David vs. Goliath isn’t about March Madness.

We have all heard it before. Maybe, we have even said it ourselves. “It’s a battle of David vs. Goliath!” Whether it is the big school vs. the small school, or it is the seemingly great team vs. the not-so-great team, this time of year seems to be the time more than any other when I hear about David vs. Goliath. March Madness!

After all, David of Bethlehem was a teenager who probably was not much more than five feet tall, and Goliath of Gath was at least nearly seven feet tall and possibly over nine feet tall. Goliath wore armor that probably weighed as much as David. His spear was about 15 times heavier than the normal spear used during that time. David was the ultimate underdog when he entered the battlefield to face Goliath.

While we all understand why this well-known story is referred to in underdog scenarios, I fear we are missing a very important point when we make this story about basketball. More importantly, we miss the point when we make this story about us.

David vs. Goliath is not recorded in the Bible to make us look inward for courage and strength. David vs. Goliath is recorded in the Bible to make us look upward to the Lord God Almighty.

The reality is, we are all much more likely to behave like Goliath than we are to behave like David. In our sinful, prideful nature, we are prone to think we have it all figured out and can “do all things” through our hard work, accomplishments, acquired skills, preparations, etc. Yes, we would all like to think of ourselves as David, but the truth is that we are more like Goliath – doing things our way rather than God’s way. If that happens to be the case, then we, too, like Goliath, will fall.

Sunday, Lord willing, I will just-so-happen to be preaching from 1 Samuel 17 on the story of David vs. Goliath. While March Madness will not be a part of my message, I cannot help but think of the reminders that both of these well-known events bring.

But, David vs. Goliath is not about March Madness. David vs. Goliath is not even about you or about me. David vs. Goliath is about God. In fact, David the victor points us to Jesus the Victor, the perfect descendant of David who conquered our greatest enemies – sin and death.

David defeated Goliath because God was with him and because God is faithful and in control. Do not make yourself out to be David. Rather, trust in the same God in whom David trusted, and experience the victorious faith that only comes in and through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God.

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Grumbling and Humbling

From where does your joy come? What makes you dance with excitement and childlike jubilation? Our son Silas loves to make other people laugh, which is why he danced (above) for us on video a few weeks ago.

Consider what makes you want to dance, though. Then, what if that was suddenly gone? What if that circumstance that gives you great joy was changed, bringing about humiliation rather than jubilation?

Naturally, our first response in situations like that is to grumble, right? We are quick to complain when things do not go our way. If we do not feel like dancing (whether outwardly or inwardly), then we feel like complaining.

“I should not have to do this! Why me?”

…or…

“I cannot believe that this happened to me!”

Imagine, though, if we could respond to adversity and uncertainty with patience and humility, rather than self-entitlement and complaining. Impossible, right? Not if we look to the Lord for our joy and contentment.

Consider David in 1 Samuel 16-17. He had just been chosen by God and anointed by Samuel to be the next king over Israel. Yet, he continued to honor his father by shepherding the family’s sheep and did seemingly unworthy tasks like running errands. Those are not jobs fit for a king!

Yet, it does not appear that David grumbled or made his case for why he should have been treated differently. He did what he was told to do, no matter how humiliating it was. How? Well, the answer to that question surely must be seen in 1 Samuel 16:13, which says, “…and the Spirit of the Lord took control of David from that day forward.”

How can you respond to difficulty with humility and contentment and not with complaining and self-entitlement? Only by God’s grace. Only by the help of His Holy Spirit working in your heart.

Two verses we teach our kids to memorize at a young age are Paul’s words in Philippians 2:14-15 – “Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.”

Lord willing, I will be preaching on “Serving in Humility” (1 Samuel 16:14 – 17:19) Sunday morning, and I hope to challenge my hearers to not grumble but rather be humble when facing times of difficulty and/or uncertainty. We can learn a lot from King David, as his life points us to the ultimate King – King Jesus.

Know and follow Jesus, and seek His help to serve in humility no matter your circumstances. Jump for joy not because of who you are or because of what you can do, but rather because of who Jesus is and because of what Jesus has done and will eternally do.

