“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” – Chapter 5, What’s Wrong With The World, 1910 G.K.Chesterton
‘Way back in the history of Israel, when the people demanded of God that He give them a king so that they could be like the nations around them, they chose a great man named Saul to lead them. This was not God’s best for them, but He has given us freedom to make such significant decisions for ourselves and he respects our decisions, even the bad ones.
But Saul had serious character flaws and couldn’t handle the respon-sibilities of leadership and began to crumble under the pressure. He repeatedly failed to trust the God who had given him charge over His people, and finally he simply began to make executive decisions without consulting God at all. And God told him that he was fired.
It was at this time that a young shepherd named David came on the scene. David’s story takes up a significant portion of the Old Testa-ment writings of the Bible, and I am not going to tell it here, but he found himself an honored hero in King Saul’s court as a late teen-ager or early twenty-something. King Saul at first embraced him as a son.
However, his favor among the people soon enough caused the King, who was becoming mentally unstable, to become jealous and then to fear him as a potential rival for the throne and David was forced to flee for his life. He began a thirteen year experience as a fugitive with King Saul hunting after him. It was during this period that Da-vid found a hiding place in the Cave of Adullam, in the Valley of Elah, where an army of “the scum of the earth” gathered around him: men who had been cast out and rejected by the “decent” people of soci-ety. They were a rough crowd of misfits and unsavory ruffians who David cobbled together into a band of more or less orderly mercen-ary bandits that raided Israel’s Philistine enemies and, like Robin Hood, helped the poor of God’s people.
Over the years David, under the strong blessing hand of God, shaped this motley crew into his “mighty men” who became the legendary hero-leaders of his kingdom when he finally ascended to the throne of Jerusalem and created the Golden Age of the Kingdom of Israel, the high point of her history that continued through his reign and that of his son, Solomon.
I am calling this Blog “King David’s Cave” because much of what gets said here will probably aggravate those who are comfortably situa-ted in the courts of the King Saul’s of “Christendumb”. “Christen-dumb” is my word for religious Christianity….that “form of godliness that denies the power of God”, that thinks it has Him all figured out.
I have been a Christian for forty years as of last May (you can read my background at http://www.rstoman.com/), and over that long pilgrimage I and my wife have seen an awesome amount of Christ-ianity… A tremendous amount of good and a great deal of crap. I have grown very sick of the crap. For most of the past four decades I have found myself living “outside the camp” in one wilderness or another. I have found it difficult, and sometimes dangerous, to speak of the clear truths of the New Covenant in many Christian circles, because the discussion of biblical discipleship is a subject that many people do not want to personally grapple with. A pro-phetic teacher I have grown to respect, Rick Joyner, often remarks that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God has not been preached since the first century. I agree with him.
Over the past decade or so the Lord has really been dealing deeply with me about discipleship and relationship… about His Fatherhood and about His Kingdom. In the past six or so years I have listened to the New Covenant (the New Testament) being read aloud well over two thousand times, just to try to understand what the guys who walked with Jesus really were thinking about when they wrote down what they wrote. (I opted to listen to the Shakespearean actor, Alex-ander Scourby, reading the text in the King James version. His read-ings are beautifully articulated and are not “dramatized” in any way. And he did not have any doctrinal hobby-horses to ride that show up in the inflections and other pauses and emphases of his readings. I don’t think that any more contemporary readers have done as well.) I especially wanted to listen to the letters of the apostle Paul in their entirety until I could grasp the flow of thought of his immense mind and hold it intact in my far less facile brain.
And after a couple of years of this exercise, I began to catch sight of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God as Paul and the other apostles and their companions were entrusted with it. Maybe four years ago I began to try to work my way through Paul’s letters and write down some of my thoughts about what he is saying. So far I’ve penned about 600,000 words. Some of them actually seem to be worth sharing, so I’ve decided to start this blog and see what others might be able to offer by way of further insight.
