Monday, August 29, 2011

The Lord is my Banner

Read Exodus 17:8-15
Ancient armies carried standards or banners that served as marks of identification and as symbols that embodied the ideals if a people. It could be seen from afar serving as a rallying point before battle or as an announcement of a victory already won. When you pray to Yaweh Nissi (the lord is my banner) you are praying to the God who is powerful enough to overcome any foe. Because they embodied the the ideals and aspirations of whoever carried them, banners aroused devotion to a cause, nation, or leader. If you picture the amalekites as a symbol of all the forces that oppose God, you begin to realize the spiritual battles that still face us. Just as the Israelites were freed from their bondage to Egypt, we are freed from bondage to sin and Satan the moment we surrender ourselves to Christ. But we still face countless battles on our way to the promised land of heaven. Some of the worst of these are internal, as we struggle to overcome the dividing wall in our own souls, a kind of spiritual ambivalence that makes us easy prey for our enemies. Today as you face battles, remember to hold up high the banner of God's power, knowing that he alone gives the victory no matter how fierce the enemy!

You are my banner. I WILL hold you up in front for the world to see...let them know whose side I am on and that nothing will stand in our way. Nothing will stand in the way of God. We WILL conquer. I thank you for raising your banner over me as I face spiritual battles if many kinds. Help me to be confident of your protection, to fight with your power, to prevail in your strength. Yaweh Nissi, may your victory be TOTAL and COMPLETE , destroying whatever stands in the way of your plans and purposes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Facing the Silence

Well I made it back from the mountains. The mountain top is always an experience...sometimes good and sometimes bad. Being on the mountain allows you time of solitude. People these days don't like solitude or have no idea what it means to be silent with no distractions.

Here are my thoughts while on the mountain:
 "This is a time and space to attend to what was real in my life — to celebrate the joys, grieve the losses, sit with my questions, attend to my loneliness, shed my tears — and allow God to be with me in those places.  This was not primarily a time for problem-solving or fixing — because not everything can be fixed or solved. It was a time just to "keep still" and wait for God to accomplish what was most needed in my life. It was a very deep kind of rest indeed.  We are entering into a year of leadership. One of the most sobering truths about life in leadership is that I can be very busy and look very important, yet be out of touch with that place in the center of my being where I know who I am in God and what he has called me to do — that place where I am responsive to the voice of God above all others'. When this happens, I am at the mercy of all manner of external and internal forces, tossed and turned by others' expectations and my inner compulsions. This inner emptiness then becomes the source of frenetic activity that is untethered from any kind of grounding in God. This is not a good situation for a leader to be in.  Over the years, I have learned that my greatest need as a human being and as a spiritual leader is to experience God's unconditional love and presence beyond all that I do for him. I need to hear a voice that is not my own speaking those things that I most need to hear. In the regular practice of solitude, God's unconditional love and presence becomes the bedrock of my being, the unshakeable foundation of my true identity and calling. God's transforming presence experienced in solitude is deeply restorative, enlivening my leadership and enabling me to bring fresh energy and deeper wisdom to the responsibilities before me.  There is rarely a good time for extended solitude in the life of a leader; there is only the right time. On many occasions, when my spirit has been willing but my schedule has been weak, Emilie Griffin's words have provided a kick in the you-know-what:

When there is no time to do it, that's when you most need to unclutter the calendar and go apart to pray. When the gridlock in your schedule relentlessly forbids it is the time you most need retreat. That is when your heart beats against the prison walls of your enslavement and says, "Yes, Lord, I want to spend time with you."

Also, Here is a quote I found that speaks truth about solitude and why it is so hard for us.
"The stillness of solitude brings clarity to more than just our knowledge of God. It also awakens our awareness of our own hearts. And that’s perhaps why we avoid it. We run from solitude to the degree that we run from ourselves. For solitude opens the window to your soul and releases all that has been quietly sealed up and hidden away inside. We fear what might be there, lurking in the dark, hidden by our busy lives—sorrow, loneliness, desperation, grief, and weariness. But we do not understand that God’s call to solitude is not a call to go off by ourselves to face our struggles alone. It’s the call to come away with Him, so that He can minister to our souls and give us the healing gift of Himself. “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves” (Matt. 11:28-29).
 Rather than using solitude as a means to escape the world, it becomes the means by which the kingdom of God is brought into the world. For we become the vessels through which His power and glory are expressed."