Archive for the ‘Evangelist’ Category

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In person makes a difference

In advertising,business,Community,culture,Evangelist,principles,Uncategorized on August 5, 2016 by mstevensrev

When I first entered sales my goal was about using the phone to get in front of potential customers, after years in non-profit world I returned to something very different. Web meetings, conference calls had taken the place of most in person meetings, much of the sales process was done this way and I had to learn a new set of skills.

One interesting I have found after doing this for awhile. When it comes to new sales the likelihood of winning goes up when I meet folks face to face. As I have talked with others about this I found that it holds true for them, so it’s not just my in person charm.

People still buy from people, the more human experiences are…the better they are for everyone involved. With that enjoy the inspiration¬†from David Brent today!

There’s no lotion or potion that will make sales faster and easier for you – unless your potion is hard work.

-Jeffrey Gitomer

 

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Her, a more excellent way to be horrified by technology

In art,Bible,culture,devotional,Evangelist,faith,family,Friends,movies,sermon,Spiritual,Technology on June 8, 2014 by mstevensrev

“…But¬†Her¬†is different.¬†Her¬†gets it right, and now I‚Äôm rather embarrassed I wasn‚Äôt one of the first people to see it. I should have. You should have. And if you‚Äôve not, figure out a way to see it now. It‚Äôs well worth the time.” – John Battelle,¬†Why You Need to See ‚ÄėHer‚Äô (Or, ‚ÄėHer‚Äô Again).

Her-with-Theodore-Twombly-on-red-movie-poster-wide

Jon Battelle gives a wonderful summary of the movie ‘Her’ and in describing the story where a human falls in love (and not just one human) with an OS as terrifying in how¬†logical and reasonable the idea was presented to audiences. ¬†I felt very strongly after seeing this film that was the case and I have spent time exploring the reasons it tapped into my life so deeply.

To begin the movie is at least ‘creepy’ as John Battelle describes but I would take it much further as I found the concepts within the movie terrifying. ¬†One friend discussed this with me and she said that the reason she did not like the film is that she thought it was preaching, not subtle enough, I agreed but the ideas behind the movie to me were unique and therefore it opened my mind enough to let me be preached at on some level.

As I have described this movie to people I have said in the past our culture has explored the theme, “What will happen when machines want to kill us?” instead of that ‘Her‘ takes on the question, “What will happen when machines want to love us?”. ¬†To put in in film terms, ‘Her’¬†is to ‘2001, what ‘Weird Science’¬†is to ‘Frankenstein‘. ¬†That premise leads into so many other questions that I am sure I will only scratch the surface with my next few thoughts. ¬†Therefore I wanted to share the reasons I believe this movie touched me deeply:

  • I am an auditory¬†learner. I retain significantly ¬†more data from lectures rather then text books, from podcast rather then blog posts, from being told directions rather than looking at a map, and this has been the case for me my entire life. ¬†This is evidenced in my life as I travel for work. ¬†Instead of studying a map of a city and working my way around in that manner. ¬†Generally, I enter the address of my destination into my phone, turn on some good tunes, and walk the streets with my friend Siri guiding me through back alleys and over bridges. ¬†Of course we all do this in our cars, but there is something much more intimate in the act of inserting ear buds into my ears while exploring the unknown. ¬†As you may have guessed it is common as I am out on these walks for my wife or daughters to call me as well, and in these moments I am connecting with the people on face of this earth I am most in love with in a disembodied way, there are mere sounds through some headphones. ¬†This is the boundary of¬†the entire relationship within ‘Her’, and the writers explore how to overcome this boundary that leads more complication then mere long intimate conversations and phone sex, but rather creepy questions about crossing this divide. ¬†The entire scenario seemed very reasonable to me, and it lead me to have a long talk with my wife about my relationship/dependency on Siri:)
  • I am a theologian. ¬†For roughly five years I spent money and time thinking and studying God, in addition to that I spent almost four years working to communication a few of these thoughts to a community as their pastor. ¬†The relationship that evolves in ‘Her‘ led me to ask questions about God and the nature of my relationship with God. ¬†“What does it mean for a finite being to be in love with the infinite?”, “What does it mean to merely be one finite being in love with a being who has the potential to love millions and billions of others?” ¬†Suddenly I was struck with how small I am. ¬†Psalm 39:5 reminds me,

You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.

