Monthly Archives: July 2012

Think Chick-fil-A is Alone? 9 Other Bible-Banging Companies

Since Dan T. Cathy, President and Chief Operating Officer of Chick-fil-A came out and publicly opposed same-sex marriage, many people have been forced to take a hard look at what companies they will support. While some of the big conglomerates throw a little money at both sides of the debate in an effort to remain neutral; readers may be shocked to find that just because they’re not as outspoken, some companies make a point to be purposeful about their faith.

Here’s a list of some of the more well known religious companies and how they demonstrate their religious freedom. This list is in no particular order.

1. Tyson Foods – While known as the world’s largest chicken company, it is also known for employing the most chaplains in any work force. “Tyson Chaplain Services has chaplains available to team members at numerous plants around the company and in our corporate offices. The chaplains provide compassionate pastoral care and ministry to team members and their families regardless of their religious or spiritual affiliation or beliefs,” according to a banner on Tyson’s website. Tyson not only employs chaplains throughout it’s company, but they also recently funded “The Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace” located at The University of Arkansas http://tfsw.uark.edu

2. Interstate Batteries – Like Tyson Foods, Interstate Batteries also employs it’s own chaplain. On it’s companies corporate website (http://corporate.interstatebatteries.com/giving/) the following is listed; “Part of what makes Interstate a unique company is its unabashed mission to conduct business in a way that honors God. That was Norm Miller’s vision when he became President in 1978. Today as chairman he is not involved in the day-to-day operation, and this allows Norm the time to speak to a variety of audiences interested in how he found the truth of Christianity and how he learned to effectively apply Biblical Principles to create a more successful business. Part of our corporate culture, through a full-time Chaplain and supporting staff, is to provide opportunities for people within and outside our company for Bible study, prayer, and Christian mission. While it is not necessary to be a Christian to be employed, it is a part of the daily work life for Interstate team members.”

3. Herman Miller – This Michigan-based furniture manufacturer who’s most famous for it’s Aeron chair, is grounded in the Reformed Protestant tradition. The company was founded in 1905 by D.J. De Pree, a Christian evangelical. He named the company after his beloved father-in-law, Miller. Today, De Pree’s sons Max and Hugh lead the company and outwardly declare that they too are servant-leaders just like their father. This being said, it’s no wonder that Herman Miller consistently appears on Fortune’s yearly list of The Best Companies to Work for.

4. In-N-Out-Burger – While Chick-fil-A asserts that it’s recipes come from its strong religious values, In-N-Out Burger also prides itself on its ongoing effort to print Bible scriptures on its packaging. In 1948, Harry and Esther Snyder founded the company on their devout Christian faith. It is this devotion that leads the company to continue to promote the Word of God in a very unique way today. Since the late 1980’s, In-N-Out Burger fanatics have been able to find scriptures on their burger wrappers and cups to name just a few examples. For instance, “John 3:16” can be found at the bottom of each drinking cup (pictured). It is the pinnacle verse used throughout all Christian denominations; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Other verses have been found like Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” and also Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” Currently In-N-Out Burger has 275 locations nationwide and growing.

5. ServiceMaster – While the name may not ring a bell for some, this companies residential service businesses may be more recognizable. Names like TruGreen, Merry Maids and Terminix have led the company to achieve over 5,100 franchises around the United States. In 1929, Marion E. Wade founded the company, which derived its name from the concept of Christianity known as “Service thy Master.” According to it’s website (http://www.servicemaster.com/about-us/history), “Wade had a strong personal faith and a desire to honor God in all he did. Translating this into the marketplace, he viewed each individual employee and customer as being made in God’s image – worthy of dignity and respect. His successors, Ken Hansen and Ken Wessner, also shared this view. These three leaders shaped what became our company objectives: To Honor God in All We Do; To Help People Develop; To Pursue Excellence; and To Grow Profitably.”

