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December 2010 entries

Chasing a Lion into a Pit on a Snowy Day

For those of you who were afraid to face the elements Sunday or were otherwise detained; here are some notes from my message “Killing Lions in a Pit on a Snowy Day.” The idea for the message came after I read a book by Mark Batterson on this obscure passage in 2 Samuel 23.God spoke to many as they came to the front and confronted their fears in prayer.

 2 Samuel 23:20-23 (NKJV)
20 Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel, who had done many deeds. He had killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day.
21 And he killed an Egyptian, a spectacular man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand; so he went down to him with a staff, wrested the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and killed him with his own spear.
22 These things Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and won a name among three mighty men.
23 He was more honored than the thirty, but he did not attain to the first three. And David appointed him over his guard.

I can picture David thumbing through a stack of resumes as he looked for a man worthy to lead his troop of body guards. This is an important task reserved for a unique individual.

 Let’s see Two year degree in criminal justice…naaa…worked for an armored chariot company…naaa….medal for archery marksmanship…not quite. Then he comes upon Benaiah’s qualifications. “I killed to lion-like Moab warriors, killed an spear toting Egyptian with only a club, and killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day.

 This was the man he was looking for. Lion chasers make great body guards.

 Truth: God is always using past experiences for future opportunities. He is preparing us for what he has prepared for us! These experiences often come disguised as man-eating lions. How we react when encountering those lions will determine our destiny.

 Benaiah was not the odds on favorite to win this fight.

A fully grown lion can way upwards of 500 pounds. He runs many miles faster and leaps much further than any Olympic athlete. Its jaws are powerful enough to crush a man’s skull.  A lions eyesight is five times better than a man’s eyesight. That is particularly important on a snowy day. A pit is a lion’s domain.

 But Benaiah did what lion chasers do, he defied the odds. Lion chasers know that God is bigger than any obstacle that we will ever face in this world.

There is great opportunity hidden in impossible odds.

Sometimes God will not even come to our aid as long as the thing is humanly possible. When He does intervene it is usually just in the nick of time.

 Example

 God’s unwillingness to intervene until the odds are stacked against us is evident in the counterintuitive plan of God in Judges 7.  Gideon’s army of 32,000 men is greatly outnumbered by the army of the Midianites. They are already deep in the hole when God tells Gideon to cut the numbers.

Judges 7:2-3 (NKJV)
2 And the Lord said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.'
3 Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, 'Whoever
is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.' " And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.

Now down to 10,000 the odds are even greater against a Jewish victory.

Then the Lord says, “There are still too many of you.”

    Judges 7:4 (NKJV)
4 But the Lord said to Gideon, "The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, 'This one shall go with you,' the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, 'This one shall not go with you,' the same shall not go."

God then tells Gideon to dismiss the men who drink water at the river like a dog. When he does only 300 remain. With 300 men and no artillery Gideon’s army routed the Midianites.

If Gideon would have attacked with 32,000 men I’m sure the Israelites would have thanked God for lending them a hand. But with 300 God gets all the credit. That’s what He deserves.

Too often our prayers are about getting God to stack the odds in our favor. But effective prayers occur when the odds are against you.

In truth, we want big odds in our favor because we fail to recognize the Big God who’s in our corner. When you serve a small God then you face big obstacles.

 A.W. Tozer said a “low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils.”

A low view of God and a high view of God is the difference between being chased by lions and running toward them.

 Lion chasers pray ridiculous prayers. Here’s an example.

 Elisha has been invited to chop wood by the river with some of his students:

 2 Kings 6:4-5 (NKJV)
4 So he went with them. And when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. 5 But as one was cutting down a tree, the iron ax head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, "Alas, master! For it was borrowed."

Notice the tense of the verb, “it was borrowed.” In other words, this thing is gone. It’s a lost cause. I’m not sure if he was looking for a little sympathy or just wanted to come clean, but I don’t think he was asking for a miracle.