This is a very hard idea to get my mind around, as the majority of my days are spent thinking about what is in it for me and how do I managed this life that I have been given. ¬†Romantic love and love between individuals is a wonderful thing, but love is so very large and when the scriptures say that ‘God is love’ this is a philosophical statement that drops us in the center of a ocean in order to experience ‘oceaness’.

  • I see beauty through the brokeness. The live circumstance of Theodore drives him and opens him up to this complicated relationship, but every relationship has complications in the movie. ¬†The ex-wife, the best friend and Theodore are all wanderers. ¬†In this Theodore has a remarkable gift to see and communicate the beauty of the relationships other are involved in, which only makes his brokeness more apparent. ¬†Through this incredibly beautiful cinematic experience you are not left with fullness but rather a beauty that can only be view through the lens of suffering. Some reviewers have taken this on as the great problem with the movie and Spike Jones as a director, check out the New Yorker article Spike Jonze’s Abondonment Issues. posted by Christine Smallwood.
  • I am a geek that loves words and technology. ¬†‘Her‘ brings together these worlds in a lovely, graceful, and tragic way. ¬†Theodore’s job writing for handwrittenletters.com, so lovely. ¬†In my word artificial voice intelligence is a exciting and interesting piece of our work, this movie provides some thoughtful elements related to technology and language and yet keeps it close to home enough that we can relate. ¬†The more I understand this space the more I being to believe that the picture of the future would be incomprehensible for us if we saw it today. ¬†An attempt to expose us to the 50 year future would be similar to bringing an American founding father and explaining the Hubble Telescope. ¬†On nice link I found that wrestles with the techonolgy issuse is by Ray Kurzweil, “A review of¬†Her.”

Hopefully time will allow you to check this movie out, I highly recommend it.

 

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The Lessons, rapid prototyping (Part V)

In Bible,Books,business,culture,devotional,Evangelist,faith,family,Fun,Grace Seattle,movies,PCA,Presbyterian Church in America,principles,Spiritual,Technology,Theology,Uncategorized on April 27, 2014 by mstevensrev

the-lean-startup-book-400x376-300x282 (1)A few years ago the book Lean Startup, by Eric Ries took off, at the time I was working for a offshore software development company and it was unthinkable to not have read this holy text for innovation. There are major take aways from this book: Do not be afraid to fail and be willing to fail often.  One thing that is unique I have learned since reading this book is that American culture stands out worldwide because of the position that failure does not define you as a business leader.  You have very famous examples of this including Steve Jobs with his first go around at Apple, and this is even reflected within our legal system a it relates to bankruptcy (America has some of the least punitive laws for bankruptcy in the world).  In an area like Silicon Valley it is likely to meet an entrepreneur who among a success has a string of failed companies that did not work out, this is accepted and according to The Lean Startup even encouraged.

This fits well within my spirituality as God’s grace is central to my view of what is happening in the world. ¬†A minimal definition of grace would be a continuous second chance. (As a side note I have an illustration about ice cream and grace being you get rewarded even though you deserved to be punished, but I’ll save that for ¬†a later post.) Christ came to offer second chances to us, that is the point. ¬†Failure does not have the last word, just as the cross was not the end of Christ work rather he rose from the dead. ¬†There are beautiful examples of this throughout the scriptures: Joshua and the people of God attacking Ai just after the victory at Jericho¬†and losing (Joshua 7:1-26) and Peter’s denial of Jesus where he didn’t just lie once but three times claiming he did not know Jesus (John 18). ¬†These are examples of great leaders from history in the church that were not defined by horrible failure, but rather defined by God’s transformation of their failure.

