Archive for the ‘1 Samuel’ Category



January 12, 2013

“David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him.  And he became captain over them…” 1 Samuel 22:1-27a

“Church Chairs for Sale!”Chairs

Actually, they are not for sale; sorry if I got your hopes up.  This last week I have worked with a local Church to move the chairs from the Church plant that we closed 11 months ago.  They have sat in storage these last several months while we soak on closing the church.  It is now very obvious that we are done, so it is time.  It is time to start moving the remnants of that endeavor.

I am surprised and a little embarrassed by the emotions those stupid chairs have raised in me.  Getting rid of those chairs has made me rather melancholy.  It is not like I love the chairs, although they are very nice.  It is not like I have anything else that I can use those chairs for.  I have told myself, “They are inanimate objects that should be put to the use that they were originally purchased.”  One would think that seeing those chairs back in a church building again would be a good thing.  It is a good thing.  Yet, I have been surprised at how bitter it tastes.

I know the reason that the taste of this chore is not very pleasing is not due to the chairs.  It is what the chairs represent – an end of a dream.  Five years ago, we had great hopes.  We had felt like this was God’s plan.  I remember going through the process of purchasing those chairs.  I had not envisioned this week and arranging for them to go someplace else.  The vision did not work out like I had thought.

I wonder what David was thinking when he sat in that cave of Adullam.  David had been a commander in  Saul’s army.  They had sung songs about him.  He had been in the inner circle of the King of Israel.  He was the son-in-law of the King. His best friend was the heir to the throne.  He would have known everyone worth knowing in Israel and they would have known him.  Samuel had anointed him to be King.  I am sure that David had a vision of what that was going to look like.  Since he had been anointed, I imagine that he may have thought that his path to the throne would maybe come through his position as a commander or maybe as a result of marrying Michal or maybe work something out with Jonathan.

Landscape with David at the Cave of Adullam

Landscape with David at the Cave of Adullam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I cannot imagine that David had foreseen the cave of Adullam as his path to the throne.  David had to have wondered how his present circumstances were going to work out.  All you have to do is read the Psalms to hear the melancholy associated with David not understanding God’s will for his life.

We have the benefit of knowing the rest of the story.  We can read about how God was making David more and more into a man after His own heart.  I believe that this period in the wilderness was essential to molding David’s heart.  The problem for all of us in the present is that we don’t know the end of our story.  We know the end of the story – that is where our hope is – but we all want to know what our calling in that story is supposed to be.

What is the will of God for my life?

I know what the will of God is:

“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:39-40)

 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality, that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter… For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” (1 Thess. 4:3-7)

This is the will of God for our lives:

  • To persevere to the end and be raised up on the last day by Christ.
  • To be sanctified – to be made more and more into the image of Christ – to follow our calling in holiness.

That is God’s will for my life and for every person who has the Spirit of Christ in them. However, that is not usually what we mean when we ask, “What is God’s will for my life.”  The intent of that question is better stated as “What is God’s specific direction for my life.”  That is what we really want to know.  I am sure that is what David wanted to know while he sat in that Adullam cave.  That is what I want to know now that I don’t have any church chairs.

I think that there is a great misconception that many of us fall into in trying to divine God’s will of direction for our lives.  That misconception is that it is actually possible.

I have heard many a person, particularly in ministry, state with absolute confidence that they are called to a specific ministry – OK.  Please forgive my skepticism, but I wonder how many of them would be as confident in their calling if they were sitting in the cave of Adullum or a basement in rural Idaho.   My guess is that most would wonder, “How is this all going to work out”.

I think that Kevin DeYoung in his book, Just Do Something –  did a very good job of showing the liberty that we have in Christ regarding God’s will of direction for us and our decision-making.

