1 Samuel 23-24 – How to Go High When They Go Low

As children, we’re taught to play fair and do what’s right…even if no one else is…then things will turn out alright for us.

But what do you do when doing the right thing seems to make matters worse?

In 1 Samuel chapters 23 and 24, David is taking the high road and doing what’s right and honorable, yet matters keep getting worse.

  • David rescues a town of people, and they sell him out to King Saul. (1 Sam. 23:12)
  • David defeats Saul’s enemies (1 Sam. 23:5) yet Saul moves in to kill him. (1 Sam. 23:7-8)
  • David retreats from Saul, refusing to challenge or threaten him, yet Saul pursues David night and day. (1 Sam. 23:14)
  • David has the opportunity to kill Saul, yet chooses to show him honor instead. And still, Saul continues his homicidal pursuit of David.

How did David continue to take the high road rather than give Saul a taste of his own medicine?

  • David made God, not Saul, the object of his focus and asked God to show him what to do. (1 Sam. 23:2-6, 9-12)
  • David focused on God’s long-term plan, rather than his short-term relief. (1 Sam. 23:16-17)
  • David trusted God to rightly settle accounts, even if Saul didn’t. (1 Sam. 24:12,15)
  • Finally, David protected himself, while giving God time to work.

David had learned from his youth that his battles were not his to fight. He learned he should stay close and right with God and trust God to fight the battle. (1 Sam. 17:47)

What battle are you trying to fight in your own strength? What wrong are you trying to right in your own way? Perhaps David (and God) is trying to tell you something.

If You Feel Like Quitting…

Everyone feels like quitting sometimes.

Stephen King is a prolific writer and probably one of the most well know and successful authors in modern history. Yet, he felt like quitting early on.

I read that one night, his wife was taking out the trash and found three crumpled pages covered in cigarette ashes. Out of curiosity, she pulled the pages out of the trash and read them. When she had finished reading the wrinkled pages, she took them to her husband and encouraged him to keep writing.

Those discarded pages eventually became the book Carrie. Carrie was not only one of Stephen King’s most successful books, but was adapted into four movies and a broadway play. And yet, he was going to quit writing it after three pages!

It’s easier to quit than to push through to the finish. We just don’t call it quitting. We disguise it by saying things like…

  • “It’s just not a good time to do this.”
  • “I’ve found something else that interests me more.”
  • “I was wrong to start this.”
  • “I’m just not cut out for this.”
  • “I can’t put in the time and effort this requires right now.”
  • “It’s too hard.”

As a pastoral counselor, I hear from a lot of spouses that are ready to quit on their marriage.

A few of them have good reason to consider quitting. There has been abuse, or infidelity, or abandonment. And in some of these cases, the offending spouse continues to repeat the offense or is unwilling to change. These are very difficult situations that may be out of the spouse’s control and certainly require expert help.

But many of the spouses I talk to, who feel like quitting on their marriage, got to that point for lesser reasons than abuse, or infidelity, or abandonment. Many of the spouses I talk to who want to quit on marriage, got there because of:

  • Failed expectations.
  • Lack of attention.
  • Waning communication.
  • Widening gaps in sexual appetite.
  • Evaporation of common courtesies.
  • Failure to pursue one another.

These things are all bound to happen in marriage from time to time. When they happen on an occasionally basis, it typically doesn’t cause a person to want to quit being married to their spouse. But, when these things happen on a regular basis and accumulate over the years, they build up feelings of hurt and resentment that can seem insurmountable. More often than not, this is what causes a spouse to say things like:

  • “There’s just no chemistry between us anymore.”
  • “Maybe we shouldn’t have gotten married.”
  • “We got married for the wrong reasons.”
  • “We’re just not good for one another.”
  • “If it’s this difficult, it can’t be right.”

If you feel like quitting on your marriage, you’ve probably felt, thought, and maybe even said some of these things. But let me remind you that in every good story you will find…

  • Dark and difficult seasons.
  • Characters who struggle with one another.
  • Plots turns you didn’t expect.
  • Resolutions that don’t play out until you get all the way to the end of the story.

These things don’t make the story bad. They actually contribute to making the story good…if you stick it out through the story.

So here’s the bottom line. When it comes to your marriage…

If you feel like quitting…don’t.

Walt Disney once said,  “The difference in winning and losing is most often not quitting.”

Like Stephen King, you may be ready to crumple up your marriage and throw it in the trash. But with some time and some work, your marriage could be a rewritten. Don’t let your current frustrations keep you from a creating a future masterpiece.

Joshua 3-4 – Change and Uncertainty

Everyone struggles with change. Even those who say they like change become stressed if the changes are too quick or too drastic.

In Joshua chapters 3-4, we find the Israelites preparing to cross the Jordan river and move into the Promise Land. They’re facing rapid and radical changes. They are uncertain and they don’t know from moment to moment what they are to do or how they are to do it.

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Numbers 14 – Trading “I Remember” for “I Can’t Wait to See”

I was working in the oil fields of West Texas when God called me into full time ministry. After some preparation, I moved my wife and two small children to Ft. Worth, TX and began my seminary education.

At first, it was exciting. But the new eventually wore off when the demands of graduate school kicked in. There were mountains of books to read, a constant demand for papers to write, and tedious projects to complete. All of this (along with holding down a job) increased the stress on my marriage and family. Too little time, too little money, and too many expectations began to wear on us.

I found myself thinking, “I miss the good old days.” Graduation was in sight, but this nagging thought kept getting louder. Others around us called it quits and went back home. But we stuck it out, and it turned out to be one of the best things we’ve ever done.

So I can relate to Numbers chapter 14, and the feeling of being in that difficult in-between spot. God’s people were not in slavery, but they still were not in the Promise Land. God was asking the Israelites to do something that required a lot of risk. Consequently, they longed for what was behind them, rather than what was ahead of them.

We must be willing to follow God and step into the freedom of the unknown, rather than retreat to the bondage of the comfortable. The key to is believing God is good (Psalm 100:5) and brings all His power to bear for one purpose..our good. If we believe this, we will launch into the risky unknown, knowing that no matter what happens, it will be better than the past.

Let’s trade in our “I remember” for “I can’t wait to see.”

Things You Need to Know Before You Get Married…or Divorced

“I wish I had known this before I got married.” I hear this a lot as a counselor. Sometimes it’s said in jest, and sometimes it’s said in frustration.

Before we get married, we think we know what it takes to have a good marriage. It’s only after we’re married that we begin to find out how much we really don’t know. The things we don’t know can bring an end to the honeymoon phase of marriage, and if left unaddressed, can bring an end to the marriage itself.

What is it we need to know before we get married…and before we get divorced?

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