Monday, September 8, 2008

God story and other thoughts from the weekend

A friend shared his story this morning at staff meeting. It's amazing how God works, and how it relates to what we've been teaching about in Daniel...

He had a vivid dream where he was being tempted. The dream was happening in a way that he was able to think clearly and make decisions. Although the temptation had terrible implications, he was able to make the wise choice in his dream. He awoke, wondering why he would be tempted in such a way, and yet thanking God for victory.

His wife called him the next morning, saying, "This is weird, but this is the dream I had. I tried to go back to sleep, but I couldn't. I realized I needed to pray for you."

It turns out they both dreamed about the same thing.

Dreams, spiritual warfare, prayer- it sounds a lot like Daniel. I've been having a lot of dreams lately. They don't always have a clear interpretation, but I assume a safe response is to pray for all the people involved in the dream.

I ended the message this past weekend with the illustration of the (arguably) greatest boxing match in history- Muhammad Ali v. George Foreman. I stumbled on the illustration because I was thinking, "Sometimes as Christ-followers on this pilgrimage, it feels like we're watching a bad fight. Sometimes we're getting our you-know-whats kicked. But we know who wins, and that changes the way we watch the fight. I wonder if there is a boxing match that illustrates that..."

Thanks to google and youtube, I stumbled upon this fight. As an older fighter, Ali's whole strategy was to take a beating. Then, after getting abused for 7 1/2 rounds, with 15 seconds left, check out what happens (click here- forward it toward the end if you want to spare yourself 2 minutes...)

"The great man has done it," the British broadcaster announces, "The thing they said was impossible he has done."

The parallel is obvious. Jesus takes a beating, then like a champion, knocks down the enemy with one blow. And we share in the sufferings of Jesus. We, like Ali, have trained for a beating (persecution, derision, outcast, suffering at the hand of the evil one, etc), and we, like Daniel will die in exile. But we know how the fight ends.

"Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." (Colossians 2:15)

Now for whiplash, having used Ali to illustrate the victory of Christ, he becomes an illustration of the proud Nebuchadnezzar. Sabino, maybe you should add this to your message on Nebuchadnezzar...

Clip one- the proud Ali (click here)
Clip two- Ali with Parkinson's (click here)

...he was hospitalized again in July 1982 because he complained to feel fatigued and have slurring of speech. He complained, in his words that he was walking like an old man and his right leg felt sluggish. Friends said he was drooling saliva from time to time. By this time has handwriting was deteriorating. The hospital staff observed that his responses were slowing and that he had slurring of speech with low volume. However he showed no decline in intelligence and his walking and balance were said to be normal. In October 1983 Muhammad was again admitted to UCLA. His speech and walking continued to worsen and he'd developed a tremor in his hand as well. He reported in his own words that he was moving about as if he was a mummy

"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" James 4:6.

God have mercy.

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