Mighty Warrior

Mighty Warrior

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”(Judges 6:11)

Mighty Warrior – it’s what the angel of the Lord called Gideon.

What was Gideon doing at the time?

I asked the same question. So, I went back and looked. I thought for sure he was doing something great and courageous already, maybe a leader of men. It seems, though, that God doesn’t usually call men from such places.

He seems to choose the unlikely, the lowly, the un-expecting.

Think about Mary, David, Joseph, John the Baptist, Deborah. All of them not likely candidates for God to use in mighty and powerful ways, but used nonetheless.

Gideon was much the same.

When the angel of the Lord called him, he was threshing wheat. It was a process for farmers to separate the grain from the straw. Gideon was doing this on his own, not with oxen or other animals to walk over them. He was also doing it in an isolated place because of those Midianites. Here he was in relative obscurity, doing his job, when the angel came to him.

But, the angel called him “Mighty Warrior.” What is up with that?

I see something in that that encourages and strengthens me in my personal walk.

It could, no doubt, be for many reasons, but the reason that jumps out to me is that the Lord saw something in him before it came to be. God knew what he had created Gideon to do from the day he was born to the day he died. This was one of those days.

He saw the mighty warrior in Gideon. He called him to be more because God knew he was made for more.

This I love because if God saw more in Gideon, He sees more in me too. Gods knows what I was made to do. He knows what I can be and He calls me. Through the simple obedience of each day, He is preparing me for more. He knows the longing of my heart to impact the world for the kingdom, far beyond what I can see. I pray that He sees in me what He saw in Gideon.

I want to be a mighty warrior, too.

 

No Regrets

No Regrets

Life is a battle.

Sometimes the battle is more in my mind and heart than in the world where I live.

To do or not to do? Was I wrong or right? Could I have done it differently or better? These are questions I am tempted to ask myself all the time. And if I don’t watch it, I will camp here.

Not a good thing.

Praying and pondering is a good thing. Seeking the Lord’s guidance, well, what could be better? But at some point, we’re required to “do,” to move forward. If you’re like me, I do take action and then replay the entire scenario in my mind, question how I did something, wonder if I could have done better, and then sometimes even ponder forever over whether it was the right thing to do.

In the Army, they have something called an AAR (After Action Report). Following an event or exercise, they go back, make notes, and write feedback. These are helpful because if and when these things are required again they ideally do it better the second time—that is if folks actually read the AAR.

In real life, an AAR is helpful. Even as individuals we really desire to do things better the next time or help keep others from making the same mistakes we do. These are good things. But there is some line in there where it goes from being an AAR to being a list of regrets.

This is not good.

Last time I checked I was pretty human, making mistakes on a regular basis. I have yet to follow the Lord perfectly every time. I know you’re shocked.

Dwelling on those mistakes, replaying them over and over can take me from a life of abundance and grace to a heart of failure and fear. In about two seconds.

Fear then keeps me from wholeheartedly doing what God has called me to do. It’s a cycle none of us desires, but one in which we can easily get stuck.

But how do we go from the AAR to moving forward in faith, skipping the sinkhole of regret?

It comes down to one easy word that we have a hard time getting our brain around. It’s called grace. God extends it so freely to us on a regular basis. We extend it to others pretty regularly as well, but we don’t necessarily extend it to ourselves very well.

Today, let’s do that. Realizing that we are human and desiring to do better the next time than we did the last, let’s step forward in faith and hope, trusting that God can take even our worst day and do something good with it. We have to remember, too, that God is looking at our heart and not necessarily our actions.

King David is a great example of this. Dude messed up. Over and over and over. He didn’t just mess up in little things, he had some zingers! But God saw David’s heart. It tells us just that in Acts 13:22, “And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’”

Even in the midst of all of David’s failures, God took an ordinary life and created an extraordinary legacy.

Can you say Jesus?

If He can do that for David, He can do it for me. I don’t desire to mess up regularly, but I know that I will. Today, I am determined to live a life without regret. I want a life that learns from the past but still has courage and faith to step forward into the future, knowing He has called me to more.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

 

I Deserve It

I Deserve It

I hear these words a lot…in my head. Sometimes I hear it from others, but mostly me.

Sitting in church the other morning, I was graciously reminded that I don’t. I don’t deserve it. Not really.

I think I do sometimes. I think I deserve a comfortable home, a new pair of shoes, something to eat, better service – things that I take for granted every day and think I deserve. I even get frustrated when some of those things don’t happen or don’t happen like I think they should.

Truth be told, I really don’t deserve any of it.

Who am I, really? I am a lowly human being who sins on a regular basis – like over and over and over again, doing the same thing. There’s nothing in that to warrant special attention, acclaim, praise, “success,” or even my own way. I don’t rate anything at the end of the day.

What I really deserve is far worse. You may know the verse: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). Those “sins,” those times I mess up every single day have one reward and it’s not a good one. What I really rate is death, eternal separation from a God who loves me.

I deserve it.

But thankfully, God doesn’t give me what I deserve.

You can see the second part of the verse. Instead of what I deserve, He gives me the gift of eternal life and He gives me so much more. Truly, He gives me not just life to come, but life today. John 10:10 says, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Life. Abundant, eternal life.

This reminder brings me to a place of humility and gratefulness. Humility and gratefulness lead me to a life of wholehearted obedience. It’s a natural response to such grace.

To love God is my first response and the second response is to love others.

