"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Raising the Standard: Loyalty is Adjusting My Schedule To Meet the Needs Of Those I Am Serving

The seed of this topic and of the following topics in the "Raising the Standard" series was found in two wonderful volumes I received several years ago as a gift from a friend, Character Sketches, From the Pages of Scripture, Illustrated in the World of Nature, Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts Inc. 1983. For anyone who is not familiar with this publication, it is a wonderful "two books" approach to youth ministry... not only giving Scriptural lessons, but also giving examples in nature and educating youth both with the observable facts and stories of animal behaviors, and profiling Biblical characters who best exemplify each character topic key point. Highly recommended for all, but most particularly a very cohesive bible study for young people. It is a beautifully illustrated and informative set. What's the two books approach? Today’s theologians should seek a coherent way to integrate what we are learning about the natural world through the best science with what the Holy Scriptures tell us about the God of creation and redemption. Perhaps we could revive the Renaissance concept of the Two Books. According to the concept of the Two Books, nature is a book of revelation. Nature reveals to us something about the mind of God the creator. St. Paul alludes to the book of nature.
NRS Romans 1:20 “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.”
The second book, of course, is the Bible. In this book we learn of God the redeemer. Nature gives us general revelation, whereas the Bible gives us special revelation. The two books together provide the resources for understanding reality in relationship to God, the creator and redeemer.
"But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee: and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell the: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach the: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto the." ~ Job 12:7-8
Loyalty to Christ ~ Flora H. Cassel
From over hill and plain there comes the signal strain 'tis loyalty, loyalty, loyalty to Christ! Its music rolls along the hills take up the song of loyalty, loyalty, yes, loyalty to Christ! "On to victory! On to victory!" cries our great Commander, "On!" We'll move at His command. We'll soon possess the land through loyalty, loyalty, Yes, loyalty to Christ! O hear, ye brave, the sound that moves the earth around 'tis loyalty, loyalty, loyalty to Christ! Arise to dare and do, ring out the watchword trueOf loyalty, loyalty, Yes, loyalty to Christ! Come, join our loyal throng we'll rout the giant wrong, 'tis loyalty, loyalty, loyalty to Christ! Where Satan's banners float we'll send the bugle note of loyalty, loyalty, Yes, loyalty to Christ! The strength of youth we lay at Jesus' feet today, 'tis loyalty, loyalty, loyalty to Christ! His gospel we'll proclaim throughout the world's domain of loyalty, loyalty, yes, loyalty to Christ!
How Does Scripture Illustrate the Importance of Adjusting My Schedule? Amasa Character Sketch (from 2 Samuel 20:1-13) Twice an ambitious general marched out to battle, and twice he was defeated. The cause of each defeat was his failure to learn a lesson in timing. Twenty thousand men were killed in the first battle, but the second confrontation was fatal to only one.
Three days before the second battle, the king called his newly-appointed general and gave him urgent instructions. "Assemble the fighting men of the nation within three days and report here with them." The general left to assemble the army. The events of the moment were strikingly similar to those of the earlier battle. Prior to that first battle, two advisers had debated which was the better plan - to pursue the enemy immediately with a smaller army or to take a few extra days and mobilize a larger army. The latter course had been chosen and it proved to be disastrous. Little did the general realize how vital it was for him to learn from that experience. Anxiously the king waited. Each hour that passed gave his enemy a further advantage. Finally the appointed hour arrived on the third day. The king went out expecting to see the troops, but to his amazement, no troops were in sight - nor was the general. In desperation the king called a trusted warrior. He explained the growing danger to their kingdom and commanded him to pursue the enemy with the remaining troops that were stationed in the city. An air of panic swept over the city. Orders were shouted out by commanding officers. Soldiers grabbed their weapons as they rushed into formation and marched out to pursue the enemy. News of what was happening reached the general. He immediately abandoned his efforts to mobilize the army and hurried to join the king's troops. Little did he realize that he was rushing to his own death. Among the king's troops was a demoted rival who despised and hated him. As the troops reached a huge rock by the road, the latecomer aggressively assumed his appointed position of leadership, but his enemy saw his chance. The troops watched intently to see what would happen. As the displaced rival walked up to greet the general, his sword slipped out of its sheath. With studied casualness, he grasped it with his left hand. In an effort to distract attention, he asked with interest, "are you in good health, my brother?" Approaching as though he intended to give a kiss of greeting, he gently touched the man's beard in a gesture of respect. Then he quickly grasped the beard with his right hand and viciously stabbed him through with the unnoticed sword. The stunned victim staggered back. A moment later he collapsed in his own blood in the middle of the highway. The troops stood in astonishment as they watched their leader die. Had he followed the schedule given to him, his murderer would have remained in the capital city and the new general could have continued and gained an easy victory. Amasa's failure to adjust his schedule and meet the needs of his king was one more example of the disloyalty which had characterised his life and ultimately caused his death.
What Caused Amasa To Be Disloyal To His Uncle, King David?
It is possible that Amasa's cousins, Joab and Abishai, as well as other members of David's family treated him with contempt. Amasa was the son of Abigail and Jether the Ishmaelite (1 Chronicles 2:17). Abigail was King David's sister and was also the sister of Zeruiah, the mother of Joab and Abishai (1 Chronicles 2:16). 2 Samuel 17:25 indicates that Amasa was an illegitimate child. This stigma and the fact that his father was an Ishmaelite may have resulted in extra pressure or even ridicule as a boy. By failing to respond properly to this pressure, he may have become resentful and disloyal to the God who created him as well as to the family in which he was placed. This is an explanation for his actions in siding with Absalom, another family outcast, and in becoming the rival of his cousins Joab and Abishai.
Why Didn't Amasa Learn His Lesson The First Time?
When given the chance by David to be his commander, Amasa failed at his very first task because he knew no more about being loyal to the one he was serving than he knew years before. By choosing to follow Absalom instead of David, Amasa associated with disloyal men in a rebellious cause. His rebellious friends regarded loyalty as a weakness rather than an importance strength (cf. Psalm 1:1).
Why Did Amasa Fail To Keep His Appointment With David?
According to the Hebrew method of inclusive reckoning, "within three days" (2 Samuel 20:4) meant that Amasa had only one full day to accomplish his task of mobilizing the army. David's command was not at all unreasonable, for many years later the scribe Ezra issued almost the exact same command and was obeyed without difficulty (Ezra 10:7-9). It is likely, however that the men of Judah were not as quick to follow Amasa as they had once been. His recent history as a general was poor, and he may have experienced considerable resistance. Instead of meeting David promptly on the third day with the soldiers he already had, he evidently decided to disregard David's order and take more time to recruit more men. It is ironic that Amasa was using the same strategy that Ahitophel had warned Absalom against. Because he had not learned from another's mistake, Amasa sacrificed the advantage of speed and surprise for the advantage of numbers. Amasa was doing things his way and in his time, never realizing that his act of disloyalty would cost him his life.
Example in Nature: The Great Horned Owl Illustrates Loyalty In Adjusting Its Schedule
The Great Horned Owl (Bubo Virginianus): The great horned owl demonstrates loyalty by adjusting its schedule around their young. They will nest in the dead of winter so that they can provide more food for their young. [snip] During the nesting period their diet changes. The adults are tireless in their search for food. They only eat what the owlets cannot so that the young are getting the nourishment they need.

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