Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Counting the Cost (of college)

I haven't had the chance to get online much lately, so I've been checking other blogs and news remotely on the run. Yesterday, these three articles were literally lined up in my Google Reader, so I figured that's too much of a coincidence to pass up. It's odd to see this much coverage right now. College application deadlines aren't for another couple of months and it's been a couple of months since the annual "best of" lists for colleges were released. So maybe they're filling a slow news day. Anyway, all three articles tackle student load debt and the cost of college. If you're in that stage in life or have children approaching that milestone decision, these are worth reading:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

God Sets the Lonely in Families

It was our second date. My wife-to-be and I were browsing books at Borders and making small talk. She was talking about her family and her childhood. She said something about her birth certificate and I told her mine was the same.

She was stunned, unable to process what I just implied. In all her time praying to God for a husband who is like this, from there, does that... one prayer always stood out, that he would understand her like no one else could. And my nonchalant comment sealed the deal in her heart. (Me, I was slower on the uptake. It took me a couple more months to recognize what God was doing.)

You see, I could understand her like no one else could because like her, I am adopted.

I admit I have selfishly held this post back. November is National Adoption Month. I've been wanting to post something. I have friends who have adopted. We've made efforts to get tied in to the local Foster system. And there are a hundred other better reasons to post this than my own selfishness. Because writing this is hard. It exposes emotions, and I don't like to feel. But today, Thanksgiving, I realize I am thankful for nothing greater because I see God's divine providence at work in my life and my wife's through our adoptions.

"From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us." (Acts 17:26-27, emphasis added)

So as I thank God today for my family and the course my life has taken I cannot ignore the role my adoption played. So I thank God that I was adopted. And I thank God for my friends who have adopted or taken in foster children from the inner city to China and everywhere in between. I thank God on behalf of all those who now have homes who otherwise would not.

But the work is not done. Davd Platt shares in Radical Together how he approached the county Department of Human Resources to find out how many families it would take to meet all the adoptive and fostering needs in the county. He was told 150 families. When he invited his congregation to a later meeting if they were interested in serving in this way (after preaching from James 1:27) 160 showed.

I heard on the radio the other day that there are more Christian Churches (broadly defined) than there are foster children in North America so if every church only took in a single child, that need could be completely eliminated. I have trouble believing that when I see the needs in my own community. In California there are 63,000 in foster care and 12,000 children waiting for adoptive families.

And so I thank God for those who are presently moved to meet this need. One of my blogger buddies, Jason Stasyszen is going through the process to adopt from Japan. You can follow that progress on their Facebook page. Here's a video they put together. (grab a tissue)

Thank you God for blessing me with a family who loved me and raised me. Thank you for the same for my wife. Thank you for bringing the two of us together. Thank you for those who have hearts for the fatherless. Move our hearts to not be ignorant of their needs. Thank you for the many blessings you have given us so that we can share them with those in need. Amen.

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families
" (Psalm 68:5-6)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On the Verge

I try not to be too self-serving in my posts, but this was too good to pass up. If you've never heard of Verge, it's a conference and ministry whose mission is to encourage and equip "Gospel-centered missional communities". I admit to finding them by accident through their YouTube channel. I'm an unashamed Francis Chan junkie, but I discovered more there than just Chan: tips on how to be missional, other speakers/authors like Alan Hirsch and Matt Carter, and through their links, articles on building missional communities, how to build a culture of disciples making disciples, and so on.

So here's the deal. I want to go to their conference this year. I'm not interested in any specific speaker, or checking out the music scene of Austin, but I want to fellowship with others who are like-minded to seek and save the lost, make disciples who make disciples, and practice the pure and faultless religion of taking care of orphans, widows and our communities in need.

I've already been piling on to my reading list thanks to Verge: For the City by Darrin Patrick and Matt Carter and Building a Discipling Culture and Covenant and Kingdom by Mike Breen. Now I want to learn practicals- hands on and first hand from those doing it.

