The King With the Giant Bed–Freaky Friday

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“Next we turned and went along the road toward Bashan, and Og, king of Bashan with his whole army marched out to meet us in battle at Edrei. The Lord said to me, ‘Do not be afraid of him for I have handed him over to you with his whole army and his land. . .’ So the Lord our God gave into our hands Og, king of Bashan and all his army.” Deuteronomy 3:1-3

And so begins the story of “The King with the Giant Bed” in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 3. It’s not a long story, and it’s no wonder God was doing some reassuring of His people. Because not only was Og a powerful king who ruled cities fortified with high walls with gates and bars, he was himself a giant of a man.

Big men can be largely intimidating, and King Og was apparently both large and intimidating. How large? So large. . . .

. . . So large that his bed was more than 13 feet long and 6 feet wide. That’s one big bed, and that’s one big giant of an enemy.

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Scholars tend to debate whether his bed was a bed for sleeping at night, or a bed for all eternity–as in a casket. Either way that was one big bed, and either way, he had slept in both by the end of this story.

I continually marvel at how God puts these obscure little details in Scripture. I don’t believe they are there just to “wow!” us, but to teach us and encourage us. Because when I read or teach this short little story, I am reminded of a couple of really important things. Things like:

When God goes before me, nothing is impossible.
When God goes before me, I don’t have to be afraid.
When God goes before me, giants fall.
When God goes before me, there is victory.

So when I read the story of “The King with the Big Bed”, I know with confidence that I can trust our Big God to do Big Work on the Big Giants that may seem a little scary in our lives. As long as He goes before me, I know that nothing is impossible, I don’t have to fear, giants will fall and victory is on the way!

Now that’s some truth to sleep on. May you rest well this freaky Friday in the big hands of the big God who loves you with a giant kind of love.

“24”–Freaky Friday

24-logo
Sorry, I’m not talking about Jack Bauer’s real time adventures in saving the United States from terrorists. (But I sure do miss that show!) Today’s Freaky Friday post is an adventure in Old Testament history. Both 2 Samuel and I Chronicles report details of some of Israel’s battles against the Philistines. You might remember the Philistines. The guys with Goliath–the giant who came tumbling down when a boy named David went down to the brook where 5 little stones he took. One little stone went into his sling and the sling went round and round . . . and round and round and round and round and round and round and round. And that one little stone hit the giant in the head, and the giant came tumbling down, and David chopped his head off! End of giant!

Well, end of that giant anyway. For Goliath wasn’t the only giant to come tumbling down. The Philistines grew their boys big, and they continued to bring it on to the armies of God. By sheer size alone these were some pretty freaky dudes, but one in particular, gets a little bigger mention than the others. Seriously, take a look:

“In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot–twenty four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. When he taunted Israel, Jonathan, son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him.” I Chronicles 20:6-7

That’s all the info we get–“a huge man with 12 fingers and 12 toes.” “24” My guess is people had heard of him before. He’s no better, no worse than any of the other giants; he just has a few extra digits. That must have been a little unusual for that time, seeing as this information is shared in his giant, yet very short story.

There’s no super spiritual application here. Ok, well maybe there is a little something “spiritual” here for us. We all tend to have “enemies” in our life, although they aren’t always people. Just things that work to keep us from victory, declaring war on us and the peace God has promised.

Some of our enemies are pretty common. Some of them are bigger than others, and sometimes we face things that may seem a bit freaky. But God is our defender, our sword and our shield, our fortress and stronghold, and He is able and faithful to take care of our enemies once and for all. Just like in the days of the giants.

We also, like David and his mighty men, are up to the fight. Because of Christ, we are brave; we are valiant; we are called and we will overcome! Because of Christ.

Just like in the days of the giants–even the freaky ones!

BARF


Today was one of those days that makes it all worth it. I had just gotten to MOPS when a friend of mine got out of her van with her two sons. The older son was with her today because of parent teacher conferences at the local school. We said hello, and made some chit chat about my favorite color orange when he walks up, looks right at me and says, “BARF!” I was kind of taken back, and I looked down to see if what I was wearing was somehow offensive (I knew I had neither barfed or been barfed upon this morning) and he says again with gusto, “BARF!”

I’m still a little confused, when he says, “Believe, Repent, Admit and Follow!” At this point the light bulb in my head goes off, and I realize that he is talking about a lesson I taught at his week of camp last July.