“This conventional understanding is the wrong way to think of God’s will.  In fact, expecting God to reveal some hidden will of direction is an invitation to disappointment and indecision. Trusting in God’s will of decree is good. Following His will of desire is obedient. Waiting for God’s will of direction is a mess. It is bad for your life, harmful to your sanctification, and allows too many Christians to be passive tinkerers who strangely feel more spiritual the less they actually do.  God is not a Magic 8-Ball we shake up and peer into whenever we have a decision to make. He is a good God who gives us brains, shows us the way of obedience, and invites us to take risks for Him.  We know God has a plan for our lives. That’s wonderful. The problem is we think He’s going to tell us the wonderful plan before it unfolds. We feel like we can know – and need to know – what God wants every step of the way. But such preoccupation with finding God’s will, as well-intentioned as the desire may be, is more folly than freedom.  The better way is the biblical way: Seek first the kingdom of God, and then trust that He will take care of our needs, even before we know what they are and where we’re going.” (Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something – A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will, pg 26)

My melancholy is actually just sin.

I am feeling sorry for myself because things didn’t work out the way I  had wanted.  They worked out exactly as God had wanted.  What do I have to be sad about?  Nothing!  I got to help shepherd God’s people and preach the Word of God for five years.  I did not get short-changed – I was not owed that.  I am not doing that now but that is nothing to be gloomy about.

God had a wonderful plan for David’s life – he didn’t get to know the bigger picture.

God has a wonderful plan for my life – Jesus is going to accomplish the will of His Father which is to get me to the end and raise me up on the last day.  What have I to be moping around about? Nothing! What folly!

I am a child of God – an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ. 

It is time that I remember that God is going to do His thing – I don’t need to figure it out.  Today, I have an internet connection and I can write a blog about how foolish I am when my eyes slip off of my wonderful Savior and onto myself.  I am content with that.  May God be glorified in that today and I will let Him handle tomorrow.

If you are discouraged or melancholy about something that hasn’t worked out in your life, please don’t follow my example of foolishness.  Look up!  Your Father loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.  He just is not necessarily going to tell you but you can trust Him, after all He is God.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for being such a control freak.  Thank you for not giving me control of everything.  You will do so much better than I could ever do.  I am sorry for letting the joy of my salvation be dimmed by my own selfishness.  Lord, you have been so good to me; you have let me be a part of some incredible things.  Thank you for that.  Father, you know that I feel like I am in the wilderness; I don’t even know if that is where I am or if you have me someplace else.  All I know is that I am exactly where you want me to be – I am good with that.  May I glorify you from right here. I am your child and that is all I need; everything else is gravy.  Amen



January 7, 2013

“Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of host, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defied.  This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” 1 Samuel 17:45-46a

Promotional poster featuring Brock Lesnar

Promotional poster featuring Brock Lesnar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What if I told you that I have scheduled a cage match to the death with Brock Lesnar?  Mr. Lesnar is 6 ft 3 in and weighs in at 267 lbs.  He is NCAA wrestling champion and a former heavyweight champion in the UFC.  I am 6 ft 1 in and weigh in at 200 lbs.  I have not been in a fight since elementary school.  I hope that I have people in my life that will pull me aside and say, “that is not a good idea”.

There is nothing about this match up that is a good idea. No one would buy this pay-per-view package to watch a competitive fight.  They may buy it more for the value of the Roman spectacle of a person being fed to a lion.  Yet, I stand a better chance against Mr. Lesnar than David had in his match up with Goliath.

I have heard many a message using this match-up as an example of how we should face the giants in our Christian lives.  I struggle with some of those analogies because it seems like they are over-generalizing a very specific event by a person with a very specific role in God’s redemptive plan.  If you are encouraged in your faith by those analogies to face seeming insurmountable challenges in your life, then I don’t want to dissuade you.

English: The young Hebrew David hoists the hea...However, I believe there is a deeper meaning in this passage then an encouragement for me to face the equivalents of Brock Lesnar in my life.  This passage is about David but there was a true and better David that followed him, who better embodied all that David stands for.

