Sunday, August 8, 2010

In the Cave

Pastor Brad Shannon, in his opening greeting, again referenced our Breakfast Roundtables which have been taking place this summer before church. This morning we discussed the question, "What sin does our church need to repent of?" which resulted in many good insights to mull over. We analyzed what it means to be a community of believers, why we allow other priorities to dislodge God from first place, and other related topics. Ultimately, we agreed that it is possible we have been settling for 2nd best, out of convenience, rather than really giving our best.

Announcements this after the greeting included a reminder that we'd like to give water to runners at next Saturday's Twig 5K Run, along with invitations to our church. Contact Brad if you're planning to help.

Gail mentioned that volunteers are needed for the church rummage sale that is coming up in September. Joanne mentioned the need to teachers and other helpers for our Sunday School program, which will kick off on September 19. There will also be some special meetings to discuss how to make our youth programs more effective in Christian formation.

Darlene's introit, How Great Is Our God, hit the right notes in our hearts as she ushered us into worship today. After the singing of hymns, Ed Newman took the pulpit to share "a moment for mission."

Ed shared a story about Bob and Betty King, a couple from Texas whose generosity touched Ed & Susie's hearts when they were working at an orphanage in Mexico in 1980-81. In 1986 the Kings left their jobs and began an orphanage in Mexico near the border, which grew to three children's homes. A month ago, when Hurricane Alex slammed into Northern Mexico, there was much flooding with damage that included the orphanage. All mattresses and furniture had to be discarded, among other things. The website for these children's homes is:

For more information about the flood damage and how to help, visit

After the reading of Scripture (Ruth Anne read from Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16) and a time of prayer, Brad spoke the Word that was on his heart.

In the Cave

Brad began by noting that there are two kinds of people in the world: those who like Star Trek and those who don't. What he wanted to draw attention to was the slogan at the beginning of this popular show: "To boldly go where on man has gone before." It seemed to him that this desire to do and to be and to explore is something innate within us. But somewhere along the way in life, this boldness gets short circuited.

One of the things that often cripples us is discouragement. It might come from the loss of a job, the loss of a home, or the loss of one's family. In David's life, we find all this and more. He had been in the service of King Saul when he was driven away. He lost his home as he was now on the run. He lost his wife Michal, Saul's daughter, when she was given to another man in his stead. He lost his spiritual mentor Samuel a short time after and his best friend Jonathan.

David sought safety in Philistine territory, but even this had bad consequences and after escaping (by feigning insanity) he escaped to the cave of Adullam. Brad said that when everything is stripped away, this is where we end up... in the cave. It's a place where we wonder, "God, have you forgotten me?"

But Brad noted that God can do some of His best work in caves. By looking at David's life we learned four things that we can do when we find ourselves in the cave.

1) David talked openly with God

We know how David responded when he reached bottom because Brad had us turn to Psalm 142, A maskil of David when he was in the cave.

David communicated his pain to God. The pastor said that many people allow their pain to congeal into a low grade discouragement. "It sucks the life out of you," he said, adding that this is not from God. Tragically, some people live their whole lives that way. He told us that God's "complaint department" is always open to us.

2) David took action and did not dwell on it.

Circumstances were bad, even unfair. He had been anointed king, yet was running for his life. He had acted in all things from good motives, yet was being hunted down like an animal.

In I Samuel 30, a little later in the story, David and his band of misfit followers -- the distressed, disgruntled, indebted -- have managed to survive by raiding Philistine villages while living in a place called Ziklag. On one occasion, they returned from a raid to find their own village had been ransacked, pillaged and burned. All the women, children and elderly were taken as plunder.

David could have despaired. These people had rallied round him and his leadership led to this. But instead, David sought counsel from the Lord through Abiathar the priest. The Lord said to pursue them. "You will overtake them and succeed in the rescue."

Brad's point is that lamenting is O.K., but then there is a time for action.

3) David resisted temptation.

In I Samuel 24, when David and his men were hiding in the cave, on the run from Saul who was seeking to kill David, an amazing "coincidence" occurred. Saul went into the very cave where David and his men were hiding in order to relieve himself. David's men saw it as the Lord delivering Saul into his very hand.

David crept up in the darkness, getting so near that he was able to cut off a piece of the corner of Saul's robe. But he knew it would have been wrong to kill Saul in that manner. He recognized and acknowledged by example the principle, "touch not the Lord's anointed." He resisted the temptation to take a shortcut to the throne. He was even conscience stricken at cutting off a piece of Saul's robe.

Many of us can be tempted to take shortcuts to what we believe God has promised us, whether financial or in relationships. This is not God's way.
4) David found his ultimate refuge in God.
It's a theme repeated throughout the Psalms. "In You I find refuge," David says over and over again. We need to find strength in the knowledge that God is our refuge and we can trust Him.

"God is in the cave with you," Brad said as he led us into his powerful closing insight, because God knows all about caves.

Jesus, "the son of David", walked this same path of suffering. He lost his teaching job, lost His home, was taken from His friends who all abandoned Him, and was crucified alone. Amazingly, His life ended in a cave.... and on the third day, the world was shaken by His resurrection power. This is our God... Resurrection power. We are not abandoned in the cave.

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