6. Hobby Lobby – This privately held chain of arts and crafts stores has amassed more than 500 locations nationwide. It was founded in 1972 by David Green and to this day resonates Hobby Lobby’s ethos, “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.” And it stands by the assertion “We believe that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, we trust Him for our future.” On the companies Vision page (http://www.hobbylobby.com/our_company/ministry.cfm) it states “Hobby Lobby Partners with organizations working to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the world.” These organizations include The Alliance Defense Fund, WyCliffe, and Oral Roberts University. One interesting fact, David Green, the companies founder, is the owner of “The Green Collection;” a compilation of more than 40,000 biblical antiquities currently featured via a worldwide traveling exhibition called “Passages.” Like Chick-fil-A, its more than 500 stores are closed on Sundays.

7. Tom’s of Maine – In 1970, along with his wife Kate, CEO Tom Chappell launched a line of natural home products that includes toothpaste, deodorant, soap to name a few. Many people may be surprised to know that Tom Chappelle received his Master’s Degree at Harvard Divinity School and almost didn’t start Tom’s of Maine in order to work in full-time ministry. With advice of one of his professors, Tom decided to treat his business as ministry. To this day Tom’s website states that he personally vows to, “Create a better world by exchanging our faith, experience, and hope.” (http://www.tomsofmaine.com/business-practices/values-beliefs/stewardship-model)

8. Forever 21 – While this company describes itself a fashion-forward clothing store for young ladies, it markets to another demographic; the Christian community. Like, In-N-Out Burger, Forever 21 also emblazons the bottom of its packaging with the scripture John 3:16 (pictured). According to a company spokeswoman, John 3:16 is used as a “demonstration of the owners’ Christian faith.” Additionally, consumers are able to purchase ladies T-shirts at its stores that unapologetically reveal various other Christian messages.

9. Walmart – This last inclusion could be taken by some with a grain of salt. While there is a “They do or they don’t mindset” going around about Walmart’s view on gay rights. In 2008, after Christian Conservative groups threatened a boycott, Wal-Mart left the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, with a spokesperson saying the company had decided not “to support or oppose highly controversial issues.”

Walmart was founded by the Walton family. Sam Walton founded the company in 1962 on the Christian Servant leadership model. The company based its shopping habits on Arkansas churchgoers and developed its business model from there. Today, Walmart is known as being the world’s largest retailer. Since the company was founded on Christian principles, this would explain why Walmart has long-carried Christian books that were once only available at larger Christian bookstores. Today, Sam Walton’s heirs own 48% of the stake in the publicly-traded corporation. This has enabled the Walton family to continue its stronghold over Walmart’s Christian based business practices.

While in recent days the media has tried to assault Chick-fil-A for its stance on gay marriage, it’s nice to learn that other well known companies support Christian values and are active; despite how the media tries to make us believe that Chick-fil-A stands alone in their commitment of biblical principles. I applaud these companies for not wavering in these times of spiritual indifference. At least I know where to grab my next burger, shop for chicken products, or purchase some great household décor. Am I advocating all Christians to support these companies; Yes! In a day and age where moral wrongs are constantly being askewed as a civil-right, we as Christians should go out of our way to support those companies striving to, “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16).

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
The idea and some of the thoughts for this story came from the CNN Article “9 Religious Companies Besides Chick-Fil-A” Author Dan Gilgoff, July 24, 2012.

Categories: National Headlines | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

What’s Never Said at a Funeral… But Christians are Thinking it

The passing of a loved one marks a very difficult time for those who are experiencing a loss of a beloved family member or friend. As a pastor, I have attended more than my share of funeral services. These vary from the most conservative Christian ceremonies, to the ceremony that God is never even mentioned. However, it seems that no matter what the setting, I’m assured to hear one statement being tossed around more than any other. You know the one, that infamous, “Well, at least they’re in a better place.” Brushing all political correctness aside, let’s be honest, if you’re a Christian who knows God’s Word you’re not really thinking that when someone makes that claim about an unbeliever. Let me paraphrase what most of us our actually thinking, “You’re loved one is eternally burning in a lake of fire, tormented day and night, with no escape.”

