Victory Perspective

What if you approached your battle from the stance of victory? Click To Tweet

Photo courtesy of 88.5 Lite FMThe biggest battle I face is not wondering about direction in my current season. The biggest battle I face is trusting God has already won the battle on my behalf.

I love to highlight passages of scripture where God uses past tense grammar to describe a current or future victory. Here are a few of my favorites:

 

Joshua and Jericho

“See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” (Joshua 6:2, NIV)

Joshua stands before a small city fortified with tall walls. Assessing the giant walls, God said, “See I have delivered Jericho into your hands.” I wish I could see the look on Joshua’s face at that moment. Queue the climatic music. Staring up at the walls, did he have a look of skepticism or determination? Before God offers an unusual battle plan, He assured Joshua, “I have delivered” this city into your hands.boots PIxabay

Joshua entered into battle from the stance of victory.

Moses’ Commission

“See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20-31 (NIV)

Moses led a million march–a motley crew of former slaves, out of Egypt through the Red Sea towards freedom. God in is mighty way parted the Red Sea and the people marched right through toward freedom. Before the split, God assured Moses, “I am sending an angel ahead of you…to a place I have prepared.”

With Pharaoh and the entire Egyptian army closing in behind, Moses walked in a stance of victory on dry ground as he crossed the Red Sea.

Gideon’s Call

“Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” (Judges 7:15, NIV)

A chapter before, the Lord finds Gideon hiding from the enemy. Now God has called him to fight. Before God issues an unusual battle plan (by the way, most of God’s battle strategies are unusual) He assures Gideon, “The Lord has given” the enemy into your hands.

Gideon enters into battle from a stance of victory.

The victory is yours. Go get it! Click To Tweet

sword-790815_1920 pixabayWe can learn from Joshua, Moses, and Gideon. These men faced insurmountable circumstances, yet they entered into battle from a stance of victory.

Before God issues an unusual battle plan, for our lives we can rest assure He has already prepared our future and delivered the victory.

What battle are you facing?  The victory is already yours. Go get it.

If you need musical motivation, I recommend listening to Go Get It by Mary Mary.

~April Dawn White

*All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of Pixabay and 88.5 Lite FM

© 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

The Sheep Gate

One sunny morning, on the way to church, Jesus interrupted a man’s life near a Sheep Gate. I’ve been meditating on this story, found in John chapter five for nearly a month. This is my abbreviated version of the story, which is by no means a substitution for the real Word:

Jesus was on his way to church when He saw a man at the pool of Bethesda, near the Sheep Gate, who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. This was a place where the sick came for healing. From time to time, the angel of the Lord would stir the waters, and the first one in the water would be healed. Jesus approached him and asked “Do you want to get well?” The man offered excuses that he couldn’t get to the water. Jesus said, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Instantly the man was healed. The unnamed man Jesus healed was unaware of who had healed him. Later, when the man was in the temple, he learned it was Jesus who had healed him. The man told everyone “it was Jesus who had made him well.”(John 5: 1-15, NIV)

Each time I read this passage, the words Sheep Gate, leap off the page. Since, all Scripture is God breathed and useful for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16), every word included has significance. Why did the author John, include that detail? What was important about the Sheep Gate?
 
Last night I brainstormed everything I could think about in reference to the Sheep Gate, gates, sheep, shepherd, green pastures, and the twenty-third Psalm. As I jotted down snippets from memory, I felt as though I was working a puzzle.  When I work a puzzle, I start with the edges first. Here are the puzzle pieces I’ve been working with:

The Sheep Gate
The Sheep Gate is the first gate mentioned as a gate in Jerusalem (Nehemiah 3:1, 32). It was the gate where the sacrificial sheep entered the temple. It is interesting to note that the Sheep Gate was the first and last gate mentioned in the rebuilding of the temple in Nehemiah. Historically, this gate points to Jesus when John the Baptist said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, NIV).

Jesus is the Gate
Jesus described Himself as the Sheep Gate – the only door for salvation. “I am the gate for the sheep…I am the gate; whoever enters though me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:7-9, NIV).

The Good Shepherd

A shepherd’s primary responsibility is to provide protection, safety, and rest for the sheep. Hundreds of years before Christ’s birth, David the shepherd boy turned King, penned these famous words from the twenty-third Psalm:


“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in the path of righteousness for His name sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me…”

Jesus describes His personal role as providing protection, safety and rest as the Good Shepherd. “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11, 15, NIV). “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”(John 10:10, NIV).
Called by Name
Jesus knows us by name. In a conversation with the disciples, Jesus said
“the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice”(John 10:3-4, NIV). 
           