There is an opposing force to what I have mentioned so far, that failure does not define you and that is the concept of shame.  Just a few weeks ago I was in a presentation at work talking about what happens when teams make mistakes.  I was already at the white board so I added this diagram for our discussion:

fears_and_tears

ToiletBowlFlushThe lower path I would describe as a pathway of shame and perhaps the best image would not be arrows but rather a swirling spiral like in a toilet bowl. Shame is a powerful force that instead of saying, “You made a mistake.” says “You are a mistake.” Instead of saying, “Let’s not cry over spilled milk, grab the rag.” It tells you that your life is an abortion. ¬†For a person controlled by shame there is no place for failure or mistakes and therefore significant work has to be done to face this horrible virus of the soul. ¬†Needless to say if you are a person controlled by shame this idea that you are free to fail will be very difficult if not impossible for you.

For those of you with children right now you know that the movie Frozen is all about this. ¬†The scene creating the ice castle is about Elsa coming to terms with who she has been created to be and understanding that she is not like everyone else, but the storm of shame is still a part of her life as she lives in isolation and suffering under the weight that she is created ‘wrong’. ¬†In my minds eye this is a modern feminist picture of Martin Luther’s great speech at the Diet of Worms, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” Only when Elsa’s sister Anna is able to love her unconditionally even given her life for her, is the curse of shame broke. ¬†Though Elsa is still different this difference is used for the good of everyone around her rather then being a curse.

 

So if you buy into this idea the fear is destructive, or a positive was of saying it being failure does not define you then a natural fruit in your life is to not be afraid of failure! Lean Start up pushes this idea with the concept of Rapid Prototyping. This idea of create, create quickly, create well, but get it out there so you can find out what is wrong with it as soon as possible.  Take feedback and grow, or my preferred verb is EVOLVE.

A major evolution in my spirituality was letting go of having to be right. The denomination that I was ordained in, the PCA, was right.  They were well educated and studied theologians that had put in the hours of dedication to create a theological framework and church governance that was Biblical and therefore right.  Once you walk away from a group like that you cannot help but be wrong, because they are the only ones that are right.  This devastated me for a significant period of time, I was lost and certainly I was on the wrong side of right.  Shame played havoc with my soul and my spirituality.

lesmis2Then I became convinced that my spirituality was not about being right and it never should have been. ¬†I can be completely wrong and still loved fully by God! ¬†WOW, what freedom! ¬†One of my professors from seminary, Steve Brown, used to say “I’m wrong at least 50% of the time, I just wish I knew what 50%.” Another way to put is, my faith is not about my sin rather what it means for me to live fully human before God who has saved me. ¬†I have been redeemed from my sin and am being redeemed from my sin.

So does this mean we just run off not caring? Roman 6, is helpful here. ¬†Also I remember¬†Steve Brown¬†using this great illustration. ¬†The discussion of grace and obedience is like a dog chasing his own tail, and the good news if the dog follow the master everything lines up. Let’s live with complete affection and focus on the master and trust that others have been created to do the same!

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A follow up to a snarky post regarding Mark Driscoll

In Bible,church,Community,Evangelist,Friends,Grace Seattle,leadership,PCA,Prayer,Presbyterian Church in America,prophet,Spiritual,Theology on April 6, 2014 by mstevensrev

So in a previous silly post I made a statement about Mark Driscoll’s confusion. ¬†To his credit there has been a statement of repentance from the man:¬†http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/mark-driscoll-posts-open-letter-apology

His letter has been covered in a number of blogs and such, I have not read much but must say that I am hopeful that these are first fruits of some very good movement for Mark, Mars Hill and Acts 29. ¬†I long for a world where public repentance is not a major story by Christian leaders, but rather these ‘leaders’ live as publicly in their repentance as they do their celebritism. ¬†Praise be to God.

