Welcome to a blessing! If you are reading this column, I believe God has caused you to read the Religion page of the Lodi News-Sentinel, and I pray you will be blessed by what you are reading.
There are thousands of people within five fantastic churches (Emanuel Lutheran, First Baptist, Ham Lane Church of Christ, Temple Baptist and Vinewood Community Church) right here in Lodi who are journeying through "The Story."
For those of you who may not be familiar with "The Story," it is a ministry that draws you into God's Word through a 31-week full-on church movement! The aforementioned churches have "The Story" books and materials for sale, as does our local Christian bookstore Vine & Branches. Please stop by any of these locations and be blessed.
And now ... here is the rest of the story! I am excited to share that we are entering week 11 of this ministry, and it is appropriate that this column will focus on Chapter 11 from "The Story" titles: "From Shepherd to King." Quick, what biblical character comes to mind? Keep reading to be sure you are correct.
Have you ever known someone who surprised you and did just the opposite of what you expected? Maybe it was someone who ran into the firestorm instead of away from it. Maybe it was someone you thought had a hardened heart, but through that person's actions, your heart was softened. Or maybe you have a personal story about how you ran toward something as the world ran in the opposite direction.
In the Lodi community, I know of a man named Jason, who was not always running in God's direction but was more focused on traveling a worldly set of tracks. Until one day that God touched his heart and his life was changed. He began to serve God earnestly every day, much to the surprise of some of his friends.
Now, from the worldly perspective, you'd swear he had a backwards internal compass — running north when he should have run south. But what he really had was uncommon courage that led him down the road less traveled to help those who were lost.
Through Jason's new focus in life, people within the Lodi community are sensing a new direction in their own life! Praise God for people that God's Story changes, and we in Lodi are blessed.
Speaking of surprises and people doing the unexpected — in Chapter 11, you can read about a royal coronation which began in the most improbable of places: the humble house of a man named Jesse in a less than notable village called Bethlehem.
Please remember that God has demonstrated throughout "The Story" a knack of showing up in the unlikeliest of places and calling the most unlikely people for the most unlikely missions.
Also remember that just three chapters ago, God appeared to a hiding farmer named Gideon, who responded, "My clan is the weakest in the tribe of Manassah, and I am the least in my family."
As you may recall, Gideon went on to be a great leader. Last week, God appeared to Saul, who even though he was tall and handsome, said, "Aren't I a Benjamite from the smallest tribe in Israel, and my clan the least of all the clans in Benjamin?" Many of us remember that Saul became the leader of all of Israel.
And now, we read in Chapter 11 that Samuel the priest is with an obscure agricultural family — a grandson of Ruth, where once again an improbable search is coming to an end.
Think of "American Idol" here: Seven of Jesse's sons were paraded before Samuel, but none were chosen. The youngest brother, David, had not been invited, but was easily found among the sheep. After being summoned from the fields, the choice was immediate: David was anointed by Samuel to replace King Saul.
Now what did David do? He did the opposite of what you'd expect. The world would think a new king would head straight to the tailors to be fitted for his royal robes, just like you or I would head to Randall's for a nice suit. And David would have certainly made his second call to the goldsmith to have his new crown precisely fitted.
And a normal person would have made one of those Disney commercials: "David! You've just been anointed King of Israel! What will you do next?" The boy then did what any newly anointed king would do: He jumped up and down like a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and announced he was going to ... Disney World!
Did you buy that? Of course not! Not DAVID. He quietly went back to his duties, fulfilling the role God had given him right then. He simply returned to tending his sheep.
By now your answer from the top regarding the biblical character that fit the title of Chapter 11, "From Shepherd to King" should be clear. David is the one chosen by God to go from Shepherd to King.
Where are you going? I know of some great churches you can go to this weekend right here in Lodi. Join one of "The Story" churches or another one of the great Bible-based churches that will open their doors for you to enter into a great journey of faith with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Chris Townsend is Lead Pastor at Emanuel Lutheran, a Bible-based church bearing fruit since 1920.