Category: 1 Kings

Eyes Off the Hills!

Lots of Christians believe that once they repent and confess Jesus as Lord and begin living in the righteousness of God, nothing bad should ever happen to them again. Christians should not have accidents or arguments with spouses, they should not be misunderstood at work or talked back to by their children. No problems, no pains, no setbacks, no sins, no issues.

Even Christians who don’t believe that sometimes talk like they do. Too blessed to be stressed!

So, when something does go wrong, some Christians don’t handle it very well. Maybe a doubt creeps into your head. Maybe a loneliness moves into your soul. An illness puts you in the hospital or an argument lands you in the doghouse. A misunderstanding leads to anger and pain.  A person walking in the way of faith gets into trouble and starts looking for help.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from?” ~Psalm 121:1

What does this person see on the hills? What’s happening on the hills?

The pagan religions were practiced on the hills. That’s where the pagan gods were worshiped. The high places on the hills are where the nations built their altars to Ba’al and erected their shrines to Asherah. People went to the hills to engage in acts of idol worship they believed would ensure their safety or fix whatever is wrong. You worshiped the pagan gods on the hills to enhance the fertility of your livestock and crops. The pagan rituals would keep you safe from invading armies. The religious formulas and good luck charms would make you wealthy and wise. It would protect you from evil.

Where do your eyes go when things get a little shaky? Who do you look to? Where do you put your trust when things go bad? There are all kinds of things we can look to for help besides God. And all those things are idols.

In the Bible, the hills are where the idols are worshiped. Hosea 4:12-13 and Ezekiel 6:13 are two of dozens of biblical references. 1 Kings and 1 Chronicles describe the high places where God’s people set up sacred stones and Asherah poles “on every high hill.” Think about the altars of Ba’al on the hills of Mount Carmel. Think about King Rehoboam who built his altar on the high place at Dan. Think about the hills of Caesarea Philippi where the temples and shrines were built to Pan and Ba’al and Asherah and where they worshiped Roman Emperors and sacred goats.

When you run into trouble or when something goes wrong, you holler help. And if you look to the hills, there it is! All kinds of help! Instant help!

Except for one thing: it doesn’t work. It’s an illusion. Nobody is ever really helped by what’s happening in the hills.

“We will come to you, for you are the Lord our God. Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills and mountains is a deception.” ~ Jeremiah 3:23

If you think the next election is going to fix things, you’re looking to the hills. If you believe the next scientific breakthrough is going to heal things, you’re eyes are on the hills. If you think your next promotion or pay raise is going to put you over the top and fill the hole in your soul, you’re looking to the hills.

When you look to science, technology, or politics for help, you’re going to be disappointed. When you put your faith in the economy or your family, your education goals or your career plan, you’re going to be let down. When you try to ignore your pain or distract from your troubles with pills or drinks or vacations or sports or some kind of busyness, it just leads to more pain and more trouble.

“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” ~Psalm 121:2

Your help comes from the Lord, not from what’s in the hills. You don’t need any supplemental insurance from what’s going on in the hills. When your loving Father is the Maker and Sustainer of the Universe, you don’t need your safety or security to come from the hills.

“The Lord will keep you from all evil — he will watch over your life.” ~Psalm 121:7

That doesn’t mean you’re never going to stub your toe. No one gets out of this life without the experience of pain. The promise is that no injury or accident, no illness or distress, no tragedy, nothing that can ever happen to you will have evil power over you. Nothing can ever happen to you that can separate you from God’s purpose for you.

That’s the Lord’s Prayer. That’s the expectation. “Deliver us from evil.” That prayer is answered for you every day. Sometimes several times a day.

Take your eyes off the hills and place them directly on the God of Heaven and Earth who says, “I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who says, “In this world you will have trouble; but take heart, I have overcome the world!”

Peace,

Allan

Royal Humility

Royal HumilityWe praise Solomon for the wisdom he showed in asking God for wisdom. The Lord came to the young king in a dream and told him to ask for anything he wanted God to give him. Solomon famously requested a discerning heart to govern the Lord’s people and wisely distinguish between right and wrong. And the Lord was pleased with his request.

No doubt, it’s an impressive request. Solomon did not ask for wealth or health. He did not wish death for his enemies. God recognized that those are the things most kings would desire. Those are the things that drive kings. It’s what motivates them. Instead, Solomon asked for heavenly wisdom and guidance.

That godly request came from a truly humble heart. I’m moved by what Solomon said to God leading up to his request.

“I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties” (1 Kings 3:7).

What humility. What an expression of complete dependence on God. Solomon did not rely on his schooling or his heritage or his position or his power. His special training and status for his important position meant nothing in the face of what God had appointed him to do. And Solomon recognized that. We would do well to imitate not just the request but the attitude that produced it.

Scripture tells us God was pleased with Solomon’s request. I believe God was pleased because the request showed him Solomon’s humility and dependence.

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Red Ribbon ReviewThere are 62 days left until the Cowboys kick off their historic 50th NFL season. And we’re counting down the days with the Red Ribbon Review. We’re looking at the second-best players in Cowboys history according to jersey number. Anybody can put together a list of the top players. What’s the fun in that? Those are a dime-a-dozen. It takes a blog like this one to dig deep and give you something you can’t find anywhere else.

JimRaySmithGetting caught up from the weekend, our second-best ever #64 is offensive lineman Jim #64Ray Smith. The Baylor alum had played seven outstanding years for Paul Brown in Cleveland, earning five Pro Bowl berths and three first team All Pro selections. He retired and moved to a real estate career in Dallas following the 1962 season and had begun work that summer of ’63 when Tom Landry called him and asked him to suit up for the Cowboys. Smith had topped out at $18,750 annual in Cleveland. The Cowboys were offering $25,000, which would make Smith the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league. And he went for it.

Two seasons later Smith was definitely done. During his short stint in Dallas, Smith suffered through two concussions, two knee operations, two broken hands, and a cracked vertebra in his neck. He couldn’t stay healthy. But he was the second-best #64 the Cowboys ever had.

Glen Titensor#63 in the countdown is another offensive lineman from another era, Glen Titensor, who played seven seasons in Dallas from 1981-1988. A third round pick out of BYU, Titensor became a starter at guard in 1984 and stayed there through Tom Landry’s final season in ’88. He played in a total of 92 games for the Cowboys, including two NFC Championship games in ’81 and ’82. Today Titensor owns the Timbercreek Golf Center up in Lewisville.

Today’s #62 is (cringe) Brian Baldinger. I know. Sorry. He really is the second-best #62 in Cowboys history as mainly a BrianBaldingerbackup on the offensive line for 5 seasons between 1982 – 1987. Baldinger, of the Flying Baldinger Brothers — Rich and Gary also played in the NFL — is famous really for only two things. One, he’s been Baldinger’s Fingeran NFL analyst for Fox and the NFL Network now for years. And, two, he got his pinky finger really, really, really messed up in somebody’s facemask and never had it fixed. If you’re not too squeamish, you can click on that pic and blow it up a little bit and check it out. It’s pretty twisted. Much worse than Staubach’s ever was.

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Texas RangersLosing three of four to the M’s in Seattle is not the way to go into the All-Star break. But if someone had told me that the Rangers would hit the halfway point at nine games over .500 and only one-and-a-half games back of the Angels I would have taken it. Whitney’s happy. I’m happy. Valerie and Carley couldn’t care less. Carrie-Anne keeps reminding me that Texas is always close at the break. Drats and double drats. She’s right.

Peace,

Allan