Excalibur Is Your Sword Too

My son and I recently went to see the new King Arthur movie.  I was pleasantly surprised.

I’m sure all of us are familiar with the legend of King Arthur to some degree.  I was vaguely aware of the story of a beloved English King named Arthur who had ruled with amazing grace and strength.  His true identity as the chosen king was publicly revealed when he was able to pull the sword from the stone – Excalibur.

I didn’t go into this latest version of this legend with many preconceived ideas because I couldn’t remember previously seeing an epic movie about King Arthur.  I did know enough to know that the story had been told in myriad ways in modern history.

I understand that this latest version is told with a very different twist.  A twist I found very engaging…

Arthur is portrayed as a young man who is completely unaware of who he is.  He is actually the son of the murdered king, and, therefore, the rightful heir to the throne.  His father and mother were both killed when he was a toddler by his wicked uncle.  He was miraculously whisked away to safety down river in a boat.  (Very Moses-esque)

He ends up being taken in and raised by prostitutes in a brothel.  By his own confession he is the “bastard child of a prostitute”.  That is his identity.  That is who he believes he is.  Nothing more.

Through a miraculous event, Excalibur is revealed and the legend of a coming King – a new ruler with a Kingdom of freedom – grows and grows.  This terrifies the evil King who rules with fear and intimidation.  So, he sets out to find out who can pull the sword from the stone and kill the one who is able to claim Excalibur.

To cut a long story short, Arthur is able to pull the sword from the stone and is immediately imprisoned awaiting his execution.  He pleads with the evil king that he’s got the wrong man – “I am no King, I don’t want to be king.  I am a child of a prostitute.  I have no father.”

We are then invited into Arthur’s journey of discovery into who he really is.  He has to choose to believe the truth about himself, and the responsibility that comes with that truth.  He has to put aside what he has previously believed about himself.  It is a journey into apprehending his true identity.

I loved the perspective this film took on this epic tale.  A young man who doesn’t understand who he really is gets invited into a story far greater than himself – for the benefit of others.  He has a choice: will he hold to the lies he has believed and live a small life, or will he embrace the truth and become who he was created, crafted and called to be?

Do you know why I loved this story so much?  Because it’s our story!

We are all ‘King Arthurs’.  We are sons of the King – sons of God.  We have grown up in a world of lies, sowed by the evil one who is terrified of who we truly are.  And the only way we get hold of our true identity is by taking hold of our sword.  What Arthur called Excalibur, we call the Bible.

By pulling our Excalibur out of the stone of apathy, complacency, cowardice and unbelief we take up the sword of the Spirit and what we believe about ourselves begins to change.  The Truth transforms us when we take hold of it in both hands and own it.  We have a choice to believe the lies we have believed about ourselves, or believe the Truth that we are beloved sons of God called to rule in His authority as Kingdom ambassadors.

We have actually been tasked by our King to make His spiritual enemies a footstool for his feet by fighting for the freedom of His Kingdom in the lives of people trapped in darkness.

You are a ‘King Arthur’ called my God to take hold of His sword of Truth and rule in His name for the benefit of others.

“Excalibur” is your sword too!  Pick it up and believe the Truth of who you are.

Ephesians 6:7

“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Psalm 110:1-3

“The Lord says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’  The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of your enemies!’  Your troops will be willing on your day of battle.  Arrayed in holy splendor, your young men will come to you like dew from the morning’s womb.”

2 Corinthians 6:18

“And, ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’”

1 Peter 2:9-10 (The Message)

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”

Integrity is Like Bologna

“What does integrity mean?”

We were 2 young men at a college and career retreat and the speaker had mentioned integrity.  We really didn’t know what it meant.  We were both in university, we weren’t stupid, we just didn’t know what integrity really was.  So, we tracked the guest speaker down after the session and asked him to help us understand what integrity was.

His answer really surprised us.

“It’s kind of like bologna.  You know, those big loaves of bologna?  No matter where you slice it, or how you slice it, you always get the same thing.”, was his reply.

What does that mean??