So here's what I need from you. Follow Verge on Facebook. Then when all the entry blogs are posted, vote for your favorite. It's that simple. Thanks for your support!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Label or Content?

Which of the following lyrics would you expect to hear on a Christian radio station? (answers at the end of the post)
  1. Save me, I'm lost. Lord, I've waiting for you.
  2. My tongue dances behind my lips for you
  3. All alone, smoking his last cigarette, where were you?
  4. I wanna get right with God, you know you gotta get right with God
  5. You make my teeth clench and my hands shake, do you ever see what you do to me?
What defines "Christian music"? (I'm thinking specifically here of Christian rock. Worship music and Christian pop are a little more obvious.)

Is it the record label? Switchfoot brushed off the description and for a long time resisted playing in Christian festivals even though their first label before going mainstream was Christian rock powerhouse Tooth and Nail.

Is it where it is sold? Evanescence vehemently opposed the description even though their first album was heavily promoted in Christian stores by their label. It took a near lawsuit to remove their album from the shelves.

Is it the radio station that plays it? Take the lyrics above. Sometimes you can find more redemptive value in mainstream rock than in some songs that are labeled Christian. I'll cheat and give you one answer from above- #5 above is from Anberlin's "Impossible" and is played frequently on Air1. The chorus, "Take what you want from me, it means nothing now..." sounds like surrendering to God. But the verses have more of a double entendre. The song, thematically, is very similar to Hoobastank's "The Reason" yet Hoobastank pulls a fast one in their video.

Disciple, Thousand Foot Krutch, Flyleaf, POD I first heard on the "new rock" stations. Switchfoot, Lifehouse, Mat Kearney, Anberlin, Mutemath I am just as likely, if not more so, to hear on an alternative hits station.

Is it the faith of the artist? Mat Kearney was interviewed a year or so ago in Relevant magazine and didn't once mention God. Yet, he has become more explicit in expressing his faith on his second album.

Flyleaf has been quoted, "I don’t know what you mean by a “Christian rock band.” It’s hard to say that because people all have a different definition of what that means. If it means that we’re Christians, then yeah, we’re Christians, but if a plumber’s a Christian, does that make him a “Christian plumber?” I mean we’re not playing for Christians. We’re just playing honestly and that’s going to come out"

Meanwhile, Chad Wolf from Carolina Liar (not a "Christian" band) said about his song (#1 above), "If someone thinks I'm singing about God in this song then I'm honored to have made that connection."

Or go back to Anberlin and their lead singer Stephen Christian, "I don't care who listens to our records. If it helps people in whatever circumstances they're in, that's amazing, but I definitely don't classify us as a Christian band." and elsewhere, "[My faith] affects every single aspect of my life, but I'm not a preacher, I'm an entertainer."
My favorite though has to be from Switchfoot frontman Jon Forman, "For us it's a faith, not a genre."

And isn't that the bottom line? Isn't the label Christian about describing one's faith, not one's marketing campaign? If the stats are correct that roughly 80% of Americans call themselves Christian, then wouldn't it follow that many music artists would identify themselves as Christian? And wouldn't it therefore be expected that those values come through in their music even if not labeled as such?
Listen outside of the box. You might be surprised what you hear.
(And the answers above: 2, 3, and 5 receive regular airplay on Christian stations. 2-Flyleaf "All Around Me", 3-The Fray "Where Were You?", 5-Anberlin "Impossible". #1 is Carolina Liar "Show Me What I'm Looking For" and #5 is Lucinda Williams "Get Right With God".)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Point Of View

This picture was a hit on the interwebs last week. Follow the link to the original and instructions on how the picture was made.

Step away from your computer, what do you see? But come closer and the image changes. Yet again, what do you see?

Even though the image in your mind is different, in both cases you see the same thing- a face. It is only as your point of view changes that the image changes.

When I saw Peter pick the topic of "secular" for his blog carnival I was stumped. But then my wife found a picture on Pintrest that uses one of the Urban Dictionary's definitions of Christianity:

The belief that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree...

