Monday

Stronghold

My Simple, but Meaningful Walk
When visiting my sister-in-love in Caracas, Venezuela, we decided to get up early and go for a walk.  Since she lived very close to her job at the International School, she introduced me to the walking path she frequents daily. The air was freshly brisk and the blue sky clear.  I was so pleased when she pointed out the trail up ahead. I could see hills and a steep incline, which meant intervals, which meant I could work off all the delicious Venezuelan food I had eaten on this trip so far.  As we started off, I immediately noticed that our path was lined with exquisite buildings all unique with its own d├ęcor. These homes stood out from the others.  I quickly learned they were not homes. “These are all the different countries and their embassies.”
 
My sister-in-love pointed out as we started to get our stride, “Germany, France, Spain …” she went on naming each one as I began to notice the flags flying high above each building for telling with high declarative voice what country they represent. 
 
“Well where is the U.S.?”  I asked catching my breath as we headed up another false flat. She pointed way ahead replying. “That is our destination and the very top before we head back down.”
 
For me, for some reason, when I saw the American flag, I had the biggest relief.  I felt peace, comfort and we still had a long way to walk before we arrived at the top.  Yet looking at the flag from afar I was reassured of its presence, purpose and all it represented.  Even though we were not at any danger at the moment, as I drew closer and closer to the U.S. Embassy, and seeing the vivid colors of red, white and blue, the more comfort and reassurance I felt in my inner being.  There was something about that flag flying high almost calling my name in the wind gave me a since of reassurance.  Much like a mother who gently puts her hand on her child’s head or back reaffirming that Mom is right here.
 
Even though at this time, Venezuela was primarily at rest since it was at the beginning of the dictator’s reign, I still felt safe to know where the embassy was and how to get to it in case I needed to go. I was very watchful and focused with close attention to the directions coming and going.  This was my stronghold in case I was in trouble and I was making sure I know how to run, walk, or crawl if need be to get to my U.S. stronghold.
 
History of Forts
In ancient times strongholds were commonly called forts, fortress, walls, and various other synonyms. The strongholds were known as a place that is fortified, a place of security and a place of survival.
 
These manmade forts protected people on the inside from war and enemies attacks. We in America would call our strongholds military bases and embassies
In Biblical times these strongholds were ever present, especially in the Old Testament.
Wherever there was a war, one would find some type of stronghold and others trying to tear them down. These forts and fortresses were made out of a variety of materials and resources.  And just like there are many different types and styles of natural strongholds the same is true of spiritual strongholds.
 
The Bad and the Ugly
Depending on the source of power, spiritual strongholds can be good or bad.
Let’s talk about the bad first…
How is your soul?  Or should I ask who has your soul?
Is it captivated by the cares of the world, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life?
Is it imprisoned by evilness and demonic forces?
Is it paralyzed by fear due to dramatic event, emotional hurts, past mistakes?
What power has hold of you so strong that it refuses to let go?
What can have such a tight hold over you that it shackles and enslaves you?
Perhaps an addiction, a behavior, a thought, action…
Something you cannot shake
 
The Good and Great news
God is our stronghold, an ever-present help in times of need!  The Bible declares that a good stronghold the very best and highest fort, fortress and high wall of protection is God.
Nahum one of the prophets of the southern kingdom. Prophesying in his area of Elkosh between Jerusalem and Gaza declares God’s power saying, “The LORD is good! A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.”
 
Just like Nahum trusted in God during this real time of war, in the same like fashion we can trust God today to be our stronghold when wars stir up in spiritual battle for our souls, in our daily situations and life’s struggles.
 
He is faithful to protect us from our enemies, ourselves, and from the ways of this world.
Jehovah Nissi means Banner in Hebrew.  Which means God is our banner, our flag our signal pole. We can look up high and with knowledge sight, see Christ sitting on the right side of God. Then our comfort comes. Just like when I saw the U.S. flag waving high above our embassy. I was walking in a foreign country, but I could take comfort.
 
For those who call themselves followers of Christ, you know that God is faithful to His word. In the past, currently, in the future and for eternity.
God is strong, mighty and full of holy power.  I seek to hold onto Him as He holds onto me.
We can proudly exclaim with great joy!
 
“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2
 
Self-Evaluation 
What stronghold are you suffering from?  Would you turn to the only one to give you deliverance, comfort and steadfastness? You can turn from those strongholds and in exchange cling to the true Stronghold. Look up!  Look high!  And you will see Jehovah Nissi our Stronghold. 
 
 
© Copyright 2012 Simone Lake. All Rights Reserved.
© Copyright 2012 Deep Roots in Christ Ministries. All Rights Reserved

Saturday

The Graduate

Graduation is everywhere!

