Running with the Big Dogs – getting over a toilet bowl mentality

By The Mad Preacher, Rod Davis

If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
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(Jeremiah 12:5)1

I remember the first time I read this verse over 40 years ago. It seemed to jump out at me. It intrigued me. I sensed that God was saying something profound to me; I just didn’t know what it was. What’s more, it would take more than 20 years for me to finally get it—20 years that were filled with intense sorrow and pain.

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. (Ecclesiastes 1:18)

Fire walks hand in hand with revelation. Indeed, God uses fire to sear his words deep into our souls. Wisdom is the practical application of revelation and, as in my case, sometimes it can take years to arrive at that place where we at long last grasp what God is saying to us. Then it can take longer to learn how to put legs on that revelation and walk in it.

What was God trying to say to me? As it happens, he was preparing me for what was to come.

I had just gone through the most painful event in my young life. I was devastated and thought I would die of sorrow. There in the midst of my grief, as I lay licking my wounds, God was softly saying to me, “Son, if you give up now what are you going to do when life really gets difficult? If life’s little surprises make you want to throw up your hands and quit now, what will you do when all Hell breaks lose?!”

May I ask you a personal question? What do you do when life throws you a curve? Do you become angry and embittered at the pitcher? Do you cry out, “That’s not fair!” and then drop your bat and walk away? Perhaps you swing and swing at the ball but keep fouling out or missing it altogether. Maybe you’ve concluded that this game called “life” is actually rigged. You can’t win anyway, so why even try.

Have you ever felt that way? Do you feel that way now? You’re not alone, my friend. Many have felt the sting of bitter disappointment and wanted to crawl away into a dark hole somewhere and die. I was that way for many years. I had what I called a “toilet bowl mentality.” It seemed that whenever things were finally starting to go good for me and I had my fingers on the rim of the bowel about to pull myself out—FLUSH!!! Life would pull the lever and once again I would find myself sucked back into despair and hopelessness. Eventually I got to the point that whenever a painful disappointment came my way, I would respond with one word, “FLUSH!”

I was one miserable puppy! How could a loser like me even think of competing with horses? Why… I can’t even keep up with the people in this race. The very thought of competing at all seemed absurd and far out of reach for me. Yet deep down inside I knew there had to be a better way and I was somehow missing it. After all, didn’t Jesus promise us an abundant life?[2] I knew that my walk with the LORD could be better. I was trying to serve him as best I could. Yet still I was certain that there was some higher plain that I was meant to walk on. But, how do I go about getting there? This notion seemed to mock me with every new “FLUSH!” that came my way.

I didn’t know then what I know now.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 11:1-2)

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)

They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated─the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. (Hebrews 11:37-39)

“But Rod, I’m just so hurt and disappointed!”

“What has disappointed you?”

“Life… I guess. Things are not working out the way I hoped they would. I’ve been hoping that God would do something about my situation but… ”

“So, who are you really disappointed with?”

“With God… I guess.

“Let me ask you a question. Do you want God to love you and accept you on the basis of your performance, on the basis of what you do or don’t do for him?”

“No… of course not!”

“Then why do you treat him that way? Why is your love and acceptance of God based on his performance?

Notice what the three Hebrews said to King Nebuchadnezzar when he threatened to burn them into ashes for not worshiping his golden idol.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

When life seems to accelerate to a blinding speed and you think you’re going to lose your grip on it, when you pray and the Heavens seem like brass and you hear no answer from God, when all your hopes and dreams have shattered and have falling to the wayside and when everything within you screams for you to quit, throw down your bat and go home! That’s when you’re facing your defining moment. What will you do? Will you have faith? Will you still trust God even though he doesn’t do what you think he should?

“Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him…” — Job (Job 13:15)

Trusting God no matter what happens is running with the big dogs. It’s competing with horses. It’s making the difficult choice to stand firm and declare, “I’m going to trust God! He doesn’t have to perform for me. I will follow him even if I never see the fruition of my faith, even if things never turn around for me. I’m going to stand secure in my relationship with God. My hope is in Him—not in my circumstances changing. Even if life throws me into a fiery furnace, I will not bow to the gods of despair and fear. I’m going to trust God even if he chooses, for some higher purpose, to let me be consumed by the flames. My hope remains in God—no matter what!

This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 11:2)

God is looking for a remnant of his people who believe this way. He seeks a people who will charge into the inferno for him, who will run headlong into the thickets. God seeks a people who will refuse to put conditions on their service. God seeks a man or a woman who will trust him even though they may never receive what was promised. These are the chosen few—the mighty men and women of God. These are the ones that God will use to invade history and set our civilization on its ear—The Big Dogs!

There comes a time, in every heart
a time of real decision
when we reach the point of choosin’
how we would live our lives
all our hopes, all our dreams
will rise up from that moment,
the moment we surrender,
and choose to follow Christ.

He’s been waiting all our lives to hear us say,
I am yours Lord take my hand and lead the way

All I have all I am,
is resting in His promise,
The promise that He’ll make me everything that I should be,
I will live,
I will die
for the cause He set before me,
to take this love inside my heart
for all the world to see

Chorus
When you believe He’s all you need
that will be your defining moment.
As you live your life walking in His light,
trusting Him completely,
that will be,
that will be,
your defining moment.[3]
[1] Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2001, 2005 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

[2] JOHN 10:10

[3] “Defining Moment” by NewSong from the album “Sheltering Tree” (P) 2000 Benson Records, Inc.

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Give Me Courage

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything,  to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

courage stoneThis prayer has been a great encouragement to me ever since I first read it. I thought I would share it with you. You may have seen it before, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of what it takes to walk victoriously. Warning! This is a dangerous prayer to pray. Think twice before you pray it. Yes, it’s dangerous but the rewards are overwhelming! — The Mad Preacher

God, give me courage; courage to stand, to play, to go the distance, pay the price, take the risk and take the flack. Give me courage to live by truth instead of what’s easy, to place principle above popularity, conviction above convenience and right above recognition.

God, give me courage to be confident in the face of criticism, brave in the midst of barrage, assured in the onslaught of attack, dedicated at the time of decision and focused in the moment of fire. Give me courage to say “No!” when all others are saying “Yes”; courage to follow when the majority scatters; courage to keep marching when the rest are meandering; courage to go when the crowd stays; courage to walk when others just talk; courage to hope when many just cope; courage to contend when others pretend; courage to shout when most just doubt; courage to stay the course, hold the line, finish the race, complete the journey and never cave in.

God, give me courage to be the maverick, to set the pace, to carry the torch, to be called the fool, to be laughed at, scorned, ridiculed, hated, written off, abused or ignored. But let that courage keep me at my post, lifting high your truth, Your standard, your WORD and your promise! Give me courage to not jump ship, bail out, run away, be intimidated, forsake the call, cave in, compromise, cow-tow or run.

God, give me courage to dream big dreams, see large visions, plow new ground, chart new courses, sail new seas and set new records. Give me courage to put character above compromise, purity above popularity, resolve above what’s applicable, passion above pleasure and faithfulness above flippancy?

God, give me courage to think your thoughts, obey your commands, follow your path, take the guff, suffer the loss, carry your cross and be your faithful disciple clear to the end.

Amen