David Pemberton is a Child of God, husband of a wonderful woman, and father of two amazing gals. He was born and raised on the South Plains of Texas. A graduate of Baylor University and Dallas Theological Seminary, he loves the mountains and coffee, and is continually seeking to be on mission with Jesus.
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As I entered seminary in 1999, I had a mutual fund that was really growing, especially in the science and tech investment that was part of my portfolio. Not planning to cash any of it in, I saw it as a back-up plan to cover my seminary costs, if needed. With the tremendous growth in a short period of time, I wondered if I should “spread the wealth” to other parts of my fund. But the council I received was to leave it, since I would incur capital gains taxes. To my dismay, the Dotcom Bubble burst in 2001 and my mutual fund decreased by seventy percent. Needless to say, I was terribly disappointed about the loss of wealth.
- What disappointments have you experienced with financial wealth?
While looking for real estate opportunities in a new area, I was driving distractedly and missed seeing the speed limit sign for the unfamiliar street I had just turned on to. Of course, the policeman on his motorcycle didn’t miss me and pulled me over for going 45 mph in a 35-mph zone. After handing the officer my license and insurance card, he said my insurance had expired. I had paid my car insurance provider, so I knew I was covered; but the outdated card I handed him couldn’t prove it.
- Like having proof of insurance when you drive a car, what would you say is proof of your faith in Christ and the future you will spend with him?
Frustrated with our backed-up dishwasher, I mumbled a choice word just as my oldest daughter was passing by. She took a step back and said, “Daddy, what did you say?” Sheepishly, I asked, “What did you hear me say?” By her look, I knew I was busted. Emoting my frustration when things don’t go as I think they should is one of my greatest temptations to sin. And when my daughters see it, let alone hear it, I am inviting them to follow suit.
Every day, you and I are surrounded by temptations to sin. The world’s stumbling blocks are also invitations to offend our holy God.
- Think of a time recently when you responded to temptation. How did your response impact those around you?
It was a great gift, and much thought, effort, and time was spent creating it. The intent of the giver was to encourage me during a tough time. When it was presented to me, though, I showed little response or interest. I casually looked at it for a few moments and set it aside. In my arrogance, I didn’t think I needed such encouragement. Awareness of my need would have served me much better. Like the people in the cities mentioned in today’s passage, I, too, received a valid reprimand for my indifference.
- When have you been unresponsive to a gift or kind act?
As the guide team leader for a backpacking summer camp, I helped put the guide teams together for each trip into the mountains. There was one guide who was particularly difficult to match for various reasons. While making the decision, I said to our leadership team, “I am not sure who we can put her with, and I don’t want to be on the trail with her.” At that moment, our camp director looked at me and said, “Then you need to be her co-guide this time around.” The Holy Spirit quickened my heart with the director’s response. I knew was he was right. I also knew it was not going to be an easy trip.
- When was a time that your allegiance to Christ placed you in an uncomfortable circumstance? What was the end result?
In the first few years following the passing of my dad, God used seven men to step into my life at certain times and help me on my journey as only a dad could do. They all came from various backgrounds and with their own assorted life baggage. Their impact on me was so significant that I wanted to have all of them stand in a semi-circle around the altar on my wedding day. These men are on my list of the “mighty people” I’ve seen God use to do great things. They, like the men listed in our passage today, all have one thing in common.
- Reflect on the people who God has used to change your life. What do they have in common?
Two whole years had passed since Amnon raped Tamar. During that time, he had received no judgment for his horrendous actions. Absalom, his brother, had been quietly angry about the humiliation of his sister, and the time for his revenge had come. Recall that all of these terrible events had occurred as a result of David’s sin with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah. David’s judgment was happening just as Nathan had promised. Though another harsh judgment will hit David in today’s passage, it will not be to the extent that David initially believed.
- Think of a time when you experienced the consequences of your own sinful behavior. How did you see God’s mercy during that time?
A conversation about the respectful treatment of women in the workplace led to my neighbor saying, “I have a daughter, and if anyone ever physically hurt her, I’d probably be in jail.” As the father of two little ladies, his statement resonates far too well. I fear how I would respond if something tragic happened to them by the hands of another. My hope is that I would display the same kind of wisdom as David did in the story below.
- What has been, or would be, your first response if a loved one was tragically hurt by the hands of another?
I was not going to let him off of the cliff that our backpacking group was rock climbing that day. “Finish what you start” is a conviction of mine, and I held the line, literally, as the fourteen-year-old young man, tied to my belay rope, contended with me from the small ledge. The rest of the group could see that he was clearly exasperated and was not going to finish the climb. They could also see that my pride had taken over. After finally being convinced to let him down, I found division within our group over my personal directive. The positive lessons learned from rock climbing that day had been muddled.
- When has your pride led to division or complicated the mission at hand?
On the last day of summer camp, and with parents arriving, I was to dismiss the campers, by cabin, to their respective seats across camp at the outdoor assembly. Tired of the routine of dismissing each cabin one-by-one, I decided to let the campers go at once and dismissed the whole group. Chaos occurred as campers ran to their seats, stopping along the way to hug their parents. Confused counselors ran after their respective campers, trying to corral them to sit together at assembly. Much like Saul in today’s passage, I made a personal leadership decision that led to the detriment of the entire group.
- When has a personal leadership decision of yours led others to confusion and, maybe, to detriment?