Under Fire

soldiers

“Cover me! I am going in!”

“Go! I got your back!”

This is the beauty of relationship. For this reason, relationships are important, to watch over each other and cover each other. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. When one is weak, then the other stands up and covers them with their strength.

Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor;  for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 

If you haven’t figured it out by now, we are in a war. If you are a follower of Christ the attack is intense and personal. It is a spiritual war and the enemy, our adversary, is relentless and cunning. He uses gorilla tactics and his attacks can sometimes be so subtle you won’t even recognize where the attack is coming from. He will misdirect your attention, cause confusion and offense, then before you know it you may find yourself fighting your ally.

Marriages go down in flames from “friendly fire” when they do not recognize who the real enemy is.  

Again, if two lie down together, then they keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? And though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 

Who is the three chord strand? It is husband, wife, and the Holy Spirit. For the marriage to be strong, Christ must be in the center. Not only the center, but the foundation. Both husband and wife must be firmly rooted in Him.

The attack always starts in the mind. The enemy will throw things at you from without and then try to speak to you from within. He will attempt to keep you busy focusing on the “issues” until the whispers of his accusations will begin to drown out the voice of Holy Spirit. Rather than renewing your strength in Him, you will grow weary and you will look to place blame on someone or some thing.

You are not fighting a visible enemy. Your husband/wife is not your enemy.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Ephesians 6:12 

You have a battle plan 

warfare
The weapons of your warfare are POWERFUL! 

The marriage covenant is until death (not a death sentence). Love lays His life down for His beloved. You may never be required to take a bullet for your husband/wife, or stand in front of a train, but you are required to lay down and put to death:

  • Pride
  • Selfish Ambitions
  • Un-Forgiveness
  • Bitterness
  • Anger
  • Offense

Allow the Holy Spirit to breathe life into you and fill you with His fruit of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

It is in the small things that strengthen your marriage. The small daily acts of kindness towards each other nurture a lasting, healthy, honoring marriage. It is dangerous to neglect each other. Neglect is an open door for the enemy to wreak havoc. When you understand your spouse is a precious gift, and the representation of Christs love for His church, you will understand that laying your life down is actually living and glorifies God. When two become one, and Christ is the center, and you love each other and serve each other as unto the Lord, then you will experience life and life abundantly in your marriage. You will experience the peace and joy of knowing that no matter what the world has to throw at you, together you will be just fine.

Practice these words:

  • I love you
  • I am sorry, please forgive me
  • I forgive you
  • Let’s pray

Cover each other in prayer, with understanding and patience. Worship together and serve together. Then when that enemy comes with his attack you know you have each others back.  Just because this is war, you do not have to be a casualty. You have the victory. Stand strong, hold your position, and take the camp.

Be Free & Stay Free 

It’s Never What You Think It Is

In ancient Rome the term ‘legion’ was used to describe a group of fighting men. They were a well organized unit and trained for battle. A legion of soldiers would consist of 4,000 to 10,000 men. A full strength legion is 6,000, but they generally consisted of approximately 5,300 fighting men, including officers.

When we consider the demoniac in Mark 5, we can see just how tormented he was. The man had issues! So, many issues, that when Jesus asked the demon to name himself the demon couldn’t state one name, because he said they are many. I heard a really good teaching on this last evening and it got me thinking, even more. (Yes, my mind never stops)

The enemy is very strategic.  His attacks are with military precision.

So, one thought led to another and the word ‘flank’ came to my mind. So, of course I google ‘what does flank mean in warfare’.

Flank:

  • It’s used in all military and basically means you’re approaching the enemy around their flank (where the flank means the side). It can also just mean approaching the enemy from a route other than the most obvious one (straight on). It’s when you sneak around the side of an enemy and wipe them all out before they see it coming.
  • It means they are going around you and coming up at the side or most effectively from the back.
  • It’s when you sneak around the side of an enemy and wipe them all out before they even know your there!
  • What usually happens is some of the guys provide suppressing fire (where they just shoot to make sure the enemy doesn’t try to shoot back at the moment. They don’t really try to hit anyone (unless someone comes out of cover) they just shoot so they DON’T come up.) and while they do that, the other guys can move through the open without getting shot at, they go to the enemy’s backs, or sides (where they have no cover), and take them down.