Now that statement may seem brash to some reading this. But the fact is, it’s the truth! The Bible states two very important facts about Hell. First, Hell is conscious torment. It is described as a “Furnace of fire…where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50). And its inhabitants, “Will be tormented with fire and brimstone” (Revelations 14:10). Second, Hell is not some temporary weekend stay at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons. The Bible says that Hell is eternal and irreversible. “The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night” (Revelation 14:11). “Anyone’s name not found written in the book of life, will be thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Unfortunately, conventional wisdom has interceded and watered down biblical truth. Atheists and agnostics aside; the majority of people if asked today what happens when they die believes in the good person/bad person consequence. The belief that when you die, you will stand before God, and as long as you’ve done enough good things that outweigh the bad things, then you get into Heaven. Because only good people go to Heaven, and Heaven is for good people, right? On the flipside, the belief also asserts that if you’ve done enough bad things, which outweigh your good ones, then you will go to Hell, because Hell is only for bad people. Essentially the belief is: Heaven is for good people who get in by doing good things, while Hell is for bad people who have done too many bad things.

Almost everyone believes they are good person… but the real question you should be asking yourself is Am I good enough to get into heaven? How do you know? The Bible says that each one of us, “Will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Romans 14:10). If this philosophy is true, then by who’s standards are you measuring your eternity? God’s Law is the Ten Commandments. And even Mother Teresa herself said she was unable to keep them. So ask yourself this. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen… anything? What about that hot guy or girl you see at the gym… ever lusted over them? Then you assuredly have broken one of these; and these are only 3 of the 10 Commandments. Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Well compared to some people I’m a saint.” But the standard which we are measured against is God’s Law; not other people’s. Take for instance if you’ve sinned just once a day in your life. That’s 365 sins in one year. If you live to be 80, you will have broken God’s Law 29,200 times. And you will have to answer to God for each one of these sins you have committed. If breaking God’s law just once keeps you from going to Heaven, do you think that being a good person is going to help you now?

I once knew a friend who was raised in a Christian home. And all though brought up well, rebelled against God for most of his life. Often I would try and have a serious discussion about life or it’s meaning, and whether he understood God and His plans for our afterlife. To this I was always met with him saying, “I don’t want to talk about it.” One day God impressed upon my heart that I needed to go minister to him again. So I went to see him and said, “I want to talk to you about the meaning of life and what happens after we die.” Once again I got, “I don’t want to talk about it.” This time I said, “No today, we are going to talk about it.” And we finally got to really talk about life and God’s plan for us. As a result, He committed his life to the Lord. It was only a month later that He was unexpectedly killed in a tragic car accident. I am so glad that while the conversation was not an easy one, I didn’t take “no” for an answer that day.

A funeral is a time when man comes face to face with their own mortality… and morality. While you may think you are doing the right thing by stating politically correct words of condolence; you are actually doing them an eternal disservice. I’m not saying that we need to confront people at their weakest moments with in your face comments like; “Sorry to tell you, but Johnny is burning in Hell.” To be honest, once a person is gone, the Bible does not say that those left behind can pray their loved ones back into Heaven. But we should be using it as a time to aid those who still have a chance.

The Bible is clear, everyone will exist eternally either in Heaven or Hell (Matthew 25:46, John 5:28). And each one of us will become responsible for which one of those places we eventually wind up in. Still think that if you’re a “good person” you’ll just squeak by into heaven? This way of thinking is completely inconsistent with what the Bible teaches. On the contrary, the Bible tells us that Hell has been prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41); it was never prepared for bad people at all. Likewise, Heaven is the dwelling place of the Godly. When you stand before God and He makes the decision if you get into Heaven or are cast down into Hell, His deepest concern is not whether you were good or bad. The pressing question on God’s mind will be, “Did you believe in My Son Jesus Christ?

