When Ahab married Jezebel he forged a political alliance with Sidon and the other wealthy Phoenician city-states that made all of Israel dependent on the fertility god Ba’al. I don’t know how good looking she was or if she could cook. But Ahab married her in part to guarantee or secure the wealth and peace of the Northern Kingdom.
Materialism. Nationalism. Consumerism.
What’s best for their portfolios and what’s best for their country and their country’s economic systems and peace is rationalized and justified in unimaginable ways. The desire for wealth and peace displaces their allegiance to God. Faithlessness to the covenant in pursuit of politically expedient ends leads Israel (us) into a deceptive downward spiral to eventual extinction.
And Yahweh, the Lord, the one who controls the rain, not Ba’al the god of the storm, shuts off the sky. And he takes his prophet out of the kingdom. He removes the blessings of rain that were forever tied to the covenant and he removes his Word.
It’s a double drought.
The message is that our God is committed to battling the forces of sin and evil. He works to destroy sin — even, or especially, among his own called out people.
But notice how he takes care of Elijah. He hides him. He provides food and water for him. He sustains Elijah in the middle of the desert in the middle of a drought. This other message is that our God is faithful to his children. He takes great care of those who are committed to him and his purposes.
This is essentially what I’m preaching Sunday, to tie in with our “Elijah: On Fire For The Lord” theme for VBS. Sunday should be a terrific day. Gordon and Bette Lowrey’s granddaughter is being baptized. We’re bringing the Royal Family Kid’s Camp workers up so we can pray over them and ask God’s blessings for them as they begin their week with those abused and neglected children. I think all of Elijah’s ravens are going to be making appearances in the kids’ Bible classes. And then we’re kicking off VBS Sunday at 5:30 with the Elijah musical and a big church-wide fellowship dinner. Love VBS.
J. B. West, son of our own wonderful John & Suzanne, is playing Obadiah during the four nights of the musical. But he suffered a pretty bad concussion Thursday last week while wrestling with someone at camp. He was in the hospital this past Wednesday, two days ago, being treated for this post-concussion syndrome. And it looked like for all the world that I would have to step in to play Obadiah. Obadiah’s a cool character. He’s in Ahab’s court but he’s secretly hiding God’s prophets out in caves in the desert to protect them from Jezebel. And he’s in a group that gets to sing a parody of Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time.” (It hasn’t rained here for the longest time!”) The lyrics are great. I love that song. And I’ve been over the script twice.
But J. B.’s better now.
And he’s determined to do it. The show must go on.
Part of me is much relieved. I hate doing anything like that in a public way without a lot of notice and prep time. But part of me wishes J. B. were still in bed, in severe pain, and throwing up. (Just kidding, J. B. You know I love you.) I am a little bit of a ham. And I would have really enjoyed being in the play. I’ve already told Kipi I want a big role in next year’s musical.
41 more days until football season begins. And #41 is, indeed, Dallas Cowboys safety Charlie Waters. The Cowboys traded Jerry Rhome to the Oilers in 1970 for the #3 pick in the draft that year which they used to select Waters out of Clemson. And he played safety for the Cowboys from 1970-81, missing only the 1979 season, Staubach’s last year, with a knee injury. It was during Staubach’s last regular season game, with Waters doing the radio analysis with Brad Sham, when the Cowboys made up TWO 17-point deficits to beat the Redskins 35-34 on a last second pass to Tony Hill, that Charlie kept saying over and over “Ya gotta believe!”
It was Waters’ finest radio hour. His color this past season with Sham hasn’t been nearly as good as his pre- and post-game chatter with Wally over the years.
During his eleven year career Waters and the Cowboys played in nine NFC Championship Games, five Super Bowls, and won two rings. His 41 career interceptions rank #3 all time for Dallas, his 584 return yards are second most in Cowboys history, and his nine playoff picks are tops in the Cowboys’ books.
When I first started playing organized football at the beginning of my 7th grade year I requested the #41 for my Dallas Christian Junior High Colts jersey. Charlie Waters was my favorite Cowboy and I was playing safety. It only made sense. They didn’t have a 41. I had to take #42. Randy Hughes. Great player. Had a monster Super Bowl XII. But I wanted Waters’ 41.
Tomorrow’s #40 is Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back Gale Sayers. As an All-America back out of Kansas, Sayers scored a rookie record 22 touchdowns for the Bears in 1965. He won the NFL rushing titles in ’66 and ’69. And he was named the MVP of three of the five Pro Bowls he made during his short seven year career. Sayers was a great breakaway runner with terrific lateral moves and a powerful burst. Once he made it past the defensive line he was usually gone. He racked up 9,435 total yards as a runner / receiver. But most people forget he was also a highly talented return man. He’s still the NFL’s all-time leading kickoff returner.
Somebody said yesterday we should wait until we take the Lord’s Supper Sunday and have fingerprint crews from the police department dusting each tray as it comes down the aisle.
I’ve thought several times over the past 24 hours about Bill Cosby’s routine on his metal shop teacher in high school. He always used psychology to get the kids to confess. When somebody threw a bullet in the furnace and it exploded, the teacher asked the class who did it and nobody would say anything. So the teacher went to work to get the guilty dog to bark. “Boy it takes a pretty rotten guy to put a bullet in the furnace. Yeah, a guy’s gotta be pretty sorry to do something like that. A guy’s mother must be pretty low down and rotten to do something like that.”
And then a kid in the back would stand up and say, “I didn’t do it! And stop talking about my mother!”
I don’t think that’ll work here in our burglary case. And, contrary to what a few people were thinking yesterday with all the police activity around here, I don’t think network TV is ready to start filming “CSI: Legacy.”
Carrie-Anne and Carley and I are leaving now to go pick up Whitney and Valerie at Three Mountain Retreat where they’ve been at church camp all week. We’ve missed them. Carley’s really missed them. I’m really looking forward to hearing all their stories and seeing how each of them has grown over the past week, socially and spiritually. I’m excited to hear about new friends and new experiences. I know Valerie was pumped about getting to ride horses. I can’t wait to listen to them talk. It’ll be good to have the whole family back together again. We’ll probably get back this evening just in time to take in Vic and Shanna and Kevin and the rest of Ain’t Misbehavin’ at the Cotton Belt. Good barbecue, music, friends, and fun.
Have a great weekend.