Facing a Giant? You’re Not Alone!

photo credit: Fried Dough via photopin cc
photo credit: Fried Dough via photopin cc

A very real problem for all of us is that we tend to profess a depth of faith in God that we do not actually possess. Faith is easy on the mountaintop. The battlefield trenches of life are an entirely different matter. A football team may spend a lot of time practicing in preparation for the first game of the season against their arch rivals, but it isn’t until they step onto the field of play that their true abilities become evident.

All too often, our version of the gospel speaks only of God’s forgiveness in light of our sinfulness, of the efficacy of grace as opposed to our impotent works, of the glories of heaven compared to the pain of this world. All of these things are true, but they fail to present a complete picture. We even go so far as to portray the Old Testament Promised Land as an image of heaven. Do we actually believe that we will have to drive enemies out of heaven? No, each of us has a promised land, a favorable destiny, in this world.

photo credit: Monica's Dad via photopin cc
photo credit: Monica’s Dad via photopin cc

Why is it that every promised land has its share of giants? Why, when we seek that which we believe to be good, must we face health problems, a lack of finances, and all sorts of opposition—not only from others but also from within ourselves? And why, tell me, must these issues loom so large? There are times when a few miniature giants would do me just fine!

We sometimes fail to grasp that God saves us in order to restore us to His image (Romans 8:29), and that His image is that of the ultimate overcomer. God’s goal is never to save us for a sweet eternity only, but to transform us into champions of the faith. By definition, a champion is a person who defeats all opponents; the more formidable the opposition, the greater the champion. You would be unimpressed if I told you that I once knocked out every kid in my son’s fourth-grade class in a boxing tournament. But, if you saw me wearing an Olympic gold medal (that I had actually earned), you would immediately think of greatness. Until we face and overcome genuine giants, we are not true champions in the arena of life.

Our response to our personal giants reveals the true depths of our faith. The fact that we have sufficient faith in one area of life does not necessarily mean that we trust God in all areas. When fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, and bitterness take root in our hearts, they indicate areas in which our faith is shallow. Thus, every giant is in a sense tailor-made to help us grow in these areas. Am I saying that God is responsible for raising opposition against us? Not necessarily! Our fallen world provides more than enough difficult challenges to our faith. I do know, however, that our loving Father will use even the largest obstacles for His sovereign purposes.

Like the ten doubting spies of Numbers 13, many of us tend to view our giants as signs that God has abandoned us. Very few have the heart of a Joshua or a Caleb. Later in time, only the shepherd boy David stood up against the Philistine champion Goliath, while Saul and all of his mighty men cowered in fear.

photo credit: saturn ♄ via photopin cc
photo credit: saturn ♄ via photopin cc

How we respond to our giants will impact, not only our lives, but also the generations that follow. Sadly, David had to face Goliath only because Joshua’s generation failed to completely destroy their generation of behemoths. We can only imagine how Anak’s descendants tormented the nation of Israel for 400 years until a shepherd boy with David’s faith happened along. And not only did the kid fell that monster of a man, he used Goliath’s own sword to finish the job. God loves to show off by transforming our greatest weaknesses into our greatest strengths!

(This post is based on the content of my new book, Champions in the Wilderness, which is now available for sale through Amazon. Also, when our new SfMe Media website goes live, our blog posts will be switched our new ministry website, searchforme.info and this blog site will be phased out. You can subscribe to by entering your email in the subscribe panel on the right-hand side of the new website.)

Economic Uncertainty–What an Opportunity!

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Did you hear about the rioting currently taking place in parts of Europe? Governments are trying to cut back on their massive debts by imposing austerity measures such as cutting salaries and workers benefits. This all takes place while those in power continue to grow in wealth. Such economic disparity creates a breeding ground of extreme discontent from which all sorts of violence (including terrorism) draw their strength.

Here in the U.S. recent census results show that the income gap between rich and poor has now increased to its widest margin on record, double what it was just 40 years ago. Considering the continued growth of our national debt, it’s simply a matter of time until we face even more extreme circumstances than we see today.

