do? Go and feed those who are out there-our brothers and sisters in Christ? And those not in Christ? When David gets there, he realizes a battle is being waged that is bigger than just the feeding. In order for them to be fed, first the spiritual warfare at hand needs to be dealt with. We need to be prepared, when we go out to feed the world, that there will be battles raging wherever we go. At that time, we should be in a mindset where we can see the bigger problem at hand.
     The problem isn’t necessarily that they aren’t being fed (although this is a problem! Don’t get me wrong). The problem lies within whatever giant is keeping them busy, whatever battle drains them of nourishment where they NEED to be fed-what force is opposing the Lord. I’m not saying that we need to fight people’s battles for them. But I am saying that we need to be ready, when we are doing God’s work, to face spiritual warfare. When we are working with our fellow brothers and sisters in the church, we should be willing to come alongside them in prayer and encouragement and help them. And when we go out into the world, that battle has to be fought before we can feed the sheep. What sense does it make to give food to a sheep when there’s a wolf with his jaws around their throat? Sometimes, we need to let God use us and lead by example, by handling the situation in a godly manner and showing God to be real and true and powerful, victor over all because He made it all. Then, when people asked how we were able to deal with things, we can give them a reason for the things that we believe. 

     Now, what’s is amazing here is the response of David. He, seeing what’s going on, asks about it. When told, he asks what the reward is. But that isn’t even the issue for David. He wants to know how someone can just stand there and blaspheme the living God. Look at where his heart is at! David is ready to do battle, already, because someone is coming up against His God. I think that all too often we get caught unawares by the battles that Satan is waging all around us. We get thrown into a mess, a conversation about religion, a discussion of how bad Christians are, a classroom teaching evolution, a friend listening to the lies of the world. There is always war around us-Satan is constantly trying to drag people down. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says to “8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.”. Satan is always attacking. What we need to do is be strong, cling to God, and be devoted to Him and His Word. Because if we are so in love with God, so inspired and in depth in His Word, we will be ready as David is to give an answer for our faith to the attacks of Satan. It says in 2 Timothy that we need to be ready at ALL times, whether we think we need to be or not. Satan never rests-so then why should we? 
Like David, I strive to reach a place where my first response is that to the injustice being committed against God. I want to be so engrossed in my God that, when I walk in to a situation, I look for how God can make it right, and I am unafraid to call out those who oppose Him. I want to be Ready, at any time, any season, any place, to be used by God. 

Part two of this little mini-series will talk about why David was ABLE to be used by God! Until then, dear readers!