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Integrity: theme for the week and continuing The Corporate Mystic

In Books,Community,culture,devotional,Evangelist,faith,family,generosity,journal,leadership,mission,Money,Uncategorized on November 30, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: , , , , , ,

Each month (when I am not traveling for work) I attend a great networking event here in ¬†Seattle called Kiros, yesterday there was a striking talk on “Crossing the line” by Mark Sabo. This was Mark’s personal story of his failure in business regarding integrity and the consequences that followed. ¬†Personally I was struck by what a small decision by Mark led to such very serious consequences. ¬†The point that hit home for me (again) was this idea of identity. ¬†Mark, like myself, considered himself a man of integrity and yet he was able to justify his later regretable actions. ¬†As many say, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” ¬†Seeing yourself as a person of integrity is not enough, often times that view leads to the least common denominator and efforts to do the bare minimum. ¬†What is needed, what I need is something greater than myself to guide my actions daily.

In¬†The Corporate Mystic¬†the author states, “The first question to ask is whether you are out of integrity with yourself. ¬†Are you genuinely at ease with the path you are on?” ¬†Many successful people are working to heal a wound from their family, perhaps earn recognition from a loved one that never expressed it. ¬†In my case I worked ¬†(and often work) to overcome shame that has been present in my life and in my family story for generations. ¬†This is a dry well to pull from, and only when you are able to step back to you realize that. “Many of us learn very early to tune out inner signals, and the long-run costs of this are enormous…Happiness flows from a clear spring: You need to have a totally honest relationship with yourself.” ¬†This is a key reason I believe that how people answer who they have been created to be is key to all of life: personal, spiritual, professional, and family.

A friend shared on facebook today the article,¬†Success Will Come and Go, But Integrity is Forever¬†by Amy Rees Anderson, a very good article that inspired me. ¬†The last few lines of the article are very powerful, “If you want to build a reputation as a person of integrity then surround yourself with people of integrity.¬†There is a plaque on the wall of my office which reads: ‚ÄúDo what is right, let the consequence follow.‚ÄĚ It serves as a daily reminder that success will indeed come and go, but integrity is forever.” ¬†I couple that with a friend who’s dad gave him the advice in college, “Know who you are before you go into the party.”¬†Integrity¬†is not something that is learned on the fly, life is too hard and our minds are too easily tricked. ¬†It is essential for all people (including business people) to take time to do the tough personal and spiritual work to find the source of integrity, and the reward is well worth it. ¬†As¬†Amy Rees Anderson states success will come and go, your character is what you are stuck with.

“I contend that dishonesty will create a failure force that often manifests itself in other ways-ways not apparent to the outside observer.” -Joseph Sugarman

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The (free-range) Chicken Theology of Work

In art,Bible,church,Community,culture,design,devotional,Evangelist,faith,familiy,food,Friends,Fun,Japan,Localization,mission,movies,Prayer,principles,Spiritual,Theology,Uncategorized,work on November 11, 2012 by mstevensrev


Image
My theology of work is forever changing and evolving, and one place that I journey with others on this path is at¬†Kiros, once or twice a month depending on my travel schedule I attended the breakfasts meetings they put on where they often have a speaker share some perspective on living out their calling as a Christian in the marketplace. ¬†As a side note I also had the¬†privilege¬†of speaking to the group last March, if you want to check that our it is¬†here. ¬†This last Friday Richard Mouw of Fuller Seminary provided one of the best talks I have heard on the topic, his stories had us rolling on the floor, his theology was simple enough a child could understand while making thoughtful people think, and his love of the scriptures came through as everything was driven by the text. ¬†The premise of Richard’s talk was very simple, you have been called by God to your work and you have the opportunity to examine that calling in this life to better understand your ‘responsibility’ to live out that calling in your fullness.