Yeah, Christianity makes perfect sense.

And I remembered the picture above. (Yes, my brain works in odd ways. I'm having that checked) But the point that stood out to me was that the "definition" above is only one point of view. Secular it may be, but is it really that far off?

Before you scream "blasphemy!" consider- your perspective and my perspective are different. If we were to each give a description of Jesus, chances are we would say different things. You say loving, I say faithful. You say merciful, I say bold. We could go on and on. Francis Chan makes that point in Crazy Love with respect to God- that if every person in the world used a different word to describe God, we would run out of people before we ran out of words. Your experience with Jesus is different from mine. Different still from the secularist. Yet like in the picture above aren't we all seeing the same thing, Jesus?

So the Urban Dictionary description makes Christianity sound crazy. But isn't it, really? Has Christianity in our day and age become so "normal" that we forget just how crazy it is to give up everything and follow a Jewish zombie that told us to eat his flesh and drink his blood to atone for some internal demon that we all have just because some naked chick in a garden ate the fruit of a magical tree because a snake told her to? I'm not offended by this. My faith in Christ is crazy, I am ready to admit. But that's just my perspective.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.'

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength." (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

This post is part of a blog carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. This week's topic is "secular". Be sure to click the link to check out other posts and other perspectives.

Monday, November 14, 2011

All Things to All Men

Tomorrow, Seventh Day Slumber's new album, "The Anthems of Angels" drops. This band is a case of those "behind the music" clips on the radio working. I bought their last album, "Take Everything" after hearing about the band on Air1. Their song, Oceans from the Rain, received a lot of airplay, but I didn't know anything about the band. But when I heard that they were motivated to do a worship album to praise God for delivering them (namely, lead singer Joseph Rojas) from their addiction, I had to check them out. As an alcoholic myself helping to lead a recovery ministry, I was drawn in. Needless to say, despite calling myself a metal-head, their hard-rock versions of songs I knew well like I Can Only Imagine were disarming, yet authentic. Once I got used to the driving chords, I now listen to that album frequently as their harder edge more often reflects how I feel than softer versions of the same songs from Chris Tomlin or Mercy Me.
I am also inspired by lead singer Joseph Rojas' testimony. Check out the video below.

Now, there's a lot I don't agree with doctrinally. But in dealing with addiction I have come to the conclusion that the Grace of God is not limited; that the redemptive, healing power of Jesus knows no lines. I praise God for his recovery and his ministry.

Seventh Day Slumber catches a lot of grief for their ministry. Being rooted in the Bible Belt, they face their fair share of fundamentalism condemning their image and their music. But to quote Paul, "Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings." (1 Corinthians 9:19-23, emphasis added) The tatted-out, hard rock, felon and addict may be the only Christian some may ever know. He is likely the only Christian some will ever trust.

If you haven't heard this band, I encourage you to check them out. They're not what you might expect. But isn't that just how God likes to work?

Below is the first single of their new album, Love Came Down

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Green Eggs and Sin

***Update: Added the full Green Eggs and Sin poem at the end of this post.***

So I mentioned I liked Sunday's sermon so much I would dedicate two posts to it. Click here for part 1 (and an awesome video!). You can also listen to the whole thing here.

That was the meat of the sermon. But the outline was taken from Dr. Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham. In that story, Sam I Am pesters an unnamed man to try green eggs and ham.

Would you eat them in a house? Would you eat them with a mouse?

The man resists and resists.

I will not eat them on a boat! I will not eat them with a goat!

After running though nearly every scenario imaginable (I mean, who eats with a mouse or a goat?), the man (SPOILER WARNING!!!) gives in and tries this unique delicacy.

And. It. Is. Delicious!

Satan is the same way. He pesters and pesters, pokes and prods.

(In fact Satan was pestering Ivan during the sermon. His phone went off. The wireless mic wasn't working. And the video I shared Monday didn't play.)

Will you sin in your house? Will you sin with your mouse (click)?