The Unnamed Person
I find it intriguing that Jesus, the Good Shepherd who calls his sheep by name, does not call this person by name. Instead, He refers to him by his condition.  Notice Jesus did not ask, “Do you want to walk?” No, Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?” I believe He was referring to physical and spiritual healing. It is also fascinating that the unnamed man, who I call “Matt” (a.k.a. mat man), does not know the name of the man who healed him. It isn’t until “Matt” goes to the temple that he learns it was Jesus who healed him.
             
Green Pasture
As I ran past the fence posts and red gate on my morning run, I pondered the meaning of the Good Shepherd leading His sheep to pasture. In an article titled Sheep and Green Pastures in the Christian Worldview Journal, Colley Tettelbach writes:

Green pastures in David’s time were bare, rocky hills with just enough vegetation to sustain the sheep for that day. The sheep were dependent upon the shepherd to lead them to the forage that they would need for the next day. “Green pastures” for the ancient Israelites were symbolic of the fact that they could trust God for their daily sustenance. “Green Pastures” meant that they had enough for this day and that they could trust God for tomorrow’s portion.” http://www.breakpoint.org/the-center/columns/worldview/14818-sheep-and-green-pastures


Near the Gate
Notice in John 5:2 the author describes not only the character’s physical location, but also the proximity to the Sheep Gate. “Now there in Jerusalem nearthe Sheep Gate a pool…” I have read this story every day for almost a month. Until this morning, I never noticed the word “near.” (Imagine how stinky that place must have been to be near the sheep gate.) This man was near the temple, but because of his condition, he couldn’t get inside.  Jesus met him where he was! Praise God, He meets us where we are at! Jesus came near to him. The Sheep Gate Himself walked up to the invalid and called him: “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” (John 5:8, NIV).

Opposition
As soon as the man was healed, he did what he was told. He picked up his mat and walked. Jesus healed him on the Sabbath. Ancient Jewish tradition prohibited any work on the Sabbath. Carrying a mat was considered work. Matt was questioned by the local Jews and reminded that it was forbidden to carry his mat on the Sabbath. I wonder if he was thinking “Who cares? Can’t you see I’m walking for the first time?” When God calls us and performs a miracle in our life, expect some opposition.

The Temple

This miracle occurred outside the temple. Most miracles in the Bible and in our lives today occur in our everyday locations. I had never considered that until I read this story. Yes, God can heal His people in church, but it is a good reminder that most of the healing takes place outside the church walls. The church is a place of encouragement and strength for our journey.


For weeks, I’ve been trying to work the puzzle of this story. With each piece God has taught me something new. I think the greatest lesson learned is that God doesn’t always give us all the details at once. Instead, He reveals what we need when we need it. I am still working on the Sheep Gate puzzle.  I know the Lord is my Shepherd.  He is the Gate. His was our perfect sacrifice on the cross. I will follow my Shepherd through the Sheep Gate. When I enter the gate to heaven, I will be carrying my unfinished Sheep Gate puzzle. Perhaps Jesus Himself will add the last piece.

What about you? What part of God’s word has you puzzled? Leave a comment below and join the conversation. 

~April Dawn White
Connect with me email redchairmoments@gmail.com

Twitter @RedChairMoments



Loved & Chosen

“Hey sister loved by God, I KNOW that He has chosen you!”
1 Thessalonians 1:4 (paraphrased with attitude)

