Taking on the Giants

giant 2Imagine the scene: a scrawny sixteen year old shepherd boy takes out a 9’9” tall giant with one rock and a sling.

You may not have a gigantic giant taunting you to come out and fight. But you are probably facing a few giants of your own. Giants like the stack of past-due bills glaring at you. Like the divorce papers waiting on your signature. Or the depression that looms over you like the Hulk. It could be low self-esteem or insecurity or child abuse in your past. But you have your giants. And so do I. And we would do well to learn from David.

He could face his “giant” because he had spent time in the quiet with God. When he arrived at the place of the standoff between the Israelites and the Philistines, he talked about God. He told Saul that “The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine” (1Sam.17:37). He did not hesitate to confront Goliath, saying he came “in the name of the Lord of host, the God of the armies of Israel.”

David was God-focused instead of giant-focused. He mentions Goliath two times and God nine times. He knew the giant was there and recognized his presence. But his thoughts were twice as much on God.

That focus led him to confront his giant rather than run away. For forty days Goliath continued to challengedepression Israel’s army. And for forty days everyone hoped he would just go away. But giants don’t typically go away until we face them. So David stepped into the gap and slung one well-aimed stone at him.

It helps to have someone in your corner that believes in you. David had his Jonathan. You need yours. You need at least one person who believes in you and that also believes in God. Someone who can encourage your faith—give you courage—when you most need it.

And you will need it. Because after you slay one giant, there will be more. You may wonder why David picked up five stones from the river bed. Was he afraid he might miss? Not likely. He was skilled in his use of the sling.

2 Samuel 21:18-22 hints that Goliath may have had four brothers. David was ready. He could take on one giant. You might say he knew how to get a head of his giant. And then he was ready for more.

And you can too. Just follow the shepherd from Bethlehem

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There’s A Wall In Front Of You.

facing wallThere’s a wall in front of you. Behind you is a past you are running from. Beyond the wall awaits the promise of a new life. But you’re not moving because there is this “wall.” You feel trapped. No way out. This is just the sort of situation in which God does some of his finest work.

You need only ask the Israelites. Behind them was a life of back-breaking work and slavery. Ahead of them was a life in the land of Promise. Behind them was the fierce army of a fanatical Pharaoh coming towards them. Ahead of them was a wall. Their obstruction was made of water.

Your “wall” may be a fear of failure. Or maybe it’s a lack of confidence that has grinded your progress to a halt. Or it could merely be too many problems that have piled up in front of you at the same time. And you have no clue which one to tackle first.

So you stopped. And you aren’t sure if there is a way over, around, or under this imposing impediment.

At this point many people panic. Anxiety courses its way through the body, atrophies the movement muscles, and rigor mortis overtakes their resolve. Eyes which once had clear focus now only focus on the wall just inches away.

But some look elsewhere. The Israelites looked to Moses. They began belting him with blame. Have you done the same? Blame the boss. Blame a co-worker. Blame your dog. Blame God. Maybe even blame yourself? Blame all you want but the wall remains.

While the Israelites were body punching Moses, he opted to look elsewhere. His options? He could have looked at the enemy’s facing a wallarmy. He could have looked at the ungrateful people he led. He could have looked at the wall of water spread out before him, sat down, and given up.

Instead he looked to God. And God opened an unlikely route through the wall of water. Safely on the other side, the very wall that had halted their steps closed in on and covered the sources of their fears.

The very name of the book where we find this story serves as a reminder when we face our “walls.”  “Exodus” is a compound Greek word meaning “the way out.” And in case you might have missed it,  the way out was not a better job, a different spouse, or a victim mentality.

No, the way out is God. Next time you find yourself up against a wall try looking to him.

People are talking!

 

people talking 3Here’s what New Venture people are saying about The Story.

 

·        Interesting

·        Stimulating

·        It was fantastic, this journey is going to be an eye opener, reading God’s word and establishing a relationship with Him. That’s only just the beginning.

·        Foundational

·        I got something new out of the story I have heard/read many, many times.

·        Great start on a fantastic journey

·        Hopeful

·        Great start to a great series

·        Fascinating.  It truly peaked my interest.  Even with knowing the story of creation, I found myself asking, “What happens next?”  It was like the end of the old “Batman” TV series, “Will Noah survive the frightful flood waters?  Tune in next week… same Bible time… same Bible station!”

