Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Men to Emulate

1st Chronicles 11.12-14 NIV

Eleazar...gathered there for battle. At a place where there was a field full of barley, the troops fled from the Philistines.

But they took their stand in the middle of the field. They defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.”

Eleazar took a stand in the middle of “a field full of barley.” He “defended” his ground and “the Lord brought about a great victory.” I am inspired! Eleazar’s victory wasn’t free. He risked the loss of life and limb. There was no guarantee Eleazar would walk from the field of barley alive. At first Eleazar and “the troops fled from the Philistines.” But something happened. A switch flipped. Eleazar had the same epiphany Popeye did… “That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more!” This mighty man of God turned around to face his own Brutus. Eleazar and a few brave souls “took their stand” and “defended” their ground. It worked! It always does.

My dad was a trainer and fighter pilot for the United States Air Force. In his business, failure meant death. He taught me life was no game. It was win or die, succeed or die, do or die. Failure was not an option. Death? Maybe. Failure? Never! At a certain point Eleazar quit running. He astounded and inspired his companions. Eleazar stopped and turned to face the Philistines. He faced his death and ‘took a stand.’

I cannot succeed in marriage, parenting, business, ministry, or any other noble endeavor without facing the possibility of my own death... death of my income, image, reputation, or friendships. I must quit running, take a stand, and defend some ground. Running is slow death. Death of the spirit. It would be better to die valiantly attempting something great than to wither up and die from the shame of knowing I never had the guts to face my nemesis.

What’s the difference? Either way I die; and if die I must, then why not die with glory? A decision to defend some ground gives the Lord an opportunity to bring about “a great victory.” This Bible verse reminds me of William Wallace’s speech to an army of Scottish farmers on the threshold of battle with England in the movie “Braveheart”...

“Aye. Fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live. At least a while. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance — just one chance — to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”.

Our 16th president had the guts to face his personal demons [1]…

  • failed in business in 1831
  • defeated for legislature in 1832
  • second failure in business in 1833
  • suffered a nervous breakdown in 1836
  • defeated for Speaker in 1838
  • defeated for Elector in 1840
  • defeated for congress in 1843
  • defeated for congress in 1848
  • defeated for senate in 1855
  • defeated for vice president in 1856
  • defeated for senate in 1858
  • elected president in 1860

Eleazar, Popeye, Wallace, Lincoln... all men to emulate.

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[1] To be fair and add a little balance to this popular Abraham Lincoln story, check out
http://www.snopes.com/glurge/lincoln.asp. This site will give you another perspective on the claim that Abe Lincoln suffered a steady stream of defeats before being elected president of the United States. The Lincoln myth probably contains an element of ‘glurge.’ Regardless of the exact truth or sequence of events in his life, I am still inspired by Lincoln’s example of perseverance.

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