Do you see how strategic this is? Do you understand how sly the enemy is? Do you really think you are just fighting a little nymph with horns and a pitch fork?

Ephesians 6:12 say’s, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Do you really think this all about you? Oh NO, my friend! This is not about you. The enemy doesn’t just want to kill you, he wants to destroy the seed. He wants the territory. He wants to intimidate you, strike fear in you, steal from you, and he wants to leave his calling card so anyone who witnesses what he has done to you will tremble and surrender. The attack can be very personal, but do NOT for one minute think it is just about you. He is after the seed!

Do you not know you are made in the image of God? Your mere existence is a threat to hell.

Years ago I knew a man who worked in missions in the Sudan. He shared stories about his experience there. The LRA would come into a village and burn it to the ground. They would rape and slaughter everyone there; men, women, and children. But, they would leave one barely alive as a calling card for whoever found them. It was a warning to fear them.

This is what Satan does. He will take out your village and leave you maimed, so you won’t dare come against him again and so that anyone who saw the shambles your life is in will not want to follow the God you serve.

The biggest attack he will launch is against marriage. He knows a Godly marriage is a representation of Christ’s love for the church. He will sew seeds of discords, suspicion, pride, fear, etc… to take your marriage out. You MUST keep the three chord strand intact, my friend. You must focus on Christ and trust Him.

The enemy will send a flank around you and you will not see it coming because he will have you so focused on the petty. The death blow rarely comes head on, it is from behind. It is in your blind spot, beyond the peripheral. You think you are fighting about this, or worrying about that? You get your feelings hurt and you launch an emotional attack? You think you know everything, yet you do not ask for understanding?

Too many marriages, families, ministries, have been burned at the stake because we do not recognize who the enemy really is. Your spouse is not your enemy. Your co-worker is not your enemy. Your child is not your enemy. The man down the road is not your enemy. Know who the enemy is. Do NOT get distracted with the petty.

If you fight your battles on the petty, you will never be able to stand against the death blow. You won’t even see it coming.

What you are going through is not a coincidence, nor is it unrelated. It is all very strategic.

How do you fight this attack? By putting on the full armor of God. See Ephesians 6

I want to close with this thought. Do not attempt to fight this alone. If you are isolated, a straggler, you are an easy target. Isolation is a clever ploy of the enemy. He knows if he can get you alone, then you will have no one to watch your back. I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay in fellowship with other believers.  The word say’s, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

Let us love one another and forgive one another, as Christ loves and forgives us.

So, think about this the next time you want to take offense, or get angry, or your “feelings” are hurt. Know where the attack comes from and know…. it is never what you think it is.

Selah

Hidden Treasures

Treasure hunters will go to great lengths to unearth a treasure. Some may travel the far corners of the world to find the precious gem, risk life and limb, sacrifice rest and self, to excavate what they believe to be of great worth.

What may look like nothing to an untrained eye, is sheer beauty to the one who knows its worth.

The treasure seeker will dig through earth, rocks, sand, and soil, to lay hold of the prize. When they have unearthed it, they carefully lift it with their hands, as to not damage it. Upon first sight, it is covered in dirt, caked with years of debris. But with delicate hands, they will clean it, polish it, restore it back to it’s original beauty, and preserve it.

Why do treasure hunters do this? Because they recognize the value. Some treasures are worth far more value than most are willing to pay.

The kingdom of heaven is like something precious buried in a field, which a man found and hid again; then in his joy he goes and sells all he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44

God did this. He is the greatest treasure hunter. He placed such value on each of us, He was willing to go through great lengths to find us, unearth us, and bring us back to our natural beauty. He sent His Son to take such a beating for us, to go into the earth for three days, to bring us up from the grasp of the thief, to restore us, reconcile us, and bring us back to our created purpose.