The assurance that we will go to Heaven because we are a “good person” is not as our culture often tries to convey. Our assurance lies within the pages of the Bible and what God teaches; not man. It a Son question—not a Sin question. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The Good News is that it is never too late. Even if you have lived a sinfully wicked life up to this point, all you need to do is call out to the Lord Jesus Christ in genuine repentance, and you will be assured a place in Heaven.However, if you are still living in a cloud of disbelief that you are relatively a “good person” who lives morally and does good deeds, yet have never put your faith in Jesus Christ, then you will not go to Heaven. Oh and by the way, there is no measurement of good works that would ever outweigh your bad works in God’s eyes. I’m so thankful that’s not what we’ll all eventually be judged by.

Maybe you’re sitting here reading this saying to yourself, “I’ll get right with God one day.” Well, what happens if you’re like my friend I spoke of earlier and are killed in a tragic car accident on your way to work? The Bible says, “Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Are you really willing to put your eternal salvation into the hands of a day that has not yet been promised?

Make the commitment right now! Now with all your heart, turn away from your sin, and surrender your life to Jesus Christ. Please don’t put it off. You may die today and then it will be too late. Put your faith and trust in Him today. God doesn’t want you to go to Hell. And neither do you want to go there; so confess your sins to God right now, put your trust in Jesus to save you, and you will pass from death to life. When your day comes, won’t you be glad that you know you are going to Heaven; rather than hoping you’ve done enough good deeds?

In closing, I know that death is a topic that many try to avoid; likewise, the reality about a person’s salvation. And it’s even harder when it’s a family member. Maybe you don’t know how to lead someone to Christ; or don’t know what to do yourself. Look, it’s not some big spectacle at a church where it needs to take place. Your eternal security can be changed, right here… right now as you read this. And it begins by praying something like this to God:

“Dear God, today I turn away from all of my sins (name them). This day I put my trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He is the only way for me to be saved. He is ‘The way, the truth, and the life.’ Please forgive me, change my heart, and grant me Your gift of everlasting life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you’ve taken the time to say this prayer I would like to congratulate you for making the commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Your obedience to God is proof of your love for His Son. From here you should go out and find a good church to help you grow. Don’t wait for an invite; iIf you have questions, call a local church and ask to speak to a pastor. The decision you have just made is not taken lightly, and it comes with eternal rewards. As the Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). For now when that day comes and people are speaking about you at your funeral, and someone says, “Well, at least they’re in a better place;” you have the knowledge of knowing… you really are.

If you’ve made the decision to commit your life to Christ or have questions, please use the contact me form at http://pastordodd.com/about/contact-me/ to reach out and let me know.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why Did God Allow the "Dark Knight" to Rise?

Ever since Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight,” anticipation for the next chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy had left Hollywood and American filmgoers abuzz. So it came as no surprise that when the release date for “The Dark Knight Rises” drew close, avid fans bought tickets weeks in advance and stood for hours in hopes of being the first to witness the final chapter in Nolan’s Batman legacy. As midnight passed, movie-buffs all over the country began to settle into their seats, silence their cell phones, and reach for that buttery bag of popcorn. Yet, for patrons of the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado they had no idea of the inconceivable tragedy that lay in wait just moments ahead.

At approximately 12:37 a.m., just 20-minutes into the movie, witnesses say that a dimly lit figure clad from head to toe in body armor wielded three high-powered weapons, and turned a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” into his own twisted comic book nightmare. Having transformed himself into a self-styled Joker, the madman, 24-year old James Holmes began lobbing a pair of tear gas grenades into the sold-out theater early Friday morning before cowardly firing upon helpless moviegoers. In the wake of the aftermath, 12 people lay dead, and 58 others were left injured.

