Gamaliel, Heavies, Cost, Good Things

Have you gone up against the Heavies?

So, these three heavies … corrupt politicians … walk up to two guys, surround them with their henchmen, take them downtown to the station, throw them into the slammer for the night.  Next morning, the two guys are brought in front of the heavies with the judge:

“WHAT … in the heck are you guys thinking?  Going out in the city, talking to people about this Jesus guy?  Everything that goes along with it?   UNACCEPTABLE!  You  know who’s in charge: us.”  (Pause)

(Another heavy speaks)  “By what power or what name did you do this?”

(Peter, an apostle, speaks)  “Okay.  Here’s the deal.  I’m Pete.  This is John.  We aren’t here to start any trouble.  And, yeah, I get it that you guys are the ones who are in charge, at least to a very limited degree.”


Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them:

“Rulers and elders of the people!  If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.   Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected which has become the cornerstone.’ … “


And if I was there, I would have said this:

“So, how about them apples?”

In a different conflict,some of these guys talking about Jesus were seized, brought before the heavies, the Sanhedrin.  Once again, these power people were confused about what to do.

“A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.  Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: ‘Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men.  Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing.  After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.  Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”  (Acts 5: 34-39)


The first time I read this passage, I was curious.  Who is this Gamaliel?


He was ” … a leading authority in the Sanhedrin in the early 1st century … In the Christian tradition, Gamaliel is celebrated as a Pharisee doctor of Jewish Law.  The Acts of the Apostles chapter 5speaks of Gamaliel as a man of great respect who spoke in favor of the arrested apostles of Jesus in Acts 5:34, and the Jewish law teacher of Paul the Apostle

Quite an adventure, here.  These guys went up against the heavies; they stuck to their guns, to use an odd expression.  And, good things happened.  These guys had no idea that there would be someone sitting with the Sanhedrin … someone who would speak in favor of them.  Life definitely can be strange.

Good Morning, Short Message, The Message

Romans 12, 14-16 … The Message

14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Romans 12.  One version … NKJV ? takes 17-19 and says “Revenge is mine says the Lord.”  This is good stuff for good people who have been treated with betrayal, hardships, trauma, disrespect, injustice, abandonment … It is ultimately not our responsibility to make sure that justice happens.  And, I think this concept is difficult; for some people, more than others.

Have a great day everyone.

Valley of Elah: There’s Going to Be Some Trouble

They came from the south … 

at least that is what some say.  Mean-looking fellows.  And in this case, their looks matched up with who they were.  

These thuggish men were born and bred for battle, and intimidation, and violence.  Bullies, they were.  Bullies indeed.  They were the bad-guys of the Hebrew Bible, residing in a place called Phillistia.  Phillistia went from Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north.  A giant of a man, Goliath, traveled with these fighters who had been pushing their way into the Valley of Elah toward a place known as Judah; a place controlled by Israel.  Now, just a few thoughts about giants:

Goliath was 13 ft.  Gath, Goliath’s stomping grounds … no pun intended … was a place where other giants lived.  It is believed that Goliath had brothers who were giants there in Gath.  Archaeology is producing more evidence, as time rolls on, of the reality of giants.  Studies of the Nephullum, the Rephaim, the Anakim, all suggest that giants were not uncommon.  It is also believed that the Philistine leaders hired giants to fight for them.

This land … the Valley of Elah … was a strategically advantageous area of real estate.

  1. It was close to the sea;
  2. It had travel routes;
  3. And it was a great location for a potential resort area with pool, tennis courts, free wireless, free continental breakfast … Maybe?  No. ‘Wasn’t going to happen, not at 1010 b.c.

Seriously, the Philistines (from Phillistia) were on a mission.  Here is a diagram that gives you a bit of a picture of what was going on.  Note the red route.