Even when we were caked in the soil of the world, drowning in our sins, wrapped in the bondage of our hurts, rejected and abandoned as unworthy, He saw us and He restored us. He looked beyond the outward, He looked into our hearts and He placed His strong gentle hands on us and He declared… this one is Mine.

Then He placed us on display. Paraded us past the enemy and held the banner of Love over us.

The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment. The second is like it and is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31

Who is our neighbor? The person who has need, the poor one, the broken one, the sick one, the one who can never repay…

How about those who are closest to us? Those we know so well, we know their imperfections, their quirks, their hang-ups, the one who has hurt us? What about them?

I submit to you, one of the main causes for break-ups, divorce, and division is we fail to see beyond the outward to look at the heart. For if we truly desired to be like Christ, we would delicately unearth the heart, speak words of compassion, create a safe environment, and allow God to use us to bring healing to the wounded hearts. We just might find a treasure of great worth, if we truly followed the words of Mark 12:30-31.

We are all broken vessels, but in the hands of God, we will shine with such brilliance hell will be blinded, relationship’s restored, ministries birthed, and the Glory of the Lord would rest on us and bring great revival, healing, deliverance, and salvation to many.

Be a minister He can use. With the same grace given to you, give to others. For inside each of us is something far more valuable than money can buy. Only through love can a heart shine.

Come out, come out, wherever you are… Calling His Beauties Home

swan

You see, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Each of us are unique creations with gifting’s we may not even be aware of.

We were created with a purpose for God, sadly some of us will never know it because you don’t understand who you are, or even to whom you belong.

The world will tell you how ugly you are. The devil will tell you how screwed up you are and remind you about your past. You fall prey to believing no one wants you, not even God, and your past dictates your future. You are covered with scars from childhood trauma, broken relationships, rejection after rejection, perceived failure upon failure. Some of the words spoken over you were as a razor strap, breaking your spirit and wounding your soul.

You wear a façade of strength and happiness, yet inside you cry. You hide your shame under make-up, job titles, wrong relationships, addictions…. but inside you still feel it. You cannot hide from YOU.

Stop for a minute, listen very closely, be still… I want you to hear this, you, YES, YOU! Have been fearfully and wonderfully made by the hands of a Father who loves you and gave Himself for you, because you are worth it to Him. You are His Beloved.

What has wounded you was not of Him, but He wants you to know He brings healing to you if you can just trust Him and believe. He will remove the rags of sin, shame, anger, sorrow, regret, rejection, abandonment, fear…. and He will wash you clean and dress you in a new robe. He will wash you with His Spirit and you will rise up, and behold you are a new creation. Redemption and healing comes in His Name.

You are one of His own. You belong to Him. You will never fit in where you do not belong. You will never be comfortable being who you are not created to be. The world would not receive Him, it will not receive you either. But, oh, you are beautiful, because you are His and you belong in His family. Healing and deliverance comes only through Him.

I was reminded of this beautiful story this morning and I want to share it with you. What the world calls ugly, He calls beautiful.

Enjoy!

Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling

It was lovely summer weather in the country, and the golden corn, the green oats, and the haystacks piled up in the meadows looked beautiful. The stork walking about on his long red legs chattered in the Egyptian language, which he had learnt from his mother. The corn-fields and meadows were surrounded by large forests, in the midst of which were deep pools. It was, indeed, delightful to walk about in the country. In a sunny spot stood a pleasant old farm-house close by a deep river, and from the house down to the water side grew great burdock leaves, so high, that under the tallest of them a little child could stand upright. The spot was as wild as the centre of a thick wood. In this snug retreat sat a duck on her nest, watching for her young brood to hatch; she was beginning to get tired of her task, for the little ones were a long time coming out of their shells, and she seldom had any visitors. The other ducks liked much better to swim about in the river than to climb the slippery banks, and sit under a burdock leaf, to have a gossip with her.

