In the Modern Church

All too often in the modern church, repentance is tucked away in the personal and private lives of people who want to obtain absolution without thought for the continuing effects of sin. We look for exoneration rather than justification and restoration. We prefer to concentrate on the compartmentalized sins of our lives at this controlled and controllable moment rather than to view the ugliness of our idolatry on the grand stage of life. It is not only the passing adulterous thought or murderous deeds of today or yesterday that the Bible addresses when it speaks of repentance; rather, it refers to the lifelong pattern of idolatry that needs confessing.

Bill T. Arnold, 1 & 2 Samuel, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 135.

In Samuel’s Time

In Samuel’s time, in the face of the Philistine threat, in the face of Canaanite culture, in the presence of Canaanite religion, Israel began to notice other loyalties that seemed more promising. Israel began to mix its faith and its loyalty with other loyalties and alternatives seemingly more attractive, more compelling, and more productive. Israel is tempted, again and again, to change its central loyalty and, with it, to change its mode of ethics and its patterns of social relationships. Samuel is summoned by Yahweh to call Israel back to its primary loyalty, to its single reliance, and to shun other modes of life, security, and well-being. The demand of Samuel is that Israel belong only to Yahweh and not be permitted any other loyalty. The promise of Samuel is that Yahweh is completely adequate as a delivering God, who can work rescue in any circumstance, even with the Philistines. Samuel bears witness to the adequacy of Yahweh, even as he bears witness to the sovereignty of Yahweh.

Walter Brueggemann, First and Second Samuel, Interpretation, a Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1990), 49.

We need exactly the same summons.

Resurrection Hope – Seedbed

Jesus is not speaking of resurrection in the future tense. Well, he is, but not as if it is somewhere over the rainbow. The resurrection is not a future event. Neither is it a present event. He is saying, “I am the resurrection.” The resurrection is not an event. It is a person. Jesus is the resurrection. Jesus is the life. Jesus is not asking Martha to believe in something that will happen in the future. He wants her to know by believing in him now, the future has already happened.
— Read on

Why Jesus Wants Loyal Friends, Not Worshipful Fans – Seedbed

Many are content to know Jesus as Savior. Fewer are willing to know him as Lord. Not many, however, will become his friends. Many are content to worship him like a loyal subject who bows low before a king. Fewer still are willing to approach him as the son or daughter of a loving Father. Not many will walk with him as friend.
— Read on

Everyday Affairs of the Church

As the son of a pastor, I grew up watching parishioners and other pastors in our denominational connection. I will never fully understand the number of people intimately plugged into the business of the church—both local and general—who seem to persist in sin because of a hardness of heart. Some of the most hateful behavior I have ever witnessed has come from denominational leaders and local church officials. There is something about throwing oneself into the everyday affairs of the church, into the routine business of doing “church work,” that is deceptive. It soothes our conscience and makes us feel we are in the right state of mind spiritually. But proximity to God’s work is no substitute for submission to the grace of God.

Bill T. Arnold, 1 & 2 Samuel, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 77. [Emphasis mine]

Small Folk

As I begin my study of 1 Samuel, I am reminded that God tends to use the small folk to accomplish his purposes more than the big wigs.

I am a smaller folk than ever before in my life, being sick unto death. I can’t lead, I can’t teach, I can’t influence even a small group of small folk. But I can still be available to God and I can still pray. I hope God can still use me in some way.