Thinking Out Loud

May 11, 2017

“Your Father Was a Big Influence in My Life”

Several times in my life I’ve had the opportunity to talk to people in their early 20s or teens and let them know how one or both of their parents played a big role in my life or a community I was part of. Often the parents are standing there as I tell the story. But sometimes we don’t get to share the story while the parent is still living.

This article isn’t all that old but there are probably many readers today who didn’t see it two years ago. It’s one I really like. The original title was, “When There was No Opportunity to Say Thanks.”

In North America, we usually use the phrase “gifts in kind” to refer to donations people make to charities and non-profits of things other than cash. Someone will donate a valuable sterling silver cutlery set, or an oil painting by a renown artist.

We usually think of such gifts as originating with people who are wealthy — after all, they owned these beautiful pieces in the first place — but it can also be done by people who are too poor to make a monetary gift, but find themselves in possession of something that can be assigned a value and then sold by the organization they wish to support.

Today, I want to consider a situation where the gift was somewhat “in kind” — and I’m borrowing the term here for a different purpose — is being made because it has become impossible to give to the original intended recipient. In other words, person “A” is no longer around to bless, but in their honor, I am giving to person “B.”

2 Samuel 9:1 David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

2 Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”

“At your service,” he replied.

3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”

Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan…”

As the chapter continues, David pours out his generosity to Mephibosheth. The book Men of the Bible by Ann Spangler and Robert Wogelmuth tells us:

…David lavished Mephibosheth with more than he ever could have dreamed: land, servants, and access to the king’s table. Mephibosheth had not deserved the misfortune that had marked his life. But neither did he earn the good fortune that suddenly befell him. Mephibosheth must have been overwhelmed by it all.

There is more to the story to be sure, but I want to return again to verse one:

1 David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

I’m wondering if there’s anyone reading this who can think of someone who has passed from this life, and there perhaps a wish that you could have done something, or done more to bless that person?

Before we continue, it’s important to note that David and Jonathan had a covenant relationship. Matthew Henry notes:

It is good sometimes to bethink ourselves whether there be any promises or engagements that we have neglected to make good; better do it late than never. The compendium which Paul gives us of the life of David is this (Acts 13:36), that he served his generation according to the will of God, that is, he was a man that made it his business to do good; witness this instance, where we may observe,

1. That he sought an opportunity to do good.
2. Those he inquired after were the remains of the house of Saul…
3. The kindness he promised to show them he calls the kindness of God

At this point, it’s easy to let yourself off the hook and say, “I did not have a covenant relationship with anyone like that.

But is there someone to whom you could say,

  • Your father was a major influence in my life
  • Your mother helped me through a difficult time
  • Your brother was like a brother to me
  • Your aunt and uncle were very generous to me at a critical time
  • Your sister’s encouragement was always both needed and appreciated

and then, in recognition of that

  • invite them over for dinner or out to a restaurant?
  • give them a gift, perhaps even a Bible or Christian book?
  • make a charitable donation in their name or in memory of their loved one?
  • write out the story of how their relative blessed you and print it out for them as a keepsake?
  • failing all else, just simply tell them how much their family means to you?

Verse seven is our model. In light of the deep relationship between David and Jonathan:

7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

Is there a Mephibosheth in your life?

April 6, 2010

What Preoccupies You Most?

Yes, the title of this blog post is a tautology.   Get over it.

…A long time ago in a galaxy far away I was asked on a regular basis to do the Sunday morning sermon in a variety of churches.   One of these was the kind of church where they like to have the congregation follow along with a fill-in-the-blanks outline page.

While going through a drawer a few weeks ago I discovered a stack of outline blanks for one particular sermon, and decided to see if I could guess what the missing words were.

It wasn’t rocket science.   But there at the end of the outline was my message conclusion; it said “Three Questions.”

  1. .
  2. .
  3. .

So what were those questions?   (I just reminded myself of the time that George Carlin was on The Tonight Show talking about his new comedy album, The Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television, and Carson asked him, “So George, what are those words?”)

So what were those questions?  (Okay, that time I reminded myself of Alec Baldwin’s character in 30 Rock, Jack Donaghy, who watches a video of himself at age 12 getting all excited opening a birthday present, but you can’t actually see the gift itself, and it drives him nuts trying to remember or figure out what it was.)

So what were those questions?

I started to think back to a different stage in my spiritual pilgrimage and the things that would have been uppermost in my mind at that time.   What are the three questions I would have my audience of that day — or my blog readers today — ask themselves?

  1. What’s the first thing you think about when you get up in the morning? — I got this from Pat Robertson’s original autobiography, Shout it from the Housetops. He was a local church pastor, but one of his church board members was trying to make the point that Robertson was more obsessed with starting a Christian television network than he was with leading a church congregation.   (He jokingly added, “The first thing I think about is wishing you [the church board member] would get saved…”)    Still, regardless of what you think of Pat Robertson — and I won’t post comments on that subject — it’s still a good question to address.
  2. What do you talk about when it’s your chance to control the conversation? — I owe a debt to a Christian & Missionary Alliance young adults pastor for this one, but I can’t remember if it was Mike Wilkins or Bill McAlpine.   Analyze yourself and others to see to what people turn their attention when the conversation reaches a “redirect” point.   “Out of the abundance of the heart… ”  “Whatever is in your heart determines what you say…”  (NLT version of Matthew 12:34) “It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words.”  (Same vs., The Message)
  3. What do you want your life to be remembered for? — No HT on this one, I had just written a song a year earlier with the same theme.  (It had seven — count ’em, seven verses!  You think these blog posts are long?)    Everyone of us is writing a story, leaving a legacy.   If you could get a few paragraphs in Wikipedia after you’re gone, how would those sentences read?

I think it’s good stuff to consider.

June 18, 2009

I Wanna Leave a Legacy

Filed under: character, Christianity, ethics — Tags: , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:19 pm

The events of the last few days have been a reminder that when we leave this life, we will be remembered by those who knew us for whatever good or not-so-good stands out.   Some people have a single defining moment in their life that they are remembered by, and that’s it.   The memories fade quickly.   It’s said that many don’t know the first names of their great grandparents.   But in the short term, many know if their ancestors were good people or not-so-good people.

So in the last few hours, I’ve been replaying the lyrics to a song in my head that my wife tells me is by Nicole Nordeman.   If you don’t know her song, Legacy, you can watch/listen to it here. Having a legacy to leave your family and friends may be the best thing you can have.

I don’t mind if you’ve got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who’s who and so-n-so’s that used to be the best
At such’n’such … it wouldn’t matter much

I won’t lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an ‘Atta boy’ or ‘Atta girl’
But in the end I’d like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don’t have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It’s an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, “Well Done” good and faithful one…

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