·        Stimulatingpeople talking

·        A spiritual version of jolt cola

 

The story is a condensed, chronological study of the Bible. In this church-wide adventure we are discovering how our story fits with God’s story so that we might have a story to tell.

 

You as well as your friends and family are invited to join us as we explore The Story of God and discover how all the little pieces fit together into the big picture of God’s design.

 

Sundays, 10:00 AM, 530 Courthouse Rd, Richmond 23236

Hold the spit!

spitting   This morning, as I came to the end of my run, I was in my cool down mode. I had just passed my house, when one of my neighbors, from across the street, backed out of his driveway. He saw me as I passed and cautiously asked, “I’m sorry, did I get too close to you?” “Of course not”, I said. He was not close at all.

 

As he drove away, I was in the process of clearing the thick saliva from my mouth, at the end of a 6 mile workout, and spitting it on the side of the road. At that moment, the thought came to me, “what if my neighbor thinks my spitting is a response to him?” You see, my neighbor is African-American. So I decided to hold my spit until he was well out of sight, and then I let it go.

 

As insignificant as this might seem, it was a wake-up call to me about how sensitive I need to be with my actions and reactions in today’s culture, especially when it comes to those of a different race or ethnicity. Racism is alive and strong today. Even though the Bible says God is no respecter of persons, we live in a culture that is charged with racist feelings and incidents. Some of these are intentional and calculated. Others may appear to be discriminatory but are anything but that.

 

One thing I don’t want to be is misinterpreted and seen as disrespectful or prejudiced in any way. There are times, though, when my actions might be misunderstood, so I have decided to hold my spit. In fact, here are a few other actions that I have decided to take when it comes to all people.

 

Equal Greetings: I want to welcome all people with the same kind of warmth. That means, going out of my way toprejudice greet and show acceptance. I will talk and interact with them. And there’s no better greeting than a good hug. So I hug those who are like me, and those who are different than I. I refuse to accept some and ignore others.

 

Equal respect: I will look at people when I talk to them. I will talk to them and not at them or past them. I will give my attention to them. Nothing is more aggravating and disrespectful than to deal with a person in a public service position, in a service sector job, who hardly acknowledges your presence. Respect means giving them my presence and attention.

 

Equal care: People get down and out. Times turn ugly rapidly. Ends don’t meet. Whether it is food, a ride, a little money for gas, clothes or whatever, I will see the need and not the color of the skin or the ethnicity of the person. And I will respond according to the need and my ability to meet that need whether they are like me or different from me.

 

Equal restraint: That means, as I began this post, refraining from any action that might be misinterpreted or misunderstood. I will hold my spit, turn after them instead of in front of them, be courteous and let them go in line in front of me even though I  am starving or in a big hurry. The Bible says to “abstain from all appearances of evil.” That could just as well say “abstain from all appearances of prejudice.”

 

racismEqual encouragement: Everyone needs encouragement. Life is hard. We get knocked down. Sometimes it is totally unexpected. Other times it is just what we deserved. It is easy to encourage those of our kind. It is also easy to encourage those who we know will encourage us back. It is maturity, being like Jesus, to encourage those who are different than us. After all, that woman that Jesus met at the well, who found the water of life in him, was of a different race and nationality that he was. He reached out and gave to her what no one else had ever offered, acceptance, encouragement, and new life. I will commit to doing the same!

 

So check the temperature, your outfit, your hair, your wallet to make sure you have money, the gas in your tank, the weather forecast, your schedule, and 1000 other things. But above all else, check your attitude about other people, other people who are different than you whether it be gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or whatever. May we be devoted to removing every hint of favoritism, discrimination and prejudice in how we act toward ALL PEOPLE. Hold the spit!

How has New Venture Christian Church changed your life?

whatifAn exciting part of our capital campaign has been a series of small groups in which the details of the campaign are explained and everyone is given a chance to ask any questions they might have. Even more exciting is hearing people tell about how New Venture has changed their lives. Here are just a few of the stories.