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We can’t do anything we put our minds to.

Silas (above) and Zoe (below) are playing Upward Basketball at a local church this winter and learning a lot about teamwork, fundamentals, discipline, and faith, thanks to great coaches like my wife, Marsha.

Now, when kids play sports, especially if they enjoy playing and hope to be great, people tend to say things like, “You can do anything you put your mind to.”

Is that wise counsel, though? I do not believe it is because the truth is that you cannot do anything you put your mind to, and I cannot either. In fact, we can do absolutely nothing apart from the grace and help of God.

If there was any man who seemed like he could do anything he put his mind to, King Saul was surely that man, was he not? But, as is clearly recorded in 1 Samuel 13 and following, King Saul had a tragic downfall. In fact, he became the villain – the enemy of God.

King David, on the other hand, was not someone you would think of, at least at first, as someone who could do anything he put his mind to. And, the reality was, he too could not do anything he put his mind to. Sure, he did amazing things, but how? Well, by the grace and help of God. Not until after the Spirit of God took control of David did he do the incredible things people still talk about today.

The story of King David is not a story to inspire us to think we can do great things. Rather, the story of King David ought to remind us that we serve a great God.

God can do anything He puts His mind to, including use ordinary people like you and me to do extraordinary things. Do not believe in yourself. Believe in Him.

Start by making sure you have a genuine, born-again relationship with Him, and continue by trusting and surrendering to Him each day. Only He is sufficient to enable you to reach your full potential in Him.

Will Silas and Zoe be basketball superstars some day. It is possible but statistically unlikely. Who cares, though? More importantly, they are learning about a super God – the One who can do all things, the One who never fails, and the One who loves us so much that He sent His One and only Son to die for our sins.

We cannot do anything we put our minds to, but we serve a God who can. He, not our abilities or accomplishments, holds our eternal destiny in His hands.

Why won’t God answer?

Have you prayed for God’s help in making a decision or experiencing a certain result, only to get no answer? This has surely happened to all of us, has it not?

What was or is your response, then? Anger? Frustration? Confusion? Disappointment?

What should be your response? Patience? Faith? Obedience?

Every situation, at least to some degree, is different, so I will not pretend to be able to relate to the ups and downs you face in your life. What if the necessary response to God’s silence, though, is repentance?

Could it be that God is calling you to repentance – a turning away from your sins and turning to Him – before He answers your prayers, makes you aware of His presence, and gives you the hope, peace and joy only He can give?

I must certainly admit, from my own experiences, that when I am failing to walk in faith and dependence on God, and then I seek His direction, I am much less likely to experience His wisdom.

Clearly, His Word tells me who I am to be and how I am to live. In Jeremiah 29:13, for example, God says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” When? When you search for God with “all your heart.”

Deuteronomy 4:29 says, “You will search for the Lord your God, and you will find Him when you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul.”

If we are living in sin, can we possibly seek God with all our heart and all our soul? If we are failing to trust and obey His Word, are we truly seeking Him at all?

No, for a partial act of obedience is absolutely an act of disobedience. Wholehearted seeking of God certainly cannot take place when wholehearted obedience to God’s Word is not taking place, and this is why repentance is so important.

Why will God not answer?

Well, how is your daily walk with God? Do you have a genuine relationship with Him? Are you daily seeking to turn away from your sins and walk in close communion with Him and with His church?

If not, then you cannot expect to be aware of His presence, experience His power, and trust His promises. Rather, you will likely experience His silence, just like King Saul did multiple times during his downfall.

Lord willing, I plan on finishing my sermon series – Becoming the Villain – Sunday morning. “Villains Follow Fear” (1 Samuel 28:3-19), and if we expect to hear from God without seeking Him through His Word and obeying Him according to His Word, then we prove to be fools and eventual villains (enemies of God).

Too often, people want to claim Jesus’ promise in Matthew 7:7 (“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”), but they want that promise apart from repentance and obedience. As a result, they are blind to the truth of God’s Word – the truth that Jesus’ promise there is in accordance with God’s will. And, we cannot know God’s will apart from God’s Word.