“You remembered!” I enthusiastically exclaimed, offering up a little high five.

“Oh I remember it all. Every lesson, and so does my friend _____________.” (I’m not giving the names away here).

Well, I have to tell you that those words are now tucked inside one of the pockets of my heart. When a middle school aged boy remembers an entire week of camp lessons, you know you have been part of an amazing God thing in the proportional size of a book of Acts miracle! It’s one of those things you know you can take no credit for, but you still get to stand in awe just knowing that you even got to be a part of it.

And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this little miracle crossed my path on the day after the dean of that week of camp sent out his invitation to return to teach again next year. (Which I was considering saying “no” to due to some scheduling issues.)

So today, if you are a Sunday School teacher, a children’s minister, a preacher, mom, dad, volunteer or anyone doing anything anywhere to help kids know Jesus, I just want to remind you that you are doing something BIG! You are making a difference! You are part of a miracle! So don’t give up, don’t give in, and don’t stop pouring your heart and His heart into their hearts.

Oh, and want to know what the BARF lesson was all about??? Check out the “On the Kids’ Menu” page on the blog, and feel free to share one of your best moments in ministry below.

The Election

It’s another election year, and what an election year it will surely turn out to be. No matter which side of the fence you are on, people seem to agree that we need change. It’s hard to go anywhere without the topic coming up. I even found it in Scripture. Take a quick look in 2 Peter, where Peter says, “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and your election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2Peter 1:10-11)

Did you see it? –Election– I know, I know, it’s not the same election. But it’s pretty clear that this election is even more important than the one being discussed each night this week at the convention and in the days and nights to come.

Peter starts out with a “therefore,” and you may know the old saying, “when you see a ‘therefore’ be sure to see what it’s there for’.” So if you look up a few verses you will find a power packed piece of Scripture that reminds us that God’s power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our firsthand knowledge or relationship with Him.

The fact that the power of God is at work in those who believe should spur us on to make every effort to live out the “these things” Peter mentioned above. Things like faith, goodness, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love. Qualities I think most of us would like to see not only in our elected officials, but in each other, and ourselves.

Peter goes on to say that if possessed in increasing measure “these things” will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of God. But if you are a believer who doesn’t possess them, you are near sighted and blind, forgetting that you have been cleansed from your past sins. (v.9) A powerfully persuasive reason to “make your calling and election sure.”

As believers we have a great confidence of our future hope, and we need to make the most of every opportunity to live that out, making our election sure as we live for Christ and like Christ. You see, God is also clear to warn us through Timothy that “the Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” (I Timothy 4:1)

So this election season, let us spend time looking into God’s platform, living out our own calling and election, as we wait for His return.

Devil’s Food and Horseradish Sauce

While spending the day yesterday with my folks, my mom asked, “Hey, Dawn, do you “do” horseradish?” To which I replied, “No! It’s the devil’s food. Not as in the chocolate cake devil’s food, the other kind of devil’s food. ‘Cuz you know he has two kinds, the obvious and the sneaky.” And after a couple of moments of crazy mother-daughter conversation I found myself thinking about how that old devil works.

I mean think about it. Like horseradish, some things are just obviously of the devil. They are strong, bitter, hard on the palate, and easily recognizable as just plain wrong. Although some of us actually like what the devil serves up, most of us recognize it quickly as no good and are wise enough to pass on by his nasty fare.

But then there’s the other devil’s food. The cake kind—the kind that looks good and tastes good and makes us want more. . . . but as good as it tastes, it just isn’t good for us. These things affect our hearts, minds and bodies in ways that just aren’t good. It starts with just a sliver and then we’re hooked.

Fortunately, the Bible offers us some good advice on sorting out what the devil is serving up. Scripture wisely tells us to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8) and reminds us that we are not unaware of the devil’s schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11). In doing taking both to heart, we can begin to do a little more feasting on the food of angels and all the good things God is serving.

From my reading today:
Proverbs 2:7-8

He holds victory in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.

On the Kids Menu:
Simply bring in a jar of horseradish, chocolate cake and maybe even some angel food cake. Let the kids smell each and offer them some samples. Then talk about how the devil tempts us in different ways, finishing up by reading the Scriptures above and closing with prayer.