We chewed through our thoughts for a while and came up with an understanding of what we thought he meant.  Integrity is a consistent high moral standard of behavior.  A man of integrity consistently lives by a high moral standard.  No matter where, no matter when, it’s the same high standard of behavior.

I witnessed great integrity recently – in a very unique circumstance.

My brother, his wife and I were having dinner on their deck.  A small bird flew into the second story window.  Stunned by the impact it fluttered down to the ground beside the table.  Not dead, but not totally alive, it lay on the ground gasping for breath.

My brother is a pastor.  In fact, he’s been pastoring the same church for close to 40 years.    He has dedicated his life to caring for people.  He’s been doing so for decades.  No matter where he is, no matter what he’s doing, he cares for people.

I have watched him for the vast majority of my life reaching out to people with God’s love.  He encourages, he exhorts, he teaches, he serves, he preaches, he prays for people, he leads them to Christ, whatever way he can minister to people he does.

So what I watched next in the life of that little bird was no surprise.  He got out of his chair, he walked over to the bird and he prayed for its recovery.  Gently stroking that bird’s head he prayed for its healing in Jesus’ name.

But he didn’t stop there.  He made a little bed for it out of a small cardboard box which he lined with Kleenex and napkins.  He gently placed the bird in the box and put a little napkin over it for safe keeping.  He put the box within eyesight, but far enough away not to scare or intimidate the bird.

And sure enough, that little bird recovered and flew away just after we had finished dessert.

That little scenario was a great illustration of the heart of my brother.  As I watched this scene unfold I realized my brother cared for that bird in a similar way he has treated people for years.

That’s integrity.

This was also a great demonstration of the heart of our Father.   Jesus told us that God takes care of the birds of the air.  How much more will He care for us?

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”  Matthew 6:26

“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”  Luke 12:24

God created the birds.  He cares for the birds.  God feeds the birds.  The birds are not too small for God to care for.  How much more will God take care of us?

Watching my brother care for that bird caused me to ask a few questions of myself.  I don’t think I would have done what my brother did.  In fact, I urged Ron not to touch it and contaminate it with his scent.  Lame, really lame Dave.

My brother went the extra mile.  His integrity spoke loud and clear.

That’s the kind of man I trust we want to be.  No matter where, no matter when, no matter which way you slice us, may we be men of integrity – consistently living by a high moral standard.

Just like bologna.

1 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

Psalm 78:72

“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”

Proverbs 11:3

“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”

Desires and Plans

Both of our sons are in a really exciting season of their lives – the beginning of their careers.

Do you remember that season of your life?  Were you excited and terrified at the same time?  Were you full of hopes and dreams for what the future would hold?

They’re full of big desires and big plans.  In light of that they’re excited and scared at the same time.  They’re exhilarated and terrified – they’re exhilified.  Their desires are big on all fronts.  And they’re making big plans based on those desires.

They’re causing me to think back to when I was their age.  Anything seemed possible.  The sky was the limit.  I had lots of desires I wanted to see come to fruition.  I had lots of desires that I was making plans for in order to bring them into reality.

Some of my desires were God-breathed, and some of them weren’t.  God knew that.  In His great mercy and grace God helped me to see where my desires were not in alignment with His.

In addition, some of my plans were not necessarily His.  Once again, He graciously directed me and even thwarted my plans that were not His plans.  And sometimes, because of my stubbornness and arrogance, He crushed my plans in order to draw me closer to Him in humble surrender so that my desires and plans would come into alignment with God’s best for me.

Desires and plans can get you in trouble.  And, desires and plans can get you into God’s will.

I don’t know about you, but when I was in my 20’s and 30’s I had lots of desires and plans.  However, it was during these years the Lord began purifying my desires.  He was also thwarting some of my plans that were not His.  The more this happened, the more cautious I became about looking at the desires in my heart and making plans accordingly.

Following this time of “purifying” it would have been easy to simply shut down my heart and not dare to desire anything more, to simply settle for what was – “This is all I can hope for.”  Desire could easily flame out, and plans become non-existent.  It would be easy to cave into the monotony of life, surrender desire and begin living a resigned life.

