I've Fallen, and I Can't Get Up!

All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. 10 For thou art great, and doest wondrous things_ thou art God alone..png

Those of you who have followed my ministry for any length of time know that I have a warped sense of humor. It’s the way God made me, and I don’t apologize for it. Today, I want to share with you a story in the Bible I find both sad and hilarious. How can it be both? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.
— I Samuel 5:1-5

“Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” I’m sorry, but that’s funny. To clarify for those of you who may not know, Dagon was the god of the Philistines. He was the one to whom they gave their allegiance. He was supposedly their almighty provider and protector. But here, in the presence of the One, True God, Dagon toppled to the floor. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he fell to his knees in worship, but the fact of the matter is, God literally knocked him off his pedestal and then decapitated him. In the words of the Incredible Hulk, “Puny god!”

Can you imagine being one of the Philistines who first enters Dagon’s house to find their god lying facedown on the floor? What would you say? What would you do? Like those in the Biblical account, you’d probably place your “god” back on his “throne” and consider it a good deed. But what happens when you come back the next day, and your “god” has not only fallen again but has also been decapitated? There’s no picking him up and replacing him on his pedestal at that point, is there?

Aren’t you glad we serve a God who lifts us up instead of the other way around? What a relief to know I’ll never find God lying down on the job or fallen to a place where He can’t even help Himself let alone anyone else. My God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords. No other “god” can compare. No other “god” can save. No other “god” can lift me out of the miry clay and set my feet on the solid rock.  No other “god” will do. So why would we put our trust in any other?

I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.
— Isaiah 45:5-6

When I read the account of Dagon, this clip always comes to my mind. Talk about hilarious!

A Modern-Day David and Goliath

How do you respondto giants?-2.png

As you probably know by now, I love finding spiritual lessons in everyday life. There is nothing sweeter than hearing my Heavenly Father whisper, “Are you seeing this? Do you understand?” Such an occurrence took place last week.

Barnabas and I were on our morning walk around the neighborhood. As usual, he was behaving like a perfect gentleman, and I was relishing in the months of training that finally paid off. Suddenly, I spotted a small white cat approaching us on the sidewalk ahead. At first, the feline seemed oblivious to our presence, so we continued, me being certain the cat would flee when he noticed us. I was wrong!

Not only did the cat remain on course, but he also gave no indication he saw us except that his eyes were fixed on us. No other reaction. No fluff. No hiss. No arched back. Nothing. The crazy thing didn’t even slow his pace but continued strolling toward us with confidence.

As I mentioned, Barnabas has come a long way in his training, and he usually does very well when it comes to passing by the temptation of a stray cat or running squirrel (though he is still wholly intrigued by groundhogs). His typical response is to watch and pass by without a second glance. But these were not ordinary circumstances. This was something new. I’ve never seen a cat act like this...and neither had Barnabas.  

When my mutt realized the cat’s bravery, he slowed his pace and lowered his head to glare at the cat. The feline remained calm and continued forward. At this, poor Barnabas turned and looked at me with the funniest look I’ve ever seen (and the dog can pull off some hilarious faces). He didn’t know what to think but more than that, he didn’t know what to do. I understood exactly how he felt.

Not willing to observe the showdown between my 90-pound pit bull and the 5-pound kitty, I pulled Barnabas over the ditch where we could safely pass by on the side of the road rather than the sidewalk. As the distance between the cat and us grew, Barnabas’ eyes never wavered. He watched the cat as the cat watched him, still unfazed by the giant coming his way. Then I noted in amazement as my huge dog nudged me in the opposite direction of the coming feline. As I inched further into the road, I realized Barnabas was no longer amused. He was afraid. He was ready to get away from that crazy cat who was now staring at us from the corner of his eye as we passed. With a final glance over his shoulder, Barnabas took off across the street, dragging me in his wake.

The entire ordeal only lasted a couple of minutes, but the whole time I was thinking about David and Goliath. Barnabas could definitely pass for a Goliath (though he is much sweeter), and the cat, well, as far as size is concerned, he was a David. Despite the difference in size, the cat seemed unafraid. He was unmoved by the giant before him and continued to press on. In the case of David and Goliath, the shepherd boy defeated the giant and chopped off his head. Lovely! In the case of dog versus cat, the cat also defeated the dog. Not with a sword, a sling, or a stone, but with courage. His boldness in the face of a giant so bewildered and confused my poor pup that Barnabas ended up being the one to run in fear. I’m guessing he figured if the cat could be that brave in his presence, then the cat must know something he didn’t. It was enough to shake the confidence of my curious canine.

The incident left me wondering how often we could defeat our enemies by simply being bold and courageous. How often could we send Satan and his minions scampering by merely holding fast to God’s promises and marching confidently no matter what giants we face? How many times would our giants fall because of our firm stance on the Word of God?  

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to find out. I’m tired of always being the one afraid. I’m sick of being the one to back off or run and hide. I’m fed up with allowing the enemy to get the best of me. It’s time for a change. It’s about time I stood up to my giants. After all, if God is for us, who can be against us? No one! Not even a giant. Or a rather large pit bull.

Being a dog person, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I want to be like the white cat. I want to walk courageously, confident in the One who walks with me. I don’t want to flinch, balk, or turn away. I want to walk the path God has for me no matter what giants are lingering in my path. I want to have such an air of confidence and courage about me that the enemy runs the other way at my approach. “Oh, for grace to trust Him more!”

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
— Isaiah 41:10

The Contagious Courageous

Are you bold enough to take a stand that makes a change?-2.jpg

The military officer paces before his loyal troops.  “Today, we face the greatest enemy we have ever encountered.  We are outmanned and outgunned, but we are all that stands between our foe and the fair land we call home.  This mission is unlike any we’ve embarked upon before, but I have surrendered to answer the call.  I cannot and will not order you to follow, but I wonder, are there any among you who will join me in the fight?”

For several moments, the soldiers survey the faces of those around them.  Fear.  Indecision.  Shame.  Finally, a single warrior steps forward and proclaims, “I will go with you.”  Within a few seconds, another steps forward and then another until, finally, each soldier has joined the fight.

What made the difference?  What motivated the fearful warriors to risk their lives?  Their decision could be attributed to the love of their country, the respect for their commander, or even the moving speech given by their superior officer.  But I believe the most significant contributing factor to their decision to go forward was the courageous stand of one of their fellow soldiers.  A single man compelled an entire army to throw caution to the wind when he dared to step forward.  You could say his "courageous" was contagious.

Few of us want to be the first to take a stand, but as Christians, that’s what we’ve been called to do.  We are soldiers in the Lord’s army, and we ought to motivate others to take a stand that makes a change.  We ought to be the first to step up and say, “I’ll go.”  And if we’re concerned about standing alone, we need not be.  First off, the Bible assures us we are never alone.  God is on our side, and He will never leave us or forsake us.  But not only that, when we dare to take a stand, we inspire others to do the same.  Our "courageous" becomes contagious.

Just imagine how we could impact the world today if each of us were willing to step forward and join the mission.  Consider how many others we might inspire by our bold obedience to the call of Christ.  

Our Commander is asking, “Who will join me in this fight?”  How will you respond?

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.
— Psalm 31:24