Swimming Upstream

Swimming Upstream May Be Hard, But It’s Not Impossible

I recently said these words when talking to a friend about the challenges a kid faces today when they want to follow Christ while living in the world. It’s like swimming upstream. And although swimming upstream is hard, it’s not impossible—oh, and that metaphor isn’t just for kids.

We all know some days it is hard. Today is one of those days. I never want to be a whiner. Never. I do it sometimes, probably more than I should, and about little things, things that don’t matter—like long lines at Wal Mart and when someone “borrows” my iPod cable without returning it. But all in all, I don’t want to complain because I know it dishonors God, I know it can keep people from seeing God, and I know that I have a pretty easy life compared to a zillion other people.

Yet even when I know with my head that my life is pretty good, and that testing and trials grow my faith, the truth is the trials still hurt. Friends hurt us; our friends hurt. We feel helpless to help them. Things are out of our control. Good people are wronged. People we love die. Or walk away from God. Or disappoint us. Or we, them. Then there’s illness and cancer and the economy and loneliness. And on those days, when you want to turn back, you want to quit swimming, what do you do?

Well this is what I think. You keep swimming. Upstream. You may need to rest a bit. You may need to call in reinforcements, but you don’t give up. You don’t turn around. You don’t follow the tide. You keep swimming. You keep following God. You keep on trusting His precepts and His path. It may hurt. It may burn. Tears may fill your eyes and you may find it hard to breathe. You may, with every fiber of your being, want to quit. But you don’t.

You find your strength in His strength and His power made perfect in your weakness. You count it all joy, and you remember that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character, hope. And hope doesn’t put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-4, ESV)

And so you keep swimming, upstream, against the current–because it’s worth it, or more to the point, because He’s worth it, and there’s a whole world swimming past you in the opposite direction that needs to know that it’s possible to keep swimming, and to know the Hope and the Difference that can be theirs if they follow Him, too.

How do you know God likes salad?

Because He put so much lettuce in the Bible!!! Bahahahaha. . . .oh well. . .

A few years back, the year our youngest son was graduating from high school, I was fortunate to have had the privilege of giving the graduate’s charge at our church’s service that Sunday. I remember bringing a head of lettuce and pealing back the leaves one at a time as we talked about the “lettuces” in the book of Hebrews.

Truth is there are enough leaves of lettuce in the Bible to make a salad of ginormous proportion. But today, I’ve been drawn back to the espcially tasty bites in Hebrews, especially chapter 10.

For example:

Hebrews 4:14 . . .let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 6:1 Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity. . .
Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near to God with a sincere faith. . .
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we professed, for He who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:24 Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds
Hebrews 10:25a Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but. . .
Hebrews 10:25b let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching

And just like a salad is rarely complete with just lettuce, the writer of Hebrews adds a little something to the mix beginning in verse 35:

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”

And then here comes the kicker, I LOVE this part, L-O-V-E it.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

We won’t shrink back, we won’t give up, we won’t give in, we won’t turn away. We will follow, we will love, we will give and forgive and help and serve and share and tell until He who is promised returns. And until that time, “lettuce” do these things with the confidence, peace, joy, grace, strength, energy, passion and commitment that comes only from Him.

No Cause for Alarm

The text began with the words, “Hey Mom, no cause for alarm, but I’m in the hospital.” Ohhhh Kayyyyyy. Followed by something like, “I won’t be able to put money on my phone from here, but someone will message you.” Two hours later a following text asks, “Am I immunized for diptheria?” Ohhhh Kayyyyyy. No cause for alarm though, Mom, even though I’m across the world in another country where, by the way, I moved without ever giving you my complete phone number!

He’s still in that hospital, but he’s doing better. He doesn’t have diptheria, and I can’t say that I was ever alarmed–concerned, but not alarmed. During the course of the week, the words of his text kept coming back to my mind. They made me smile. It sounded just like him, and his words were certainly reassuring. I was also working on a new HiSKidZ lesson–a lesson that would take us through the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. A lesson that would be teaching HiSKidZ that “Whatever happens, remember what Jesus promised.”

Jesus’ disciples experienced some pretty awesome stuff: miraculous meals, spit in the mud healings, and waking of the dead, as well as some pretty scarry stuff like the death threats, Jesus’ arrest and the trial and crucifiction that followed. Ultimately, we know Jesus tried to explain all that would happen, but the disciples just weren’t able to grasp it. We also know that Jesus was trying to prepare them that some pretty crazy things were going to be happening and that whatever happened, there would be “no cause for alarm.”