I am participating in a Thessalonians bible study titled Children of The Day by Beth Moore. Each time we meet we are to greet one another by saying, “Hey sister loved by God, I KNOW that He has chosen you!” With warm mugs of coffee we say that to each other and laugh.
This week I have been really meditating on that verse and that truth. First of all we are loved by God, and secondly, He has chosen us. I mean chosen us! I can remember years and years ago attending a women’s retreat, in fact it was the first women’s retreat that I had ever attended. It was an in house retreat where we watched the video series Anointed, Transformed, and Redeemed by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and Kay Arthur. I remember sitting in a small group struggling with feelings of being a failure as a parent. (Do you see an underlying theme here, going on in my life?) Andrew and Rachel were little, both preschoolers, and just at that season of our life. I will never forget opening up to my small group and sharing my feelings. I was feeling like God gave these children to the wrong mom. I remember thinking “I can’t do this.” I felt like I wasn’t the right mother for these children. The small group leader Holly, looked at me and said “April, you have been chosen.” She reminded me then, as I was reminded this week in scripture that I have been hand picked by God for what He has me doing, right now. As I reflected on the words “Hey sister loved by God, He has chosen you!” I thought about how God used my friend Holly back then. I still have those words, faded now, written on an index card on the front of my refrigerator.
My friend Holly moved away around 5 years ago . I decided to send her this text: “Hey sister loved by God, I know that He has chosen you! I am studying 1&2 Thessalonians and I am praising God for you! I am thanking God for the day you revealed this truth to me many years ago at the women’s retreat.” Almost immediately, I got a message back from her telling me she was in tears. She had been up all night, wrestling it out with God, over an email she had received. She had been up all night praying and wondering if she had done or said something wrong to upset a friend. She said my message to her that morning was divinely appointed.
I love that! I love the way God uses scriptures and others to be boomerang effect. She encouraged me many years ago, in the Spring of 2008 (from the best of our memory) and now I was able to encourage her! In fact I asked her permission to tell this story, because I was sitting in my red chair while texting her, so it qualified as a Red Chair Moment.
Life is hard. But know this: You are loved by God and He has chosen you!
“Hey sister loved by God, I KNOW that He has chosen you!”
~April
“May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12

Camp

Our kids went to Camp Eagle this week, and I am surprised we haven’t received a letter from them. Scratch that–I am surprised we haven’t received a letter from Andrew. Camp Eagle is a church camp nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside of Fincastle, Va. Our children have spent many years attending the day camp programs, but this was their first week long, overnight camp.

We have been covering this week at camp in prayer for months, honestly over 6 months! As time grew closer, both Andrew and Rachel became increasing nervous about being away from home. Both children have their quirks when it comes to sleeping habits which caused great distress. I assured them that there would be other kids at camp who slept with a stuffed animal or needed a night light.

We tried to calm their fears by sharing our own camp experiences, but the kids gave us the “you’re-too-old-to-understand-look.” I even shared a story from my coworker, that when her twin boys went to camp they were embarrassed to have Spiderman underwear. Just a few days before they left for camp she had to buy all new underwear! When the boys arrived at camp, with their “grown up” underwear, everyone else in their cabin was wearing…you guessed it…Spiderman!

Every night before bed we would pray over their week at camp. We would pray for the kids bedtime quirks, pray the kids would meet new friends, be courageous to try new adventures, and deepen their relationship with the Lord. 

Most importantly we would pray this simple prayer that the kids have committed to memory:
“I will trust and not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2
Andrew wrote these words on a note card and taped it to his bed. Every night he would repeat it over and over. Even at camp he had printed that verse on a piece of paper to read every night. Tucked inside their suitcases was a envelope containing my bedtime prayer over them, always ending with the powerful words from Isaiah “I will trust and not be afraid.”
We arrived at camp at 9:00am Monday morning. The kids were silent as we pulled off the main road and drove down the long gravel road leading deep into the wooded camp. Upon arrival the kids realized they recognized a few of the camp counselors. Some of which attend their school or who had just graduated and are working at the camp for the summer. The tension began to ease. Andrew and Rachel were calling out the names of everyone they saw that they knew. The excitement was building!  Rachel immediately recognized a girl who was her counselor and was brimming with happiness. When we stepped out of the truck Andrew heard a voice above the others saying “Andrew, I’ve been waiting for you! Dude, I’ve been waiting for you all Summer!” Andrew beamed! His favorite senior from school last year was HIS camp counselor!
We haven’t heard from the kids, which is a good sign that they are having too much fun to write home. I know God has answered our prayers.  Would you like to take a guess at Andrew’s camp counselor’s name? Isaiah!
As adults we can smile at the unnecessary worries like kids going off to camp. But really, when you think about it, we do the same thing in our own lives. We too become worried about the uncertainties in life: a health scare, career change, job security, being relocated, moving, etc. In the midst of all that we need to remember to trust in a Holy and perfect God and not be afraid!
I am a mess and tend to worry too much and try to control too much. I too need to learn to trust more! My time on earth is only temporary, but because I have placed my trust, faith, and salvation in Jesus Christ I will spend eternity in heaven.  One day, I too will hear a voice above all the others saying “April, I’ve been waiting for you!”
“I will trust and not be afraid!” Isaiah 12:2
~April
“May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12

Mommy-Son Date

Andrew and I dropped Rachel off at Fiddle Camp and were giddy to begin our date. We had five uninterrupted hours of quality Mommy-Son time! Our destination, the movie theater to see Disney’s new movie Maleficent.  Andrew proposed that if I bought the movie tickets, he would pay for popcorn. Deal!

