Lion Taming

We’ve all had it happen…none of us are immune…that hot, hair raising sensation that slowly creeps up the back of your spine and into your your mind when you find out that someone has said malicious things about you behind your back. Your first instinct is to find the nearest cat and throw it across the room! (maybe that’s a bit dramatic?) Sometimes the things that people say are true, often times the things people say behind your back are untrue, but either way, YOU are left with the response. And as my grandma always say’s, “People Gonna Talk.” Nothing you can do is gonna change the fact that there are people that are going to be slanderous, people are going to be malicious, people are going to talk about you behind your back at some point in your life. (If you feel like this has never happened to you then you have just been mis informed)

So once again, if there is nothing you can personally do to stop behind the back talking, then it would seem that you are only left with one option, YOUR DEFENSE or your response. However, this is untrue. You have two options. Both are options are made available through a historical account in Daniel 6. We’ve all heard the story of Daniel in the Lions Den, but I think that Daniels story can give us some great personal insight on malicious talk, and how we act and react in our unique situations.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story of Daniel, let me debrief you in short form. Daniel, a Godly man is arrested by a good King who was manipulated by a couple of malicious men to make a decree that states, anyone who prays to any god outside of their king would be thrown into a pit filled with lions. This sounds good to the king, so he issues the decree. The malicious men then head straight over to Daniels crib where they find him (as he is every day) praying to God. They arrest him and throw him in the lions den. God then shows up and shuts the mouths of the lions overnight and protects Daniel. The next day the king goes over to the pit to find Daniel alive. With great joy he pulls Daniel from the lions den and then throws the malicious men into the den instead (because they manipulated the king) where they are eaten alive by wild lions.

So what insight can we gather? Here are a couple quick thoughts…

#1-We must call in a preemptive strike on our integrity. A preemptive strike is a military action designed to neutralize a potential threat or to gain an advantage against an enemy. And this is how we must live as followers of Christ. 1 Timothy 3 tells us that we are to live above reproach. This means, that our lives can offer a testament to who we are and what we stand for, before someone says something nasty about us behind our backs. Such was the case with Daniel. If you notice in Scripture, the Kings heart is heavy when he learns that Daniel has been arrested for the crime of praying to another god. Notice that the King is not angry with Daniel, but rather heartbroken. This is because the King knows Daniels character. He realized that the claims that are brought against Daniel however true, don’t accurately reflect who Daniel is. Daniel is an innocent man in all rights, and the King knows this. Daniel called a preemptive strike in his own life. However, even though there was a preemptive strike, it still was not enough to deflect the attack that Daniel had come against him.

Even when you live a Christ-centered life, you will still have people who will try to tear you down.

And this is where the second point comes into play.

#2-Let your God be your defender. Notice that Daniel didn’t plea for mercy or scream and cry in rage. Notice that Daniel didn’t try and justify what he had done or go and defend himself. Nope. He…Did…Nothing. He let God be his defender. And what happened? God shows up in the lions den and shuts up the mouth of the lions himself. There was nothing that Daniel himself could have done to shut up those lions mouths, he would have been eaten alive. Sure maybe he could have injured one or two…MAYBE, but he surely would have eventually been eaten. But because Daniel was in correct standing with God, and because Daniel knew that the only defense he needed was God, God shows up and does only what God can do, and that was to shut the mouths of the lions. And then, God does one better on Daniels behalf! Notice what happens when Daniel is rescued, the malicious, manipulative men are tossed into the very den that they sought to put Daniel into!

So in recap…Live a life that is above reproach, a life that is Christ-centered, let that be your preemptive strike, and secondly, let God be your defender as scripture tells us He is. Let Him be the one who shuts the mouths of the ravenous lions who seek to eat you alive! And lastly don’t be a malicious person who talks behind others backs, or the beat down you are secretly trying to put on others will come back roaring as it eats you alive.

I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!

Remember that commercial from the mid nineties with the elderly who far slips and falls and then utters that famous line, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Well, I had one of those moments this past Sunday. let me explain…

The worship team was finishing up their last song in the set, and I was prepping to go onstage and preach. I did my normal routine of praying, and confessing sin, and making sure my mic pack had a good battery when all of a sudden I toppled over backstage. I’m not talking about a trip, or a stumble, I’m talking about a, “look out below, arms flailing, this is not gonna be pretty  fall.” Nothing graceful about it. Kind of like when you cut down a large tree and it takes out part of the woods…yeah, one of those falls.

As I lay on the ground in complete and utter embarrassment, I looked around to make sure that no one saw what had just happened, and to my joy, I realized that I was the only one who knew about this fall. However, I banged my knee on a piece of metal on the way down, and it was throbbing. I then, got up, dusted myself off, and went out on stage to preach knee throbbing and all.

Now, why share this humiliating story? Because theres a point,(I promise, there is a point)

In life, it’s the private falls that no one                                                                                                                                                               else sees that can be the most detrimental.

