King Leonidas (the famous Spartan leader of the “300” who defended Greece against the Persian invasion at Thermopylae) has got nothing on Abram who was called on by God to face an overwhelming and daunting assault by evil upon his family and region. This story sizzles. It reads like a Hollywood script but its biblical history is recorded for our benefit if we have the courage to apply it as a model and pattern of leadership put there by God. Without delay, let’s roll the film and deconstruct some lessons that are powerful for us as pastors as we battle against evil in our cities.
The four evil kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his own household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and other people.” Genesis 14:14-16 NIV
Abraham’s reaction to the news that four evil leaders had ransacked his nephew’s city, looted its goods, and enslaved its citizens is, by all accounts, Spartanesque. The bad guys had no idea Lot had an uncle who could rain thunder and strike with lightning force with a mere “318.” A night time raid. A precision attack. A dominating physical performance. Wow. All men who love their families, love justice, and love against all odds love this one. Hoo-rah, Go Abraham! But could it be that this account is here for more than a biblical high-five?
While holidays provide times to thank God, and celebrate Christ’s birth, so often we get caught up in the familiar patterns we’ve always followed. Turkeys, trees, trimmings. Cookies, cakes and gaining weight. That’s all ok. But I think many men just show up, instead of getting involved and taking the lead.
We all have holiday family traditions. Some are handed down, others are created by accident. Some traditions we’d rather never happened. But I think God’s man can play a greater role. What if we intentionally created a new tradition(s) that honored God and others -- and was fun to boot?
Here are a couple of traditions in the Luck family:
- We “Ding-Dong-Ditch” a single mom. That’s right, we ring the doorbell and run but not after leaving presents on her porch for her and each child that are age and gender specific. This combines dangerousness with goodness. My favorite Holiday giving moment. We save change all year, count it, go to the bank, get dollars, and my kids go shopping for others. Me and my son Ryan are NAVY SEALS on delivery, insertion, and extraction. HUGE fun.
- We keep a Christmas journal. There’s a picture each year, stories of presents, the names we have given our two Christmas trees, and other specific info related to that year’s X-mas festivities and happenings. It is a precious little book and my son has taken it on to be the family scribe with HONOR.
Holidays have treasured moments waiting to be opened, and I’m not talking about gifts wrapped under a tree. I’m talking about memories. Memories of togetherness, moments with meaning, memories that last. Let me encourage you to think and pray about trying something new this year. You don’t have to announce to the family, “We’re starting a new tradition.” As Nike would say, just do it.
Here are a few ideas for new traditions that honor God and others.
10 New Traditions Ideas:
I applaud broadcaster Craig James for airing his Christian view of marriage on national news. Unfortunately, his employer, Fox Sports didn’t share my praise, firing him immediately. Although this seems unfair, the fact is God’s men must expect persecution.
Although in the US, we don’t often see, hear or experience persecution because of our faith, Christians suffer around the world for believing in, and following, Jesus. Take a glance at www.persecution.org, and you’ll see examples daily.
Our enemy has tried to sabotage God’s plan from day one. Christians share a faith of love and hope, yet the world would rather trump that message with a self-absorbed, hedonistic, “you only live once” religion that accommodates everyone with a bland, empty faith. Instead of turning to God, the world wants to push Him away and punish those who follow His loving teaching.
It’s a weird irony, nevertheless, the Bible warns Christians several times to expect hard times.
In 2 Timothy 3:12 we read, “...everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
In John 16:33 Jesus says point-blank “...In this world you will have trouble.” And, in the second half the verse, he gives God’s men the key to persevering under persecution, saying “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
I believe God’s man will increasingly experience persecution. Here are a few tips on how to persevere:
- Mon Nov 11, 2013
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Greatness must involve victory over quality opposition or significant odds.
In the boxing world I have just described Manny Pacquiao. You don’t even have to love boxing to admire and respect this little man who packs a mighty punch. Manny Pacquiao has been appropriately labeled by fans of the sport, bloggers, sportswriters, and fellow boxers as the best “pound for pound” fighter in the modern era. In other words, as a boxer who has won titles in eight lighter weight divisions, he is never going to fight for the “heavyweight” championship of the world. That’s because he is five feet six inches and weighs in at a hundred and fifty pounds, all wet in his street clothes. He is not going to be remembered like a Muhammad Ali because his greatness in the sport is measured in different dimensions. These include: how many weight divisions he has won, the quality of his opponents, and his skills in the ring. I will never forget witnessing those skills for the first time. Hand speed. Power. Work rate. All masterful. You know a guy is great when you feel sorry for everyone he fights. In this way, a “pound for pound” fighter designation gives you the greater measure of the boxer. Measuring pound for pound puts smaller fighting men into the powerful categories right up there with the “heavyweights.”
Remember when wearing a pager was a hi-tech status symbol? But you had to have a quarter in your pocket so you could use a pay phone...Or when “sending a fax” was the fastest way to send documents? Then, computers and email took over. Soon, innovators combined the computer and phone, and voila, we have “smartphones.”
Technology is getting even smaller. I read recently, “smartwatches” are coming -- now we will literally be tied to our technology. And, the “Google Glass” will allow you to gaze through tech-filtered lenses accessing mobile computing with eye-tracking software.
Our technology era has even made getting to know God “easier” with online Bible versions and translations, new mobile applications of the Bible and teachers, and Christian movies and music are available to be downloaded. With all this technology and access to more material, you’d think God’s man would know the Word better than ever, right?
Unfortunately, despite unlimited access to all forms of the Word, one of the biggest weaknesses among God’s men is a lack of knowledge of God-breathed scripture: The Bible.
I believe there’s no replacement for the “technology” Jesus would use.