Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stand Your Ground

Are you battle-weary? Does it seem like the storms keep raging one after another? Or, are you in a time of peace but have friends with battles raging?

As disciples of Jesus, it matters how we handle the battles that arise in our lives and in each other’s lives. Ephesians 6:10-20 implies that every follower of Jesus is a soldier, and we have to outfit ourselves with the armor he has provided in order to “be strong in the Lord” and to “stand our ground”.
Why fight? What is our ground?

In the Old Testament the ground was the Promised Land. Israel was promised Canaan, but they had to fight to obtain it.  As you know, for forty years they wandered in a wilderness due to lack of faith. After the forty years, they learned Who God was, and that obedience to His word would enable them to do His will. So with Joshua leading them “carefully doing everything the Lord commanded”, they were given their first victory at Jericho. They fought for their ground that they had already been given. Once obtained, they had to keep it by “standing their ground.” After taking the Promised Land, they had times of peace and times of fighting in order to take more or keep what they already had conquered.

Similarly, we have been given ground. Jesus obtained it when He conquered our enemies, Satan, sin and death at the cross. Our ground is the spiritual inheritance we have in Christ. That inheritance is our own salvation and those whose eternal destiny we influence through our ministry to and through Jesus. We, like the Israelites, have to fight to take the ground that the Lord has given us. We advance against the enemy in establishing the Kingdom of God. The works that God has planned for us here, if done faithfully and in obedience to Him, will be rewarded in Heaven. Sometimes we work peaceably, and other times we will have to fight.

The wonderful news for us is that we always fight from a place of VICTORY. That is what it means to STAND OUR GROUND. It’s wearing the armor provided for our protection, and advancing against the enemy or standing in what we have already conquered.

As with any army, communication with the commanding officer is essential to victory: And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the saints. Ephesians 6:18

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23, 24

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Our Defender

I had a pillow in my shop for sale (several actually) that said, "Don't choose to be right, choose to be happy!"

It received a great deal of attention and lots of laughter. One time I had two sisters sneak it behind my desk so they could give it to their other sister for Christmas. They were a bundle of excited sister-energy! (and I dare-say the recipient of the gift was the oldest sister!)

We laugh because we can relate to the saying on the pillow. How about you?

As a young person, I remember spending time "having fights in my head". Telling other people what I thought. In my head, because in person I was a chicken. These fights in my head helped me to gain ground in my self-worth, as I would reason through justifying myself. I wanted to know that I was right. RIGHT? right.

As a new Christian, I would come home from Bible study telling my husband what someone said that made me feel inferior or put-in-my-place (their words said I'm 'not right'). My husband would reason aloud for my benefit about how "they were no better". His comments would restore my sense of self-worth. Right~ness.

I have found that, (bear with me here if you are under 40!) though your eyesight starts to fade and you begin to forget things more often than you want to admit, there are certain freedoms you gain as you walk along. Freedom from old insecurities and freedom from the restrictive place of having to defend yourself! Freedom from having to be...right! I love that! 

Time walking with Jesus has taught me to let Him be my defender. I don't need to defend myself in my head or go to my husband or girlfriend to find my worth. I can run to the Rock, to My Defender. 

Proverbs 23:10, 11
Do not move an ancient boundary stone 
   or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, 
for their Defender is strong; 
   he will take up their case against you

The Lord who has made you and I, has established our worth in His creation of us and in His redemption of us. (His cross) He has established the boundary stone around our new identity in Him. When people offer "insight" into our identity that doesn't jive with the truth of who we are in Him, we can come back to the place of rest. 

Romans 10:4 
Christ is the end of the law so that there may 
be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Run to Him for your comfort and defense. He has rescued our self-worth because of our adoption! He has redeemed us from not being right

Next time you feel boxed and labeled, or you fall victim to some form of rejection, just remember the Lord stands over you singing! 

"Who's your Daddy?" HE's your Defender! 

to ward off attack from; guard against assault or injury(usually followed by from  or against ): The sentry defendedthe gate against sudden attack.
to maintain by argument, evidence, etc.; uphold: She defended her claim successfully.
to contest (a legal charge, claim, etc.).
Law to serve as attorney for (a defendant): He hasdefended some of the most notorious criminals.
to support (an argument, theoryetc.) in the face of criticism; prove the validity of (a dissertation, thesis, or thelike) by answering arguments and questions put by acommittee of specialists.
to attempt to retain (a championship title, position, etc.), as in a competition against a challenger.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Asking for More

She Speaks Conference
After having attended She Speaks in 2008 on a Women's Leadership track, I came home equipped with encouragement and resources for future assignments that were, at that time, still undisclosed by the Lord. Since then, He has opened up doors for ministry using the lessons learned at the conference.

