Warm Wednesday Words: Gap Standers

a word aptly spokenI can remember many special words of encouragement in my life, the people who spoke them, and often even the settings they were spoken in.  Unfortunately, I can also remember words that tore me down. Sometimes the latter were spoken without awareness that I overheard or heard secondhand.  Some left scars and redirected my focus and friendships.  Thankfully the words of encouragement have effected me most.  I am always energized by the knowledge that someone believes in me.  Encouragement is “the wind beneath my wings”.  Encouragers really are heroes, and have a knack at finding the encouragement that belongs with constructive criticism, and they also possess patience, humility, and a desire to listen.

you are the wind beneath my wingsThough I know enough about planes and flying to fill the saddlebags of a flea, I believe that as air currents supply lift to somehow supplement the flight of a plane, so words of encouragement lift us up to do that which God has put in our hearts to do.  Without encouragement, much creativity and revelation sits on the ground waiting for the needed lift, or nosedives shortly after takeoff.  Among  definitions for the word “lift” in the “Free Dictionary” is, “To yield to upward pressure.”  Applying this definition to encouragement, it’s a pleasurable yield and pressure, indeed.

Christopher Crisp, a guest columnist for “The Dispatch” wrote on encouragement in the April 12, 2007 issue.  “I remember sweet people – the people who were non-judgmental.  These ‘sweet people’ have a spirit about them that is infectious to all they come in contact with.  These people put their strength at our disposal.”  They are the “gap standers” in our lives, and demonstrate how we’re to be the same to others.   Since our own burdens are lightened when we bother to encourage others, we miss out when we choose to neglect the ministry of encouragement, or worse, engage in discouragement.  Crisp goes on to say, “There are many ways we can encourage others; a card, hug, handshake, a quiet visit just to listen or just a sincere compliment.”  To a discerning person in need of true encouragement, the detection of fakery, flattery and attention getting scenarios is usually on high alert and they are not taken in by them.

stand in the gap for othersSometimes we just have to find encouragement with our God, whether or not anyone else encourages us.  When disaster struck David and his men by the burning of Ziklag and the heart wrenching scandal of their women having been taken captive, everyone was distraught and blamed David, who was also grief stricken.  “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”

fight aloneEncouragement can definitely be found all alone with our God even if it seems everyone around us is against us, or neglectful, though hopefully that doesn’t happen often. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.”  (2 Tim. 4:17)

God is fighting for youOur ultimate “Gap Stander” is Christ who is constantly interceding for us, fighting for us, pushing back the darkness, and most amazingly, gave up His life for us so that we could be a joint heir with him and spend eternity with the Father.

Advertisements

Warm Wednesday Words: The Right Posture and Accessories

Hannah postureThere is something about a good posture that can make us or undo us.  Recently our youngest daughter competed in a couple of queen pageants.  In the first competition (last spring), the parade car she had arranged broke down and she ended up walking in the parade separate from the other contestants.  For a while, we were unaware and were left to wonder what had happened when the queen candidates went by in there cars and there was no Hannah.  Then, at the recent talent contest of her second queen pageant, the curtains were drawn back on the stage and we, her family, did not see her in the row of girls sitting on the stage.  We wondered what had happened this time, as their entertainment began.  After a minute that seemed much longer, someone spotted her in the center of the row of girls.  The difference was her posture.  Being a typical tall girl, she often unconsciously slumps her shoulders; however, that night she had beautiful posture and carried herself very elegantly.

Similarly, when we “stand firm” in God’s truths, the enemy doesn’t see us, but God.  Though his roar may be deafening in our ears, he can’t have the victory over us as long as we are standing firm in the truth of God’s Word.  He may wreak serious havoc in our lives, but he can’t mess with our souls.  As Jack Graham says in his book “Unseen”, ‘When we feel helpless, standing in the face of too-big, too-daunting circumstances, we must remember that it is actually God who does our fighting for us.’  We need to be on guard and watch ourselves, but know Satan’s days are numbered.  As long as we stay with God and stand believing his Word, ours are not.  As Moses told the Israelites when Pharoah’s army was upon them “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation He will provide for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet.” (Ex. 14:13-14 HCSB)

