Digging in a field for water several men unearthed a burial ground filled with treasures of ancient history. Artifacts dating deep into history were found – giving us a glimpse of the past as well as an interesting spiritual abstract.
Found among the Terra-cotta statues of warriors, and horses were found empty helmets and armor. Intricately designed yet left empty – these pieces were made from limestone, each with hundreds of carved pieces mounted together – never worn, but placed as a remembrance to the fallen. If these had been worn they would not have held up to battle for they would have shattered on impact. The standard helmet and armor where designed from leather – each piece cut and lacquered being layered and mounted together to cover and withstand the weapons of the time.
The inference is that those fallen were not adequately prepared for the battle.
We too must prepared for battle – How does that happen?
We prepare our helmets – making choices – first to believe in Christ’s blood and it’s redemptive power, then to study the word and to live a lifestyle of love and prayer – spending time diligently carving those pieces of leather – covering them with lacquer (the blood of Christ) to strengthen them and then layering and mounting them together. We also must allow the carving, lacquering and mounting of life’s journey – the pieces of our armor – to be fashioned by the Spirit of God, by His presence in our lives, and our faith to fight forward through the hardest darkest places that are often encountered as life’s journey marches forward.
Often life does not look or feel fair as life throws it’s twists and curves at us, but each of those twists and curves – if allowed – will become a piece of armor being layered and mounted – strengthening our faith.
My desire is to be found wearing a strong intact helmet and armor that has been designed by my Father’s hand, covered with the blood of Christ and strengthened by a walk of faith NOT one of limestone, that is empty, or shattered.
Fight forward my friend! Chose today how you want to march into battle.
Ephesians 6:10-11 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (ESV)
I love flowers, pretty much ALL of them, but my favorites are those with lingering intoxicating scent. In the NW, roses are rather temperamental due to our abundance of rain and most of mine end up bedraggled. However, this year I decided to find the perfect one, pot it and plan to carefully tend it. The first two buds appeared and expectantly I watched as they began their slow burst into bloom. OH, what reward! They unfurled with glorious swirls of yellows, oranges and crimson with a smell that was heavenly. They spent several days on the stems before a torrential downpour came. As the rain began pelting down I darted out to protect them from destruction; the only way, was to cut them off and bring them inside. The scent that filled my living area was quickly released as they accepted a short-term life in a bud vase. They quickly opened continuing to show off their splendor of colors while their scent seemed to grow stronger.
Each day I have sat writing in front of these beauties and I am blessed to breath in a scent that makes me smile – one that continues to grow as the petals start to fade. Now, the petals have begun to drop to the table, but the scent is still my writing companion. Now residing in a small crystal dish – their scent lingering as a little reminder that they aren’t gone.
II Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.(ESV)
We, like my roses, live a short-term life in a bud vase. We show forth our colors (our gifts and talents) throughout that time, but do we leave a continual aroma? Is ours one of sweet enjoyment or do we carry an uninviting one? What is our life changing fragrance that lingers and intoxicates? With Christ as your eternal life source you become that sweet intoxicating aroma that draws life and invites others to partake. Without the presence of Christ as your focus, your flower is beautiful but the scent, like my Daisy’ is not one that others desire.
Our time is fleeting, limited and fading but when you walk this life journey spreading the fragrance of Christ, you will be as my fading roses – a scent that will linger as a reminder that through Christ, you are present – now and forever.
Step into a new life with Christ and allow your fragrance to become a sweet intoxicating aroma as you walk out your journey of short-term life in a bud vase.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (ESV)
In reality this transformation had begun many years ago. As I began knowing His love and sitting at His feet – through the good, the bad, the tears, the joys, His spirit began to change me. As I walked a journey that taught me to bring everything to His feet, to trust Him through every event that transpired, pieces of the old me were chiseled away.
