Monday, September 28, 2015

The Banner Doesn't Lie

In the not too far past, there was some big fight in the news.
Not like a fight at school fight, or "I don’t like your opinion fight”- It was a boxing fight. 
I don’t like boxing.
I find it rather barbaric and people really mess up their faces and noses and ears and…cognitive abilities. (Rocky fans, don’t hate on me- I still like inspirational boxing movies from time to time.)

So because this particular match was all the buzz, per the usual, it showed up in my Facebook newsfeed. 
But something really struck me as a picture of all this popped up on my screen.
The fighter was on his way out to the ring with this entourage all around him- security, fancy women, coaches, trainers and the like. And then there was this one guy standing right behind him as they were walking the path to the ring who was consistently holding above the fighters head this attention grabbing belt that declared the fighter’s title.
This guys job was to make sure that everyone knew who this fighter was. It was his accomplishment on display so everyone could see why he deserved to be in the fight.
But I bet that boxer hadn’t won every single fight he had ever been in his whole life. I bet he’s had a few scars and bumps and bruises along the way- if in the ones he did win. He probably hasn’t thrown every punch correctly and he probably missed a few blocks.
But he was still a champion.
The belt doesn’t lie. 

Now I am not a boxer- nor do I ever want to be- although I wouldn’t mind following their workout to get those killer arms.
But...I am a fighter. 
I get into the ring daily as a Jesus follower.
And I have the Holy Spirit and an entourage around me that help me stay focused and pressing into to Whom and what will train me for the fight in front of me. 
But I can’t forget about the One behind me.
He is holding His banner over me that says “Love”.
Just like the song I used to sing in church as a child:
"His Banner Over Me is Love" (linked here is a grown up Bethel Music version you will love)

What simple words that I never quite understood until now.
See, those words weren't just telling me about Jesus...they hold truth about me- my identity in Christ.

I act like Jesus is constantly shaking His head in disgust at the opportunities I have missed in the Kingdom fights, or the punches from the enemy to my life that I so stupidly welcomed instead of blocking. I act like I have to cover the bumps, bruises and scars in shame.
But that would only be what would happen if it were my accomplishments that determined whether or not He holds that banner over my head. 
But it isn’t my accomplishment…it is His.
And Jesus says, "It is finished."(John 19:30)

When I accept that He conquered death on the cross and won the complete victory for me, He holds that banner of LOVE high over my head saying, 
I won eternal victory for HER
This one is my beloved! 

And even when I mess up, that banner over me never changes. 

Just like that fighter, that truth changes the way that you walk.
Confidence becomes a part of your stride, even when personal perfection isn’t always present.
Why? Because you know your title.
You know who you are. And as a Believer, you know WHOSE you are. 

I don’t deserve a place in the fight for His Kingdom, but Grace says otherwise.
His banner of Love over me is an irrevocable title of Victory by His righteousness that cannot be removed. 
I have screwed up. I will screw up. 
But in Him I am a Love lavished, Grace given, Righteousness received champion.
The Banner doesn’t lie.

Let’s start walking to the fight like we know Who we are and Whose we are.
Let’s live out loud for Jesus in a way that it becomes the evidence that LOVE is the banner He waves over us and that transforms us and sets us apart.

His banner over you is Love. 
#SimpleTruth that can transform. 

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”
Song of Solomon 2:4

Monday, September 21, 2015

Where Are You Going?

She was running away.
Mistreated. Used.
Thats where we find Hagar in Genesis 16.
And my flesh says, "Run, Hagar, run!"
But then the angel of the Lord finds her, calls her by name and says, "...where have you come from and where are you going?"
And she replies, "I'm running away from my mistress, Sarai."
So that answered where she had been.
But through His messenger, the Lord asked her TWO questions, and she never answered the second:
"WHERE are you GOING?"

When life mistreats us, we run because we are trying so desperately to get away. We are so bound and determined, planning and executing our escape route, that we never stop to think about where we are actually going.
We get so caught up in what we are getting away from that we never ask God what we should be heading toward.

But if we would simply ask God the question, "God, where do you want me to go?", He would not have to ask the question, "Where are you going?".

We are living in a sinful, fallen world amongst broken people like yes, the world will mistreat us. You can count on it.
But that doesn't mean we should escape by making our own way.
Because when we do, we end up creating more havoc than that we hoped to leave behind.
We have to ask God to show us the path He has for us- to show us where we should be going.
And sometimes that is right back to face the stuff you wanted to escape.

But you know what Hagar found out? She wasn't alone.
She says in Genesis 16:13, "You are the God who sees me."
See, it wasn't escape she needed: it was the healing promises of the person of God.

She stopped at the spring to refresh her physical body, but it was the refreshment for her soul that she needed most.
When she believed and understood anew Who God was, and that He was for her, she was able to walk back toward the place from which she had run.
In that place is where she would give birth to God's promises for her life. 