And sometimes we get so tired of resisting we give in. And sin tastes delicious! Just ask Eve.

But remember what I referenced Monday: if you "resist the devil, he will flee from you." (James 4:7) Think about how adamant the man was against trying the green eggs and ham. That is how we must oppose Satan's schemes.

I will not sin here nor there! I will not sin ANYWHERE!

Here's the full version. All credit goes to my friend, Ivan Strean. I'm not that creative!

Would you could you in your house?
Would you could you with your mouse?
Would you grumble will you groan?
Would you be with your girlfriend alone?

Will you have sin in your life?
Would you sin against your wife?
Will you allow yourself to hate?
Would you could you? It's your fate!

Do you need to make your relationships deeper?
Are you really your brother's keeper?
All this work seems hardly fair.
No one else does, so why should you care?

Do you need to read you Bible every day?
Aren't you tired, why go pray?
Haven't you heard all He has to say?
Who needs church anyway?

To which I reply:

I will not sin in my house.
I will not sin with my mouse.
I refuse to grumble or to groan.
I will not be with my girlfriend alone.

I will not have sin in my life.
I will always love my wife.
I won't allow myself to hate.
Understand this... It's not my fate!

I will make my relationships deeper.
And yes I am my brother's keeper.
I know God's will and it's totally fair.
I know my brothers and sisters and they totally care!

So I will read my Bible every day.
And I'm never too tired to pray.
I haven't yet heard all He has to say.
And everyone needs church anyway.

No I will not sin here nor there!
Nope I won't sin anywhere!
Satan, Satan, can't you see?
I won't life in sin

Monday, November 07, 2011

Lions and Water Buffalo and Crocodiles, Oh My!

Huge hat tip to Ivan for a powerful sermon yesterday. So powerful in fact, that I'm dedicating two posts to it.

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

The following video has been seen 64 million times. It is that cool. In fact, all you have to do is start typing "battle" in YouTube and this is the first thing that comes up. I'll let you watch before babbling further.

Satan is like a lion looking to devour. Who does he devour? The young, the weak, and the alone. In the video, the lions pounce and go right after the young water buffalo. But just when you think the lions have won (out comes a crocodile!) the water buffaloes come to protect their own.

The spiritual application is obvious. Satan preys after the spiritually young, the spiritually weak, and the spiritually alone. But when we stand by our brothers and sisters in their most vulnerable times, we can help defend against the roaring lion. Just as important, as the baby water buffalo proved, no matter how beaten down you may be you can never give up fighting.

"Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." (v 9)

"Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7b)

For more, I recommend the book The Lion Never Sleeps by Mike Taliaferro.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Face of a Movement

I could have waited to post this next week, but since today is November 5th, it is appropriate to post today. This article in MSNBC brought this to my attention. The mask of Guy Fawkes, brought to recent fame with the graphic novel and eventual movie, V for Vandetta, has become the symbol of the Occupy movement. Anonymous, smirking, almost mocking those he (or she) is protesting against, this is the face of the Everyman. Whether fed up with the profits on Wall Street, or some other en vogue cause, all one has to do is don this mask and join the throng of the opposed.
But I wonder if this symbol would be so embraced if people actually knew its origins?

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I can think of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
So who is Guy Fawkes, other than a popular Halloween mask and political symbol? These entries on wikipedia (Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot ) are worth reading. The poem above, and the celebration of Guy Fawkes Night, are celebrated by anarchists, were used symbolically in V opposing fascism in Britain, and continue to inspire anti-government sentiment.

The poem sounds inspiring, but it continues:

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
You see, the poem wasn’t celebrating his treason, but was celebrating his getting caught. And it continues further:

A penny loaf to feed the Pope
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A fagot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah hoorah!
Why did he do it? His treason was in response to discrimination by the British Monarchy towards Catholics. That’s right, this treason was over religious freedom. Even more ironic was that the Monarchy was a borderline theocracy led by King James, the commissioner of that version of the Bible bearing his name.