As a resident of Colorado, this tragedy has hit incredibly close to home. Our communities have been left reeling with many questions. While questions like how did this seemingly “nice guy” turn evil; or what was his motive? There’s one question, whether you are a believer or not, that seems to take precedence above all others. “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” It’s a question that could be one of the most challenging questions to answer in all of theology. Still, if we as Christ followers believe that our God is everlasting, limitless, and almighty, then why should human beings that are clearly not, presume that we could ever understand why God works the way He does?

If ever there were a story that dealt with this topic, most people would agree that there is no greater biblical account than the story of Job. In the story, Job, who is described as being a blessed man who lives a life of righteousness, becomes the focal point of a discussion between God and Satan. God’s admiration of Job provokes Satan to challenge Job’s faithfulness implying that Job only serves God because God blesses and protects him. In an effort to demonstrate Job’s faithfulness, God removes Job’s protection; thus opening the door for Satan to take his children, his vast wealth, and to attack his health in an attempt to get Job to turn away and curse God. Throughout the story Job repeatedly laments about his difficult circumstances, for God allowed Satan to do everything to Job just short of killing him. Yet, despite all of his struggles, Job never wavers and in his own words provides the reasons he did not falter during the storm, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21). Like many today, Job could not comprehend how a loving God would allow him to endure such trials and pain. Yet, Job knew that God was good and therefore he continued to trust in the Lord.

When hardships, tragedies, or the trials of life come our way, our questions should not turn to why God allowed the hurt to occur; but rather what is God trying to use it for in our future? Remember, “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). While we can question why God allows bad things to happen, I challenge you to remember this quote. “God will not protect you from the things He intends to use to perfect you through.” We might not know in the interim why God is allowing these events to happen, but just like Job, we’re going to have to trust in Him.

I’m not saying that horrific things like the death of a child, cancer, rape, or in this case a senseless act of murder at the hands of a coward is something that can be easily dealt with. But God sometimes will use your own personal tragedy later in life as a way for you to minister to people who are going through what you’ve
already been through. As Paul confirms, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Remember in your times of strife, God never wastes a hurt. One of the most overlooked factors in determining one’s personal ministry is past experiences, particularly past hurts and problems. It is in these tough times that we should, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). Since our greatest life messages come out of our weaknesses and not our strengths, we should pay close attention to what we’ve learned in the “school-of-hard-knocks.”

There are many times in life where we may feel like throwing in the towel. Believe me… if you’ve read about my past, you know that I’ve been there. Yet, my prayer for you is that through faith in our Heavenly Father, His words will provide comfort to you and your family. For while we may feel a little emotionally beaten and bewildered temporarily. It is when you decide to take the journey filled with travesty, that God will empower you as the victor in overcoming your adversity!

In closing, may the Lord be with the families of those who have lost their lives or been affected by this tragic event. May He help them in this time of loss and overwhelming grief. Why this tragedy was allowed to happen to good and innocent people we truly don’t know. But now is the time when we must turn our eyes to our Heavenly Father as we seek to find the strength to trust in His faithfulness. I know that many hearts have been crushed, but I also know that we serve a God that will not abandon those who believe in Him. For He is the great comforter, and in this time of need, find assurance that He knows your pain and that He is with you… For it is in His word that we find His comfort, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Amen~

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: National Headlines | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Are You a Lukewarm Christian?

There are very few things in life that are good when it comes to being lukewarm. For instance, we don’t hear people say, “You’d feel better if you would go take a lukewarm shower.” Or what about going out to eat? If we get our food served to us lukewarm, what do we do? We send it back if it’s not hot, or cold if that’s the way it’s supposed to be prepared. By nature, society tells us things should be hot or cold.

But for some reason, in the area of Christianity, we make excuses and try and manipulate what the scriptures convey to us. I apologize if what I’m about to say upsets you. But as a pastor, our jobs are not always meant to build you up. Sometimes we are called to steer you in the right direction when you stray off course; hence why pastors care called God’s Shepherds. The Greek Word for Pastor: ‘poimaino’ = (herdsman, a shepherd… one who cares for, feeds, guides, and protects the sheep).