The bible calls them your, “secret sins“, the things that no one else knows about. BMaybe it’s how you talk to your spouse when no one is around, maybe it’s what you look at late at night on your computer screen, maybe it’s your thoughts, or your motives. Whatever it is, Gods word is vey clear when it tells us in Numbers 32:23 that,” be sure, your sins will find you out!”

Andy Stanley says that, “nothing good grows in the dark”, and I couldn’t agree more. What secret sins, what hidden things are tripping you up? They may not be evident(yet) to those around you, but be sure , your secret falls will come to light. And when they do, it’s not going to be pretty. God has a way of bringing our hidden things to the forefront in an effort to sanctifyus.

So my challenge is simple, yet not easy, “Un-Secret” the Secret. When we “un-secret the secret we take away so much of their power to take us down  Take care of matters before God has to.  Here are some simple steps for you to ensure that you don’t have  to fall alone again.

#1- Get Accountable. Most people like to talk about themselves, but not usually when it comes to their shortcomings, but too bad, you must be held accountable by someone. And listen, it can’t be your grandma, it’s gotta be someone who is willing to kick you butt and not let you sweep your sin under the rug(sorry grams).

#2-Confess Your sins To God. Scripture is clear when it tells us that we must confess our sins to God. But I would encourage you to not just confess your sins but to confess your sins correctly. If you strugaggle with lust, don’t just say, “God, I messed up again, please forgive me”, rather call it what it is, Adultery! So when you confess your sin pray to God in truth. Our prayers should sound more like this, “God, I failed. Your word tells me because of the lust in my heart that I have committed adultery. God I confess that I am an adulterer, please forgive me.”  if you, shared a, “mis-truth”, the you are a Liar! Confess as such! Stop sugar coating your sins when you come before God!

#3- Repent. Gods word also tells us to not only confess our sins but to repent of them. This means that we recognize sin, and we run in the opposite direction. Don’t dabble, don’t flirt, don’t entertain sin cause in the end it will bring you down. Secretly at first, and then publicly.

#4- Begin viewing sin as God views it. God HATES sin. We however tolerate it. You cannot tolerate sin in your life, but rather you must daily put it to death. We must HATE sin, we must view sin as God views it, and that means we must have contempt towards it.

There is no reason that you have to limp your way through life because of you private falls. Turn on the lights, allow others in, stand up andadvance your walk today.

Somethings Gotta Change!

There was a time when Christianity didn’t just drive the culture, it actually created it. Think, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, think, “Sistine Chapel”, think,  “The Statue of David”. Christianity created the culture. Everything from music, art, politics, and literature. However somewhere along the way secular thought, and humanistic reasoning took root and Christianity stood by the wayside seemingly helpless in its endeavors.

And somewhere along the way we’ve accepted the place that’s been given to us. Christians have become ok with being emulators of culture rather than innovators of culture. We’ve allowed ourselves to produce a second rate product, and hidden behind an excuse. An excuse that says, if it’s Christian it doesn’t have to be as good. It’s expected that, “Christian Music”, “Christian Art”, etc. is not going to be as good as what the outside world can produce.

But hold on a minute, shouldn’t we have a different view? Shouldn’t we have the understanding that if it’s Christian it should be better? Since when did we think it was alright to lower our expectations? Don’t we serve a creative God, who made all that we know to be? His beauty at every corner, His handiwork and craftsmanship in every person? So therefore it stands to reason that, “we”, as people who have the Holy Spirit living in us, should be raising the bar on creativity, and not just regurgitating it.

We cannot be ok with sub-par art, but rather we must expect more.

We should not be content with poor worship experiences in our churches filled with bad art and  awful music, but rather in everything that we do, we should strive for the best, we should strive for excellence, we should strive to lay it all out for our King and say that we gave our best! Everything should be marked with this heightened excellence, our marriages, our families, our businesses, our communication, our churches, our organizations…All of these things should be so compelling that they drive people to the Gospel. It’s just frustrating that most times we do the opposite.

Where are the innovators? Where are the revolutionaries? Where are the creators of culture? Where are the difference makers? It’s time to raise the standard and start saying, “If its Christian, it should be better!” Our God is worth it, and our Savior is due it! May we go forth today and demand more of ourselves and the things we create! Whatever your livelihood, do it to the best of your ability! Musicians, artists, stay at home moms, businessmen, pastors, school teachers, janitors, writers etc., don’t allow society to put a ceiling on what you can accomplish, but rather, remember the words of Paul in Romans 8:11 when the Bible tells us that, “…the same power that raised Christ from the dead…now lives in us…”  This means you have a connection with the most creative, most innovative, most intelligent, most powerful being in all of the cosmos. Tap into that power source today and lets clear a path for the Gospel in our culture today!

Copyright © Covenant Church 2014