A Little Bit Goes a Long Way

I love anything spicy. I have actually been known to say to a waiter, “If it doesn’t make my forehead sweat, it’s not spicy enough.” I said this to a local seafood provider once when I ordered Spiced Steamed Shrimp. Billy’s is a local establishment that is located right on the water. If you peek behind the flat, one-story cinderblock building, you can see crabbing boats tied up at the dock. Crab pots are stacked all over the property, and the minute you open the door, the smell of fresh fish assaults your nose. An L-shaped table holds today’s catch nestled in ice. Tuna, grouper, flounder, crab packed in containers, scallops, oysters (but only in months that have the letter “r”), and three sizes of fresh shrimp are just some of the bounty that awaits you. I go to Billy’s for two things: Miss Judy’s Tunafish Salad (made daily with fresh catch) and their steamed shrimp, which they cook to order.

So I made my famous statement about spiciness as I requested “extra spicy,” and the fellow took it on as a challenge. He even drew a picture of a steaming cauldron with the words CAUTION! HOT! EXTRA HOT!! on the outside of the styrofoam container. As soon as I opened the lid, I saw what he had done. In addition to Old Bay and the usual blackening spices, he added a liberal dose of cayenne pepper. Suffice it to say that my forehead sweat a lot that night! When it comes to cayenne pepper, a little bit goes a long way.

I thought about that this morning as I read this account of the moment that David became the king. He had faithfully led the Israelites as a successful military commander, and they came to him to be their leader. As you read through the passage, see if you can spot the moment when a little bit of power goes a long way in David’s mind:

2 Samuel 5 (New International Version)

1 All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’”

When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.

So far, so good. David responded to the request of his people as they reminded him that God had called him to shepherd and lead them. Then they made him king and he ruled over them.

David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years

But the next verse contains a hidden clue that things are about to take a turn in David’s heart. Can you spot it?

David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces inward. 10 And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.

Somehow in the course of events, David lost sight of his calling to be a shepherd. Now that he’s the king, he named an entire city after himself and built it up as a fortress from the terraces INWARD, where he was safely tucked inside. He became more and more powerful because God had anointed him to lead, but by the time the next wars began, he elected to stay home. As king, he now let other men lead while he relaxed in the palace with nothing to do. Then he noticed the beautiful Bathsheba bathing next door, and his lust for her resulted in adultery and murder. Gone is the faithful shepherd-leader as pride and arrogance grew larger in his heart. A little bit of power goes a long way. In the end, it ruined David.

Take a look at your life. Have you let a little bit go too far? Are there places in your heart where power, laziness, self-indulgence, anger, resentment, privilege, etc. have gone too far and taken over?

Remember who you are. You are called to walk humbly with God and give him the glory for the great things he has done. It is never too late to put things right with the Lord. Thanks be to God!

Give God the Glory by Michelle Robertson

Would that….

Do you ever get weary of people who simply refuse to bend to your point of view? Are you flat worn out with those who show blatant disregard for your political perspective? How about the ones who are on the opposite side of your stand on everything that is happening in America right now? Tired of it?

Oh, would that everybody might think just like me!

You are in good company. Consider Moses. His task was to lead his people out of slavery to a free and promised land. He was handed a set of behavioral guidelines that were intended to be nothing less than a blessing of protection to the community. Had the people simply bent to his perspective, taken the stand that he took, and shown respect and regard for the ways he was leading them, they all would have gotten along and even prospered.

But no.

People are people are people, and there will always be division, polarization of thought, obstinance, and downright pig-headedness. The freedom they received the moment they emerged from Pharaoh’s tyranny went straight to their heads, and straight through their hearts. The end result was disobedience.

Numbers 11:24-30 (The Message)

24-25 So Moses went out and told the people what God had said. He called together seventy of the leaders and had them stand around the Tent. God came down in a cloud and spoke to Moses and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy leaders. When the Spirit rested on them they prophesied. But they didn’t continue; it was a onetime event.

26 Meanwhile two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed in the camp. They were listed as leaders but they didn’t leave camp to go to the Tent. Still, the Spirit also rested on them and they prophesied in the camp.

God sent his Spirit from Moses to the others in order for their leadership to be spirit-filled and shared. Shared leadership that is unified should be the goal of every organization, administration, church, ecclesiastical body, and institution. When leadership and vision are shared, the entire structure is strengthened. One message emerges, unifying the community in purpose and mission.

27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!”

28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ right-hand man since his youth, said, “Moses, master! Stop them!”

The two who were given the gift of prophesy from God had not been with the original seventy. This instantly became an us-verses-them situation for some. But Moses saw it differently. Moses was keenly aware that the Spirit came from God, and its power was not predicated on who the recipients were or where they were located.

29 But Moses said, “Are you jealous for me? Would that all God’s people were prophets. Would that God would put his Spirit on all of them.”

Would that all God’s people were prophets.

Would that all people might have the Spirit and thereby be unified.

Would that all leaders would lead.

Would that all Christians would speak against injustice and inequality with one voice.

Would that…

But people are people are people.

And so we pray and actively seek God and his Spirit to come upon us as we gather and wait. When people who are called by God’s name humble themselves and pray, God will heal our land.

May we act justly, love mercy, walk humbly, and be healed.

We need another Pentecost.

Mountain Serenity by Scott Brown