A few years back, I remember walking through life with a man who was struggling in his marriage. He had been married for 15 years, but had grown weary of how much he and his wife argued. They had simply grown apart over the years, each of them blaming the other for the disconnect they were feeling. Eventually, another option for the man presented itself in a woman he felt a wonderful connection with. It seemed like love. So, he chose to leave the pain and frustration behind and try again with another woman. After his divorce he was remarried, but the story has no happy ending. His second marriage failed in six months. The decision to leave his family left him alone and with two children who are still torn to pieces over their father’s decisions.

When something in life starts out good it’s hard to handle when the going gets tough. I imagine this was especially true for David in the Bible. The prophet Samuel showed up when David was a teenager and told him he would be king of Israel. For the next several years in his life he experienced one success after another, including the timeless story of defeating Goliath. However, in his twenties David’s life took a harsh turn as he found himself on the run from King Saul and hiding in a cave. What went wrong for him? Hadn’t God started all this in motion?

This weekend I will be preaching a sermon from 1 Samuel 22-24. I call the sermon “In the Cave with Dave.” In it I will ask you to consider at what point in your life you take matters into your own hands. Finding himself in a cave with King Saul, David was given the opportunity to end his years on the run and begin his reign as king. Unlike the man in the story I just shared with you, David refused to take this opportunity, no matter how good it seemed. He knew this was not the option God wanted for him and he was willing to endure more hardship in order to allow God to have his will in his way. In the end God’s will was shown powerfully through this trusting individual. I believe you will be encouraged and challenged this weekend by David’s ability to trust that God is the only one capable of finishing what he starts.

There are some phrases I have heard lately that invoke some strong emotions in me. My uncle just told me he caught ten 20-inch trout and wanted me to come and fish with him. Woohoo! My daughter just told me that she likes Mommy better than me. Ah man… These phrases stir up the fisherman and dad parts of my life. The pastor part of me has been thrilled to hear these next two phrases from a few people recently: “I could sense there was something different the moment I came into the church;” and “I have learned more in the short time I have been at Living Streams than I have in the past 40 years of my life.” These phrases get me pumped up.

I am so grateful to be a part of a spiritual family that exudes the presence of God and hungers to learn and grow. I pray that we would make every effort to love on and pay attention to the people that Jesus is bringing our way. I hope that this weekend each and everyone of us will take the initiative to strike up a conversation with someone we don’t know but find ourselves sitting by. Not just a “hi” or a handshake, but a genuine interest in knowing who they are and what treasure Jesus has placed inside them. Our worship pastor, Jay Murphy, continues to remind us that we are all priests who carry the presence of God. So let’s bless His heart by sharing His loving kindness within and without the walls of our church.

I will be sharing this Sunday morning the same message I shared last Saturday Night. The title is The Four Loves and Homosexuality and the Scripture is 1 Samuel 18. On Saturday night, Jared Utterback will be preaching out of 1 Samuel 18 as well.

Have a great end to your week and, since today is Nelson Mandela’s birthday, I thought I would end with a great quote of his:

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I did not leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

David Stockton       

Over the history of the world, there have been many times when the people of God have had to stand hard against the flow of the social gravity around them. Noah stuck to his guns about climate change. Moses stood up for the immigrants of his day. Jonathan and David fought against the violent dictators in the Middle East. And Jesus the Christ spoke out against the religious right and provided many services for the poor and disenfranchised. Jesus did what He did out of love, but it was so offensive to the social norms of His day that He was crucified as a despicable criminal. Since we call ourselves followers of Christ we will often find ourselves standing up for and speaking about what is socially offensive in our day.

The message I am working on this week has come out of my conversations with God, my wrestling with the Scriptures, and my ponderings about things many people know much more about than I. Because I live in the 2013 version of America, because I am inundated with so many voices filling the air with thoughts on homosexuality, and because I have just come back from a family vacation where I spent time with a male relative of mine who is living as a woman, I am compelled to address the topic of relationships. More specifically the relationship that has been titled homosexuality. Our text will be 1 Samuel 18:1-4 and 20:41-42.

I pray that those who have sexual desires for people of the same sex would know that Jesus has a great plan for their life. I pray that those who have scars and wounds from homosexual sin would find songs of healing and freedom welling up within them. I pray that all of us would see Jesus’ heart more clearly and know how to keep the devil from stealing, killing, and destroying any of the life Jesus has for us.