Overcoming The Goliath Fears

Jeff Hlavin

Rev. Jeff Hlavin brought such an amazing and timely message to Calvary Assembly of God yesterday! Using the well known story of David and Goliath (see 1 Samuel 17), Pastor Jeff showed us how to defeat the giants of fear that stare us down. Here are the notes I took during his message—

“Unhealthy fear is anxiety-producing and diminishes the quality of our lives. It negatively affects our behavior and our relationships.”

Unhealthy fear dominates our thinking … It looms larger in consequence … It intimidates… All other options seem to evaporate.”

On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. (1 Samuel 17:11)

“Who decides the battle gets to be fought this way? We don’t have to let the enemy dictate the terms of engagement! If we let the enemy define the battle, our fearful state becomes our new status quo.”

A Christian cliché will not overcome fear. We need to assess the situation accurately: (a) in the light of what fear is and does, (b) in the light of who and what you are, and (c) in the light of who and what God is.”

“…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26)

We overcome personal fear through personal faith. Not someone else’s faith or experience or testimony, but mine.

“I cannot go in these,” David said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. (1 Samuel 17:39)

“God wired you the way He did on purpose. Use what is ‘you’ and ‘yours.’” Look at David’s faith. He tells Goliath he’s going to take his head off, but he doesn’t even have a sword! He used what God gave him and then he used the enemy’s own weapon against him. Once one fear is defeated, the other related fears flee too (v. 51b).

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak His praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt His name together. I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; He saved me from all my troubles. (Psalms 34:1-6 NLT)


Unpopular Preaching?

Walter Russell Bowie

Walter Russell Bowie

“The Christian church does not need more popular preaching, but more unpopular preaching.”

—Walter Russell Bowie

What do you think this means? Is Bowie right?

The Apostle Paul said preaching about Christ would be a stumbling block (unpopular) to some. Even Jesus didn’t preach a popular message.

In my opinion, we preach the Word of God. Period. Not our opinion, not a message to gather a crowd, not a message to entertain. Just preach the Word. It will be unpopular with the self-satisfied and sanctimonious, but it will be a welcome message to the lost and desperate.

What do you think?

Thursdays With Oswald—Time To Get Active

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald Chambers

Time To Get Active

     We must take heed that in the present calamities, when war and devastation and heart-break are abroad in the world, we do not shut ourselves up in a world of our own and ignore the demand made on us by our Lord and our fellow-man for the service of intercessory prayer and hospitality and care.

From Christian Disciplines

Instead when times are tough, Christians ought to be at their best! Open your eyes and you will see opportunities all around you to pray, to open your home, and to open your arms.

Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

It’s time to open your eyes and get active!


DistinguishingA week ago I blogged about why some people avoid reading some of the Old Testament books because they seem tedious, or even out-of-date. But if you look at the Old Testament through the light of Jesus, you will find a rich beauty in its pages.

In Leviticus 11 God lists all kinds of food that is considered clean or unclean, and the proper ways to prepare and eat certain foods so as to not become unclean.

I believe one of the reasons God gave the commands for clean and unclean food was to cause His people to pause. Instead of just gobbling up what was in front of them, without any thought as to what it was, they would have to slow down to distinguish. God even said, “You must distinguish” (Leviticus 11:47).

Slowing down gives time for thankfulness too. How many times do I grab whatever is close by when I’m hungry? I shove anything in my mouth just to satisfy an immediate hunger, but there is no distinguishing, no thought, and no gratitude.

If I were to pause long enough to distinguish, how much healthier and grateful might I be?


IrreplaceableSomeone needs to hear this message:

You cannot be replaced!

There has never been anyone like you before … There is not anyone else like you right now … There will never be anyone like you in the future.

Because you are unique, God has made you just as you are for a specific purpose—

“This signature on each soul may be a product of heredity and environment, but that only means that heredity and environment are among the instruments whereby God creates a soul. I am considering not how, but why, He makes each soul unique. If He had no use for all these differences, I do not see why He should have created more souls than one. Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you. The mold in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key: and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock. Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions. For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you.” (C.S. Lewis)

See You At The Pole

SYATPI am excited to be a part of the annual See You At The Pole prayer time. In Cedar Springs, we will be praying at three schools:

  • Middle School at 7:05am
  • Red Hawk Elementary at 7:10am
  • High School at 7:20am

If you are near Cedar Springs, please come pray with us at one of these locations. If you live in a different city, please consider organizing a student-led prayer time at your local school.

Keep Your Love Up-To-Date

Busyness Can Kill LoveIt’s possible to be so busy doing good things that we forget why we are doing those good things. Worse than that: our busyness can actually kill what’s most important.

