Strong Soldier, Weak Warrior.

wounded warriorWe are at war!  There’s no doubt about it.  Jesus said in John 16:33 “In this life you will have trouble.”  We are at war. Some days I’m strong, I’m dressed in armor, I’m ready to fight, I’m a Strong Soldier.  Other days I’m weak or on vacation, I have no desire to fight a war, I’m a Weak Warrior.

On the days that I am strong, the days that I am ready for battle…the days I have “eyes to see and ears to hear” (Matthew 13:16). I can “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).  I can “heal the sick and set the captives free” (Luke 4:1). I can “rebuke the devourer” (Mal. 3:11) on and on.  On the days that I don’t feel like putting on my armor or the enemy has beaten it to a shred and I can feel the pain of every blow….not so much.  I may start to make agreements with my enemy; “It’s not worth it,” “This is too hard,” “He/she is such a jerk! If they’d change my life would be better!,”  “Why can’t I just disappear?”

Same person….different day, different battle.  Strong Soldier or Weak Warrior.  We are supposed to love one another as Christ loves us (John 15:12).  How then, did Christ love us?  He spoke words of truth even though they hurt. He rebuked Peter saying “Get behind me Satan” (Mathew 16:23).  He believed in people that others did not, like Zacchaeus a tax collector that others rejected but Jesus befriends and calls him to more (Luke 19:1-10).  He stands up for the persecuted woman who is caught in sexual sin and is dragged before Jesus to be judged and he replies “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7).  On and on he does the strong thing, the hard thing, but he DOES NOT shrink back, he DOES NOT do the “nice” thing or the “politically correct thing,” on a Strong Soldier day, you must do this too!

On a Weak Warrior day, we can barely get out of bed.  We can’t fight for ourselves, let alone others.  We lose heart, we forget our glory, we’re blind to the goodness in ourselves and others.  We make agreements with the enemy and vows that send our lives in desperate directions that lead to failure and shame. We need a Strong Soldier to come along side us and help us through, “Bear ye one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2).

It would be great if we could always be strong, always see and speak the truth, if we didn’t live in a fallen world and if the battle was over, but we can’t and we don’t and it’s not. We are called to love one another as Christ loves us (John 15:12). So on the days that you are a Strong Soldier, it’s up to you to fight along side or even for the Weak Warrior.  Sometimes that means you’ll pray for them.  Sometimes you’ll have to speak truth to them. Sometimes you will have to choose to be kind vs. being nice.  Sometimes you’ll have to give an encouraging word. Sometimes you’ll have to show tough love. Because that’s what Strong Soldiers are to do for Weak Warriors.

If you see a soldier who was once strong, in a place of weakness; making mistakes, missing it, agreeing with the enemy, ready to give up, recognize this for what it is! It’s not that the solder is a hypocrite!  They are wounded in the war! Now is YOUR turn to fight for him!  Now is not the time to say “Look at him, he was so high and mighty yesterday, telling me how to live my life, now he gets what he deserves!” NO! Remember that we’re all in a war!  Remember that we are to love one another, fight for one another, lay down our lives for one another.

When you are a Weak Warrior look for and invite a Strong Soldier to speak truth to you, to nourish you and fight for you. It’s no time to be embarrassed or ashamed, it’s time to lean on your brothers and/or sisters!  Strong Soldier, be careful when you encounter a Weak Warrior.  Do not judge them saying, “If you had done this or that you wouldn’t be in this situation” or “if you do this or that you can be strong like me!” NO!  Soon you will be weary of the battle and you will need a safe place to land, a friend to carry you through.  When you’re a Strong Soldier and a Weak Warrior comes to you with their weak heart, don’t jump in with all your problems and hurts and allow the enemy to steal your joy, your victory or your strength!  Stand strong in the power of his might (Eph. 6:10)!  Be strong for your friend.

We are at war! But Jesus, our King, says “do not fear for I have overcome the world, ” (John 16:33).   Take heart all you soldiers of the Lord! “Fight the good fight! Finish the race” (2 Tim. 4:7)! “Be not weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9).  Also, “Bear ye one another burdens,” (Gal. 6:2) and “spur one another on” (Heb. 10:24)!

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“Smile at Your Pile”: New Perspective on Blessings & Clutter

Lev. 26:9,10 “I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new.”

If you have an abundance, if you look around and find that you have too much, you may be overwhelmed by the clutter, but have you also been thankful for the blessings that you have? You are “The blessed.” You are blessed to be a blessing. When you are “the blessed” more is always coming your way! There’s no need to hang on to the old. It’s like when God was feeding His people in the wilderness Exodus 16:21 says that “the people gathered all they needed and when the sun grew hot it melted away”. God gave them what they needed, they didn’t hoard any more, “just in case” they needed it later.

Your provision and your blessings are coming! Like waves in the ocean, they are coming! Coming in, overtaking you, engulfing you. You don’t need to store up the excess for later, more is on the way! So learn to let go, learn to sow blessings. Even the littlest things that you give to someone can be a huge blessing.  When you sow, you reap….more blessings!

I like to thank God for all the “daily bread” that he provides.  Often someone will bring me a box of things that I didn’t ask for and in it there will be things I needed that I may not have even realized I needed, like clothes for me or my kids, when ours were fading out or getting too small.  He improves my life all the time through the people in my life who are, I must say, often frustrated with the amount of clutter they have obtained. When I understand that there’s not a limited supply of provision or blessing in God, I can let go of things and pass them on to others that can use them and not fear that I might need it some day.  I know that when I need it, it will be there.

“Smile at your pile” as it represents the abundance in your life, as it’s proof that you are blessed and then give freely my friend! Give to others lavishly. You are The Blessed.

“I will never leave you”

Yesterday I got to visit the Kalamazoo Nature Center with my son on a school field trip. I was surprised by an art exhibit by Charley Harper. I had never seen his work before but he does story book type art of nature.  I LOVE cardinals, they have been a symbol of a kiss from Jesus for me for a few years now.  Charley does great cardinals!

Cardinal Close Up-Charley Harper

Cardinal Close Up-Charley Harper

One of his works is of a cardinal perched on a polar bear’s head.  I asked the lady who was teaching the kids about the art if cardinals are actually found in the same habitat as a polar bear.  She said “well, they stay here in all year round, but I don’t know if they are actually found where polar bears live.”

Scary Scenario-Charley Harper

Scary Scenario-Charley Harper

Bear with me (no pun intended) this may not make much sense at first.  But when I renewed my relationship with Christ I was a teenager going into my senior year in high school.  One message that Jesus began to speak to my heart was from Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you or forsake you.”  Another assurance He spoke to me was John 14:2 “I’m going to prepare a place for you.”  I grew up without my Dad because of a divorce.  I think that I viewed God as a Father that would leave me, that I couldn’t count on, that I couldn’t trust, because of the unmet longing I had for my Dad to be a part of my life.

Last night I listened to the entire book “Heaven is for Real.” I was amazed by the images that Colton shared of heaven in the book.  My thoughts drifted to God, to how much He loves us, but I felt a sadness inside too.  Then my thoughts drifted to the day, seeing Charley’s artwork, the Cardinals, the kisses from Jesus, and the comment the lady made “They stay all year round”  And Jesus whispered “that’s another reason why the cardinal is a significant sign of me in your life, it stays through every season, I stay through every season, through your coldest days….I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.

Tears, healing, love.  What an awesome God who speaks to us in whispers, through artists, through nature, through people.  He does love us, He’ll never leave us and He is preparing a place just for us.