Reconstruction of the battlefield in the valley of Elah ( Reds- Philistines; Blues-Israelites) /

The resident king, a fella by the name of Saul, was given some good intel about these boys from Phillistia coming up into the Valley of Elah.  The alarm was sounded, and the Israelite military guys high-tailed it to Socoh, where they  blocked the Philistines.  There was a ridge on the south of the Valley of Elah, where the Philistines gathered up, established their camp, drew up their battle line.  Across the Valley of Elah, on the north side, there was another ridge where the fellas from Israel gathered, set up camp, and drew their own battle line.  You probably know the rest of the story.  One of my paraphrased versions of what happened, there, in the Valley of Elah is found in another one of my posts that is similar to this post.

I often return to the story of David and Goliath because it inspires me, and because it is powerfully applicable to our lives.




Speak? Or Listen?

he Word’s perspective is that listening needs to happen first; and speaking needs to come after the istening.   How, then, did “speak” come first, before “listen”?   I am referring to, by the way, the title of this blog.

Conflicted?  No, I am not conflicted.  Listening is a spiritual discipline, and connects with two other spiritual disciplines: stillness and silence. Individually, we are invited into the practice of listening, stillness, silence.

The tension with speaking and listening is stirred up by an addictive-thinking society, a society desiring more-more-more, a society that thinks it must keep moving faster rather than slower, a society craving stimuli (noise, visual, comfort).  A fellow by the name of James wrote: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”  Yes, I read it in the Word.  Another piece I have kept close, along my journey-road, goes like this: “Where words are many, sin is not absent.”  Yes, I read this, as well, in the Word.  And Benjamen Franklin wrote this little piece: “By swallowing words unsaid, one has yet to harm his stomach.”  I don’t know if this was before or after the kite-thing, where electricity emerged.  I have heard it said that Benjamin Franklin bought a loaf of bread, picked up a bottle of wine, then got married, and … BOOM! … discovered electricity.  I suppose marriage feels that way, at times.

For some, there is a disconnect between a) the healthy tension of listening / speaking, and b) the choice to not move, until one “hears” from God.  One of my thoughts, about all this, is … by staying grounded, keeping one’s ears open, avoiding the junk, praying continually (praying as we go) … prepares one to be ready to speak, when it is right to speak.  Here is the “safety tip”.  We are going to blow it from time to time.   It is impossible for us to “get it right” in every scenario we find ourselves in.

In The Silence of Adam, written by Larry Crabb / Don Hudson / Al Andrews,  The Silence of Adam addresses the problematic silence that men practice, connecting with the fear of moving.  Another angle, looks like this (to me): a man needs to find his voice; and a man needs to move into his world.  The title, The Silence of Adam, comes from Adam’s silence, when he was supposed to speak.  Bottom line: Adam chose not to speak; Adam chose not to move; Adam yielded to fear, which led to his problematic silence and his metaphorical paralysis.  Well, there it is: two sides of speaking and listening.  For me, I want to speak out of my listening, out of my prayer, and out of my intent to … not be stupid.  By the way: if you or anyone else experiences a sense of being compelled to express an opinion about this post, or about Adam, or about listening & speaking… feel free to do so.




Courage, Authenticity, And Man Watched A Chick Flick

Something is wrong, here.  I come to write about spiritual pieces.  I think I am supposed to be somewhere else.

Let me explain what happened, and then I will make a graceful-or-not-so-graceful exit.  Okay, well, you see … this is what happened.  My wife talked me into watching a chick flick called Little Women (1994).  I’m wondering if I need to put on some sackcloth, and maybe a few gallons of ashes.  There was this exchange between Jo March and the professor, Friedrich.  Since we are all writers, I wanted to share some of my encouragement that sneaked up on me while watching this film.  But, please don’t tell anyone that I watched a chick flick movie.  

Little Women (1994) Poster

Friedrich: (having read Jo’s latest book) “There is nothing in this of the woman I am privileged to know.”

Jo:  “Friedrich, this is what I write.  My apologies if it fails to live up to your high standards.”

Friedrich: “Jo, there is more to you than this. If you have the courage to write it.”