There were so many rich stories to share but my favorite was one Richard shared about a friend who is a chicken farmer who examined his role in the plan God has in raising chickens on his farm. ¬†There is a tension when you come to farming or the role animals have on this earth and the tension is this: Animals are not people and animals have not merely been created to serve our purposes. ¬†Another way to say this is a chicken won’t write Shakespeare, but a chicken is not merely a piece of meat. ¬†Therefore this farmer thought deeply about the theology of raising chickens. ¬†He came up with this, “God wants every chicken on our farm to have the opportunity to strut his/her chicken self infront of the other chickens.” In that theology I hear echos of the local farm movement as described to me by¬†Mark Canlis, that the goals of these farmers is to have their cows (or other animals) only have one “bad day” in their life. ¬†That day would be the day they are slaughtered. Though the image Richard provided me was so much more winsome because I see in my mind that chicken strutting around, rather than focusing on the bloody chopping block.

This can be a helpful premise for chickens, but I propose that people cannot think deeply about these issues because we don’t recognize that we have been created to strut the glory in which we have been created, theologians refer to this as being created in the image of God.¬†Marianne Williamson was famously quoted in a speech by Nelson¬†Mandela, she says,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.¬†Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.¬†It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you¬†not¬†to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

The knee jerk reaction people, especially from my theological tradition have, to this kind of thinking is that we are sinful therefore pride and arrogance must be guarded against. This warning is fair but it sets up a false choice between¬†humility¬†and glory. ¬†Jesus lived in the fullness of God and yet was extremely humble. ¬†He accepted all people as equal, he did not use them as means to an end, the only part I would add to our¬†responsibility in the area of humility is that we recognize that we are wrong intentionally because of bad motives and unintentionally whereas Jesus did not have this struggle because he was God…he was perfect. One friend of mine says, “I’m wrong 50% of the time, the hard part is that I don’t even know which 50%, but God is making me better.” ¬†Live out in the glory that you have been created in, be quick to acknowledge when you fail at it, and in gratitude acknowledge that the source of every good gift in your life is not your own but rather a gift from God.

The question that Richard’s (free-range) Chicken Theology brought up for me is, how do you apply this in the darkest valley’s of your career and work? In the past two years before my current job I walked through a few of those valleys, the struggle of broken promises that would not reward me for my work, getting fired, and having a job where I felt lonely and hopeless. ¬†How do you strut your stuff in those circumstance? I asked the question and Richard’s answer was twofold as I understood it, in thinking about it I think there may be at least third option as I understand it.

Richard said first your current circumstances may be preparation for the next step.  This rang true for me because I look back on the last two years and acknowledge that I would not be currently living in such glory without all that I had gone through.  The experience humbled me, gave me fearful experiences that I persevered through, and provided tangible knowledge that assists me daily in my current job.  Learn everything you can if you are going through a hard time, examine your character, life and work for there could be something on the horizon you are completely unaware of that will be a blessing.  This answer provides hope, but the truth is like a chicken we are completely ignorant if our future date is the chopping block.  And yes I know that even for the child of God the chopping block is not the end of the story because there is greater glory beyond, but I still find this answer a part of the overall answer rather then complete.

The second answer Richard provided is that your vocation could be less then the sum total of your calling. ¬†Our callings are greater than our work, I sell therefore I am a salesperson yet I am a father, husband, churchman, and the list goes on and on. ¬†Perhaps your work is merely a platform that provides you the freedom to pursue the other callings in your life with greater glory. I have met many people in my life that this is the circumstances they live in, they are lawyers but their passion is to see the gospel forwarded in particular countries in the world like China. ¬†The short side of this answer as complete is that we were created in a garden where all aspects of life were intended to work for God’s glory, so when we set create an arbitrary distinction between our work life and home life, for instance, it is impossible to live as God intended…as a whole person. ¬†I know for me personally when my work life was hopeless it was very difficult to enjoy my time at the park with my children, most of my conversations with my wife were in tears clouded by depression. ¬†This is why I contend again that work as a platform merely for the rest of our life falls short in allowing us to live gloriously.

