The Life Plan of a Courageous Man

Men! In western society today, we’ve typecast men as unable to be responsible, intelligent, or relationally healthy. Boys will be boys. Men just can’t control themselves. Girls rule. Boys drool. We aren’t doing our boys any favors by hold up this particular caricature. Equally dangerous is the other extreme, embraced in various generations of history in which men are domineering overlords of the weaker sex. Between and beyond these two models is the model of a godly man.

When David was turning the throne over to his son Solomon, he gave him this charge, “Take courage and be a man. Observe all the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go.” (1 Kings 2:2-3 NLT)

This is the life plan of a godly man. Step up to your responsibilities. Take courage and rise to the occasion. Take ownership, in the sense of taking responsibility, for your life, your family, your workplace, your community, etc. Follow the example God has set. He loves unconditionally and lays down His life for His friends as well as His enemies. And live within the parameters of His Word and His wisdom.

The sure result of this kind of life is success – perhaps not the kind of success you seek, measured in dollars and trophies, but the kind of success that matters for eternity. So men, throw off culture’s assumptions. Take courage and be a man!

Winning the War Over the Flesh

There is a universal battle in the lives of believers between the flesh and the Spirit. We waver between doing what our fleshly instincts tell us to do and doing what God is telling us to do. This is a timeless battle.

As we look through the life of David, we’ve come to a spot in his life where I believe he was struggling greatly in this battle. Out of six chapters of 1 Samuel, we learn at least four lessons about what our flesh is prone to do. I want us to consider these as well as what God wants us to do as the winning alternative…

Continue reading Winning the War Over the Flesh

How God Prepares a Heart for Greatness

Samuel - Thinking

Samuel (our son) is now six days old as I write this, and we are already talking about what we’re going to do to prepare him for adulthood. That’s the goal – doing all we can as parents to help him grow up into a well-adjusted, independent, godly young man.

We’re already putting aside money in his college fund. We’ll teach him to drive someday. We’ll educate him, nurture him, feed him, and clothe him. We’ll seek out healthy relationships for him. All of this is an effort to prepare him for maturity and his final release into the world in which we live.

God, however, may strip all of that away in order to prepare his heart.

That may sound tough but think about this:

  • Joseph was born to the large and wealthy family of Jacob, a privileged and preferred son, only to be sold into slavery and forgotten in prison before finally ascending to greatness in Egypt.
  • Moses was reared in the home of Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the world at the time. He was trained in the finest schools and had access to the wealth and power of the world, but spent forty years raising sheep in the desert before leading God’s people to freedom.
  • Saul studied at the feet of Gamaliel, was trained as a Pharisee, a keeper of the law in every point. He was born to Roman citizenship and was ascending to power when Jesus blinded him. From then on, he counted all of his past privileges loss for the excellency of knowing Christ.
  • And David was anointed early by Samuel, spent his teen years leading great military campaigns and living in the palace with his best friend, Jonathan. He even married King Saul’s daughter and became a part of the royal family. Then… he lost it all and hid in a cave for his life.

God prepares the heart for greatness in mysterious ways belonging to His wisdom alone. His process of discipleship involves pain, loss, and suffering. This is the tough side of spiritual growth, but it’s God’s way of getting us ready for His ultimate purpose for our eternities.

David suffered five significant losses from 1 Samuel 19 through 22.

  • He lost Saul as a potential mentor and the palace as a home.
  • He lost Jonathan – they never meet again after this.
  • He lost Michal – her affection and devotion.
  • He lost Samuel, never getting to see him again either.
  • He lost his own dignity and acted insane in Gath.


1. HE is worthy of praise.

In loss and suffering, we realize the greatness of God. That is, our own powerlessness reminds us of His awesome power.

2. HE is to be trusted.

Through loss, God keeps His promises. He continues and finishes the work He begins in us.

3. HE is to be feared.

David learned, during this very difficult period of his life, to fear God. And the more we fear God, the less we fear everything and everyone else.

4. We are to walk before HIM.

The reason He spares us is that we will learn to walk before Him, to relate to Him, and to live for Him.

God’s processes of discipleship are totally unlike our own. We can teach people habits to form and patterns to follow. We can equip, instruct, and train. But God disciplines. God alone understands the truest path to greatness is the complete brokenness of the heart and utter dependence upon Himself alone.

This is His goal for us. Are we willing to walk that path?

You’ve Got a Friend In Me

Buzz and Woody

When people talk about friendships in the Bible, they usually think of David and Jonathan, and with good reason. Not long after David defeated Goliath, the two had an opportunity to live under Saul’s roof together and become very close. Many things about their relationship demonstrate exactly what real friendship is all about.

In 1 Samuel 18-20, we get to see three different kinds of relationships exemplified by how three different people relate to David. These three “levels” of relating to others show themselves all around us every single day…

Continue reading You’ve Got a Friend In Me

Take a Lesson from Goliath

You’ve probably heard the story of David versus Goliath, and you’ve probably heard all kinds of applications of that story such as how to face the giants in your life, how to fight by faith, etc. Most of the sermons we preach from the story revolve around the victory of the little teenager against the big giant, and most of the life applications we hear are from this angle as well.

Don’t miss the opportunity to learn some lessons from Goliath along the way though. For example…

Continue reading Take a Lesson from Goliath

Slingshots Don’t Hurt People… People Hurt People

Yesterday at Bethel, we kicked off a four-part sermon series on the story of David and Goliath called Killing Giants. I took a slingshot to church and picked up five smooth stones along the way. We had fun. Nobody argued with the sermon… no one dared!

This morning, I woke up with a semi-profound thought on my mind… slingshots don’t hurt people, people hurt people. David used his slingshot to bring down a giant. Goliath was a 9 foot, 3 inch mountain of a man, covered in brass, carrying steel, and guarded by a shieldsman. David slung a rock an hit a target the size of a post-it note, thereby putting all of the Philistines to flight. Awesome story! We’re learning a lot from it already.

Here’s the thought that hit me, however. How often do we take our slingshots and aim them at the wrong target? In fact, do we sometimes aim our slingshot back at our own army? It occurs to me that it wasn’t the weapon that really mattered to the story, it was the aim of David. And if his smooth stone took down a giant wielding an iron spear, what do our words do to those at whom we sling them?

You might say that all of us have a tendency to reach for stones when we feel defensive. David was defending the honor and glory of God, but I wouldn’t dare presume that my motives are always that pure when I’m slinging words around.

I know that this post, even by its very title, might offend the crowd in favor of slingshot control, but maybe we just need better tongue control?… or maybe we just need better aim!