Let me cut right to the heart of the matter. The Bible makes it emphatically clear; being a lukewarm Christian is NOT considered good in the eyes of the Lord. What does lukewarm Christianity look like? It’s the place that is found somewhere between being hot (on fire and living your life for what God desires) and being cold (not believing in or having no desire to follow God). One of my favorite lines comes from Pastor Craig Groeschel, “Just because it doesn’t bother you… Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t bother you.” And that’s exactly what’s occurring in society and the church today. We have become a Christian society that spends more time debating scripture and twisting it, rather than doing what it says. Instead of following God’s Word, we follow it up with, “Well the Bible doesn’t really say…” Let’s be clear, the Bible does say! In fact, in the area of lukewarm Christianity, scripture proves that Christ Himself knew that the nature of our society would pull away from God just as it is today. In fact, Jesus was so concerned that He sent a clear message to those living a lukewarm walk with God. He actually states that He would rather you and I be “cold” rather than lukewarm; and that lukewarmness is so disgusting that it makes God want to vomit. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).

So with that in mind, here are 10 signs you might be a lukewarm Christian…

1. You only seek God when things seem to be crashing down around you.

2. You rarely share your faith, and would have a difficult time sharing your faith if asked.

3. The acceptance of people matters more than the acceptance that God provides.

4. You come to church and “Play Christian.” But as soon as you leave, your life is really no different than others in the world.

5. Your friends would be shocked if they found out that you were a “Christian.”

6. You spend more time on Facebook rather than in His Book.

7. The Bible that you have been carrying back and forth to church still looks like you just bought it.

8. You sometimes skip saying grace before a meal while out in public because you are afraid of what others are thinking.

9. Being a Christian to you means that you want to know Christ just enough to save you from going to hell, but not so much that it means having to change your lifestyle.

10. And my all time favorite… You are more concerned with “offending people” that you don’t share your faith.

The Word of God is clear and concise on this matter. Since God’s love for us is so unfathomable, shouldn’t our love for Him be so radical and thankful for Him sending His Son to pay the ultimate price? As I have had the displeasure of seeing this country fall to the wayside by trying to remove God from all of society, I’ll be very blunt; I have no patience for “lukewarm Christians.”

Let me end with two thoughts. Christianity is not simply living a lifestyle; it is living and dying for Jesus. “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35). For Christianity is not a brief emotional experience, it is a lifetime commitment made with our Savior Jesus Christ. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22). In this life, God denounces lukewarmness. For Him, you are either a Christian… or you’re not! Which one are you?

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Daily Living | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Do You Have the Balls?

Dodgeball… It may be the one word that still to this day has the ability to strike fear in the hearts of every gangly pre-teen in America. A game that seems so simplistic in its design; yet, for most of us feels like we’re David walking into an arena about ready to face Goliath. While the game has its rules and code of conduct, let’s be honest; dodgeball is nothing more than a politically correct way for Butch-the-Ginormo sixth-grader to beam balls off the head of every poor and defenseless prepubescent pencil-necked geek.

While there are varying ways to play the game, the basic rules are as follows. Teams of 6 or more players line up on opposite sides of the playing court. 6-8 dodgeballs are then lined up on the center of the court. At the blow of a whistle, both teams rush to the center court line and attempt to retrieve as many balls as possible. Once the teams have the balls, the object is to eliminate the other players until one team has only one person standing on the court; thus deemed the winner! To do this, each team tries to eliminate the opposing team by three different methods. First, and the most widely used method, is to throw the ball in an attempt to hit the opposing player directly with brutal force. Second, if a defending player manages to catch a live ball that has been thrown at them by an opposing player, the opposing player will be deemed “out.” Lastly, if any part of a player’s body crosses over the centerline or the neutral zone lines, that player shall be deemed “out” as well.