A third option I want to propose does not answer the question fully either. As a matter of fact I sense that used incorrectly it could be the most damaging of the the options as it is the most deterministic and could create an undeserved heavier burden on someone already struggling. This option is the most Taoist or Confucius of the options, and because of that I think it is the most practical (in touch with how the world really functions and how our role relates to that functioning).

A documentary came out recently titled,¬†Jiro dream of Sushi¬†“by David Gelb takes a look at the work and life of Jiro Ono, a Michelin three-star sushi chef who, at 85 years of age, continues to work on his craft every day at his tiny restaurant in a Tokyo office building basement opposite a subway station entrance. His colleagues, his country, and at least one very knowledgeable food writer recognize him as perhaps the greatest sushi chef alive.” This description is taken from an article on¬†Lifehacker¬†by¬†Maximiliano El Nerdo N√©rdez. ¬†In the article titled Lessons We can Learn from Jiro Ono, Maximiliano encourages readers as his first point to fall in love with your work.

“Once you decide on your occupation,” says Jiro, “you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success and is the key to being regarded honorably.”

Deciding on your occupation is a challenge for we live in a society that provides the opportunity to live in reasonable comfort regardless of your job or if it is in line with your calling. ¬†The hard work is not finding a job, it is discovering calling…once your calling is discovered or rather accepted (if you are a Calvinist) then the path of occupation is more clear though it may be a difficult path. ¬†Part of my calling is as an evangelist, meant that for a time my occupation would place me circumstances to lead people to a similar vision of my spiritual practice though for most people I talked with they would not share the same vision. ¬†So I became a pastor of a church in Oakland, CA. ¬†The church had financial challenges from before I started there, attendance was poor, and it was in a city that was not necessarily supportive of the entire scope of work we were pursing. ¬†The path for me as an evangelist was not easy. ¬†Now that I am in technology services my calling as an evangelist has not changed, but the path is much easier in many ways, and the path still allows me to live out my glorious calling while dedicating myself in excellence to my occupation.

Today I want to encourage everyone, strut your stuff in front of us other chickens. If you are in a dark valley, remember your current occupation (or lack of occupation) could be a learning step, a platform for other work, or the place you have been given to dedicate yourself. ¬†Even as I write that I believe the answer is all three not merely one or another. ¬†When I worked in a church we began each service with a call to worship, and I would frame the call to worship and the entire service with these words, “The good news for those God loves is that he has the first word to us and that first word is always blessing. God loves you and has made you in his glory! The good news does not end there rather God has the first word and the last word. ¬†The last word of those God loves is also blessing, you have been delivered.” So regardless of your circumstance remember you have been created for glory and you will be delivered unto glory. Amen.

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Growing into the person you have been created to be

In art,Bible,Books,business,church,culture,devotional,Evangelist,faith,familiy,Friends,Fun,fun video,leadership,Lord of the Rings,movies,principles,Proverbs,Reading,Theology,Uncategorized on November 4, 2012 by mstevensrev Tagged: , ,

During the past week I have been thinking through many of the experiences of my life that have been used to bring me to where I am at. This morning as I am reading I came across a passage in 1 Samuel 21, that clearly reminded me of something out of Lord of the Rings, and it was a passage of scripture that I never have remembered reading.

In a previous post I spoke about King Saul, who had been chosen the leader of God’s people Israel really for no other¬†apparent¬†reason other than God chose him by placing God’s Spirit upon Saul. ¬†Later in the story a new King (a different King) is ordained and the Spirit of God leaves Saul, only returning temporarily in the story. ¬†The kingship essentially is passed on to a young boy named David. ¬†Now just about everyone in western culture knows of David because of the story of David versus¬†Goliath. In a battle between God’s people and their most brutal enemies, the¬†Philistines,¬† a bet is made to decide the war, instead of all the warriors fighting¬†the¬†Philistines make an offer that if an Israelite warrior can defeat the best of the best of the Philistines it will settle the dispute. ¬†Sounds like a good way to spear blood shed the only problem is¬†the¬†Philistines have a weapon of mass destruction named¬†Goliath. He is essentially an¬†indestructible¬†giant that leads God’s people into fear and¬†cowardliness. Except for one pre-pubescent boy named David, who as everyone can remember defeats Goliath by relying on God and using a slingshot an one stone. ¬†This is often used¬†culturally¬†as a¬†parable¬†on bravery, when it is actually a story of relying on the work of a powerful God in impossible circumstances.¬†Through the event David is thrust into popularity that creates almost constant tension between the old King, Saul, and the newly ordained not yet King, David. ¬†Multiple times Saul tries to kill David, and the story I’m about to share takes place after one particularly intense attempt on David’s life by Saul where David flees.