When Jesus addressed the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7), He addressed a problem we in the West face today as well. Jesus said, “You are hard workers. You keep pressing on despite the obstacles. You are ministering to others, you’re making sure no wolves in sheep’s clothing infiltrate the church, and you even stand strong under persecution for your faith.”

But then Jesus drops a hard word on them: “Yet I have this against you: You have forsaken your first love.

The Ephesians were fighting the good fight. Yet this intense work and ministry detracted from what is most important: Love for God. The New Living Translation says verse four this way: You don’t love Me or each other as you did at first.

  • Busyness can kill love.
  • Fighting evil can kill love.
  • Standing for truth can kill love.
  • Ministering to others can kill love.

Ministering to others is not love. It can only come from the overflow of love. But if the love is not kept full, there’s nothing there to overflow, and we’re only “doing our duty.”

So Jesus challenges the Ephesians (and us) with these two steps: Remember and Repent.

The verb tense for remember is the present tense. That means it’s something we need to do now. I cannot tell my wife “I love you” nine times on Monday morning and expect that I’m covered for the next 10 days. In the same way, we cannot tell Jesus we love Him on Sunday morning, and then go off to do our own thing for the rest of the week. That choice will not allow us to overflow with love; in fact, it will be just the opposite: we’ll be running on empty, just doing our duty.

We must keep our love up-to-date. Remember often how much God loves you, and express your love to Him. And if you find something in your life that is more of a focus that Christ, repent. Turn from that and turn back to your first love.

Don’t Give Up!

My dear pastor, I know the ministry can seem to be unrewarding at times. Maybe you’re even wondering if all of your labors are even making a difference. Hear this loud and clear: Your ministry is making an eternal difference … Don’t give up!

Let these encouraging words from Charles Spurgeon sink into your heart:

C.H. SpurgeonPutting our hand to this plough and looking back will prove that we were unworthy of the kingdom. If there be a hundred reasons for giving up your work of faith, there are fifty thousand for going on with it. Though there are many arguments for fainting, there are far more arguments for persevering. Though we might be weary, and do sometimes feel so, let us wait upon the Lord and renew our strength, and we shall mount up with wings as eagles, forget our weariness, and be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might….

As the rain climbs not up to the skies, and the snow flakes never take to themselves wings to rise to heaven, so neither shall the word of God return unto Him void, but it shall accomplish that which He pleases. We have not spent our strength in vain. Not a verse taught to a little girl, nor a text dropped into the ear of a careless boy, nor an earnest warning given to an obdurate young sinner, nor a loving farewell to one of the senior girls, shall be without some result or other to the glory of God. And, taking it all together as a mass, though this handful of seed may be eaten of the birds, and that other seed may die on the hard rock, yet, as a whole, the seed shall spring up in sufficient abundance to plentifully reward the sower and the giver of the seed. We know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord. (emphasis added)

Keep preaching God’s Word: it IS making a difference.

Wrapping Up “The Q Series”

Bible questionsI love our annual Q Series where the subject matter for those Sundays is driven by the questions people have submitted to me. It’s a bit scary too! Over the last couple of Sundays I’ve fielded questions on topics like freewill versus predestination, divorce and remarriage, the Trinity, backsliding, and more.

As is usually the case, there were more questions than I had time for, so I’ve attempted to answer a couple of remaining questions via video—

Just because The Q Series is done for this year doesn’t mean I’m done answering questions. I love having these sorts of conversations! So feel free to keep sending the questions my way and let’s search the Bible together.

“Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.” —C.S. Lewis

Thursdays With Oswald—Speak Out Now

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald Chambers

Speak Out Now

     How many of us in times of peace and civilization bother one iota about the state of men’s hearts towards God? Yet these are the things that produce pain in the heart of God, not the wars and the devastation that so upsets us. The human soul is so mysterious that in the moment of a great tragedy men get face to face with think they never gave heed to before, and in the moment of death it is extraordinary what takes place in the human heart towards God.

From Christian Disciplines 

Many people will question their beliefs during times of crisis and change. It’s fine for the church and Christians to be there during those times of upheaval, but it’s far better for us to be there before the upheaval.

I developed a friendship with my next door neighbor for seven years and never had a chance to share very much about my faith in Christ. But when a tragedy hit his life, his first phone call was to me and then I had an opportunity to really share with him. Why did he reach out to me? Because I already had a relationship with him.

Let’s not wait until a tragedy strikes to begin to share the Good New of Jesus, but let’s speak out now. Be a great neighbor, coworker, study partner, friend, citizen now so that there is an open door for those folks to come to you when their life is in crisis.

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