I recently was given a birthday gift that shocked me to my core; a simple blank black notebook. It had been lovingly filled with comments from people who know me – those from high school, those from different states and different churches, those I have worked with as well as family, friends, kids and grand-kids. It was a very special gift. The next morning I picked it up with tea in hand and proceeded to enjoy this gift. Not expecting the impact it would have, I sat down to read this little book.
For the next hour I sat with Kleenex in hand as tears seeped down my checks, a few smiles and chuckles erupted and one or two outright sobs escaped my heart. I was confused – these descriptions didn’t match whom I see. It was like looking into a mirror and not recognizing the reflection looking back.
I set the book down – contemplating, meditating and asking God’s explanation of this dichotomy placed before me. Soon this question was stated as I prayed – “Ok, God what are you showing me?” “I don’t know this person at all, is this who I really am?”
I soon realized that this little book was a gift that was a glimpse of me through the eyes of Jesus. The person I have seen is so different. I have been looking at me with an out-dated blocked lens. Who I have become is no longer me, but Jesus in and through me.
As a Christian we always hope our light will shine and that the love of Jesus will permeate our lives but my thinking has been “it’s just me”, “it’s just who I am”.
“How do I see this person when I don’t know her”, I asked? His quiet loving response resounded in my heart like an explosion, as He whispered, “It’s just me – it isn’t you. It is my transformation as you have yielded time after time to my love”
In reality this transformation had begun many years ago. As I began knowing His love and sitting at His feet – through the good, the bad, the tears, the joys, His spirit began to change me. As I walked a journey that taught me to bring everything to His feet, to trust Him through every event that transpired, pieces of the old me were chiseled away. Over years of life, this faith has created and transformed me into who I never really saw. The emerging transformed person is no longer “just Judy” – but has begun to shine out as “just JESUS”.
Do I shine out Jesus every day? Nope – I have to lay my human thoughts, words, desires, and actions down every day. But I believe He has shown me a glimpse of me through an unexpected mirror held up in the hands of those in my life, and I am humbled by that possibility.
I Corinthians 13:12-13 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then fact to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (ESV))
When we are weak and weary
where do we find that strength to stand up again?
What does it mean to be strong? To be strengthened?
Somewhere deep inside of us is a HERO. The “I can do it” spirit waiting to keep on moving, keep on taking the front line of battle. This warrior is destined to win and the war cry of “Fight Forward” erupts.
Just when we think we are at the lowest place, the most helpless and unusable – we reach down inside of our spirit and are able to pull out that one tiny bit of hope to rally – to take the hill one more time, to rescue the other one that lays prone before the enemy’s attack. That hope, that strength doesn’t come from us – it is from the Spirit of God. The story Brave Heart is a great one to ruminate over – His purpose wasn’t about him, his desires or needs – it was for a greater (much greater) cause.
Being on the front line requires us to take hits now and then, some are minimal and we keep moving forward. Some require us to be carried for recovery to the rear. Then there are those that are near fatal and require major homeward bound recovery, rehabilitation and re-purposing of what and where we thought we were going. During each of these we must reach inside, dig deep, pull from our faith and trust in Christ. Here we find strength, to be strong enough to stand up again and overcome.
Often, we too, whine and complain about “our” weaknesses, inabilities, and needs – when what God is asking from us is to look outside of ourselves and see what He is calling us to. His desire is for us to be the Hero for someone else, to bring glory to His name. When we chose to see Him only – respond, rise up, and fight forward for others – then all our stuff will fall away. When we dig deep inside, we will find the ability to stand up, take the next hill, and rescue the broken before us. At that time, we will walk in faith toward the fullness and abundant life He has for us. Will our lives miraculously be healed or made whole? Probably not, but it’s in this place we will find strength – we will be strong – not in our own strength but in His.
Every human spirit has a place where they can reach inside to “keep moving forward” but there are times that just like the energizer bunny – the batteries must be changed. We can accept that, wait on the Lord and those He places in our lives for that purpose or we can wallow in this rough spot and lose hope.
