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

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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.