If we do not discover the delight of God by pressing through our issues that keep us at a distance from God, we can easily, as Thoreau said, “Live lives of quiet desperation.”  Discovering the heart of God catapults us into a new realm of desire and plans – that of the desires of God and partnering with Him in His plans for us and for others through us.

In addition, as we age over the years and accomplish plans and fulfill desires we can end up having less and less desires and plans, and therefore, we age prematurely.  I believe desires and plans can keep us young and vibrant.

Psalm 20:4 caught my attention recently.  Well, actually, it stopped me cold right in the middle of my morning time with God.

“May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

I sat there reading it over and over.  I began musing with the Lord, what desires do I have?  And, what corresponding plans do I have?  Are my desires reflective of God’s desires? Are my plans in sync with His?

C.S. Lewis said, “Our problem is not that we desire too much, but that we desire too little.”

I’m feeling the nudging of the Lord to take a look at my desires.  Am I desiring too little?  Do my desires reflect the heart of God, or do they reflect the values of this world?  Do my plans reflect the vision God has given me and the desires He has put in my heart, or do they reflect the things of this world?

What about you?  Do you have desires and plans?  Do you desire too little?

Ask the Lord about the desires He’s put in your heart, and the plans He has for you – I’ll bet they’re bigger than you think!

Psalm 37:4

“Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Proverbs 16:9

“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”

Psalm 73:25

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Truth Meals for a Rich and Full Faith

“What do you eat for breakfast?” I asked.

“I eat the same thing every day.” he replied.

My colleague had just presented me with a copy of his new book on health and nutrition.  In light of this I thought it was time for me to defer to his expertise.

I confessed to him my neglect in the ingestion department.  I tended to eat for taste and not for fuel.  I didn’t feed my body well.  I often didn’t eat breakfast; I would eat sporadically throughout the day; eat something sweet in the afternoon to give me some energy; eat a good dinner because of my wife’s faithful care; then eat some tasty snack in the evening.

I now sat across the table from my friend 20 pounds overweight.  I needed help.

“So what do you eat for breakfast?” I inquired.

“My special shake: 2.5 cups water, 1 banana, ½ cup berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), 1 tablespoon each of oat bran, wheat bran, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, ¼ tablespoon of matcha and 1 scoop of whey isolate protein powder.” He responded.

That shake, combined with eating less junk, and 30 minutes of mountainside walking 3 times a week, took 20 pounds off me and has kept it off for 2 years.

Our physical health is the result of 4 main components:  what we eat, what we drink, how we rest, and how we move.  Sure there are many other factors, but these are 4 key elements.

So what about our spiritual health?

Recently I embarked upon an intentional truth diet with my wife.  We’re committing to memorize and meditate on weekly scriptural truths in an effort to increase our spiritual health.  We’re focusing on truth related to God’s love and our identity as beloved children of God.

Reading Truth is good.  Memorizing Truth is powerful.  And meditating on Truth is profoundly transformational.

To meditate on Truth is to commit it to memory, and then chew over every word, every morsel of the passage.  Meditating is an intentional extraction of the meaning the Spirit reveals.  Meditating is a commitment to seek God’s revelation for all the depth of Truth the passage contains.

It’s a commitment to suck the marrow out of the Word.

This week we’re on Psalm 139:13, 14:

I am chewing each section of this over and over… “For you created my inmost being”; “You knit me together in my mother’s womb”; “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”; “Your works are wonderful”; “I know this full well”.

How can you hate yourself if you understand the Truth of this verse?  If God says we’re wonderful, if He formed us in our mother’s womb, then who are we to say we’re a piece of junk?  God doesn’t make junk!

You are wonderful!

We’ve just started this diet of Truth but have enjoyed rich meals the 2 previous weeks:

Jeremiah 31:3

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

Zephaniah 3:17

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

We have the following meal plan laid out over the next 6 weeks:

Romans 8:14, 15

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”

Galatians 4:6, 7

“Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”

1 John 3:1

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

John 15:9-11

 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

Philippians 1:6

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:38, 39

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Join us – feast on Truth and live!