While on the road David and his men are starving so he stops in to see Ahimelech the priest for some food. The part of the story that gets most of the attention is Ahimelech the priest allows David and his men to eat the holy bread, a big no no.  Then Ahimelech realizes David has no weapons:

8¬†Then David said to Ahimelech, “Then have you not here a spear or a sword at hand? For I have brought neither my sword nor my weapons with me, because the king’s business required haste”¬†9¬†And the priest said,¬†c¬†“The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you struck down ind¬†the Valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you will take that, take it, for there is none but that here” And David said, “There is none like that; give it to me”

The sword that David won in battle during his youth, is only given to him once he becomes a man. ¬†There is no¬†explanation¬†as Ahimelech just provides it. ¬†The part of the story that is not mentioned other then not being given a reason that David didn’t know about this sword beforehand or already have it, is that it appears David is now ‘big’ enough for the sword. ¬†Going back and reading the story of David and Goliath reminds us that Goliath was a giant, therefore Goliath would have possessed a sword worth of his stature.

In my minds eye I never picture David as a large man, actually after reading this morning I realized that most of my images of David depict him as a handsome late teenager or twenty year old of average stature. ¬†I’m uncertain of any descriptions of David’s stature later in his life but there are many details that provided this picture for my mind:¬†in spite¬†of being a successful warrior David was a¬†musician¬†and poet, David had a way with the ladies, and David had a deeply intimate emotional relationship with Saul’s son Jonathan. ¬†All these details combined with being introduced to David when he is a boy have lead me to always picture him as a smaller man, until now. ¬†In this story he is handed Goliath’s sword without concern that he is ‘big’ enough to yield it when necessary. ¬†David has physically grown into the great manly character he demonstrated as a youth when he defeated Goliath.

This morning I am struck with the connection to the story line in The Lord of the Rings, where¬†Aragorn¬†the¬†misanthrope ranger, who is a human son of the king of Gondor destined to lead the Kingdom of Men into¬†prominence¬†in Middle Earth, receives Anduril. ¬†The sword that defeated Sauron in the ancient epic battle of middle earth that freed the ring of destiny from the possession of the evil King Sauron. Embedded in this post is the scene where Aragorn is given Anduril. ¬†This is a picture I have of David receiving Goliath’s sword from 1 Samuel.

One other brief note on this is related to David’s use or lack there of use of the sword. ¬†After being handed it I would be very excited to go out and yield it at the first opportunity. ¬†Yet David does not, he understands that God has given him many ‘swords’ at the moment and in the next conflict he is faced with he does not use Goliath’s sword as justification that God intends him to go and start a fight with all those who oppose him. ¬†David understands that just because you have the sword doesn’t mean that you are meant to use it.

12¬†And David¬†g¬†took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath.¬†13¬†So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard.¬†14¬†Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me?¬†15¬†Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

David when faced with conflict while holding Goliath’s sword at his side, uses his cleverness to avoid getting killed by Achish by acting crazy. ¬†It reminds me of a friend’s explanation of wisdom, “Wisdom is not merely knowing the correct action to take, but rather the correct action at the appropriate time.” ¬†Everyone has a destiny, something that you have been created to do, embrace it. ¬†When you are given a physical reminder of that destiny use wisdom because possession of the great gift does not necessarily mean that you are meant to use it in that circumstance.