There is purpose and healing in the path God chooses for your life-even when it feels more like persecution and pain. Even when He is asking you to labor amongst those who mistreat you, like He did Hagar.
We already know, and He already knows, what it is we want to get away why not talk instead about what you are believing God to lead you to?

Whenever change or movement is involved, be sure it is motivated because you are called TO a thing rather than because you are trying to escape FROM a thing. 
If God calls you to remain, He will strengthen you to do the remaining.
Believe me- even in the darkest, loneliest, suffocating moments...He is with you and is at work on your behalf.
He is a good God, with a good plan for your life.

It will not be easy.
But set aside the urge to run.

Paths blazed out of desperation rather than Divine direction 
often lead to destruction rather than deliverance.

Stop and marinate on that. 

In His voice, in His presence, we can know where we are going- and it is with Him.
We may not have all the details, but we know the direction in which He calls us to move: under His wing, in His shadow- near to Him.
And even when the direction He calls us to isn't exactly what our plan and timing had looked like, we still steady on...not running from a bad thing, but walking toward a God thing- learning and growing along the way as we keep the company of the Way-Maker.

I know you want to run away today.
Honestly, me too.
But today, even if just for this moment...lets try running to Him, instead.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

From Normal to Necessary

We all want normal. Familiar. Our worry isn’t challenged in that place and control is seemingly at our fingertips. We understand what we are doing and we know where we are going. 
But what happens when we have to leave normal to travel into the necessary?

My life had been a picture of normal- at least my normal. 
But then, God called me into my necessary. 
And I wanted to go…until I began walking it out.
It is a strange and unfamiliar place. 
Those of us who have always liked our normal, often don’t respond so well to our necessary.

It reminds me of Mary with her jar of expensive perfume, making her way to Jesus amidst all the men reclined around the table with Him. 
She wasn’t in her normal place. And they did not like it. 
She broke her jar of perfume and poured out her all before her Lord. 
The fragrance of her normal was overpowered- it was filled with the fragrance of her necessary.
She untied her hair from its normal and used it as necessary to wash Jesus’ feet.
She stepped out of her normal and into her necessary because that is what brought glory to her Savior. 
When she chose to step out of the distance her normal, she stepped into the intimacy of necessary- found at the feet of Jesus. 

A year and a half ago, God called me out of my normal. And step after step I have walked in my necessary. 
Can I be honest? I haven’t loved every moment of my necessary. 
It is hard. It is lonely. It is overwhelming. 
But time and time again, I find myself more at the feet of Jesus than ever before. 
I find my life filled with the fragrance of the sacrifice that my necessary demands, and I breathe deep the strength, I grip tight to the trust that I had only heard about in my normal. 
And when my Father saw I was willing to live in the necessary, He has kept calling me away from any semblance of normal that I begin to sit down in. 

The necessary for His Kingdom has become my new normal. 
Because the moment I begin to trust anything in myself is the moment I choose to stop trusting everything He is. 

Change and I? We aren’t BFF’s.
But these changes have given me new perspectives.

I see how truly powerless I am.
I see how truly powerful He is.
I believe in miracles because I know the Miracle worker…I have sat at his feet. 
I have seen Him in my necessary in ways my normal never allowed. 

Don’t be so afraid to leave your normal that you miss the blessing of your necessary. 

Breaking your jar of what you have been holding tight to, and allowing that fragrance of that sacrifice to spill out? It changes the aroma of the atmosphere. It charges it with trust, power, faith like never before. 

What normal will you step out of- even with fear and trembling- to step into the necessary God has called you to?

No normal is greater than the necessary of knowing Jesus more intimately. 
It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

“Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.””
Luke 7:44-47 NIV


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

How to Walk When Waters Rise

"Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him." Proverbs 30:5 

Genesis 8 is a great reminder that like Noah in the flood, the Truth of God's word and our obedience to it are our lifeline.
 In every storm and in every season, we have to: 
turn toward His truth, 
trust He is for us, and 
trudge forward. 
It may be scary, it may be exhausting, it may cause us to be brave when we don't want to be, and the choices we make may cause people to think we are crazy, but obedience isn't about pleasing others- it's about trusting God's plan.
Moving with Him step by step- or maybe as Noah would say, hammer by hammer. Galatians 5:25 says,
 "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." 
Today, I am trying to get in sync. 
To trust His gait. 
To believe that even at a sweaty sprint or soothing stroll, He has a plan for my good. 

Noah shut the door on the right side of obedience- world outside, and him with God. And that is where I want to be found when the floodwaters rise. 
Even if I have the blisters and the callouses from keeping His way and trusting His word...I know my hope is with Him. 

So if you see me walking funny, or out of breath, or frozen in my tracks, or turning an uncommon direction, or bumbling through an unusual stride...I'm just doing all I can to keep in step with God. 
He alone knows the way to my ark...and that is peace for my every storm. 

#SimpleTruth #first5 @first5app @proverbs31ministries