So I wonder if the Occupiers recognize Guy Fawkes as not only a symbol against the government, but as a symbol of religious freedom. Somehow I doubt it. At the opposite end of the political spectrum, I wonder if proponents of a "Christian America" recognize the irony. I doubt that too.

So as you burn your “guy” in effigy, launch a firecracker, or light a bonfire tonight to celebrate some new world order, remember that it was for religious freedom that this country was settled, for freedom from tyranny this country was founded, and opposition to theocracy that inspired the Gunpowder Plot. Remember, remember the 5th of November.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Flashback Friday: Are Winners More Blessed?

***I admit I "Tebow" every day. I just don't take a picture of it and post it on Facebook. Tim Tebow is a lightning rod presently and when I went back to dig up old posts about him, I discovered I haven't really written much about him at all. So the following post, from almost three years ago, is more about how the mix of religion and success on the sports field makes us uncomfortable. I think that's appropriate given the Tebowing phenomenon. But I also want to link to this post by Jen Engel at Fox Sports. She raises an interesting question: if Tebow were Muslim, would anyone dare mock his faith? Something to consider.***

I'm a total sports nut, and I've had draft after draft of blog posts dedicated to this subject, but I never seem to get around to posting them. Well, here's my overdue post on the role of God in sports, motivated courtesy of Mark Kriegel and Foxsports.  [author's note: this article isn't cached by Fox Sports, but talked about how Kurt Warner's faith and return to the Super Bowl made him uncomfortable]

This is a hot topic right now because of the building media hype leading up to the Super Bowl, magnified by Tony Dungy's retirement and Tim Tebow winning yet another BC$ Championship. If you're not as much of a nerd as me, let me give you a quick rundown. Kurt Warner, the blue-collar come-from-nowhere Super Bowl Champion quarterback is back with a new team and another shot at glory. He isn't shy about the role his faith has played in motivating him through tough times, of which he's had many. Tony Dungy is retiring from coaching the Indianapolis Colts, whom he led to the 2007 Super Bowl. A well-respected and regarded coach with high expectations, he too would give credit where credit was due and was criticized following his Super Bowl win by boasting that he and his opposing coach, Lovie Smith, were the first to "do it the right way" supposedly by not cussing and being religious, implying that the other 30 coaches in the NFL do it the wrong way. (This is not meant as a knock on Dungy at all, just the way the media responded. In fact, I have a great deal of respect for him and would cheer for the Colts because of him. He is definitely a fine example to follow as summarized in this article from OnFaith.) Finally, Tim Tebow is a a phenom-quarterback at the University of Florida who not only thanks God for his accomplishments (only a couple of championships and Heisman trophies but who's counting?), but even goes on mission trips.

Of course it's no surprise that these outward displays of faith make others like Kriegel uncomfortable. If God has no place in our government or our public square, then certainly God has no place in sports, right? Faith is even harder to reconcile in sports, where there is a clear winner and loser. Who's to say God favored one over the other? Does God really care who wins a championship? (If he did, the Cubs would've won it all last year, but I digress) Some denominations recognize this and even go so far as prohibiting sports because not only does competition bring out the worst of us (just go watch your church's local softball team) but it also puts God in a box, forcing Him to choose a favorite. Of course, the Bible tells us over and over that God doesn't play favorites, so this would be a sin on our part.

The rivalry game between the University of Utah and BYU is called the Holy War (really, only recently so when both teams have been good enough to generate national attention). Does God really care who wins that game? What if Baylor (a Baptist school) plays Notre Dame? Does God care if the baseball player that crosses himself before his at bat strikes out or hits a home run?

Of course, most Christians in sports treat this humbly by crediting God for their talents and their health. They don't pray to win, they pray to glorify God and for there to be no injuries. It's usually the fans (and some knucklehead players with misinformed theology, see below) who take it overboard. But even crediting God for talents and opportunities makes others uncomfortable. Look no further than critics of President Bush who never did understand what he meant when he claimed that he believed God chose him to be president. This wasn't a boast, but a humble reference to Romans 13:1. We can joke that Obama is the 'chosen one' but again, referencing Romans and conceding that God has a hand in all things, he really is. But then we're back to the problem with sports- was Florida 'chosen'? If so, where's free will?