People who are in the same place I am. Stuck in a cycle of sin with the “reward” being one none of us ever want to encounter. The people around me, nice and not-so-nice, struggle with fear, inadequacy, heartbreak, and failure just like I do and some of them have never met Jesus.

This reminder of who I am and what God has done for me spurs me on to love others as well. Realizing we are all in this together, knowing the grace that has been poured out to me, my response should be one of love and grace poured out.

Yet here I sit on any given day frustrated, even angry, because things don’t happen as I think they should. I tell my kids all the time that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Sometimes I should take my own advice.

This is a constant struggle and I am sure it is human nature, but I will continue to pray that I will remember what I really deserve – not to live as a victim, live in depression, or become a doormat, but to receive and extend grace and love by being obedient to the One who loves me.

I don’t get what I deserve. Thank goodness.

Do you ever get in a mode where you feel like you deserve something? How do you keep a mindset of humility and gratefulness?

Am I Willing?

Am I Willing?

We live in Germany these days – certainly a treat with many adventures and beautiful scenery! Truly blessed.

Since being here, I have begun to go back in history a bit. Not thousands of years necessarily, but a bit more recent. I have read stories of atrocity, fear, and anguish mixed with stories of courage, hope, and love beyond what I could imagine. I am in a place where some amazing history has played out from the reformation to World War II. I have gotten an upfront look at people that lived and even died for values and beliefs they could not compromise.

This year here in Germany they celebrate 500 years since the Reformation, started by Martin Luther. Coming to understand that “the righteous live by faith” (Romans 1:17), Luther saw the challenges of the church in that time, the inaccessibility of Scripture to regular folks, the idea of salvation based on works, and a righteous God always ready to punish. Reading and studying for himself, he saw the love and grace of that same God and the righteousness of Christ which covers us.

In recognition of this, Luther wrote down his 95 theses and nailed them to the door, intending to bring debate to the church, but instead leading to his excommunication from the church. He became a wanted man, but he did not back down. Regardless of personal thoughts on all of Luther’s ideas and writings, his boldness in what he came to understand in Scripture impacted the history of the Church, even to translating the Scripture to German for regular people to read and study for themselves.

Courage and boldness – would I be willing?

Am I willing?

In addition to Martin Luther, I have been reading much more about World War I and II history. We could certainly debate the good, the bad, and the ugly of both wars as well the battles and military strategy, but what has intrigued me most is the stories of people. Ordinary, regular people just like me.

They were farm wives, housewives, professors, military wives, business women, school girls, moms. Regular people, just like me, yet they did extraordinary things. From hiding people in their homes to choosing a child to send to a foreign land for safety, these women did the extraordinary. They provided illegal rations cards and physically protected others, sometimes at the cost of their livelihood or even their lives. (Just to note, many men did the same, but I do relate most to the women.)

Knowing what the consequences could be, they chose to do right, to do what was best not just what was good. Walking courageously into unknown territory, literally and figuratively, they fought in their own way for the values and beliefs they could not compromise. I am amazed not only by what they did but also by the price they were willing to pay. They CHOSE to do these things. Whether they had to make a spur of the moment decision or had time to contemplate, they CHOSE to courageously do what they believed was right.

As I’ve read stories of these people, I have come across those who chose differently as well, who chose to do the easy wrong instead of the hard right. Truth be told, I can’t really blame them. I mean the consequences could be serious both for them and their families.

Which brings me to the same question – would I be willing?

AM I willing?

Am I willing to risk my life to do what is right? Am I willing to face severe consequences in order to save another? Am I willing to stand by my beliefs no matter what the cost?

Am I willing?

It’s been the question in my mind for weeks.

Scripture gives us examples as well. I think of Rahab who took a risk. Paul went back to Jerusalem even though his friends warned him not to. The famous folks like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego or Abraham and Isaac — all stories of biblical folks who did the hard right instead of the easy wrong, all of them with a happy ending.

Then we read through Hebrews 11 and see that doing the right thing didn’t always turn out like roses this side of heaven. Sometimes the Christian life is hard, and the abundant life we long for isn’t exactly what we planned.

But I would submit to you that it is worth it.

God calls us to obedience – all in obedience – regardless of results, responses, or reactions. So I’ll ask you the same question I have asked myself for weeks now – would you be willing?

Are we willing to do the right thing? Are we willing to be obedient regardless of cost? Are we willing to do what is best instead of just what is good?

Am I willing?

Because He Lives

Because He Lives

Regardless of where and when I sing this hymn, it becomes the anthem of my heart.

Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives (Because He Lives)

I have vivid memories of this song, one of them while sitting in the front pew during my mom’s funeral. It was one of her favorite too. While walking through one of the most difficult times of my life, I could remember His faithfulness to me.

Pondering yesterday during Easter, remembering His faithfulness and love again, I had these words in my mind again. The words changed, though, as I thought about them.

In discussions with friends lately, we have been chatting about the difference between words like should, can, and will. I know, it seems silly, but words carry much with them. Because He Lives takes on a bit of a different context for me when the wording changes a bit.

Think about it. What if it said, “Because He lives, I WILL face tomorrow.”

It’s somehow different then.

It’s not just a possibility but a definitive intent to do so.

I will face tomorrow. I will be obedient to Christ. I will glorify Him with my life.

All because He lives.

Easter takes on new meaning and draws me to a courageous obedience – because HE lives.

What is He calling us to do? Are we following with our whole heart?