My choice, my cry is one of faith in a God who is good to me ALL the time – and I shout “Fight Forward”.
Ps. 40:31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. (ESV)
2Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV)
The unexpected loss of two friends yesterday stirred an emotional fitful sleep but as I finally rested in the peace of Christ, I dreamed, and from that dream I found comfort in it’s analogy. So here I share it with you my friends, as you too, walk the path set before you – it’s joys and it’s tears.
I dreamed last night of two beautiful fuzzy caterpillars. I watched them faithfully plod along the path set before them. They traversed the wet thick grass and the stony hot ground; they climbed straight up the slippery leaves, and triumphantly crawled over barriers of debris. Always moving up and over the most difficult of terrain, always moving forward – side by side, without hesitation on this journey of life. Then, as the sun rose on one “set apart” morning they woke to a “suddenly” in their short lives.
Today there would be no pushing forward. Today the journey had changed. The sun’s warmth, shining upon them, stirred something within as they rose slowly on the gentle breathe of a breeze. Together, they looked below at the path they had traveled. It looked so different from above. That journey – that yesterday life, had been so full of wonder as they had fully lived each new day, but in an instant it was new. They now had been transformed – from a caterpillar to a butterfly. A transformation that now allowed them to rise high above; to walk into a new eternal home where the caterpillar journey of short duration would now be used for an eternal purpose as a butterfly.
We too, will someday be transformed from this life to a more glorious eternal one. We know not when or how that will come to pass, but in faith, we daily walk out our journey – plodding along the path set before us, traversing the thick, hot, slippery terrain we call life. We live each new day fully, and in faith we slowly, faithfully move forward toward the ultimate prize – our own “suddenly” where in that one moment the sun will warm us and we will rise on the breeze – to look below at what no longer will matter. For in that instant, our eternal journey will have begun.
Walls are meant to protect, to keep out or to keep in.
But unbeknownst to us we find that outside forces have placed walls around us. Walls that set limitations on who we are – such as physical or mental illnesses, financial barriers, broken toxic relationships, and even environmental constraints; these are walls that must be broken down to allow freedom in our lives.
The story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho is a great example for us to consider. Joshua knew Jericho was promised territory but with thick tightly shut walls there was no way in. They had natural options just like we have – battle through with all the weapons and strength available, negotiate and manipulate to make a deal that allows a win or to listen and obey the voice of the Spirit of the living God.
Here, for Joshua and for us lies the rub! To run ahead and do all that is naturally possible makes the most sense – for isn’t that what makes a strong independent people?
The hardest thing to do is to choose to believe what you cannot do or see! Having faith in God – stopping your own striving, working, and trying – it is not easy but it is the only way that HE can come in and show himself strong on your behalf.
And the Walls Come Down!
Joshua and all of Israel chose to listen and obey – to do what didn’t make sense. They were to quietly walk around the city once a day for 6 days then on the 7th day walk around it 7 times and at the sound of the trumpet shout and rejoice that GOD was delivering the city into their hands. Now remember, they did these things before they saw those walls start to shack, crumble and fall down – they rejoiced BEFORE – for they knew a God that was faithful to His promises. That sound, the sound of rejoicing erupting from them was the key! We too, can listen and obey – and as we rejoice BEFORE we see results the shaking is occurring in the heavenly’s .
And the Walls Come Down!
Freedom can be found! The walls that have blocked you in – limiting you in that which God has chosen for you to do must come down.
The lies of the enemy of your soul can be set back! As you accept and stand up with the authority that you have been given as a child of the King of Kings, a believer in all that the blood of Christ purchased for you, you too can listen and obey the voice of the Spirit of the living God.
And the Walls Come Down!
Rejoicing BEFORE you see the outcome because HE is faithful, because He is a good father and because He is always for you – that is where freedom begins, that is where the battle is won, that is where peace in all circumstances begins!
Only then do you look and find that the miraculous has occurred.
And the Walls Come Down!