May is commonly known as the month in which graduations are abundant. If you are in preschool or getting a doctorate, if you are in public school, private school, professional school or Bible school, thousands around the nation and millions around the world are graduating from some class, some academic organization somewhere, with some type of degree and or advancement.
This year my husband and I had a flood of invites from friends graduating and although we could not possibly go to all of them, we rejoice with them on this special day of their successful achievements.
The only graduation we did attend this year was my husband’s graduation receiving his doctorate in theology. With the threat of a downpour at anytime, the crowd slowly stood from an anxious wait of sitting in chairs outside. A quiet hush as the music of “Pomp and Circumstance” began to play. Bright red cloth and tassels adorned the black long robes as the graduates, with precision, moved across the plush green grass to their seats. There was a welcome, prayer, Scripture reading, and then the calling of the names.Joy, excitement, honor and relief were some of the many emotions expressed. The charge given to all the graduates to stay faithful to Christ and His call, the recognition of each student’s support group, and then this event ended with a prayer.
 
What a joyful time!
 
Both of us have been blessed with opportunities to pursue various degrees of higher learning ... debt free — which is an added blessing — Praise the Lord!
I was raised in a family where it was extremely important, based on my ethnicity, heritage and culture, to pursue the highest level and all forms of education possible.
My in-loves raised my husband in a private Christian school that trained students in three grades in advance of their real level producing students highly trained in all areas of intellect.
Both my parents earned not only their bachelor’s degrees, but were also successful in attaining their master’s and doctorate degrees and instilled in me the same sense of importance regarding education.
What can we say? We love education.
What do God and the Bible have to say?
 
Biblical contrast
An interesting fact about the Holy Scriptures is that those that were highly educated (the religious leaders —Pharisees and Sadducees) were the very ones so far from a clear understanding of who Jesus is.An interesting fact about Jesus is that even though He is God, He did not pursue a higher level of education. Well, actually ... being God, all knowing at all times, it wasn’t like He needed to go to school right? Being the Trinity and all ...
Paul is a better example to make my point. Apostle Paul, which all Gentiles around the world owe much gratitude, for His obedience as a faithful forefather bringing the gospel of Christ to us. This man knew his priorities and wasn’t afraid to speak about it.
In the Scriptures it clearly tells of Paul’s background. In our society we would be highly impressed by his education, credentials, degrees, ability to speak many languages and intelligently fit into the multiple cultures and cities. Yep, he was the cream of the crop when it came to his background and education. Although he attained many academic successes, seven-star academics and a rich basket full of accolades, he so desired something bigger, greater, richer, something that would last for eternity. Paul was willing to give all that up to attain something much greater ... the excellency of Christ.He gave up all the worldly prestige, traded all of his earthly trophies of degrees, education, pomp ... to experience the sweet fellowship with Jesus. Paul made a decision to bear his doctorate degree with scars on his own back and body rather than the parchment of paper from the normal format. Read Philippians chapter three.
Yep ... that is what I am looking for! May it be in my heart and soul meshing with Christ’s heart and not just on my lips or words on paper.
My hubby and I both have attained higher educational degrees in theology and divinity. (Of course my hubby has the highest between us ... and “no” I am not even thinking about starting a doctorate program to answer all the inquiring minds and strong suggestions.)
Our goal is to mesh our flesh into the One that is the perfect for education every surpassing all this earth has to offer.
 
Graduation on high
So I want to ask you ...
What type of spiritual higher education are you willing to partake, yield, and submit to?
What spiritual degrees will you have completed at the end of life?
Thank God that an educational degree is not needed as a prerequisite to meet God face to face. It is not needed for Him to love you and to come to spend time with you. There is equity to anyone and everyone who believes in the name of Jesus as their Lord and Savior. There is no hierarchy needed at all, just a humble heart and acknowledgment that we need God, because we have missed the mark.
What choice will you make friend?
Believe in Christ as your Lord and Savior, agreeing completely that Jesus is God in the flesh that walked the earth in human form years and years ago. He rose from the dead and is currently sitting on the right hand of God continually praying ...
Praise God He has not forgotten us down here. He will NEVER leave us, forsake us or forget us.
As much as our accomplishments on earth are times of joy and a great blessing, when all is said and done the boasting of the saints will be with loud praises to God, declaring that we are saved by grace, given a heavenly inheritance and we had the joyful privilege of serving Him as our great ambassador and high King.  In comparison, the latter is greater, grander and more glorious than imagined!
 
 
©Copyright 2012 Simone Lake. All Rights Reserved.
© Copyright 2012 Deep Roots in Christ Ministries. All Rights Reserved
 
 

John Lake, the pastor of Church on Randall Place in Pine for 12-1/2 years, graduated in May 2013 with a Doctorate in Ministry. He earned a degree in Applied Theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky.

John Lake, the pastor of Church on Randall Place in Pine for 12-1/2 years, graduated in May 2013 with a Doctorate in Ministry. He earned a degree in Applied Theology from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky.