Lion Heads and Bear Rugs

Lloyd Baker
Series: Generational Blessing

Lloyd Baker

Series: Generational Blessing

Video (Bill Grove): 

God says, “I’ll never leave you or forsake you. And God has been faithful to me all through my life in that regard. My name is Bill Grove. I’ve been a Christian, officially, for sixty years—seriously, for thirty-five years. In the early seasons of my life, God was faithful. When I was not paying attention, God was faithful, he was right there. He protected me. He kept me out of danger almost as if, “I’ve got you. There’s something else, later, that I have planned for you.”

I was baptized and came to the Lord when I was twelve years old. At the time, there wasn’t a great deal of discipleship done for me in a little, small town in North Carolina. I pretty much lived my life knowing of Jesus, but not knowing him personally for the next twenty five years.

I was employed in North Carolina as a head golf professional at a small, private club. Politics got sideways and I was relieved of my position. My security in life was in that particular job. I can remember going in the shower one night, having lost that job, and having a small family, and I looked up into the ceiling of that shower and I can only remember one verse at that time. Odd, but that’s the way God is sometimes. “I cast all my cares upon you.”

The moment I did that, the power of God fell on me so strong that I fell down in the shower. I wept for, like, thirty minutes. I felt like I was carrying 500 pounds on my shoulders When I finally got off the floor of that shower, I felt like I could lift 500 pounds. That was why the second baptism. I turned my life over to Christ again at 37 years old and started the journey, 

From that time forward, God has been faithful to my prayers. Incredible miracles. Incredible testimonies. Incredible experiences with Holy Spirit. Things that make you hunger for more each day. 

I think the thing that I would like to pass along to young Christians is, and it’s in the Bible but it’s really expressed succinctly in the Message. The verse is, “Better is one day in his courts than a thousand elsewhere.” One day in his presence. One day following him, is better than a thousand days anywhere else. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Mark Buckley:

Thank you to Bill Grove. He’s an eleven o’clock guy and a wonderful man. We’ve got another wonderful guy here with us today. Lloyd and Judy Baker are here. Lloyd and Judy were sent out from Living Streams 2004. They planted Streams Church on the west side. It’s been an incredible, wonderful, fruitful church. They’ve gotten involves in missions through their daughter in Japan, in Ecuador—all over the place. They’re doing wonderful things for Jesus. I’m really proud to be their friend and I’m really thankful that David invited them back here.

He’s here because he’s got a message about the power of God. The power of a generational blessing is more powerful than any curse, any family tree that’s messed up, anything. It’s all about his grace and he’s chosen us to bless us. Lloyd, come up, preach and thank you for being with us.

Lloyd Baker:

This is my wife, Judy, if you don’t know. How may didn’t know Judy? Is there a couple our there? Yeah. She’s amazing, in case you didn’t know that. Would you agree? Okay, thank you. That’s the right answer.

Thanks, Mark. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Pastor Mark believing in us. In 1999 we were attending Living Streams and he came to me and asked if I would be a part of the staff. I just thought I’d never be a senior pastor again. Thank you, Mark. He believed in me. From there I blossomed.

And I was Pastor David’s first boss here at Living Streams. I was the guy that oversaw this guy. We have had this amazing journey together. We really learned to love each other through our diversities, and through that, we became very powerful together.

I’m going to start today by taking about my daughter’s dog. Her name is Brittany. This is her dog. That is a Rhodesian Ridgeback. She graduated from medical school. She had researched dogs and said, “This is the dog I want.” This was part of her present. Rhodesian ridgebacks are a unique dog. They were, I guess created is the right word, in South Africa. When the Europeans went down there, they wanted a dog that would protect their crops and their animals. So they took this wild dog from Rhodesia and brought European dogs and bred them together until they got this perfect dog that hunted in packs. They were bred to hunt in lions. That’s what they were bred for. They’re very relational.

A year ago, at exactly this time, I was in northern Arizona. I love to pick berries. There are some wild, black raspberries in northern Arizona. I’m not going to tell you where they are. But they’re called black caps. It’s the Arkansas in me. I love to pick them and make jams and other things.

I was scouting out a spot and I had Gemma, her dog, with me. She was off leash because she’s trained and sticks next to you. We call her a velcro dog. She likes to be right next to you. And so I’m in shorts because I was just scouting. And I sat down to just pick a couple of berries. And out of the woods stumbles a black bear. I know Chad. Chad, would you mind standing? I’m not saying you’re a bear - a teddy bear, right? 

Anyway, a bear came out of the forest right about there. And I turned to grab Gemma. Needless to say, she’s bred to hunt, and she lunges between me and the bear. And then the bear takes off running. Hey, Chad, because you stood up, I have some black raspberry jam. And you get some jam, and you get some jam. I’m just kidding.

So the bear takes off running and Gemma takes off chasing the bear. And they’re both super fast. I’m in shorts and now I’m running through the berry patch and just ripping up my legs. Because if my daughter gets killed by a bear — yeah. So I’m running after the bear and her dog. They’re out of sight but I know the general direction. Finally, I catch up to them, and there’s the dog, looking up a tree. And there’s the bear up in the tree. She treed a bear!

And my daughter is so mad at me. But she brags about that moment to everybody she knows. “This is my lion hunting dog who treed a bear.”

The question I want to pose to you today is, Do you have any stories where you slew a lion? Stories where you killed a bear? Stories that will passed down from generation to generation? Because these stories can bring courage to your children, and bravery to your grandchildren, and tenacity and stamina for generations to come. 

Today, in the word, we’re going to learn about how bear rugs and lion heads catapulted a shepherd boy into a king. I spoke this message about seven years ago and Pastor David asked if I would share again with you today.

We’re going to be in 1 Samuel 16. King David is really introduced in the Scripture right about here, Chapter 16, verses 2 and 3.

The Lord said [to Samuel], “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

So, the prophet, the priest Samuel was supposed to go to Bethlehem and find Jesse’s family. They call Jesse’s family to this special feast. And that place he was going to anoint the new king of Israel. So, I can only imagine that there was a buzz around the house—that all the guys were getting ready. Cleansing themselves, putting on some Old Spice or something like that. And they all showed up to the feast. 

And everyone was there, seven of the eight brothers. And David was left behind. He was out tending sheep. He’s out there by himself with the sheep and the goats. He probably was a little disappointed. Maybe he had his little lyre there and he’s singing Country/Western songs to the sheep and the goats. And my guess is he’s depressed. And everybody is there at the feast.

We all hold the life of David in great value, but his parents, his father and his brothers did not. We think he’s a man after God’s own heart. He’s a warrior. But they dismissed him as a snotty, little, younger brother; and not even his dad believed in him. 

So, after the meal, all the boys are presented to Samuel. Samuel begins to look at them, and he begins to reject every one of them. He goes through all seven children, and he says, “Is there one left?”

And nobody has brought up David’s name already. So jumping down to verse 11: 

So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

And you would think after that moment that, all of a sudden, his father and his brothers would hold him in high esteem, knowing that he was being anointed. But that’s not the story. They actually had more contempt for him than ever before. He got sent back to the sheep and the goats. 

Daddy sends all the boys (Chapter 17), he sends all the boys to the front line to fight the Philistines, except for David. David’s left back and all David is good for is taking some snacks to his brothers. So the story goes on. He takes some Cheez Whiz in one hand and Wheat Things in another, and a couple of Hillshire Farms sausage. In Chapter 17 we see what happens: 

17 Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. 18 Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. 

See? I told you it was cheese and crackers. He takes them there for his brothers.  

28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”…

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

No one believes in David after he’s been anointed. Not even Saul, the king, believes in him. But yet, God has anointed him. This is the point. Right? If you’re waiting for affirmation, you’re going to be waiting a long time. Many times the reason people shy away from leadership and acts of bravery and their divine destiny is because they’re waiting for someone to give them affirmation. From your spouse. From your children. From your boss. From your pastor. Some of you are held captive by parents who do not believe in you. 