The reality is that David trusted God to deliver him; he was willing to sacrifice himself for the name of the Lord.  Later on in his life, David, as the Psalmist, recognized that God does not delight in the sacrifice of animals but in the self-sacrifice of every person – God wants all of David and He wants all of you and I.

When David took the field against Goliath, he was foreshadowing the better David, Jesus, who would take on a much more important battle, against a seemingly more impossible foe.  Look at the similarities in the events:

Goliath came at David with sword and spear and javelin.

They came at Jesus with swords and spears.

David came to the battle in the name of the Lord.

Jesus came to the battle as the Son of God.

David was not saved by sword and spear.

Jesus was not saved by sword and spear.

David struck down Goliath and cut his head off.

Jesus struck down death and crushed the head of the serpent.

John Piper said it better than I can:

“And so David, in his zeal to obey God, models for us faintly the kind of zeal to obey God that not only led Jesus to empty himself of divine prerogative, but humble “himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7–8), and in doing so, become the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).”

We need to realize that every person to have walked this planet has faced a foe much bigger and more dangerous than Goliath.  Our greatest foe has never been a Goliath type figure of this world.  It has been death and eternal punishment for our sin.

Jesus has already defeated our greatest foe.

He has already struck down our Goliath – he has cut the head off of death for you and I.  Jesus has crushed the head of our greatest enemy and saved us to eternal life.  There is no challenge that I will face today that has more significance to me than the battle that was won for me on a Roman cross by the perfect David – Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, my Savior and Lord.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for saving me.  Thank you for defeating my greatest foe.  Thank you for giving me a world in which I have nothing to fear.  Lord, help me to live in that victory today.  Help me to daily understand that there is no Goliath in this world that I have to fear.  There is nothing that can separate me from you and you have already secured the victory for me.  Thank you for loving me and being my heavenly Father.  Amen



January 5, 2013

“And he did valiantly and struck the Amalekites and delivered Israel out of the hands of those who plundered them.” 1 Samuel 14:48

When I was studying for my MBA, I discovered that the differences between business and engineering schools were beyond subject matter.  My engineering undergraduate experience was filled with problem solving.  I was given a specific problem and had to calculate the solution. Engineering is dominated by calculated solutions.

Business school is dominated by the case

There are very few areas in business where there is a nice calculated solution.  That is why case studies are so helpful in teaching business.  Typically, we would study a business and try to determine why the company was either a success or a failure, using our various tools (statistics, finance, accounting, marketing, etc.).  However, there is usually a wider aim to a case study.  The point of doing a case study is not to simply know why something happened to a particular business.  It is to apply the discovered cause-effect relationship into the future – to generalize it. We want to take what we learn from a case study of a specific situation and make a broader generalization of that cause and effect relationship.  That is when a case study becomes particularly helpful.

This is a principle that most of us use whether we realize it or not.

My friend’s car is made by this manufacturer and he has never had any problems;

Therefore, I am going to by a car made by that manufacturer.

Consumer reports tested this product and said it is the best;

Therefore, I am going to buy that product.

The cool people all have one of  “those”;

Therefore, I am going to get one of  “those”.

An author studied common habits of highly effective people;

Therefore, I am going to work on developing those habits.

I want my kids to be like “those kids” and they grew up in a home that did “XYZ”;

Therefore, I am going to use the “XYZ” method.

We all are proficient at implementing our own case studies into our lives.  The problem is that we often don’t understand the precise cause-effect relationships or we make an incorrect generalization into our own lives.

I think that there is a very real danger in relying upon a case study mentality as guidance for the Church and our spiritual lives.  Consider what some may have thought about Saul.  After Saul had become king, Israel was delivered from the Amalekites and the Philistines were defeated.  There were probably some who were making the argument, “See, we now have a king and have been delivered, that was the right decision.” However, we know that it was not the right decision to replace the King of kings with an earthly king.  We know the whole story and what happened to Saul.

It is very dangerous for us temporal Christians when we default into a similar case study mentality.  Yet, we all are seeking answers for what is happening around us. We all have decisions to make and lives to live.

