David’s Mighty Men

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” (Michael Jordan)

“For day by day men came to David to help him, until there was a great army like the army of God” (1 Chronicles 12:22).

King David could not have accomplished all that he did if it were not for the men who came to help him. They joined him when he was exiled during the reign of King Saul. They remained with him through many difficulties and battles. They drew inspiration from David’s devotion to the Lord. It was clear to them that the Lord was with David (1 Chronicles 11:9). They all played a major role in his rise  and the establishment of his kingship at Jerusalem.

Some of them are famous, such as “the three,” who risked their lives to bring their king a drink of water from the well at Bethlehem, his hometown. David was so moved by their action that he poured out the water as a libation to the Lord (1 Chronicles 11:17-19). They were Jashobeam, Eleazar, and Shammah (2 Samuel 23:11).

Benaiah is renowned as a valiant man “who killed a lion inside a pit on a snowy day” (1 Chronicles 11:22). Wouldn’t you like to know more of that story?

Amasai stands out as an inspired poet who wrote a beautiful ode to David: “We are yours, O David,/ And with you, O son of Jesse!/ Peace, Peace to you, and peace to him who helps you;/ Indeed, Your God helps you!” (1 Chronicles 12:18).

Men joined David’s army from the tribe of Issachar. The Bible says that “they understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). They knew that David was the rightful king and they followed him rather than Saul.

Men from the tribe of Zebulon were well-organized. They were men “who could draw up in battle formation with all kinds of weapons of war” (1 Chronicles 12:33). They “helped David with an undivided heart.” They had loyalty and integrity.

These chapters in 1 Chronicles contain a rather long list of names of biblical heroes from the various tribes of Israel who are remembered for their bravery, initiative, determination, versatility, sound judgment, and devotion to God.

As I read these chapters recently I was reminded of a few key principles.

1. Individuals are important. Sometimes we wonder why the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, records long lists of names. This teaches us that these names represent persons who are to be remembered. They are significant. Their lives contributed to the flow of biblical history and the outworking of God’s purposes in his world. The next time you read through a boring list of genealogies, or tribal names in the Bible, tell yourself, “people are important to God. I am important to God, too.”

2. Collaboration is important. The thousands of warriors who joined David’s army could not have been victorious if they had not been organized into clans, ranks, and troops. They were well led by Joab and other officers. They were united in their efforts and loyal to their king. The same should be true in the life of the church. Our loyalty must be to Christ, and with mutual respect we must serve him without pride or a craving for power over others. Mother Teresa has been quoted as saying, “None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”

Moses had his elders in Israel who were appointed to help him in the administration of the nation. The apostles in Jerusalem sought the help of spiritually mature men who joined them in the leadership of the early church. Paul and Barnabus appointed elders to provide leadership for the local churches they established in their missionary work. And King David relied upon the help of his mighty men.

I cannot help but remember the strong leaders, men and women, who assisted me in the ministries of the churches I pastored. I thank God for their wisdom, humility, prayers, and guidance. At this time in my life I often think of fellow pastors, elders, and deacons with great affection and appreciation.

Pastor Randy Faulkner

My Children’s Mother

One reason my children are great parents is the good example of their mother. Connie Thompson Faulkner is the living quintessence of the ideal wife and mother described in Proverbs 31. For that reason, this week, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28).

When Connie and I married almost 55 years ago, I was out of my mind with romantic love. I loved her truly and well then, and I still do, but I had no idea what a treasure she would prove to be as life unfolded. We became parents early and often. It did not take me long to recognize that she was born to be a mother. An only child herself, she said she always wanted to have lots of children.

She knew what she was doing. By that I mean she always seemed to know the right thing to do in every parenting situation. She loved nurturing her babies. As they passed through the stages of childhood she taught them, prayed and played with them, encouraged and guided them.

When they entered adolescence, she understood how to adapt her parenting style without sacrificing her standards. She gave them gifts of emotional security, confidence, healthy independence, and the expectation of excellence. Above all, she gave them a good example.

She was the first piano teacher for our eldest son who is now a professional church musician. She coached our daughter to a win in a state-wide scholarship pageant. She knew what she was doing because she had won a few of those herself. She loved being a wedding planner. That was a good thing because our first three children were married the same year! Later she was a supportive presence when grandchildren came along.

After twenty-five years as a  stay-at-home mom, Connie went back to the profession she was trained for. She excelled as a teacher. I told her more than once that she should write a book on classroom management and it should be titled, “The Happy Classroom.” Her income helped pay for college tuition for our two youngest children.

