Slinging Spiritual Slang

Daily Post: Dash

Dash

One of the many Bible narratives from the Old Testament people love to hear is found in 1 Samuel 17.  A giant stands hurling insults at God’s army, while assassinating the character of Israel’s king.  The warrior/champion has killed more than his share of enemies, so his bravado was marked with experiential knowledge.  His training was exemplary, his capabilities self-evident to the naked eye.  He was a giant, in actual fact, and legendary prose.

On the other side of the valley stands a shepherd boy, shocked to hear the ravings of this giant; confused and disillusioned to see the cowardice in the camp of Israel.  His brothers, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah, all told him to keep his mouth shut, and go back home to their father, Jesse.  Instead, David seeks an audience with the king for the singular purpose of volunteering to take out the giant.  I’m convinced Saul, the king, didn’t think this was funny at all.  The enemy was 9.5 feet tall, the armor he wore outweighed the shepherd boy soaking wet.  Goliath had helmet, leggings, javelin, sword, and shield, all made of bronze, which all fit like a glove.  The king offered the shepherd his own armor, as a token.  When it clearly didn’t fit, the king offered David only these parting words, “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”

David’s weapons were: his stick – a walking stick/club he used to defend himself against wild animals and thieves, his sling, and five smooth stones from the brook lying at the bottom of the valley between himself and the giant.  Then David does something mind-boggling to most of us today.  David is described this way…

1 Samuel 17:48-49
Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.  And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground.

Having no armor, sword, shield, spear or helmet, here David stood victorious over the battle-trained giant.  David cut off the head of this giant, with the giant’s own sword (verse 51) and when the enemy army saw it, they fled in panic.

This is a wonderful story of courage.  It speaks of God’s protection and provision when God’s people face an enemy which is more prepared for battle in every way.  The intimidation factor in the world today is gigantic, in Goliath-like proportions.  Sometimes we struggle with the right words to penetrate the darkness, feeling defenseless or defeated.  All the while, the lesson to be learned in this simple story is often missed by the reader or hearer.

Lesson: using unconventional, readily available elements, empowered by God, can have spiritually eternal outcomes.

David’s sling dashed a stone into the forehead of the giant. David used the elements at hand.

It might seem ridiculous to some today, but the most powerful stone we may use in our sling is the one from the mouth of Jesus Himself.  He told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”  It seems like spiritual slang almost.  This statement’s meaning is unknown to the world today, just as much as it confused ole Nick when Jesus said it.  Yet these words can slay giants.

For the friend next door, suffering under the sword of Satan, and the weight of sin, the deliverance may be found in, “you must be born again.”  A co-worker seeking a way to make sense of their life, may be set free by hearing “you must be born again.”  Each of us could be used just like this shepherd boy who delivered Israel that day, if we would courageously sling out the truth, “you must be born again.”

It doesn’t matter that the world laughs at this ancient story, or at your spiritual slang.  The world laughed at Jesus too.  Goliath laughed at David too.  What matters is my willingness to be used by God to defeat evil in the world.  You and I must be willing, ready, and running to the battle we must shout:

“You must be born again!” [John 3:3]

So I say to you today… “Go, and may the Lord be with you.”

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People Panicking Perpetuates Pandemonium

Panicked

pandemonium

A panic attack is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) as:

… an abrupt and discrete experience of intense fear or acute discomfort, accompanied by symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, and worries about going crazy, losing control or dying.

Did you know that 8-10 percent of the population has panic attacks, or that in 5% it becomes a disorder, occurring without any obvious stimulus, making the attacks even more terrifying?  In these cases it isn’t just a rush of anxiety, like most of us might experience from time to time.  No, these patients describe it as the most frightening event they have ever experienced.  Research has discovered leads to what causes a person’s first panic attack, as well as some clues about how to avoid an attack in the first place.  The simplified version is that panic attacks often result…

…when our normal “fight or flight” response to imminent threats—including increased heart rate and rapid breathing—is triggered by “false alarms,” situations in which real danger is absent.

The good news for those who suffer this chronic disorder is, first, all panic attacks are triggered by known events, even though the person may not be aware of those events. Knowing this can often reduce the anxiety stemming from a sense of unpredictability.  Second, though it is affirming to learn the attack is caused as a misfire of the fight-or-flight response when there actually is no danger.

In a culture spawning “fake” news, political corruption, excesses and entitlements, it’s little wonder that we all don’t run into the ocean, screaming in a wild panic.  I’m sure that we could learn quite a bit from a shepherd boy, if we only would.  Just because things look dangerous, or complicated, or “glass-half-empty,” (or completely empty), doesn’t mean God sees it this way.  If only we could see the world, ourselves, and our situations through God’s eyes, I believe it would make a huge difference in our lives.  Maybe we wouldn’t become panicked quite so much.

The key to David’s life was his ability to not see things as they are, but to view them as God sees them.  Enter Goliath, a huge 9 ft. tall giant of a man, hardened by war, trained in battle.  He wears armor plated garments, has both spear and sword, and a shield to ward off enemy attacks.  He bellows at the top of his lungs, the wild ravings of the blood-thirsty heathen that he is.  And every time he does so, to a man in the camp of Israel, they are trembling in a crazed panic.

Along comes David bringing food to his brothers in the army of God.  Upon hearing Goliath’s threats and railings, David’s response is not flight, it is fight.  It’s not an imagined danger, it is very real.  It is tangible.  It is death with a face on it.  Yet, David’s instant response to the Israelite men trembling in panic was:

1 Samuel 17:26
Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”

I can almost hear it in David’s voice.  The overwhelming confidence that God will not stand for His people to be challenged in this way without retribution.  God will not allow for the heathen to cast dispersions and heresies about Him without punishment.  David is clearly not panicked.  (1 Samuel 17)  How did God use David’s confidence to demonstrate His own sovereign control, authority, and covenant presence?  Watch.  After using his trusty slingshot to nail the giant with a stone from the river…

1 Samuel 17:51
Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.  When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

Now it’s the Philistine army’s response to be panicked, and well they should.

So, here’s the thing.  The thing, event or circumstance that frightens you most right now, whether cancer, relationship struggles, financial difficulties, or emotional strains to difficult even to talk about; hear me… God is still in control.  The authority of His word still stands.  His covenant presence with you is designed to annihilate the panic that so easily sets in to destroy us.  Here are God’s simple words to avoid becoming panicked:

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.

 

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