Affirmation is not the point. Anointing is the point. Affirmation is nice, but anointing is irreplaceable. Anointing is the divine knowledge that God has specifically gifted you and called you to a task. And it’s never dependent upon man’s approval. If you’re constantly waiting for affirmation and confirmation, you’re going to spend a lot of time in deliberation and frustration. So lean into your anointing. Accept your divinely appointed task, regardless of affirmation.

I think there are so many ministries in the church that are understaffed because we pause for affirmation. And we’re frozen because of insecurity. So, again, if you’re constantly waiting for affirmation, you’re going to spend a lot of time in deliberation and frustration. So let’s see what happens:

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

David had a huge advantage over every other man standing there, facing the battle; because back home, on the mother’s side of the bed, lay a bear rug. And when she woke up in the morning, she stepped out, not on a cold, dirty floor, she stepped out on a bear rug. And when her friends would come over, she would say, “Come here. Look at this bear rug. My son was out tending the sheep—David—and when a bear came, he took his sling shot and struck that bear down and today I walk on a bear rug.”

And every time David walked past their bedroom, he saw a reminder that God rescues and delivers. He had an advantage over everybody else. Over the headboard of his bed was this lion trophy mounted on the wall. So every night before he went to bed and every morning when he woke up, he was reminded that God delivers his people. 

He had an advantage. So that moment, when he looked at the Philistine, he had a flash back and he remembered the bear and the lion. He said, “If God will rescue and deliver me from this, he will rescue and deliver me from this giant.” David had a huge advantage. The bear and the lion and Goliath will be the same.

If we never answer the bell for the first round, we will never have the courage for the fifth round. You see, one small victory leads to a larger victory. All to the glory and the power of God. But that power of God was available to every man there. And only the one who had a bear rug and a lion’s head stepped up to the task. Perhaps nobody there had one. And perhaps they didn’t have all these things. So they stood there, frightened. If you don’t take on the bear, you’ll never take on the lion. If you don’t take on the lion, you definitely will never take on the giant.

The story goes on and he does some sort of Braveheart thing where he kills Goliath and he cuts off his head. We won’t go into that part of it. But one thing he does is, he takes the sword and he puts it in the temple of God as a memorial to what God had done for him. I’m not sure I would have done that. I think I would have taken it home and put it over my dining room table and then invited my father and all my brothers to dinner. And I probably would have served something like swordfish and said, “This fish reminds me of the sword that I used.” I don’t know. That’s me. David was a lot more humble. He took it to the house of God as a memorial.

Fast forward years. Davis is about to become king. People are singing songs about him. Saul gets wind of it and Saul’s trying to kill him. So they are chasing after David and he is fleeing for his life. He ends up at the temple and he asks the priest for something to eat for him and his band of men. And he says to the priest, “We need weapons to protect ourselves because we had to run away in haste.” And here’s the conversation between him and the priest. It’s found in 1 Samuel 21:8

David asked Ahimelek, “Don’t you have a spear or a sword here? I haven’t brought my sword or any other weapon, because the king’s mission was urgent.”

The priest replied, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one.”

David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.”

He’s fleeing for his life. He’s running. It’s a tough time. It’s a dry time. He ends up there and the priest says, “The only sword I have is this one.” And David flashes back and again and he says, “I remember that sword. There’s no sword like that sword. Give it to me.”

Because he remembers that God is a God who rescues and delivers. And this time, he’s in a tough situation. He says, “But I remember the bear and I remember the lion and I know, because of this sword, it will be okay and God will rescue me.”

Many times God gave the nation of Israel great victories. The Red Sea. Joshua is when they are going into the Promised Land and the same thing sort of happens to them there. So I want to read from Chapter 4:

…, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites,

So the Jordan River had split. They walked across on dry land. They’re on the other side and this is what Joshua’s telling the people:

Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, 

[this is really important]

when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

When David becomes king, he keeps up this tradition. Every victory he has, he puts away swords and shields in the temple of God so that the people from generations will know the mighty hand of God. 