Words are inadequate as I try to describe what it meant to me to have such a partner in the service of the church. She loves the Lord and she loves people. The people of the churches felt that love as she, in different seasons through the years, mentored younger women, taught Sunday School, sang in adult choirs, and directed children’s and youth choirs. She did it all in a way that seemed effortless. She gave of herself freely.

She has the gift of hospitality and she has always been ready to open our home for groups and individuals in connection with our ministry to people. The meals she prepared and the desserts she baked added joy to every gathering. As far as I know, she never caused our children to feel neglected. She found ways to include them in what we were trying to do in ministry. This contributed to their emotional intelligence and their understanding of service.

Second only to life in Christ, I consider Connie to be the best gift God ever gave me. I could not ask for a more loyal, loving wife. She is strong in character, good sense, and compassion. I am sure that this weekend her children, Jay, Carrie, Mary, Anna, and Michael, will join me in praising her with these words from Proverbs 31: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (vv. 29-30).

Pastor Randy Faulkner


Go and Tell

Not long ago I was in a worship service in a large church in my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Connie and I were in town to enjoy a visit with my brothers who live there. After an opening welcome the pastor made a few brief announcements. One of them caught my attention. 

It went something like this, “If any of you are shy about sharing your faith and want to learn how to talk with others about Jesus, we will be offering evangelism training classes this Saturday. Lunch will be provided.” I thought to myself, “That’s exactly right! If I were a member here I would attend those classes and encourage others to do the same.”

Christian witness should not be construed as salesmanship. Evangelism should not be distorted as manipulation or coercion. It is not imposing our beliefs on reluctant victims of our enthusiasm. It is, as James Kennedy put it, “One beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” It is simply sharing good news, or “gospeling,” an expression coined by Nepalese Christians.

I suspect that pastor wanted to see members of his congregation “gospeling” all over Chattanooga, sharing the good news of eternal life with neighbors and friends. I believe he was correct in this for several reasons.

First, the pastor’s job, according to scripture, is to “prepare God’s people for works of service” (Ephesians 4:12). One of those works of service is evangelism. Yes, the pastor should preach the gospel on Sundays, but he cannot go everywhere his people can go or have the relationships his people have. They are the ones the Lord is sending into the community as his ambassadors, speaking to others “with gentleness and respect” ( 1 Peter 3:15).

For too long American churches have relied upon the excuse that evangelism is the pastor’s job. After all, he is the specialist with all the training. But it wasn’t that way in the early church. Acts 8:4 says, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” The word translated “preached” means “conversed.” It is a word for informal conversation in day-to-day situations. The point I am making is that these were ordinary Christians, not church leaders. We know this because Acts 8:1 says that because of the persecution “all except the apostles were scattered.” And those who were scattered engaged in gospel conversations.

That pastor in Chattanooga preached the gospel the Sunday I heard him. But he also expressed the concern that the members of the congregation be equipped for their own ministry of “talking with people about Jesus.”

Another reason is that the Holy Spirit is given to all believers. One of the ministries of the Spirit in the lives of God’s people is empowerment for witness. Jesus promised his disciples that when he went away, the Holy Spirit would come to take his place. He said that Spirit would testify about him, and “you also must testify” (John 15:26-27).

This is reflected in one of the great promises of scripture, that believers would receive power from the Holy Spirit to be witnesses about Jesus “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). It is not all up to us. It is the Holy Spirit in us who is the best evangelist of all.

I was pleased to hear the pastor’s announcement for a third reason. It told me that witness and compassionate concern for others were central to the life of that church. Evangelism was not unusual or exceptional. It was being thought of as a normal aspect of healthy church life.

There is an outstanding example of this in the New Testament. The  church in Antioch of Syria was founded through the witness of those Jews from Jerusalem whom I mentioned earlier. They had been scattered by persecution. It came into existence when they shared the message of Jesus with non-Jews (Gentiles) many of whom believed (Acts 11:20-21). As a result, the church took on the multicultural character of the city of Antioch. The assembly at Antioch became identified as Christian and influenced many more of their neighbors to turn to the Lord (Acts 11:24). Sharing the gospel was part of that church’s DNA from its very beginning.

Jesus and his disciples went across the lake of Galilee to the region of Gadara. There they encountered a man who was demonized, living in tragic solitude among the tombs, chained hand and foot. Jesus healed the man and gave him his sanity and dignity. When it was time for Jesus to leave, the man wanted to join Jesus’ team and follow him.

“But Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8:38-39). That is what the Lord is reminding us to do. That is evangelism.

Pastor Randy Faulkner