15 Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint. 16 And Ishbibenob, which was of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of brass in weight, he being girded with a new sword, thought to have slain David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah succoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him.
There have been a lot of significant changes to our church over the last few months. I’ve had more than a few people ask me my opinion about these changes and my response has been the same – I’m excited about them. Quite honestly, I’m excited for any change that shakes God’s people out of our comfort zones and energizes us for ‘the work of the ministry’. I believe the recent changes at CF are divinely designed to accomplish that and I believe God has placed the right people in Pastors Jaime and Jennifer in the right positions as our new pastors to lead us into the next ‘glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
I’ll be honest with you. Leading a church is no easy task, especially in 21st century America. Pastoral statistics do not paint a very pretty picture. The number of pastors who are leaving the ministry has been growing at an alarming rate over the last decade or more while the number of men and women stepping up to take the mantle of church leadership is dwindling.
There are a lot of reasons for these alarming statistical numbers, but the #1 reason is simply this: our enemy knows what he is doing.
The scriptures I’ve quoted above are taken from 2 Samuel 21. The David in these verses isn’t the young, giant-killing firebrand we all know and love. This David is near the end of his life. He’s been through everything from Absolom to Bathsheeba and everything in between. The King James Version of these verses poetically describes this David as a man who “waxed faint” when the Philistines showed up to make “war again with Israel.” In simple English: David was old and worn-out.
Most of us can relate. I remember the energy and passion I had in my youth when I was a young ‘preacher boy’. My ambition was simple: I wanted to change the world for the Kingdom of God one church at a time. Armed with the faith of my youth and a healthy dose of passionate zeal, I entered full-time pastoral ministry like David did when he stood in front of Goliath. I was ready to take on every giant that crossed my field of vision.
Twenty-five years later, I was damaged goods. “Burned out” was the phrase that kept getting tossed in my direction. My faith and zeal had been replaced by anger and bitterness toward God and His people. The reason for my transformation from young giant-killer to bitterly tired ex-pastor was simple: our enemy knows what he is doing.
One of the most potent things our enemy knows about us is our general reluctance toward change. I ran headfirst into this reluctance more than once during my pastoring years. One of the main reasons why I ‘burned out’ of pastoral ministry is because of this irrefutable fact: the older we get, the more we hate anything that forces us out of our comfort zones.
As we age, our physical and emotional comfort slowly becomes one of our highest priorities. The older we get, the more set in our ways we become. And, the longer we live, the more we tend to romanticize the past. This last one is especially observable among church attendees, generally speaking. We tend to lament the passage of time and pine away for ‘the good old days’ before life had a chance to rob us of the faith, passion, and zeal of our youth. This isn’t true of all of us, but it is true about most of us and our enemy knows this.
This reluctance towards change is not a new development among humans. Satan has been preying on those who refuse to be ‘transformed by the renewing of your minds’ (Romans 12:2) for countless generations. In fact, if you read the passage above carefully, you’ll notice three very important things about David that the enemy knew well.
One: David was old and tired (verse 15).
Two: He wasn’t expecting an old enemy to rear its ugly head so late in his life (note who his attacker was the “son of” in verse 16).
Three: David wasn’t expecting the enemy to come with “a new sword” (verse 16).
This last tidbit really leaped off the page when I first read this scripture. I wondered why God made a point of mentioning this ‘new sword’. Why did it matter that this son of the giant’s weapon was fresh from the factory?
It took me a few years of church battles to realize why God included this tidbit of info about David’s old enemy. The reason is fairly simple: the enemy of our souls knows what he is doing.
Our enemy understands human nature better than most of us do. He knows that while God’s aged warriors are building their individual walls against change, he’s building ‘new swords’ to attack us with. Need an example? Think about the changes to public schools from the time you and I attended them to today.
Today’s school kids are facing issues and challenges that were barely on the radar as recently as 15 years ago. Most of our churches are not equipped to minister to these kids because too many of God’s tenured believers are stuck in the pre-internet, pre-metal detectors, pre-school shooting ‘good old days’.
Whether we like it or not, change is inevitable. The real irony in this discussion is if there is anybody on the planet who should be fully aware of the unavoidable reality of change, it should be people who have logged a significant amount of hours on this planet. Yet, it has been my observation that the believers who are typically the least prepared for the enemy’s ‘new swords’ are the people who should be the MOST prepared for them.
Think about it. If we’ve spent 25 or more years as Bible-believing, Christ-following, Spirit-filled, church-attending Christians, then we should be armor wearing, meat-eating, giant-killers. No, forget giants. We should be taking down dragons at this point (Revelation 12:9).
Unfortunately, instead of being fully equipped kingdom warriors, far too many of God’s tenured saints often find themselves like the David of 2 Samuel 21 – waxing faint. It should be noted that David had to have help from someone stronger and younger in defeating his enemy (verse 17). While it is awesome to see the younger generation stepping up and taking their roles in the Body of Christ, this isn’t the signal for the older generation to retire their armor and swords.
The Body of Christ needs ALL of its members to be healthy parts of the body. Young, old, weak, strong, male, female, we ALL have a part to play in the Kingdom of God on both sides of eternity.
So, as a new chapter in Cypress Fellowship’s history dawns, my prayer is that every one of God’s people is fully prepared to armor up, pick up our swords, and stand firm against the enemy’s attempts to put a stop to what God is doing in Cypress, Texas. May we all be a part of what God is blessing rather than waxing faint at the ‘new swords’ coming our way.