I won’t give away any movie secrets, but I will say that Maleficent puts a new spin on the old classic story of Sleeping Beauty.

My favorite part of our date was not the movie, but rather the conversation in the car ride afterwards. My soon-to-be-sixth-grader said “Mommy, there is a bunch of symbolism in Maleficent, like good verses evil, pride and corruption, jealousy and hate, evil disguised as good.”  For the rest of the car ride we talked about the symbolism and the curse. There is a scene in the movie where Maleficent states “This curse will last until the end of time and no power on earth can change it.” We talked about the curse we are all under “thanks to Adam and Eve for messing it up for the rest of us” Andrew said. Just as in the movie, I reminded Andrew there is no power on earth that can change it. Fortunately, the God we serve is not of this world. From heaven, Jesus was sent to break the curse of sin that was placed on the earth. Our firm belief in Jesus Christ is our saving grace from the curse.

Question: Who can separate us from the love of Christ?
Answer: Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any other powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
-Romans 8:35, 38-39



Our conversation shifted and Andrew asked is it possible to lose our salvation. He wondered if you could still be saved from the curse even if you asked Jesus in to your heart, but then don’t always do right. “Absolutely!” I replied. That is the wonderful thing about God’s grace and forgiveness. We are always going to mess up and not do right, but as long as you truly believe Jesus died of the cross for our sins and you have asked Jesus into your heart, he is mighty to save!

I had a marvelous five-hour date with my 11-year old son. Later on in the evening, he tapped on the window and silently signed 1-4-3 our secret code for I love you. With tears in my eyes I signed 1-4-3-2. I harbor a lot of parental guilt. I tend to yell too much and play too little. I don’t always get things right. (This is why the lyrics to the song “How He Loves” written by John Mark McMillan and recorded by the David Crowder Band, mean so much to me. “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way that He loves me!”)

After I crawled into bed I wrote in my prayer journal: Lord, I don’t always get things right, but today I did! Lord, I love you too!

~April

“May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12

If you give a boy a stick…

My favorite children’s book is If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. As the story goes, if you give a mouse a cookie, he will ask for a glass of milk. The playful mouse antics continue on and on. Recently, I discovered what happens if you give a boy a stick.

In the backyard I played tug-o-war with weeds while the kid’s picked up sticks. We all know what happens if you give a boy a stick, he will find a reason to fight. While I battled the English ivy, I looked up to see Andrew raise a four-foot stick high into the air and exclaim “The Lord is with me!” In our yard King Saul (Andrew) and David (Rachel) battled the Philistines.  I laughed; the recent episode of the Bible mini-series had an obvious impact on our children.

Worn out, I poured a glass of iced sweet tea and took a break on the screen porch. My hair clung to my sweaty neck and crimson face. Saul and David follow after me and we sat under the breeze of the whirling ceiling fans. Andrew asked if I would like some water. “Absolutely”, I reply. He opened the water bottle and ceremoniously states “I anoint you!” I laugh and ask, “What am I being anointed?” (Thinking to myself I will be anointed “queen of the weeds.”) He raised the same stick he had been battling the imaginary army and proclaimed, “I anoint you Beautiful Mother.”
Photos courtesy of Unplash at Pixabay.com


Tears pricked at my eyes. I wanted to scoff. I had to bite my lip to hold back the flood of emotion going on inside my heart. I had just been anointed Beautiful Mother.

If Andrew was to hold up a mirror before me, I would argue with my anointed title. To be honest, if he held a mirror to my heart, I would continue to disagree with that title. This child knows who I really am. He knows that I love the Lord, but I am short-tempered, impatient, and prone to perfectionism. Yet, he still anointed me Beautiful Mother!

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
(Proverbs 31:28-30)
If you give a boy a stick he will anoint you “Beautiful Mother.” When he anoints you “Beautiful Mother” you will be reminded to see yourself the way God sees you.
~April
Connect with me email redchairmoments@gmail.com

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