This idea … a redemptive, glorious, idea … of “calling someone out” to step into their glory is something that has gripped me for a number of years.  Not a “nice” idea, or a comfortable idea, or a fun idea.  God calls us out; those who love us call us out; the Word calls us out.  My reaction, sometimes?  “No!  What if I don’t want to go where you are calling me to?”  God the Caller is always right, but sometimes I don’t hear so well.  When the caller is not God,  they may not be accurate.  But if the caller has earned my trust, and they are calling me out with respect, with love, then I need to acknowledge their care for me, and their courage … to take a risk, stepping out to use their voice for a powerful reason. I suppose that is why I like this exchange between Jo March and Friedrich.

And, fellow bloggers, I am really sorry that I watched a chick flick.





“Love Alone Is Worth The Fight!”

This post is dedicated to the honorable blogger who created and runs the PRIORHOUSE BLOG /  She is one of those tremendous encouragers that we find along the journey, throughout our story … you know what I mean, right. A few weeks ago, she sent a video short of Switchfoot playing this tune, “Love Alone Is Worth The Fight”.  A group of surfers, out of San Diego, came together in 1996 to do some music together. These fellows go by the name of “Switchfoot”.

My daughter and I sometimes play Switchfoot’s “Love Alone Is Worth The Fight”.  Its great to see her totally in to good music, especially when Jesus is being glorified.  Here are some  of the lyrics.

I’m trying to find where my place is
I’m looking for my own oasis
So close I can taste this
The fear that love alone erases
So I’m back to the basics
I figure it’s time I face this
Time to take my own advice
Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight
And I never thought it’d come to this
But it seems like I’m finally feeling numb to this
The funny thing about a name is
You forget what the reason you were playing the game is
And it’s all an illusion
A 21st century institution
So I’m headed down the open road unknown
And we find what we’re made of
Through the open door
Is it fear you’re afraid of?
What are you waiting for?
Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight
We’re only here for a season
I’m looking for the rhyme and reason
Why you’re born, why you’re leaving
What you fear and what you believe in
Why you’re living and breathing
Why you’re fighting it and getting it even
Let’s go headed down the open road unknown
And we find what we’re made of
Through the open door
Is it fear you’re afraid of?
What are you waiting for?
Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Oh! Oh!
Here we are, here we go
Where the road is our own
Hear it calling you home
Here we are, here we go!
Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight

 I’m trying to find where my place is
I’m looking for my own oasis
So close I can taste this
The fear that love alone erases
So I’m back to the basics
I figure it’s time I face this
Time to take my own advice
Love alone is worth the fight
Love alone is worth the fight
And I never thought it’d come to this
But it seems like I’m finally feeling numb to this
The funny thing about a name is
You forget what the reason you were playing the game is
And it’s all an illusion
A 21st century institution.

And, here is a link … that I THINK works …

Great lyrics, eh?


David and the Giant

Slaying the Giants

“Our disadvantages can be our advantages.

Our advantages can be our disadvantages.” Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell's book.   DAVID AND GOLIATH.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book. DAVID AND GOLIATH.

We are in the midst of battle, and the giants we face can be huge.

One day, the battles are … beyond … intense, and just mean!  Other days, the battles are not that bad.  We are giant-killers.  We hang out with giant-killers.  We also hang out in the desert, tending sheep.  Not a glamorous job, tending sheep.  On a hot day, they can stink pretty bad.  When the opportunity comes to get away from those sheep for a while, it is good to seize such a window of escape: even if it means going into battle with a giant (Goliath); a giant no one else wants to face.  In David’s adventure (1 Samuel 17) there was no doubt for David about what needed to happen.  David was a “slinger”, incidentally. 