God’s Word tells us God’s will – that we be obedient followers of Jesus Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit. Maybe God’s silence in your life is due to His calling you to repentance.

If you only seek God in a crisis, then you will be blind to His Word in the midst of that crisis because you haven’t been walking with Him all along.

Does God sometimes choose to make His followers wait and/or to make His followers suffer? Of course He does, and His Word is full of examples and direction in how to respond. Even in the midst of suffering and difficulty, though, you can be assured of God’s presence and faithfulness, but only if you are living a life of repentance.

Why will God not answer?

Examine your heart to make sure you have sincerely repented of your sins and are sincerely seeking Him. Cry out to God in faith and repentance before expecting His response.

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Is habitual church absence a sin?

This is a very short (trust me!) response to an important question. Is it a sin for someone who professes faith in Jesus Christ to be consistently absent from and thus inactive in a local church?

Yes, I believe it is a sin.

When considering this issue, many will point to Hebrews 10:24-25, which says, “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

While I believe that clear calling and command are helpful, I believe 1 Corinthians 12 is even more helpful when considering the critical importance of active church membership and involvement for a follower of Jesus Christ. As verse 12 and following make clear, the singular body (the church) with many individual parts (church members) cannot possibly function properly if those parts are not actively involved.

“Now you ([plural you – i.e. you all]) are the body of Christ, and individual members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Paul was writing this letter to the local church in Corinth. They were one body – one church – consisting of many members. And, just as we understand clearly from the body and body parts analogy, a body that is missing members simply cannot function properly or naturally. All members are needed, just as all members need the body. When a member is missing, the rest of the body is affected.

So often, when people choose to miss church services and not maintain active church involvement, they think it is primarily about them

“I’m busy and just don’t really have time for the church right now.”

“I’m not getting much out of it.”

“I don’t need to go to church to worship God.”

But, all of those excuses (and countless others I have heard) are centered on the individual choosing to not engage with the church. I do not recall the last time I heard someone say, “I really need to get back in church, so that I can better serve others and help them grow in their relationship with God.”

What if that was our motivation? What if we loved one another so much that our longing to be actively involved with our church was less about our individual selves and more about each other and the church as a whole?

What if we applied the greatest commandment to love God with your entire being and the second greatest commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40) to our church life?

“But, I’m busy and just don’t really have time for the church right now.”

Sure, you might be busy, but you will make time for what is important in life.

“But, I’m not getting much out of it.”

You might not be “getting much out of it,” but what can you do to make sure others are getting much? And, are sharing your concerns about spiritual growth and health with church leaders?

“But, I don’t need to go to church to worship God.”

Yes, you can worship God anywhere, but you need the church and the church needs you.

In a letter to another local church, Paul said, “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts…” (Romans 12:3-6).

Now, consider your excuses for not being an active church member, and see if they can still be defended in light of 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. I am not aware of any that can, with the exception of those who are sick or imprisoned for their faith, in which case the church is called to go to them.

Granted, many choose not to join and be active in a church because they do not yet have a born-again relationship with Jesus Christ. In that case, we cannot expect unbelievers to act like believers.

If you do profess to know and follow Jesus, though, please prove the legitimacy of your faith by obeying His Word and loving His church.

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I need to get over myself.

I don’t think he ever sent us a thank you note for that gift we gave him.” That is narcissism. I need to get over myself.

He was recognized, but they didn’t say anything about all that I did for them.” That is narcissism. I need to get over myself.

Hey, let’s take a selfie and show everyone what we’re doing to serve others.” That is narcissism. I need to get over myself.

Why didn’t more people like my most recent social media post?” That is narcissism. I need to get over myself.

Ah, shoot! They took my parking spot.” That is narcissism. I need to get over myself.

Look – someone is sitting in our seat.” That is narcissism. I need to get over myself.

Narcissism is an excessive interest and/or admiration for oneself. It is vanity and high esteem for oneself, loving oneself most and selfishly putting oneself first. Narcissism results in a sense of entitlement.

And, narcissism is evil. I need to get over myself, and maybe you do, too.