I read the statistics of the decline of Christianity in North America and Europe and wonder what is happening.  I read articles that ascribe the decline in liberal denominations to their liberal theology and make generalizations for the Church as a whole.  I read articles that state the progressive Churches and their approaches are the answer and make generalizations for the Church as a whole.

They both can’t be right.

lakewoodchurch004I have read books that tout their success as evidence of how the Church needs to be done (Church 3.0, Purpose Driven Life, Transforming Church in Rural America).  The problem is that success is the basis for advocating home churches and mega-churches as a generalization of the Church as a whole.


I have read books and articles on how to live the Christian life.  Testimonies are made all the time on a cause-effect relationship with the generalization of “if you do your Christian life like this then you will get the same results”.

I don’t want to start (or continue) a debate about any of these generalizations.  I am not making a comment on the validity of any of those articles or books.  I don’t have a lot of conclusive answers to many of these difficult questions that can be generalized.  Everyone would like to have conclusive answers to, “what should I do about “__________”.  Often, the reason why many charismatic leaders have such a following is due to their conviction of how to fill in the blank for people.  They have “the” answer.  They have a vision that can be generally applied to everyone.  I tend to believe that it is unwise to over-generalize many conclusive answers.  That (among many other reasons) is probably why I am not a widely followed, charismatic, leader.

The problem is when we think that we have a firm answer in a method or system.  We all have a tendency to become followers of programs.  We follow them because we are confident that they will work.  Often, our confidence comes from a case-study.

I just don’t want to make the wrong cause-effect relationship or the wrong generalization.

So, what are we supposed to do?  We all have decisions to make.  I have been a pastor of a church and decisions had to be made.  I have to make decisions about how my family and I are going to live our Christian lives.   Where do we find our conclusive answers if we are to avoid the dangers of a case study mentality?

I think that Samuel’s instruction to Saul, after he did not follow God, is helpful:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry…” (1 Samuel 15:22-23a)

God delights in a person who listens to Him and does what He tells them.

We need to be willing to evaluate any solution as to whether God will be delighted in us. We can rewrite Samuel’s warning”

“Has the Lord as great delight in “mission trips” and “giving-till-it-hurts”, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than “reaching your community,”and to listen than “memorizing Romans 8”. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry…”

It always comes back to our hearts.  It doesn’t matter what a Church is doing if its people are not walking in obedience.  God is not going to delight in that Church. It doesn’t matter what works you are filling your life with if you are not walking in obedience.  God is not going to delight in you.

The only conclusive answer that I have is to do what the Bible tells me to do.  I am a simple man so I do not have complex solutions.  I am going to keep it simple and focus on the two most important things that the Bible tells me to do:

(1)   “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

(2)   “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

I can generalize that but what that looks like for me will be different than for you.  What that looks like in my Church will look different in your Church.

However, I believe that if we will get those two conclusive answers right then everything else will take care of itself.  I believe that God will be delighted in individuals and Churches that are faithfully obedient to these commands because these commands drive all the rest.  That is a conclusiveness that you can rely upon.

Let’s not make the error of rebellion and presumption as Saul did.  Let’s strive to be a delight to our Lord and Savior through our obedience; all that other stuff will take care of itself when we are seeking to delight God in all that we do.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for trying to compensate for the lack of obedience in one area of my life with service in other areas.  Forgive me for following programs or methods.  Forgive me for presuming upon you.  Father, I want to be a delight to you; I want to be a pleasing fragrance.  Help me to have clarity of mind in how you want me to follow you.  Help me be faithful to my own calling.  Lord, I am blown away that you would even delight in me – that it is even possible.  Thank you for loving me and being my heavenly Father.  Amen



January 4, 2013

“And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” 1 Samuel 8:7

houserepsI love democracy.  I think that it is the best form of government for those who are ruled.  I have read history books of how various forms of government have functioned and there is no perfect system in which one man or group of men rule the others.