So there's a danger in all of this. There's no problem with thanking God, for that's what the Bible commands us to do "in everything" (Phil 4:6) and "in all circumstances" (1 Thes 5:18). But we need to draw a line between divine providence (opportunity and talent) and divine intervention. This is where some fans and athletes cross the line. I mentioned BYU earlier and I'm not shy in saying that I absolutely hate them. But last year, there was a "miracle catch" to beat Utah as time expired and later a "miracle block" to beat UCLA in their bowl game. Their receiver, after this miracle catch was quoted as saying, "Obviously, if you do what's right on and off the field, I think the Lord steps in and plays a part in it. Magic happens." But what about the thugs and cheats that permeate professional sports who are successful? See where this theology leads? (this is also a problem with Prosperity Doctrine, but that's another post for another day)

This isn't a new problem. Look at how David lamented on the success of the wicked in the Psalms. Solomon did the same in Ecclesiastes. Or even the apostles who wondered why a man was born blind. Righteous living does not equate success in this life despite what our favorite athletes might say. We need to look no further than Jesus' reply to reconcile our faith with prosperity, or in our case victory: "[T]his happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." (John 9:3)

The "his" above could be "us" or "them" with regards to our own success or that of our favorite (or least favorite even) team. Give God the glory. Give him thanks. And humbly recognize that whether you win or lose, God is in control.

(For entertainment, check out this article from a year ago that gives a list of sports colliding with faith. See if you can tell the difference between most of the quotes- the most obvious exception being the boxer- and what the BYU player said.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Battle Plan

As I mentioned Monday, this past weekend's Halloween-themed sermon was on battling our monsters  drawing lessons from David's confrontation with Goliath. (h/t Fred for the lesson and Dave for the additional insight!)

Recall the epic battles in "Braveheart" with each nation's army lined up on opposite sides of the valley below. Remember the shouting back and forth, signaling strength and confidence. Now imagine that continuing on for 40 days and NO ONE ACTUALLY FIGHTING! I figure everyone would've been pretty hoarse after just a couple of days.

That is the scene David walks into in 1 Samuel, chapter 17. For 40 days the Philistine army had been lining up opposite the nation of Israel, daring them to fight. Leading the taunting was nine-foot tall Goliath and not a single Israelite dared to take him on. Except for young, diminutive David.

I think the reason the army of Israel was afraid to fight was because they were thinking of a conventional fight, taking on strength with strength. Of course that strategy works if your strengths match up. But if you know you're at a disadvantage, it is wise not to fight.

"Suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace." (Luke 14:31-32)

But this wasn't a conventional fight. The army of Israel wasn't fighting alone. They had the power of the Lord Almighty fighting beside them.

"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Somehow they forgot that in the face of someone stronger. But David didn't. He remembered the LORD his God. But he still needed a strategy of his own.

It is obvious that he was thinking of this while with Saul when he told him he "could not go [in Saul's armor]" because he "was not used to them." (1 Samuel 17:39) He knew his only chance was to match his speed against Goliath's strength.

Also note that he picked up not just one, but five smooth stones. He expected he would need to get off more than one shot. He had a plan and he had a strategy.

But God had another strategy in mind. He only wanted one to stand up for His Name. So David only needed one shot to take down this giant.

Sometimes when facing our own inner demons, the sin that so easily entangles, we get stuck in a stare-down. We are too afraid to commit to the fight. Other times, we try and match strength for strength, but we can not overcome our sinful nature on our own. "When I want to do good, evil is right there with me." (Romans 7:21) So we need to try unconventional means. We need to plan. We need to be cunning. "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16) We need a strategy.

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. This week's topic is strategy. Be sure to click the link to check out other posts!