Now I am asking Him for a scholarship to go to She Speaks again. God knows how much I have used what I brought home from the last time, and how I need to GROW in wisdom for the next phase of His work. He also KNOWS how I long to embrace some of my cyber-girlfriends who will be there. :)

A little over a year ago, I took on a new role as (I hesitated at the title..) Head Deaconess. What is that? The list of "duties" of the Head Deaconess didn't really appeal to me. They included visiting the hospitalized, assisting with communion elements, and baptisms, and prayer.

Though those things are important to me and I don't mind helping or doing them, that is not where my passion is for ministry. My heart is more in building, mentoring, and discipling women. I told Pastor this, and he said, "Well, we need that too! Would you be willing to take the position and add your heart to the ministry?"

I mentioned to him my aversion to the title "Deaconess", which sounded obsolete to me, and he suggested I put in a request to change it. So...I'm still working on that one, but my experience over the course of the year has been rewarding and fruitful! I attribute that to much prayer, the lessons learned in 2008, and the reading and listening I have done since returning.

Through my previous She Speaks experience, I learned to start with a mission statement, recruit to the vision rather than "duties", assess the needs of our women and set out prayerfully to meet them. By the grace of God, these things have been happening, and our women are growing in passion and community.

Besides the Deaconess ministry, I have had a few opportunities to speak to women, and would love to grow in God's grace to give effective messages, and to gain confidence. I've been helped by listening over and over to the CD of Micca Campbell's message "Capturing The Heart Of Your Audience" from 2008, and the recommended book by Andy Stanley, "Communicating For A Change". 

So I am at a point where I feel like I need more. More encouragement, and fresh vision. I am excited that there will be workshops for event planning too since that is something we are working on and I have a dream to do in our small-town, up-North neck-of-the-woods.

So, here I am Lord (asking), send me!
Thank you Renee Swope, for this opportunity!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Take Him at His Word

Standing on this promise. Do you want it too?

Joshua 1:5-9 

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Scarlet Rope

I wasn't sure if I should call this post "A Scarlet Rope"or "My Jesus Friends Fruit" because I want to talk about the scarlet rope that ties blood-bought children of God together for fruitfulness.

I LOVE God's girls! I do!!! My favorite "sport" is women's conferences, yes, they rev me up like a Cheesehead at a Packer game!!! I want to connect with as many women as possible. So, I keep my eyes open and my ears tuned to the Lord (and sometimes things just happen by chance Divine Design) and eventually there it is, a glimpse of the beauty of the tapestry that the Lord is stitching.

One of my new friends gave me the idea of the Scarlet Rope when,after asking me to encourage a friend of hers who was experiencing some of what I had experienced with depression, she said, "Through the blood of Jesus, even strangers are friends."

I love that! And it made me think of Rahab's scarlet rope that she extended from her window to be saved from the impending destruction of Jerico. Her rope tied her to God's people! That same rope is what ties us Jesus-friends together and knits our lives into a beautiful tapestry! (Maybe it is a tapestry of a fruit bowl!)

I have been pleading with the Lord to make my life fruitful. That I would not squander my days, my talents, or my time. He has enabled me to cross paths with many women who I have been able to minister to with the gift of encouragement that He has placed in me for His Body. 

But something profound struck me today. 

One of the most fruitful (heaven-rewarded) things I can do is to pray. If I pray for my husband and children, then their fruit becomes part mine. If I pray for my friends who have speaking ministries, then their fruit is part mine. If I pray for the authors as they write, then the fruit God bears through their writing I have a share of. When I pray for my Pastor, my friend's families, the ministries of the church, the missionaries around the world, those who are sick but holding out for a victory.... Think about it! 

Without the covering of prayer, we are weak at best. With a prayer covering we have power, protection, passion, and victory. If we participate in other's ministries, we participate in one another's fruitfulness! 

Suddenly, my boarders have expanded! The Scarlet Rope is extended further and further into the world. It binds us together in His love. Don't you love that?

I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God. Exodus 34:24