It seems to me that the checks and balances of a democratic system is the best form because it acknowledges the corruptibility and fallibility of men and women.

However, my opinion is based on theory and not experience.  I am expressing my opinion about the best form of government that has ever existed, which also happens to be the only system that I have ever known.

There was once a form of a government that no longer exists.  It was the government of Israel when God was their recognized king.  I don’t know what that was like. I have never lived in a country where God was the recognized king. However, I do know that God as King is the way it is supposed to be. I know this because God tells us in His word that Israel sinned by rejecting Him as being King over them.

We all have grown up with some form of governmental system ruling over us. I wonder if that may skew how we relate to God.

Just as a person, who has had a horrible father figure, may have a difficult time relating to God the Father, I think that I have a difficult time relating to God the Monarch.  All I have ever known are the checks and balances of a democratic system.  I was taught that I have enumerated rights.  I was instructed how I can appeal to the higher authorities of the judicial branches if the legislative or executive branches impinged my rights.  I have grown up in an environment where opinions and editorials flow out on a daily basis.  I have seen how these opinions influence the gears of government.

I don’t know what it is like to live under the rule of a King.

I don’t know what it is like to be a monarchist.

No one knows what it was like when God was the king over Israel.

That has to affect me. Democracy is what comes naturally to me – it is all that I have ever known.  It is important for me to check my bias for democracy from entering into my spiritual life. Whether we realize it or not, we are all under a monarchy. We live in a universe ruled by the King of Glory.  Our God is called the King of kings – that means that we are in a  monarchy.  It just so happens that we reside in a realm of His kingdom that is in rebellion.  The little kings don’t believe that the King of kings is still ruling over them. We are in a realm that is delusional enough to think that they are in control.

I never want my biased mindset to deny that reality of the King of kings.  I never want to make the mistake of seeking my security in a governmental system of man.  I never want to believe that my prosperity resides in the policies of bureaucrats. Now, I am not saying that Christians should not function within their established governmental systems.  We know that God places the governmental system into existence.  However, those systems are not where my hope resides.  I never want my actions to deny the King of kings.

I am a servant of a King.

What about my rights – opinions – possessions? What if I don’t like the type of pot that I have been molded into? None of that has a claim over the authority of the King.

Servants do what their King tells them to do.

All we have ever known is a kingdom in open rebellion. That doesn’t change the reality that there is still a King. A King, who will one day, reestablish his kingdom.

How are you living in the mean time; as a monarchist or rebel?

PRAYER: Father, you are my King.  I acknowledge that you reign supreme in all areas of my life.  Father, I don’t recognize any authority higher than you.  I am your servant.  Where you say, I will go.  What you command, I will do.  I am yours – all of me.  Father, thank you for being such a good King.  Thank you for not leaving me as mere servant but adopting me as a son – an heir of the King; a Child of God. Lord, you know that I don’t really grasp what that means; that I cannot fully understand the gift you have given me.  I look forward to that day, when my eyes are fully opened.  Until that day, Lord help me to be a faithful servant – remind me that you are the King of kings and no matter what these lesser kings may do on this earth, that you are still on your throne.  Amen



December 31, 2012

“Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.” 1 Samuel 2:17

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijna...

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670) shows the Good Samaritan tending the injured man. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A young man finished the late shift but was delayed in leaving work because it was payday.  He waited to receive his wages in cash because he had plans for the next day.  Due to the delay, the young man decided to take a shortcut home. While walking home, he fell among some gangbangers, who robbed him, stripped him of his clothes, and beat him half to death.

Now by chance, a pastor was driving through the area and saw the young man’s broken body in the gutter. Being in a hurry, he moved his car over to pass on the other side of the road.  He dialed 911 on his cell phone but did not have a signal.  He subsequently forgot about the limp body due to his mind being full of ministry thoughts.