“No cause for alarm” because Jesus’ arrest was part of the plan. “No cause for alarm” because His death was part of the plan, too. “No cause for alarm” because with His plan His body wouldn’t stay in the tomb. “No cause for alarm” because His plan included leaving them the Holy Spirit. “No cause for alarm,” because His plan promises that He’s coming back again. “No cause for alarm” because He’s God and we can trust Him and His ultimate plan–whatever happens.

Looking back and looking forward, because of my son’s text, God reminded me that no matter what happens, the One who came to save us has a great plan for His great glory. So, no matter what it is we are facing, we can have rest, we can be at peace and we can trust Him no matter what with “no cause for alarm.”

football

Ms Dawn’s Top Football Terms for Church

 

I’ve always heard that the difference between a good football player and a great football player is HEART. Heart . . . the love for the game, love for the team, and love for the other players. It takes passion, determination, focus and sacrifice motivated by a love of something somehow bigger than yourself.

Thanks to our younger son, I have grown to have a great appreciation for the game of football. I didn’t always understand it. Even now, I don’t always understand it . But I’m gaining a better idea of what all the terms, plays, and positions mean. Oh, a while back I was thinking about the terminology. I was thinking about heart, and I was thinking about how football could kind of be like the church and I thought. . .Hey! What if we talked about church stuff the same way we talk about football stuff? So here are just a few of the things my little brain came up with. I call them:

Ms Dawn’s Top Football Terms for the Church

1. Kickoff-
In football it is a free kick that puts the ball into play.
In church it is the word used to describe any new event, sermon
series or program–as in we are about to kick off our fall
programming.

2. Drop Kick
In football a drop kick involves a player dropping the ball and then
kicking it when it bounces off the ground
In church this is what members want to do to the pastor when he
goes into overtime on a Sunday morning.

3. Punt
In football to punt means a kick made when a player drops the ball and
kicks it while it falls toward his foot. Usually during the 4th down when
the offense must surrender the ball because it couldn’t advance 10
yards.
In church it means . . . what you do when there is a blizzard, your
computer breaks down, you’re short on nursery workers, and the
video in the back room refuses to convert all in the same week.

4. Pass
In football this is simply throwing the ball from one player to another.
In church this is what members usually do when asked to serve in the
nursery, children, or student ministry departments.

5. Interception
In football this when the ball thrown is caught by a member of the other
team allowing them to take possession of the ball working down the
field towards the goal.
In church this is when a member of the church is caught by another
member of the staff and asked again to serve in either the nursery,
children’s or student ministry departments.

6. 1st and 10
In football this term signifies that the team with the ball is making their
first attempt to move the ball 10 yards.
In church this term signifies the starting place God expects us to us when
returning what is already His stuff to Him. Give 1st and Give 10.. . %

7. Tight End
In football, this is an offensive player using the combined skills of a
lineman and a wide receiver to both block and score.
In church this is a problem seen as people in the pew/chairs refuse to
move towards the center of the row.

8. Time Out
In football this term signifies an intentional break in the game for players
and coaches, to rest, regroup, and refocus on the game. Each team gets 3 in each half of the game. It is rare for a team not to use all their time outs.
In church this term signifies something God asks us to do together as a
team, generally on Sundays, to rest, regroup and refocus on Him.
Each person is to have one day per week to meet together to
Worship Him, but unlike football, it is rare for people to regularly use
their time out.

9. Take a Knee
In football when one team holds a slim lead over its opponent in the final
seconds of a game and that team has possession of the ball, the quarterback may drop to one knee after receiving the snap . . .
preventing their opponent from gaining advantage and winning
the game.
In church this practice is not always used to its best advantage, but also
allows a team to hold on to its lead, preventing their opponent
from gaining advantage.

10. Safety
In football a safety is a score worth two points that the defense earns by
tackling an offensive player who has possession of the ball in his own
end zone.
In church safety is the assurance that comes from knowing that we are
bound for heaven because we have put our trust in Jesus to take
away our sins, cleanse us through the waters of baptism, and give us
His Spirit so that we are being transformed to look more and more
like Him every day.

