I’m a recycler. I haven’t always been, however. I grew up with learning that respect the environment meant putting trash in the bin. We grew up with Smokey the Forest Ranger teaching us how to not start forest fires (he must have grown up in California…) and there was some commercial about a Native American with a tear in his eye.
So in essence, if I was to be a responsible citizen, everything went, um….into the landfill.
Former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt is famous for the phrase, “walk softly, and carry a big stick”. It’s that idea of unarguable authority, and conveys the message that it would be in the opposing party’s best interest to rethink their own intentions before proceeding further.
Which is something I see clearly in Judah’s good King Hezekiah and his encounter with the big political enemy of his day, Assyria. It’s important to note that, in the middle of a longstanding family history of spiritual genocide, Hezekiah opts to follow God instead. This decision, however, doesn’t exclude him (and his people) from the problems of the day, one of the biggest being the bully, King Sennacherib.Continue reading “Big Stick Faith”
There’s nothing like a good party. We had Christmas caroling parties for the girls, including D.Y.I. tree ornaments, stringing popcorn, games, and of course, singing around the neighborhood. One activity had to do with picking up a nickel out of a mound of flour—with your teeth. It turned into a riotous flour fight in my front room, (I loved it, but found flour in the floor boards for years.)
There is just something about celebration that draws people; good stuff is happening and they want to be a part of it. As a bit of an introvert, even I know that exuberant celebration is good for the soul and can encourage and inspire us to even greater things.
And if anyone knew how to party, is was God’s people.
Ever feel like you can never get on top of a problem? Here it is again, rearing its ugly and persistent head, and the thought comes,
“You’ll never win.”
Well, then, you’re in R-E-A-L-L-Y good company.
Once again, God’s people were being assailed by a foreign entity, this time Assyria (you could substitute any number of names on the evil entity, like anger, depression, loneliness, whatever, they all fit quite well into the same storyline.)
This time, the enemy used a few interesting tactics worth looking at; thankfully, we get to listen in:
“Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you. Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’
“Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards.
“Don’t let Hezekiah mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria?What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power? What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?”
Warfare always involves strategy. Here, the enemy—
Spoke in the language of the people (Satan knows just how to communicate his message to us most effectively, sometimes even using those close to us.)
Offers what seems to be a better option than what God clearly wants, (a neatly disguised slant on the serpent’s original “hath God truly said?” from back in the Garden…)
Comparisons (generally a slippery slope)
Mixes truth with misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or outright lies.
I rather like the king’s initial response:
“But the people were silent and did not utter a word because Hezekiah had commanded them, ‘Do not answer him.’”
Lots more could be/has been said about our counter-strategy, but I’ll end instead with this encouragement~~
Did you know that middle school kids lie? Now I realize that may be an astounding revelation to some, so don’t choke on your Coke. One of the wonderful teachers I’ve worked with for years cracks me up; she encourages the kids to “come up with something better than THAT” when they feed her an obvious falsification about why they don’t have their homework. (She’s been around a while…)
Of course, kids aren’t the only ones skilled in what my brother-in-law refers to as “a flexible sense of integrity.” For example—
The story of Hezekiah is fascinating. Here the king of the formidable Assyrian nation comes knocking on Judah’s door demanding submission, or else. Reading the accusations, there are several things the Assyrian head of state gets wrong:
He says that the God of the Hebrews Himself told him to attack and subdue Judah, (2 Kings 18:25). Okay, that’s been done before so the idea isn’t completely foreign; however…,
In the paragraph preceding that part of his tirade, he asserts that Yahweh is pretty ticked off with Hezekiah for destroying all the other alters of worship expect the one in Jerusalem, (2 Kings 18:22). Guess the king of Assyria hadn’t done his background homework, because those other alters were one of the very things that made God quite upset with His people, and tearing them down was a definite plus in the Jews’ ledger sheet.
Then this would-be tourist proceeds to lump Yahweh into the list of “all the other gods” who were unable to stand before the mighty Assyrian nation, (2 Kings 18:33-35). That was certainly an epic fail. Not only was this a colossal insult, but also an incongruity in his argument—why would God tell the Assyrians to destroy His people if He couldn’t Himself stand up to the instrument of His own choosing?
There’s more to be gleaned from this account of Hezekiah’s dealings with Assyria, but here’s one of the points worth mentioning:
Liars have to keep lying, and generally someone is going to catch their slip, whether it’s a gap in logically reasoning, a contradiction, whatever. You have to have a certain level of talent to deceive consistently, (granted, there are quite a few talented people around today.)
Satan, however, is the best, as he has been at it quite some time now with amazing proficiency.
“When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
And his lies are not merely to inconvenience, but like the king of Assyria, Satan has much bolder plans—
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.”
Satan’s lies are aimed at the heart, the very place God says we are to guard since “the wellsprings of life” come from that very spiritual place. And what is at the heart of every Christian, but our intimacy with our Father Himself? Satan will try every which way to convince us that we are rejected by God, not accepted into the family of God, or at the very best, a doormat for the more “important” saints. Or that God, Himself, is mad at us.
The list goes on, but eventually his logic does break down, because it’s no match for the Cross.
I have a tendency toward what my husband calls “giving away the store”. I don’t know if it’s just a social insecurity in me to be thought of as “Really Nice” (whatever that is), or an honestly enthusiastic approach to people and projects, or just too much caffeine. But it gets me into trouble.
Evidently, I’m in good company. Not that it makes my personality flaw any easier, but perhaps I can hold the mirror to my face for a closer inspection:
Backstory—King Hezekiah had experienced a divinely miraculous delivery from a formidable enemy nation, after which God had also spared his life from a mortal illness. Breathing a huge sigh of relief, he sorta let Continue reading “Keys have power”
C’mon, ‘fess up ‘cuz we’ve all done it. Telling that little white lie or withholding just a piece of the story to make ourselves look better. Personally, I also tend toward mild exaggeration, but I suspect all of us at some point in our lives (except One) have had what my brother-in-law calls a “flexible sense of integrity”. Of course, the universality of it doesn’t excuse us, nor does the humor. It may help our cause, however, to recognize where all this untruthfulness boils up from…