So likewise, a young Christian couple driving home from a night of fellowship at their Church drove down this street and saw the young man struggling to rise.  Fearing that the same fate may befall them, they passed by on the other side of the road and sped away to safety – considering the fate of the faceless person a product of a series of poor choices.

But an atheist, as he journeyed, came to where the young man was and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him, performed first-aid and called 911.  He waited with the young man until the ambulance came and he followed the ambulance to the hospital.  Upon learning that the young man had no medical insurance, the atheist agreed to pay all the young man’s medical bills.”

Which of these three do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the gangbangers?

We all can see that the one who showed the young man mercy was the one who loved his neighbor as himself.  Jesus tells us, “You go, and do likewise.”  Helping the injured and abused young man is our example of what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Is is possible to show our neighbor this same kind of love before they make a fateful choice?

Now, consider what would be more loving to that young man; what if I could have gone to his place of work and warned him not to take the shortcut? What if I could have gone and given him a ride home so that he would have never gotten attacked in the first place?  It wouldn’t relieve me of any responsibility of helping him put his life back together if he refused my offer or advice but how unloving is it to allow him to blindly walk to his own destruction?

How merciless is it to stand at the crossroads and simply watch someone willingly choose the path that has abuse and heartache around the bend and say nothing.

Eli’s sons were worthless men.(1 Sam. 1:12) They were doing all sorts of sinful acts in their roles as priests. These guys were blatantly committing very great sins in the sight of God and the whole nation of Israel.  People were going up to Eli and telling him what his sons were doing but Eli wasn’t willing to do anything more than plead with them.

“And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sings against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” (1 Sam. 2:23-25)

Was it merciful for Eli to leave it there?

He had the authority to remove them.  Why wouldn’t he remove them from their positions of authority in the temple? I don’t know specifically why – it says in verse 29 that Eli honored his sons more than God. Therefore, it seems that Eli did not want to dishonor is sons.

How merciful was that? Eli knew the law; he even warned his sons of the consequences of their actions but he then stood by and watched as their impenitence led to their own destruction.  How loving was that?

The Church will be a messy place. I think that is a good thing. If it is not a little messy, I don’t know if people are being real. The mess in the Church is there because the Church is doing what it is supposed to do. The Church is a gift to us.  If the Church was not necessary then why did God give it to us?

The Church was given to us to help believers persevere to the end, to endure, to mature, to encourage each other, and to put Christ’s love and mercy on display (among other reasons).   We don’t do any of that perfectly.  There are times when we live our faith in very imperfect ways.  It is for those times that Christ instituted Church discipline by authorizing the apostles to prohibit or permit certain kinds of behavior (Matt. 18:18, John 20:23).  Jesus instituted Church discipline out of love.

There are some who abhor Church discipline and some who relish it.

Both attitudes are wrong and neither should be in Church leadership.

The purpose of Church discipline is to show the greatest love and mercy to someone who is at a crossroad and is picking the road that will lead to pain, heartache, and destruction. Church discipline in all its form is not to punish for punishment’s sake but to encourage true repentance and to call home someone who is straying into danger.

That is the most loving thing a brother or sister in Christ can do. 

However, it will be messy; there will be hurt feelings – unkind words – accusations. There was a cost to the good Samaritan.  Are you willing to bear the cost of showing mercy to your wayward brother or sister?

A Church without discipline, performed in loving and merciful manner with a primary concern for the person’s soul, is no longer a Church but merely a social club. A social club that is more concerned about the number of members than the condition of those members.

Be a real part of a real Church; it is for my good and it is for your own good!

PRAYER: Father, make me a man characterized by love and mercy.  Give me a compassion that compels me beyond my desire to avoid confrontation.  Help me to see my brothers and sisters spiritual conditions as you do and to care about it.  Lord, give me people in my life who will care enough about me to say something when they see me straying off course.  Create in me a heart that desires and appreciates loving concerns being brought to my attention. Lord, I am so acutely aware of my imperfections; give me a teachable heart that wants to be bound to you even when it hurts to hear the truth.  Amen

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