Sunday, May 30, 2010

"18 Inches From Your Head To Your Heart"

A beautiful Sunday morning here on this Memorial Day weekend. Pastor Brad welcomed us, then spoke at length about the theme he would be exploring this summer, the life of David. When Samuel anointed David, he found a man after God's own heart, a man who loved God with wild abandon.

Announcements included a reminder that VBS is just around the corner, June 14-17 at Twig Town Hall from 9:30-noon. There will also be a family night on Friday from 5:30-6:30. Full details at

Brad also mentioned that some interesting discussions have been taking place in our church leadership. Our mission here at New Life Covenant is to help connect disconnected people to Jesus Christ, nurture them and help them grow, and for the church to become a community that reflects Christ's priorities in the world.

After the introit and the reading of Psalm 121, we worshipped in song and in giving. Leonard then read from Romans 5:1-11 and Brad began his message.

"18 inches from your head to your heart"

David, Brad observed, was a true Renaissance man. Think of all this attributes. He was a skilled musician who was summoned to play for the king to alleviate his depression, a form of musical Prozac. He was a legendary as a warrior, subjugating Israel's enemies. As a poet, the Psalms he wrote expressing his longing for God are so illuminating and comforting that they have been the most used and moving piece of devotional literature ever written in history. As a statesman/politician his wisdom and skills brought Israel a level of economic and political stability never again achieved in its history. His reign would be forever remembered as the Golden era of Israel. He was also a physically attractive person, wise men and women were drawn to him in a magnetic way.

So here you have it: the poetic soul of a Shakespeare, the competitive heart of a Brett Favre, the musicianship of Pavarotti, the statesmanship of Abraham Lincoln, the physical attractiveness of a Brad Pitt... all wrapped up in one guy.

David was, in many ways, the central character of the Old Testament. Abraham's life is covered in 14 chapters and the great prophet Elijah is featured in 10. But David is featured in 66 chapters of the OT and mentioned hundreds of times more. He is even the last character mentioned in the Bible where in Rev 22:16 Jesus says, "I am the offspring of David, the bright morning star."

It's clear that this man is a worthy object of deeper study. David's most important feature was not the outward achievements or his looks, but his heart.

Brad sent us to I Samuel 16 to read the story of David's anointing by Samuel. Samuel was a great prophet in Israel. He was now an old man, having served a full lifetime for God. In this story, Samuel was told to go to Bethlehem to anoint a new king because Saul had gone bad and was failing his people.

Bethlehem was a very small town and the arrival of such a great man as Samuel was noteworthy. When he arrived at Jesse's house there, it would have immediately turned Jesse into a "somebody" not unlike a Big Man On Campus.

It was actually a very dangerous task for Samuel, because Saul was quite alive and this kind of activity would not be favorably looked upon by a reigning king, to anoint a substitute. Nevertheless, Jesse was proud to offer his son and was undoubtedly proud to be so chosen that one of his boys would be selected.

Samuel told Jesse to fetch his sons, and the firstborn looked perfect. Eliab would be like a star quarterback today. Tall, handsome, capable, cool under pressure. Everyone, including Samuel, thinks, "This is The Man." But God has a different idea, and indicates as such.

Not to worry, Jesse has seven sons in line for the anointing, but Samuel dismisses each and when they are finished with niceties, Samuel asks, "Do you have another son?" There is indeed an eighth son, herding sheep on the hillside outside town. Off they go to fetch the boy, and when David is brought back, Samuel recognizes (by God's spirit) that he is the one.

Brad pointed out how birth order is not always God's order in things. Historically, the progenitor, the favored son, is the first born. But God has a way of turning those things on their head, as with Ishmael and Isaac, or Jacob and Esau.

The human race tends to obsess over external appearances and accomplishments. But God's ways are not our ways. "In My kingdom everyone has something to offer."

Brad noted that talents and gifts are not irrelevant, but that in an ultimate sense, there is something more important. God looks on the heart.

Brad made a distinction between religion and a relationship with Jesus. "Religion happens in the head, a relationship with Jesus happens in the heart," he said.

He talked about the energy and wild abandon of children, how they sometimes are so bursting with life that they get enjoyment simply from jumping up and down. "When was the last time you jumped up and down?" he asked.

Brad noted several examples from the life of David that revealed his heart for God. "David had a heart that was passionately abandoned to God." He wasn't calculating and cautious. He was generous and free with his love for the Lord and expression of it.

This summer, as we study the life of David, Brad's prayer is that he will be able to impart this quality to us. "I just think it would be a great thing. Hearts characterized by a wild abandon to God."

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