David Was A Slinger

David, the Slinger

David, the Slinger …

This was something David was good at.  Few knew David was a slinger.  Goliath didn’t know it.  Interesting: David had no doubt about what he was going to do.  David’s brothers doubted David.  David’s king was even skeptical. stood, waiting for a man to come to him for hand-to-hand combat, swinging swords, and crashing shields.  When a young boy came into the battle zone, the giant taunts David:I’ll make roadkill out of you for the buzzards … “ (paraphrased, 1 Sam 17:44)  Goliath tried to convince himself that this boy was a fool to fight the giant.     David thinks about Goliath’s trash talk and the giant’s disrespect for David’s God.  David’s response, a liberal paraphrase (1 Sam 17):

“I see you have a sword and a spear, and a few other toys.  And I hear you mocking God.  Well, it stops now, Bubba.  I’m going to kill you today, and I’m going to cut off your head, and I’m going to serve you up to the crows and to the coyotes.  Everyone will know today that God is in The House.  In other words, you are a dead man.”

David sprinted toward Goliath, swinging a rope over his head, before giant ever figured out what was happening, and what was about to happen.  When the giant did figure it out, it was too late. A stone came from the rope sling; flying like a rocket … sinking its way into the giant’s head. The giant fell, the sheep-tender boy sprinted to the giant …

… ran up to the Philistine, stood over him, pulled the giant’s sword from its sheath, and cut off the giant’s head (a liberal paraphrase from 1 Samuel 17:51).

I’ve got my own Davids: individuals that inspire me, individuals fighting for me, individuals who remind me of what courage looks like.  I’ve got my own Goliaths, and I choose not to describe them.  Sometimes I am alone.  Sometimes I need help.  Sometimes, I am David.  Either way, I have to fight … fight well … with spiritual strength, insight, wisdom, and … the strengths that God gave me.  David was good with a sling, and that is how God used David.  He uses our giftedness, our strengths, our skills, and then tells us

“Go get em!”







MEMO: Change In Leadership



Change in leadership, what some corporations call a “Re-org”, stirred up mixed emotions with Samuel. I don’t remember connecting with this before.  The old prophet-sage had invested time and energy into the O.T. Saul, to be a good king, an investment that yielded dividends of frustration.  God said “Enough of this!, now move on, to meet the next king.” (embellished paraphrase).

Move on, it’s just a chapter in the past: Quote About Move On Its Just A Chapter In The Past ~ Daily Inspiration
Specifically, in 1 Samuel 16:1

“Now the Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel?”

When God told Samuel to “move on“, Samuel knew it was time to “move on“.  And while God’s sense of urgency was happening, God saw Samuel’s grief for Saul’s impending replacement.  God’s orders for Samuel, for “the next thing”, and the next king, were as follows (my paraphrase):

“Bring oil for anointing

and go to Bethlehem.  See a fellow by the name of Jesse.

One of his sons will be the king I have found.” 

When Samuel comes into town, in this case Bethlehem, the elders usually get a little stressed.  In this case, the elders were immediately disrupted:  “Samuel, should we be freaking out, right now?”  Samuel did his best to keep these fellows from panic, and spoke (my paraphrase):

  • “I come in peace.
  • Everybody calm down.
  • Keep your hands where I can see them.
  • No sudden movements, and no one gets hurt.
  • So … don’t panic.”

Samuel found Jesse and began meeting his sons, wondering who it was that would become king.  Seven of Jesse’s son came through.  Samuel asked Jesse: “Do you have any other sons?” Jesse reluctantly acknowledged that there was still the youngest boy, who was keeping the sheep.  And the youngest boy came: “… ruddy, bright eyes, and good-looking.”  And this was the one.  This was who God wanted: the youngest of them all; the one who had been appointed by his brothers to do the dirty work, tending the sheep … quite the dirty job.  The boy’s name was David, and Samuel used the oil to anoint him: pretty serious stuff, when the country’s prophet anoints a boy with oil; a shepherd boy.  Wow.  The idea of good men and women appointed and anointed, favored by God, to do great things: its hard to believe, sometimes.  God can us a shepherd boy to shake the world … so He can probably use me to do something cool, eh?

The Call Of Saul and Messing With God


The Call of Saul: one in the O.T., and one in the N.T.  The first, Saul called by God through Samuel, to step up / step out and be a king. 

Not “The King”, but “a king”. 

