Hot Topic: Successful Outcomes!!

” . . . . and the Lord brought about a great victory.” 2Samuel 23:12
I read this morning about some dude, Shammah, defending a field of lentils. Initially, a lentil field doesn’t sound like something to get really upset about, let alone turn into a major military engagement. But alas, Shammah picked the lentil field & that was his “line in the sand.” This verse also says that Shammah took his stand in the field, defended it & struck down the Philistines. After Shammah’s three actions, taking his stand, defending the field & striking the Philistines, God gave him a great victory.
It seems like we often want to know that God will give us a great victory before we make the commitment to a lentil field or put out the effort to fight for something.
Sometimes I think that God waits for us to be fully engaged & committed before giving us a great victory.
Might there be a few areas in your life to which you could increase your commitment so that God would provide a great victory? This is something worth considering today!

Wart Freezing

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I just had a plantar wart frozen, round two. I’m hopeful this time the freezing thing works, as these things aren’t pleasant. The problems with a wart on the bottom of one’s foot include:
It grows if you don’t kill it
It’s on the bottom of your foot so it’s easy to forget – not visible
It’s contagious & silently spreads
It can make a problem with walking

Seems to me that the wart thing is a lot like sin. It’s insidious, subtle & invasive. If we tolerate little pieces & nuances of sin, it’s like the plantar wart of my foot. Pretty soon it’s a whole lot bigger than what we thought & our ability to be effective in our day to day living gets compromised.
Let’s remember that Jesus came to help us walk successfully without the debilitating affects of sin!

Win the Race!!!

I’m a very competitive person and that can be really bad.  For example, I used to play in our church’s an annual flag football tournament.  After a few years, I decided to remove myself from playing because I couldn’t find a way to compete with a friendly demeanor.  So when Paul says in 1 Cor 9:24, “. . . , run in such as way as to win the prize, ” I would use this phrase to justify my poor behavior.  Of course I took the verse out of context and this verse can often be misappropriated & rationalized to accommodate personal success rather than transformed redemption.  But as followers of Jesus, winning the prize doesn’t align with the world’s definition of victory & success.  Indeed, consider the recent Olympic illustration of “winning the prize”:  running to win

Let’s enedeavor to be successful by the definition of following Jesus rather than letting our flesh or the world define success for us!

Jesus & Gladiators

  
During Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ birth & we think of Him as a baby born in a manger. I don’t often think of Jesus as a warrior during Christmas, but He is very much a warrior. Consider a few ways that Jesus fights:

  • Prince of Peace – in a season that can be full of anxiety & pressure, let’s be sure that we embrace Jesus as our Prince of Peace
  • Intercessor – Paul says that Jesus intercedes for us (Rom 8:34), standing in the gap & fighting on our behalf
  • Triumphant over death – Rom 6:5
  • Passes along His victory to us – 1Cor 15:57

Jesus was most certainly a baby in a manger, but He’s also our victorious Gladiator 🙂

Be Good at You

  
One of my favorite Bible stories is David & Goliath so I always find myself cheering for the underdog. I’m also deeply inspired by David’s courage & confidence in God. There have been innumerable occasions in my life when I’ve encouraged myself with David, a mere shepherd, defeating a giant seasoned warrior. 
These points can help all of us when we confront various giants in our lives:

  • David’s confidence was in God & no one else
  • David didn’t fight as a warrior but rather from who he was – a shepherd (Saul’s armor didn’t fit & he used a sling for his weapon)
  • David had to stand against his brother’s derision & insults – sometimes families aren’t the supportive people we desire
  • David had to speak up & assert himself rather than be a meek & docile wallflower – he let himself be recognized & known
  • David recognized that previous struggles were practice for Goliath (lion & bear)

Lets allow God to help us be good at who we are rather than pretending or projecting to be someone we are not!

winning

FinishLine   I love to win & I hate to lose – in pretty much everything.  So I automatically like all of the Bible verses that talk about me winning, being victorious, more than a conqueror, etc.  On the opposite end, the Bible verses that talk about sacrifice, losing my life, crucifixion, pain, . . . . these aren’t nearly as appealing to me as the winning verses.  But life seems to have both the winning and losing experiences wrapped into each day:  driving, competing at work / school, controversial conversations, competing against myself, etc.

I think that it can feel much better to win than lose, but let me throw out a few perks that can happen from losing:

  • losing can reveal our character when we might be at our lowest
  • empathy seems to grow better when we lose rather than win
  • winning can be sometimes be an impediment to connecting with someone
  • losing can be a place where strength, endurance and roots can grow
  • sometimes humility grows better in the soil of losing more than winning

Please don’t take this blog to mean that losing is everything.  On the flipside, winning isn’t everything either.  Maybe “everything” boils down to genuine love 🙂

#selah

Hot topic: overcoming adversity

Have you ever had a season where it seems like more is going wrong than what’s going right?  Job had this experience. In a short amount of time: he lost all of his kids, all his wealth evaporated, his health took a plunge & his wife went rogue & didn’t encourage him. Job totally went through an awful season & you can read his book in the Old Testament to hear his thoughts & emotions in the thick of all these difficulties. Going through hardships & difficulties isn’t something new in our human experience but here are some ideas that might be helpful:

*in difficulties, be honest with God (Job was super upset, disappointed & frustrated with God & didn’t hold back nor withdraw from talking with God)
*consider the people who you allow to speak into your life: do they affirm God’s work, do they hear your heart, do they strengthen your faith?  Job’s friends were kind of sketchy on these points
*keep your focus on God because a continual eye on the hardships can be very unsettling
*there are brighter days ahead – Jer 29:11 🙂

Fear can be contagious

I’ve been thinking about Gideon lately & how 300 guys followed him to victory over more than 100,000 enemy soldiers. This very small group had MASSIVE amounts of success but a pre-cursor to their success individually & as a group was the elimination of fear.
Fear can be really loud, it can demand your attention, cripple your progress & thoroughly destroy your future. The guys who followed Gideon into this massive success made choices to not allow fear to control their decisions or behaviors. Indeed, Gideon had to overcome his own fear before he could lead anyone else out of fear & into victory.
Here are some things to help overcome fear:
*look at fear & face it – fear is usually much smaller when you turn & confront it, rather than avoid of deflect it
*make a step forward – fear wants to keep you paralyzed
*listen for Gods voice more than entertaining the voice of fear
*be mindful of conversations or inputs that cater to fear in your life
* never allow fear to be your friend

giant killing strategies

 I read this morning in 2 Sam 21 about the 4 sons of a Philistine giant – some of them were quite fierce.  One of them had 24 fingers & toes (6 on each hand).  Nevertheless, David’s men killed these giants, all members of the same family.  I haven’t read anywhere in the Bible about people killing giants, other than David & Goliath in 1 Sam.  Here are some of the take aways I noted when facing giants:

  • get around other giant killers – they’ll rub off on you 🙂
  • don’t let their size intimidate you – they probably move slowly & may not be very bright
  • giants often have alot of hot air (the devil goes around as a roaring lion)
  • only one place does it describe how anyone killed a giant & that was with David & Goliath;  method isn’t as important as results
  • be on the right side regardless of how things may appear to your eyes or thoughts – the giants were losers when they were confronted by David’s men
All of us have giants in our lives (jobs, families, employers, school, teachers, co-workers, relationships, emotional struggles, health challenges, etc).  I pray that you will intimidate these giants more than you’re intimidated by them.  Indeed, Jesus causes us to triumph in all things 🙂