After years of ducking, dodging, and diving, I can tell you from first hand experience that the key to winning a dodgeball match is not found in a great offense. On the contrary, the key to being the last person standing on the court at the end of the game is found when a person learns to use a smart defense. Great dodgeball veterans will tell you, when they see a rush of players coming at them, they have to do the very thing they don’t want to do; and that is to move toward the rush. As someone who has woken up with “toiV” across his forehead a few times (that’s Voit spelled backwards, the maker of dodeballs by the way); I can tell you that your first instinct is to run toward the back of the court. But doing so just makes it easier for you to unintentionally go out of bounds while trying to jump out of the way of a 90-MPH red rubber ball. Instead, you need to advance toward the rush of the players and try to catch one of their thrown balls as they hurl it toward you.

But be careful, if you are charging foreword and the rush begins to overtake you, the worst thing to do now is retreat backwards, which I have done. Once you take your eyes of you opponent, you become disoriented and open yourself up for a barrage of cheap shots and public pelting; and more than one person has suffered the wrath of Butch (the freakishly grown six-grader) because they didn’t know which way to go. They turned their back when they should have stood their ground, and the outcome became an urban legend gossiped on the playground for years to come.

So if you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to make every effort to catch your opponent’s ball. Then in a freak moment of insanity, make your way in the direction of the rush. Why? That ball not only becomes your weapon of destruction for later use; but it becomes your shield to deflect the enemy’s attacks when hurled at you. So even if logic tells you to turn around and retreat, follow what your heart knows to be true; dig your heels in and stand firm for your victory is just moments away.

In life, the Word of God is like that little red rubber ball. When Satan tries to throw trials and difficulties your way, it becomes your shield so that you can temporarily deflect the enemy’s attacks. Thus, enabling yourself to catch your breath and gain a proper perspective on what is really going on. It provides you the stability to, “Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope” (Psalm 119:116). During the first moments of any heated exchange, there’s no doubt; fear can set in. And your emotions if not put in check, can get the best of you and make you rethink your initial game plan. But it’s at these moments in life that if you will just, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). For it is the Word of God that will correct, guide, and protect you.

Yes, there are times in life that we may just narrowly escape; we may even get caught in another barrage of attacks. And unfortunately they may come so often that we live our lives without ever knowing if the waves of attack will ever cease. But it’s during these difficult times that character is born. Remember when David walked toward Goliath? The Bible tells us that he had already shrugged off the cumbersome armor and was dressed in just his simple tunic. He didn’t have a massive sword to help him engage his enemy. No, David was armed with just a few smooth stones and a slingshot. And as the story goes, David did not retreat in fear; instead he approached Goliath with all certainty of his impending victory.

As Goliath stood there cursing David with threats and insults, it is here in the story we see David’s security in his faith. David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty” (1 Samuel 17:45). As Goliath moved in for the kill, David reached into his bag to get a stone and slung one of them at Goliath’s head. With all the armor Goliath was draped with, the stone still managed to find a hole in the armor covering his head. And as the stone sank into the giant’s forehead, he fell face down on the ground, which ended in his demise.

David’s faith in God allowed him to look at the giant from a different perspective. From David’s viewpoint, Goliath was merely a mortal man rebelling against the almighty God. God allowed David to see things from His point of view. What we learn from this account is that when situations present themselves that in the natural seem impossible for us, they soon seem possible when viewing them from God’s perspective.

Just like in dodgeball, when we make the decision to stand firm and use the ball (the Word of God) to deflect the attacks of our opponents, we stop seeing things like a victim and realize victory is close at hand. Now I’m not going to say that facing trials are ever easy. And you may not understand why you must face the challenges that the enemy seems to always stir up for you. But remember, adversity breeds character; and after all, turmoil is just temporary. But character… It lasts a lifetime.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

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