The second, Saul called by God on the road to Damascus through a sudden blinding force, to be an apostle of Jesus Christ; to speak about hope, salvation, and living right.  Ahhhhhh, the Call of Saul.  O.T. Saul was called before he started messing with God, and N.T. Saul was called after he had been messing with God.  I was backpacking through 1 Samuel 13 through15, and like all backpacking journeys I saw some things worth remembering.

  • Samuel had instructed Saul (13) to wait on him to show up … so that Samuel could do burnt offerings … But Saul chose not to wait (a faith issue?) and did the burnt offering himself … resulting in Samuel chewing Saul’s butt;
  • Sam the Man opened up a can of “Come to Jesus Meeting”, and gave Saul a “What are you doing?!” (ouch! those can  hurt!) … Samuel then explained to the Saul-boy that God was going to get a new man for the job … a man who would go after God’s own heart;
  • But in the 15th chapter, Samuel came to Saul and said “The Lord has sent me to anoint you King …”, which suggests to me that Saul might have had another shot at keeping his job … Samuel brought along a message from God to attack a place called Amalek, with some specific details;
  • Saul apparently didn’t take the details of Amalek seriously, or at least not serious enough … God was ticked, Samuel was ticked, because the details Saul ignored were high-priority;

  • Before Samuel’s debriefing with Saul (which included another can of “Come to Jesus Meeting”), Saul stopped off to set up a monument for himself (is there some self-idolatry going on here?);
  • And lastly, the Amalek debriefing: Saul did a full-blown denial with Samuel … not once, not twice, but three times before he finally broke;
  • Saul lied, initially, when he sad he had complied with God’s directions … and what followed was mix of excuses and rationalization … And Saul wouldn’t settle for it.
  • I can only imagine … I feel quite certain (don’t ask me why) that Samuel had virtually no sarcasm as opposed to me.  I can picture my self saying “Bro … cool story. Now, tell what REALLY happened.  If there was ever a time to come to know Jesus, its right now.”

Good Letters Written went to summer camp for a week, I was twelve, and Mom wanted me to write her a letter from camp.  Over all the summer camps, I remembered to write her once or twice.  OOOOPS.   Mom’s letter-writing has been unfathomably consistent throughout the years.  She has been faithful.  A faithful letter-writer.  You know (and you do know) that there have been many letter-writers through the centuries.  Faithful letter-writers: some known, some unknown.  And, there have been some good letters written.  Paul.  Now he was quite a letter-writer, and his letters were good letters, although quite disruptive at times.  I think his bold letter-writing had something to do with why so many folks were really, really ticked off at him.  He was shaking up the way things worked at that time; he antagonized the power-brokers; and he confronted mediocrity / problematic behavior.  Paul’s second letter to Timothy is an example of what I am thinking about right now.  (Image below from

The following are roughly paraphrased excerpts  from 2 Timothy, along with my own thoughts inspired from this letter.

“Hey, Timothy … Apparently I have, once again, ticked off some particular folks, and here I am, once again, in police custody.  They aren’t going to let me out this time.    I think this might be the end of the road, but soon it will be the beginning of the rest of eternity.

 Listen, my friend, I need to communicate some important things, since this might be my last letter.  I want to make sure you know … that I have always thought of you as a son.  I have great respect for you.  I have great hope that you will continue on in this ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And, at the same time, I truly hope that you can stay out of jail … unlike me … And I hope you can avoid getting beat up on.  Its not all what it is cracked up to be.  What I am passing on to you needs to be, in turn, passed on to other believers.  What I am writing comes out of ‘… the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus …’   I think of you and those you meet with, continually, and that leads me to pray for you.  I wish I could see you all.  Timothy, I know your faith is strong.  I also think of when your grandmother and your mother prayed for you, and prayed specifically about your giftedness, and they encouraged you in your giftedness.  You know, Bro, God has not given us fear … nor has He intended us to have fear.  No.  What He wants, among other noble and honorable things, if for us to embrace His redemptive power, His love, and a sound mind.  Well, I need to take a break on this letter-writing session … I’m suddenly very tired.”