11. Goal
In football, the goal is the chalked or painted line dividing the end zone
from the playing field. This line must be crossed in order to score a
touchdown.
In church the goal to know God and make Him know, surrendering all we
want for all He wants and giving Him the glory He is due. (2 Cor. 5:9)

Philippians 3:7-14.. . But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Twenty Minutes With Jesus

20 minutes

It’s funny how one thing leads to another. . . since beginning this blog, several people have asked me where the ideas are coming from. Pretty much from the time of my day I call “Twenty Minutes With Jesus.” I understand that to many people twenty minutes with Jesus doesn’t sound very spiritual, I mean, why not thirty minutes? Why not an hour? Really, Dawn, all you’re going to give Jesus is 20 minutes a day? Well, kind of. I mean it’s my goal to give Him every minute, every second, every thought, action, motive and prayer. But I need some time in my day to just sit with Him and listen and learn from Him, and so several years ago I adapted a journaling and personal Bible reading plan from Dean Trune of Intentional Impact Ministries. It has become my “Twenty Minutes with Jesus” journal.

In my last post I talked about the whole being versus doing thing. I certainly battle that (most of us do, I think). I have to be very careful to make time to remember to cling to the sitting at Jesus’ feet Mary, while still embracing the passion and energy of my Martha personality.Yes, I tend to lean a bit towards the Martha side of the scale. (And yes, by a bit I mean try imagining Martha with a giant magnet and me wearing a metal suit!!)

But how does balance happen? How do we really overcome? We all know it needs to happen, but how does the “extreme spiritual home makeover” really happen? As I began to write this post, I wound up chatting with a friend on Facebook about this very topic. In regard to my life, I found myself typing out these words, “I finally figured out that I just wanted to be: to be the woman He wanted me to be, the wife He wanted me to be, the mom He wanted me to be. Once I got that down, the rest started falling into place.”

And I think that really sums it up. I finally saw what I needed, and just wanted it. When I wanted it, then God honored it by providing me this little method which took just twenty minutes. I think He knew that’s all I was ready for! In its simplicity, I still rarely allow myself to spend more than twenty minutes. I found that for my basic time with the Lord, if I didn’t limit it, I became the Martha of Bible study to the point where I wouldn’t or felt I couldn’t continue on. Since getting my twenty minute time down, I’ve added things like blogs, books, podcasts, conferences, my recent date with God, etc. at other times to draw me near and to build and enhance my relationship with the God I love and who loves me in return.

Basically for me, Twenty Minutes with Jesus works something like this.

1–Each day I begin by reading a Psalm. From that Psalm I write down any character qualities of God I see. For example, I may write, “You are faithful, you are king, your love is unfailing. . . .”

2–When I finish that I move on to Prayer Requests Usually these requests are personal, (I keep a separate prayer journal for other needs) based on the character qualities of God I desire to have built into my life or my family and for other specific needs as God leads. I usually limit this to four or five requests.

3–Then, I head into my Bible reading for the day. Currently, I’m in Isaiah. I’ve been here for a while–quite a while!! I’m good with that. I’ve learned spiritual transformation isn’t a race. I never set a particular amount of scripture to read each day, I just read until I feel God stops me by showing me something I’ve never seen before or something I need to consider, something that challenges me, or something I need to repent of.

4–After reading, I jot down what the Scripture is saying and what I need to learn from that. Again, I don’t write a ton, I just write enough so that I don’t forget what God is teaching me.

5–I’m almost done when I consider areas of spiritual warfare and repentance. These are most often in areas of character like impatience, pride, worry or self control.

6–I finish up with a quick reading from the New Testament and some notes on what I need to do as a result of all God has shown me. It may be to make a call, send a note, follow up with someone, work to make something right, or do some extra study.

On Sunday, my biggest working/teaching day at church, I will try to take time to look over the past week to see what God has been saying to me, or teaching me or where He may be leading me. Since the Mary thing isn’t always natural to me, I still have to take care that I don’t allow myself to have been so busy doing for God that I forgot what I learned sitting at His feet.

And as the years are going by, I find these twenty minutes a day to be the moments I crave most, I long for, and I cling to because it’s been during this time that He has shown me, clearly, not only who He is but who He wants me to be. And everyday, as I come to know more and more who I am in Christ, I come to know with confidence what it is He wants me to do. And all that in just Twenty Minutes a Day. . . .with Jesus!!