We’re going to fast forward a couple more years. David is dead. Ahab and Jezebel have now taken over the ruling of Israel. They had actually died. They were ungodly rulers and they brought in all kinds of false gods into Israel. So now there’s a struggle between some of their lineage and the lineage of David. So they begin to kill off all of David’s relatives, so that they would have it, but there’s one left in the civil conflict. His name is Joash. He was a young baby and they hid him in the temple. They took him to the temple and hid him. When he was about seven, the word got out that there was still one left in the lineage of David in the temple. Here’s the story of that in 2 Kings 11. These guys find out and they’re on their way to kill Joash.

The commanders of units of a hundred did just as Jehoiada the priest ordered. Each one took his men—those who were going on duty on the Sabbath and those who were going off duty—and came to Jehoiada the priest. 10 Then he gave the commanders the spears and shields that had belonged to King David 

So these people are on their way to take this life. And all the priests who are on duty, they call everybody together and he says, “Listen, take all these swords and take all these shields from the victories of David, that God gave to David, this memorial, and now stand guard over this child.”

…The guards, each with weapon in hand, stationed themselves around the king—near the altar and the temple, from the south side to the north side of the temple. 12 Jehoiada brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him; he presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, “Long live the king!”

So here’s a seven-year-old surrounded by men who had the treasures of the kingdom of God that David had won in victories. So all these victories—get this—they’re protecting the future of his lineage. David’s lineage was saved because of his past victories.

Our willingness to battle issues fuels the faith of generations to come. Our victories are the stepping stones to their greatness. Joash, at age seven, became king and he ruled for forty years. And he is heralded as one of the outstanding kings of Judah. And I can’t help but think that when he was young, perhaps he was wandering around and saw all these swords and shields. And maybe he asked the question, “What are these about?” And maybe one old priest sat him down and told him all these stories about lions and giants and bears (Oh, my!) Told him the story of every victory. And he knew that he was standing there today because of the victories of his forefathers. 

My oldest daughter, Sarah, had diving scholarships. She was a springboard diver. And I forced her to go to colleges to look at them. And every time we went to look at a coillege, she said, “Dad, God called me to Japan.” I remember that day. 

Pastor David and I actually led mission trips around the world. We went to South African in 2002. In 2004 we took 42 teenagers to the Czech Republic. I don’t know why we did that. I think we were crazy. But we did.

So she had been around the world. She was touched, but nothing like this. But in 2005 we took a team to do a Young Life camp in Japan. And as we were coming home, on that plane, she broke down, grieving, weeping. I told my wife, “That’s the call of God.” 

So we’re looking at colleges and she said, “Dad, you don’t understand. God called me to Japan.” 

She left, I think 13 years ago, and she’s never moved back. I remember once I asked her to give her testimony. She said, “I don’t have a testimony, Dad.” I said, “Yeah, you do. You have a father whose step-father beat him. You have a father whose biological father left at 2 and he’s a womanizer. You have a mother who has this faith that she never was fully engaged with her family, and now you live with this heritage of victories of the past. And that’s why you’re here today.”

She was there when Pastor Mark asked us if we would pray about starting a church in the West Valley. He had this vision. I remember the conversation because I told Mark, “Can I just keep my house over here at 32nd Street and Cactus, just in case it fails? I’ll just commute for a year or two.”

And Mark said, “No. You’ve got to live with the people you pastor.”

So we were out there, looking for a house. We finally found the perfect house. We knew the house would be our church office and it would be the youth group meeting place on Tuesday night. We found a model home that would be perfect for us. We thought it was amazing. And the whole family was there, my wife and the girls. We were five thousand dollars short on the down payment, so we were a little disappointed. We got in our car and started to leave. We were a couple of minutes down the road and something just hit me. I drove back and I said to the guy, “If I post date a check for a week, would you give me a week to come up with this money?” 

He said, “Yeah, I can do that.”

So we took the plot map and, as a family, my wife and my daughters and I, we walked that property and just prayed and asked for a miracle. I think she was a junior in high school and our other daughter was in eighth grade. Every day they came home—you know, we had a week. And, “Did God give us the money?” I’m like, “Mmmm, not today.” I’m like, why did I do that? I mean, that’s really bold. Day two. Day three. No. No. No. And then, day five, a very good friend of ours from Living Streams took me out for lunch. And he said, “I heard about your house.” And he slid across a check for give thousand dollars and he said, “You guys have been so gracious to my family.”