respectable armorThe first important accessory to wear while standing firm is the Belt of Truth.  In Bible days belts were worn to keep the robes pulled in and to hang weaponry on.  Now days we wear them to keep things up and in as well, and sometimes we hang an important key ring on a belt or belt loop.  It is imperative that we live a life bound up in God’s truths while pursuing holiness and honesty and keeping our eyes trained on Christ.  The Breastplate of Righteousness was made of heavy material and designed to protect the vital organs.  Our vitality is protected by Christ’s righteousness, which is purity and living rightly, made possible only in Christ.  To continue to walk in sin obliterates the breastplate and leaves us dangerously vulnerable.  Our footwear is the peaceful submission we have in knowing that God is our Savior and, though we are going to have trials and hardships, we will have His presence and power in them and on through eternity and this is the good news we must keep telling.  Our footwear should mobilize us to keep testifying to God’s goodness, first in saving us to eternity and always in His presence and guidance in our daily lives.  Like the author of “Unseen”, I absolutely treasure the steps taken toward me by friends, mentors and Bible teachers along the way.  The steps of encouragement, reconciliation and counsel take time, prayer, humility and thoughtfulness, sometimes rare commodities these days.  “How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!” (Romans 10:15 HCSB)

beautiful feetAnother mandatory accessory is The Shield of Faith.  Ephesians 6:16 says, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one”.  In Bible days the battle shields curved back on the sides and were designed to cover the front and sides of the body.  They were not designed to cover the back, since soldiers advanced in a forward direction only.  Our shield coverage is in believing God’s promises, of which there are thousands, and in not taking one step backward into unbelief, doubt or the discouragement that we are often surrounded with and sometimes indulge in.  Relying solely on God’s truth is how we fend off the fiery darts of Satan.  When soldiers were under attack, they not only used their shields in defense, but would link their shields together in order to make progression.  As Jack Graham said, “Sometimes when our faith is flagging, we need to link our shield with another whose faith is flying high.  It is often only in the context of such unity that we find protection from the enemy’s assault.” 

soldiers linking shieldsThe Helmet of Salvation is extremely important.  It is simply deciding to let God’s truth override any of the lies of the enemy that come into our heads.  It may take a little time to dislodge a lie of the enemy that is tailor made for our situation or our weakness, but it is imperative.  Again quoting Jack Graham, “….every sin we’ll ever know can be traced back to a single, errant thought….all ground given to Satan is given first and foremost between our ears.”  He says there are five key danger zones for these errant thoughts to occur:  1) on the heels of spiritual victory; 2) when we’re alone (because we are built for community); 3) when we’re tired; 4) when we’re in church (Satan loves to cause misunderstandings, unfulfilled expectations, disappointments, complaining, gossip, backbiting, pride, etc. to flare up in the body); 5) when we’re attempting something great for God.  Oswald Chambers refers to entertaining thoughts that don’t line up with the Word as “wool gathering”.  Satan may not take us out of the game and that may not even be his goal, but if he can cripple us up, even with just one errant thought that festers, he has accomplished much.  Instead, “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.”  (2 Cor. 10:4b-5)  How I love the friends and mentors who are humble and who value friendship over pride by forbearing and persisting in good communication. 

train your mind

take every thought captiveThe last “accessory”, which is indispensable for defense, is the Sword of the Spirit.  Ephesians 6:17 refers to the Word of God as the Sword of the Spirit.  The Word is living and active, sharper then any two edged sword. (Heb. 4)  Though a sword is a weapon both for offense and defense, because of the victory Christ’s blood shed for us on the cross, all we have to do is stand firm and protect the ground Christ already gained for us.  Our challenge is to gain an appreciation for the Word as our two edged sword of defense.  We can do this by reading it daily, thinking about what we have read, writing and sharing about it, praying the promises and truths personally into our lives, and living according to it.

the armor of GodAs you face life’s challenges are you standing firm and wearing the right “apparel”?

having done all stand