I certainly don’t see myself as a fatalist resigned to accept a dark foreboding future for the western world, but I am convinced that we need to confront the realities of our day through the eye of faith. I speak not of an ignorant, self-imposed blindness, but of a confidence in God that looks through and beyond very real circumstances. Natural circumstances are not unimportant, but an eternal perspective carries far greater weight.

Ours is a living hope found only through our relationship with Christ. If our hope is focused elsewhere, we will be severely disappointed—especially in our current economic times.

Hope springs eternal through identification with Christ. Hopelessness will ever bear the dark fruits of discouragement, depression, cynicism, hardness and eventually violence. It’s in this vein that I am so touched by the heroes of the faith who have gone before us. Read what Hebrews 11:8-10 has to say about Abraham:

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he would later receive as an inheritance, and he went out without understanding where he was going. By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land as though it were a foreign country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with firm foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (NET)

Abraham was so characterized by an eternal hope that he was unwilling to see even the Promised Land as home! Abraham’s real promise was God Himself. As a result all of heaven holds Abraham in the highest regard.

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Abraham looked beyond his natural circumstances and fixed his gaze upon an eternal land of opportunity. The political and economic rumblings of our day compel us to do the same. How privileged we are to live in an era that will not allow us to firmly place our trust on the ever shifting sands of human design!

We are immersed in a course of world events that supersede our individual wants and desires. Life as we’ve known it is coming to an end, while both the kingdoms of light and darkness steadily rise. Ongoing economic uncertainty will continue to challenge us to evaluate the focus of our trust. What an amazing opportunity to pursue Christ and to lay hold of the eternal, living hope found only in Him!

Wondering in the Wilderness – Part II

I’ve decided to change the title of this blog mini-series to “Wondering in the Wilderness” because that’s what we tend to do upon finding ourselves in desolate territory—wonder what happened to God and his promises. It is this very tendency toward doubt that God is trying to kill off from our lives.

Photo by Omar Omar - Creative Commons License 2.0

Our heavenly Father never intends a wilderness to be a destination. It is simply a territory that we must pass through on the way to a promised land, flowing with milk and honey. But for us to go from desolate isolation to sweet fullness, something must die. That something is our unbelief.

By design the wilderness is constructed as a test our faith. How will we respond when we see fierce giants, when we lack water, when life is dull and mundane, or when we don’t like the direction our leaders are going? Yes, God wants to test and prove (establish) our faith! Our ability to trust Him is that important. We, however, often have our own agendas, thereby finding ourselves completely ignorant of God’s intended purposes. In such cases, we prolong our wilderness experience as we fail to align ourselves with His plans and purposes.

After their exodus from bondage in Egypt, the nation of Israel should have spent about two weeks crossing the desert into the promised land of Canaan. In the end that journey took 40 years (over 1000 times as long as intended) as an entire generation of unbelieving Israelites died in the wilderness. Do we see it? God designed the wilderness as a place for unbelief to die.

Deliverance and faith aren’t just about heaven! Like that generation of wilderness Israelites, many of us suffer from unbelief in the form of misplaced trust. We have this uncanny tendency to only trust what we can see or think we clearly understand. For them it was a golden calf and the consistent provision of Egypt. We tend to put our confidence in ourselves, our bank accounts, the security of our jobs, friends or family, etc.

Make no doubt about it—misplaced trust is unbelief clothed in idolatry, and it surely leads to spiritual desolation. In other words, the dryness of our external wilderness environment quickly infiltrates our internal spiritual state. If, however, we learn to trust God in the wilderness, our hearts are well-watered regardless of what’s going on around us.

“The Lord says,

Photo by beglib - MorgueFile

‘I will put a curse on people

who trust in mere human beings,

who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength,

and whose hearts have turned away from the Lord.

They will be like a shrub in the desert.

They will not experience good things even when they happen.

It will be as though they were growing in the desert,

in a salt land where no one can live.

My blessing is on those people who trust in me,

who put their confidence in me.

They will be like a tree planted near a stream

whose roots spread out toward the water.

It has nothing to fear when the heat comes.

Its leaves are always green.

It has no need to be concerned in a year of drought.

It does not stop bearing fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NET)