That’s stating the obvious. Any mineral with a density of more than one gram per cubic centimeter sinks. The density of an ax is approximately 7.2  gram per cubic centimeter. Simply put: Axe heads don’t float; at least not as a rule.

How does Elisha respond? He prays a ridiculous prayer.

 2 Kings 6:6 (NKJV)
6 So the man of God said, "Where did it fall?" And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float.

Elisha cuts a stick and throws it into the water and the axe head floats to the surface.

Why do I love this miracle so much?

Because it is not life threatening, it is life instructing. When you see God work miracles in small things you are more likely to trust Him in bigger things. That’s the way God sees it too.

Matthew 25:23 (NKJV)
23 His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'

By attempting things that cannot be humanly done then we are re-learning the way we look at the world.  It’s called renewing your mind.

Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

According to psychiatrists there are only two fears we are born with. The rest we learn through experiences. They are the fear of falling and of loud noises. But they can account for about 2,000 learned fears.  If they are learned that means they can be unlearned. 

Think of your fears as mental lions; mental lions in snowy pits. What’s your first inclination?

You leave the lion in the pit and slink away before he catches your scent; the scent of fear. But if we don’t chase that lion into the pit he will keep us defeated for the rest of our lives. God loves us so much that He wants us to get beyond our fears. The question is, “do you think he loves you enough to help you face your fears?”

 1 John 4:18 (NKJV)
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

The goal of love is fearlessness!

What are you afraid of?

 Lion chasers don’t hide from things they fear. They chase them down.  They expose themselves to the source of their fear knowing that God loves them enough to get them through the experience.

The more you are willing to risk, the more God can use you. If you are willing to risk everything, there is nothing God cannot do in and through you.

 


Who is Aslan?

I am going to recommend you do something this Christmas holiday. When you can get a moment after all the other things you have to get done; go see a movie. Not just any movie, I want you to go see "Voyage of the Dawntreader." This is the latest installment in the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. This is not a review of the movie. I haven't gone to see it either. However, it is on our list of to-dos after our oldest son's wedding and all the Christmas festivities have passed. I have read the book. Those who have seen the movie say it is one of the most entertaining movies in a long time. But I have another reason for you to see the movie. I would like your opinion. Can you come up with any other any answer besides Jesus Christ as to the identity of Aslan the lion. If you have seen or read the other movies or books you may consider this an absurd question. Well not according to the actor whose voice is used for Aslan in the movie. Liam Neeson says that he sees evidence of all great religious leaders in Aslan. In a recent interview he said he sees the Buddha and Muhammad as well as Jesus in the character. What?

Is Mr. Neeson so blind as to not recognize Christ in Aslan? Or is he afraid to speak the truth? Is it more expedient to be politically correct even when it goes against the intent of the author? How would Lewis react to an actor arbitrarily changing the anthropomorphic identity of the main character of this classic story? I suppose it is not unlike liberal theologians who attempt to change the identity of Jesus under the veneer of investigative scholarship. For years preachers, professors and competing religions have attempted to strip Jesus of His deity and even His virgin birth. They have cast doubt upon the very Word of God that identifies His unique place in human history. They have labelled Him everything from a mis-guided cleric, a good but fallible man, and even gone as far as to deny his existence by changing the way we mark time. (Scholars have now gone to B.C.E. and C.E. instead of B.C. and A.D.) As Christians we have to stand up for the truth that has set us free. Jesus is God's own Son. He was born of a virgin and lived a life confronted with every form of temptation yet free from sin. He literally, not figuratively, died on the cross and literally, not figuratively, rose bodily on the third day. He will return again to reward His followers and punish sin. Sorry, if that's not politically correct, but it's the Gospel.

So go see the movie. See if you recognize anyone else as Aslan. Then pray for people like Mr. Neeson who have been privileged to portray Christ to millions but who have missed the truth for themselves.