  • I have never been as connected with any other church as NVCC. I want to get involved and there are so many opportunities.
  • NV has not judged us for the things we have done in the past. They just accept us for who we are.
  • I don’t have to be dragged to church. It has changed our whole life, how we feel, think and deal with life.
  • I was baptized at NV and I am progressing on my journey.
  • Coming to NV has helped me become a better husband and father. It is nothing I have done. God is doing it.Print
  • NV has definitely changed my life. I have learned more about the Bible than I have even learned in my life.
  • New Venture has put us in a family
  • New Venture has helped me regain trust in people in the church. They’re not old and crotchety and I can enjoy his freedom at NV
  • NV has changed my life. Our lives were in a wreck and NV was just what we needed.
  • I know if I need anything I can call on anyone at NV and I know I will have help. It is my home. This is my family.
  • New Venture turned me around. NV taught me you didn’t have to be perfect. I never learned that in church growing up.

What is your story?

put some margin into your life

Job said in Job 3:26 “I have no peace.  I have no quiet.  I have no rest and trouble keeps coming.”  Anybody identify with that verse?

Here’s some of the common areas where we experience overload in life.  We’re going to be looking at these in this series.  We have too much activity in our lives, too much change, too many choices, too much work, too much debt, too much media exposure.  We’re stressed by information overload.  We’ve stressed by accessibility overload.  We’re connected all the time.  We’re stressed by the pace of life, which we talked about last week. 

What is the solution?  The solution is to put some margin into your life.  Margin is breathing room.  Margin is a little reserve that you’re not using up.  Margin is the space between my load and my limit.  Hopefully your load is not heavier than your limits.  But the truth is that most of us are far more overloaded than we should be and there is no margin, no margin for error in our lives. 

Dr. Richard Swenson, a MD says this, “The conditions of modern day living devour margin.  If you’re homeless we direct you to a shelter.  If you’re penniless we offer you food stamps.  If you’re breathless we connect you to oxygen.  But if you’re marginless we give you one more thing to do.  Marginless is being thirty minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were twenty minutes late getting out of the hairdresser because you were ten minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from a gas station and you forgot your purse.  That’s marginless.  Margin, on the other hand, is having breath at the top of the staircase, money at the end of the month and sanity left over at the end of adolescence.  Marginless is the baby crying and the phone ringing at the same time.  Margin is grandma taking the baby for the afternoon.  Marginless is being asked to carry a load five pounds heavier than you can lift.  Margin is having a friend carry half the burden.  Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress.  Margin is having the time to read it twice.  Marginless is fatigue.  Margin is energy.  Marginless is red ink.  Margin is black ink.  Marginless is hurry.  Margin is calm.  Marginless is our culture.  Margin is counter-culture, having some space in your life and schedule.  Marginless is reality.  Margin is remedy.  Marginless is the disease of our decade and margin is the cure.

There are dozens of benefits that we can talk about that come into our life as we build some space between my load and my limits.  Let’s take a quick look at at least four of them that immediately begin to happen in our lives.  What happens when I build in a little margin?

1. I’ve got more peace of mind in my life.  I’m not hurrying and worrying all the time.  I have time to stop, to think, to relax, to enjoy, to smell the roses.

2.  Better health.  We all know that unrelenting stress harms our bodies.  We all know that, yet we let it continue, day after day after day.  Many times the only time we get margin in our lives is when the heart attack almost happens or does happen or the blood pressure skyrockets.  Why do we wait until our health plummets until we make this decision? Margin builds in the time for better health. 

3.  Stronger relationships.  There’s a lot of reasons for the collapse of the family in America today, but I say that one reason is we don’t have any margin in our lives.  Amidst all the other things, even if you value family, we don’t have time to make it work.  And because we don’t have time for one another we can’t build the relationship we’d like to have.  The truth is relationships take time and margin provides the time to sit and talk.  It provides the time to listen. The time to comfort someone who needs to be comforted, just to enjoy people, to play with your kids.

4.  It makes you available for God to use.  Available to God to use to make a difference in this world.  When you’re overloaded, when you’ve got too much to do, you can only think of yourself.  When you get overloaded you go into survival mode –  “Maybe I can make it through but I’m not sure.”  And if God does come and tap you on the shoulder and say, “I’d like you to do this.  I can make a difference in your life through this,” your first response isn’t joy. Your first response is, “Oh, no!  Another thing to do!  God, I’d like to do that but I’m sorry!  I’m just too busy.”  So we end up resenting that great opportunity God brings into our lives.  But when you have margin, you’re available for God to use. 

So for these reasons and so many others let’s put, and I say put because it won’t just happen, some margin in our lives. We have to make it happen. Let’s put some margin in our lives.

If you would like a little assistance on how to do that let me know.  I have some ideas.