That day, when they came home, my daughter was there when she saw that miracle, that God provides. So, in her mind, she really thinks that, if you answer the call of God, he always gets your back. See, that’s what she believes. She didn’t give it a second thought. 

When you have bear rugs on your floor and lion heads on your wall, giants don’t scare you anymore. Imagine a world where children saw their parents through the power of Jesus Christ confront and conquer nagging sins. Parents confronting the demons of the past, when nobody believed in you, and overcoming by the blood of Jesus Christ. Where children saw their fathers lead them and their families spiritually. Where families let faith, not fear, direct their finances. Where giving to God and the church was not negotiable. 

My youngest daughters is a P.A. She went a different route. She went to school and studied. So when she first started getting her paychecks—she makes like twice what I do—she just started tithing automatically. She said to me one day, “Dad, I have no idea why people wouldn’t tithe.” That’s because she lived in a house where we believed that, if you do that, God will just take care of you.

Imagine a world where young people dared to step out and do missions. They saw where their mother shared her faith unashamedly. Where the people on Sunday, that’s the people on Monday through Saturday. Where the word of God was honored over fear of the world. Where every house of every follower of Jesus Christ was full of bear rugs, lion heads and shields. 

We have bought the lie that God is more concerned with our comfort than he is our conquering. We have been given an opportunity to build a trophy room for our king, but we must engage. We must give sacrificially. We must serve unconditionally. And we must live for a purpose greater than our own. Because I know that our king is more than worthy. 

Talking about my younger daughter, when she was looking at universities, she had this unique privilege. When we were at this one university, we happened to be only a couple of hours away from where I was a teenager in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas. I said, “Let’s go for a drive.” We showed up to this little church called Drakes Creek Regular Primitive Baptist Church. I don’t know if they broke off of the Irregular Baptist Church, but they’re the Irregular Baptist Church. 

Anyway, there was somebody there and they opened up the church. She got to see the altar where what should have been became what the Lord wanted in my life. Out in that graveyard, she got to see the gravestone of my stepdad who, after he left us when I was fifteen, he ended up killing himself. And she saw what could have been and the place at that altar, of what became. Because it was at that altar that I committed my life to Jesus Christ. It was at that altar that I answered the call to be a minister. I walked her down to Drakes Creek, to the exact spot where I was water baptized—where the old man was buried and the new man rose. She had this amazing opportunity to see bear rugs and lion heads. 

Do your children know your stories? I think that we need to have the stories and I think sometimes we have let the altar go away, for whatever reason. I think there’s power in finding those places, and telling those stories and having those moments, and having a specific spot where you can tell your children, “It was at this moment, at this time, on this date, where this is what the Lord did for me. I want to tell you that story. And I want to tell you this story, and what he provided here, and when he did that.”

Perhaps you’ve never surrendered to the grace of Jesus Christ—you have never made a decision to fully follow him. Let this altar be that altar that you tell your children about. Perhaps you need direction. You feel called, but you’re unsure. Let this altar right here be that altar that you tell your children about. Perhaps there’s a bear directly in your path, and it seems insurmountable. A lion of financial debt. A bear of sickness. A giant of memories of the hurt from abusive situations. Let this altar, today let this altar be the altar that you tell your children about. 

We don’t think altars are that important anymore. But you know, when Joshua crossed the Jordan river, he said, “Go back and get stones and build a memorial—an altar for God. So that every time you pass this place and your children ask, you can say, ‘That was the day the Lord delivered us.’”

I’m going to ask you stand with me today and I’m going to pray for you. But then, after I pray for you, this is a moment for you. If you fit any of those categories or anything else, and you say, “There’s just something in my path that seems insurmountable,” I want you to come down to this altar today, and the Lord will just start doing something in your heart.

Lord, I thank you for all the times that I had to stick a bear directly in the face. And by your power, by your grace, you took care of that. Father, thank you that you’re a good father, and that you guide and you lead; and even in the tough times, I can remember all the goodness that you’ve had for me, and I can walk through with faith. Today, help us to have the courage to take up the fight, no matter what that fight is. And I pray that in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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