I have no idea where this adventure might lead. I am including the journal/commentaries I have written on the letters of the apostle Paul as part of this exercise, and anyone who has the desire to do so is encouraged to study his or her way through them: I think that at least some of what I have thought about over the past several years might be worth something. But my wife and I are living in the midst of a very dynamic and vital Christian and political environment out-side of Charlotte, North Carolina, and I am being challenged by new thoughts on a daily basis. I am sure that my musings about these things will find their way into “the cave”.
I am pretty much open to people talking about anything as long as the conversation remains polite, civil, loving, intelligent, productive …that sort of thing. Please work with me on this. I think that re-course to obscenities and mindless coarse and vulgar language is a mark of thoughtlessness and intellectual laziness, especially when the English language has somewhat over two million useful words in its vocabulary. This conversation is inherently going to be risky be-cause we are daring to talk about at least two things that are never supposed to be talked about in polite company,religion and politics, and probably several more as time goes on. On its own “About Me” page is part of a personal introduction that I wrote for my “commentary” on Paul’s letters that began all this writing stuff, and it will give you an idea of where my own head is at, at least in some measure, because I tend to sound more pig-headed than I sometimes actually am about some things, and I aim at ideals that are still beyond my reach be-cause I know that they are not beyond the reach of the Lord I serve. I am in awe when I look back and see how far He has actually man-aged to bring me from the pit I was wallowing in back in 1974. Since coming to Heritage International Ministries in Fort Mill, South Carolina, after Hurricane Sandy, and being exposed to myriad per-sons from all over the world, each of whom has his or her unique perspective from which they are comprehending the Lord and His Kingdom, I have been learning much about how little I know of this God we serve.
Marilyn, my beautiful wife of 38 years, and I came to Morningstar (HIM) knowing the Lord very well. But when I arrived it was as if I had been viewing the Cosmos through a pair of binoculars. Daddy (the scriptures teach us to come to know our Father God as “Abba”, which I do), said to me, “Son, now let me show you the Hubble.” And of late I have begun to realize that I had been looking at the universe through the wrong end of the binoculars. We serve an awesome God.
We have since moved on from living at Morningstar, and we now are working with another local fellowship whose vision and focus is more in line with what the Lord has been proposing for us, but the magnitude of the our Father’s plan and purpose has only increased exponentially as He has continued to guide me deeper into His word.
So, that is what this Blog is about…at least to start. God knows where our conversation might take us.
I am going to do my best to intelligently categorize and tag posts as this conversation evolves, so that various threads can be followed over time. And I have created a sort of an index system for the commentaries that may help those who are interested in following some of my thinking through them. I am going to post the commentaries as downloadable PDF files and these indexes will be keyed to the page numbers of those PDF’s. The commentaries themselves are thematic studies of Paul’s letters and do read each letter from the first verse chronologically to the last, and can be, and should be, studied at some time as I undertook to write them, for their best value. They can also, I suppose, be studied piecemeal as alot of what I have written down seems to have taken the form of short essays or sermons. Since the things I have mused upon have been written down over a period of five or six years the thoughts both are related to each other and stand independently of each other and reflect my evolving understanding about the Kingdom and our Father’s progressing revelation of His plans and purposes.
** Akiane is a prodigy artist, now a young adult, who began to draw and paint when she was perhaps three years old. She draws her inspiration from a deep well of spiritual life and personal faith and paints and writes the things she sees and experiences as she walks and talks with the Lord Jesus. You have to accept her testimony and her work for what it is and what it does as it draws you in. This portrait of Christ was once seen by Colton Burpo, the young boy, now a young man, about whom the book and movie “Heaven is for Real” have been produced. He had never met Akiane, nor had he ever seen the portrait before. When he saw this painting he said, “That’s him. That’s who I met.” You can accept or reject this testimony as you choose.
Akiane’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/akianeart/
(For those who might be interested, the material in the commentary essays has all been registered with the US Copyright Office and is protected. I don’t mind it being shared or quoted, but please use it fairly and if you want to use large portions of it for any reason please send me a note first. I do ask that you keep my thoughts in context: I get myself in enough trouble as it is without having to deal with stuff that isn’t fair or right. Thanks.)