There is a reason Jesus said that the second greatest commandment, behind loving God with your entire being, is to love your neighbor as yourself. “All the Law and the Prophets,” Jesus said, “depend on these two commands” (Matthew 22:40).

Loving God most and loving your neighbor as yourself are the opposite of narcissism.

In talking about God’s will for unity in the body of Christ – unity that is impossible when we are self-entitled narcissists – Paul said, “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one” (Romans 12:3).

Yet, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others and constantly wanting more for ourselves, rather than obeying the command: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

Narcissism does not have to be taught, as self-centeredness is part of our sinful nature, is it not? We see this with small children refusing to share their toys. We see this with temper tantrums when things do not go their way. We see this with kids running to get to the front of the line, cutting off others in the process. We see this when a child hits another child because a toy was taken. We do not teach our children these things. They do these things because they are sinners.

Oh, if only we adults were better, but are we? Surely, narcissism is not a problem in the church, right?

Sadly, our selfishness is on full-display every week in church activities…

How often do you arrive early for worship services but take the farthest parking spot, so that others can get the best spots? “Well, I got here first, so I deserve this spot.” Narcissism.

How often do you sit toward the front of the sanctuary and in the middle of a pew, so that others who arrive after you do not awkwardly have to walk past you and ask if they can get by you? “Well, I got here first, so I deserve this spot.” Narcissism.

How often do you do the things no one else wants to do, even when no one is watching? “That’s disgusting (or hard or miserable).” Narcissism.

How often do you volunteer to serve in the church nursery or in some other area of great need, even without being asked? “I’ve done my time, so it’s someone else’s turn now.” Narcissism.

Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be continuing a short sermon series on the downfall of King Saul – Becoming the Villain. If you consider the life of King Saul, you might realize that he had lots of problems, but did not narcissism seem to be the ultimate sin that destroyed him? His self-love led to his jealousy of God’s blessings on someone else.

So often with children, we see our own narcissistic nature shining through. If I am honest with myself and with you, I need to get over myself. I am a selfish sinner who needs God’s help every single day. My children are no different than I.

As they learn to trust in Jesus, though, and as He begins to change their lives for His glory, we see results. The Holy Spirit begins to change their hearts, which results in changed attitudes and changed behaviors.

Praise the Lord! If He can change selfish children and give them a desire to get on the floor and play a less-desirable game with their younger siblings without being told to do so, then He can change you, too.

Narcissism destroys lives, so pray for God’s help to live a life of humility and to have contentment in Him. This is only possible in and through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Will you help Noah and Levi?

In just over four months, Noah and Levi will be joining 15 others from our church on a mission trip to Guatemala. While in Guatemala, they will minister to and alongside the children of Casa De Mi Padre in Santa Cruz del Quiche.

What a great opportunity for Noah and Levi (and the others going on this trip) to be challenged in their faith by serving the Lord and serving others!

Noah was blessed to go on our church’s first trip to Guatemala last June, and he is excited to return. This will be Levi’s first mission trip, though. Marsha and I are very thankful to the Lord that He has compelled our boys to take this journey, even though neither one of us is joining them.

Of course, we are even more comfortable than we would be otherwise, since two of those joining Noah and Levi are Marsha’s parents, Tony and Jeanette. Furthermore, we have great people from our amazing church family going, and our church truly is family to us.

While in Guatemala, this team will primarily be doing orphan care ministry with the children at the orphanage, but they will also have opportunities for evangelistic outreach and mercy ministry to people in the surrounding community. They will be bringing Bibles and gospel tracts to distribute to those to whom they minister and will also work alongside a local church that the orphanage workers and children attend.

Would you consider helping Noah and Levi?

  1. They (and we) obviously covet your prayers for this trip, that God will be glorified in and through the entire team.
  2. They (and we) would also be grateful for any financial support you can offer them as they raise funds for their airline tickets ($608/person) and the in-country expenses, including travel, lodging and meals ($725/person). So, they are needing to raise $1,333 each for this trip.

If you would like to help and/or have any questions, please contact us HERE, or you can also call or text me at 573-416-3195. Thank you for your partnership in this exciting mission!

Noah with one of the children at the orphanage last year.