At length one shell cracked, and then another, and from each egg came a living creature that lifted its head and cried, “Peep, peep.”

“Quack, quack,” said the mother, and then they all quacked as well as they could, and looked about them on every side at the large green leaves. Their mother allowed them to look as much as they liked, because green is good for the eyes.

“How large the world is,” said the young ducks, when they found how much more room they now had than while they were inside the egg-shell.

“Do you imagine this is the whole world?” asked the mother; “Wait till you have seen the garden; it stretches far beyond that to the parson’s field, but I have never ventured to such a distance. Are you all out?” she continued, rising; “No, I declare, the largest egg lies there still. I wonder how long this is to last, I am quite tired of it;” and she seated herself again on the nest.

         “Well, how are you getting on?” asked an old duck, who paid her a visit.     “One egg is not hatched yet,” said the duck, “it will not break. But just look at all the others, are they not the prettiest little ducklings you ever saw? They are the image of their father, who is so unkind, he never comes to see.”

“Let me see the egg that will not break,” said the duck; “I have no doubt it is a turkey’s egg. I was persuaded to hatch some once, and after all my care and trouble with the young ones, they were afraid of the water. I quacked and clucked, but all to no purpose. I could not get them to venture in. Let me look at the egg. Yes, that is a turkey’s egg; take my advice, leave it where it is and teach the other children to swim.”

“I think I will sit on it a little while longer,” said the duck; “as I have sat so long already, a few days will be nothing.”

“Please yourself,” said the old duck, and she went away.

At last the large egg broke, and a young one crept forth crying, “Peep, peep.” It was very large and ugly. The duck stared at it and exclaimed, “It is very large and not at all like the others. I wonder if it really is a turkey. We shall soon find it out, however when we go to the water. It must go in, if I have to push it myself.”

On the next day the weather was delightful, and the sun shone brightly on the green burdock leaves, so the mother duck took her young brood down to the water, and jumped in with a splash. “Quack, quack,” cried she, and one after another the little ducklings jumped in. The water closed over their heads, but they came up again in an instant, and swam about quite prettily with their legs paddling under them as easily as possible, and the ugly duckling was also in the water swimming with them.

        “Oh,” said the mother, “that is not a turkey; how well he uses his legs, and how upright he holds himself! He is my own child, and he is not so very ugly after all if you look at him properly. Quack, quack! come with me now, I will take you into grand society, and introduce you to the farmyard, but you must keep close to me or you may be trodden upon; and, above all, beware of the cat.”     When they reached the farmyard, there was a great disturbance, two families were fighting for an eel’s head, which, after all, was carried off by the cat. “See, children, that is the way of the world,” said the mother duck, whetting her beak, for she would have liked the eel’s head herself. “Come, now, use your legs, and let me see how well you can behave. You must bow your heads prettily to that old duck yonder; she is the highest born of them all, and has Spanish blood, therefore, she is well off. Don’t you see she has a red flag tied to her leg, which is something very grand, and a great honor for a duck; it shows that every one is anxious not to lose her, as she can be recognized both by man and beast. Come, now, don’t turn your toes, a well-bred duckling spreads his feet wide apart, just like his father and mother, in this way; now bend your neck, and say “quack.”

The ducklings did as they were bid, but the other duck stared, and said, “Look, here comes another brood, as if there were not enough of us already! and what a queer looking object one of them is; we don’t want him here,” and then one flew out and bit him in the neck.

“Let him alone,” said the mother; “he is not doing any harm.”

“Yes, but he is so big and ugly,” said the spiteful duck “and therefore he must be turned out.”

“The others are very pretty children,” said the old duck, with the rag on her leg, “all but that one; I wish his mother could improve him a little.”

“That is impossible, your grace,” replied the mother; “he is not pretty; but he has a very good disposition, and swims as well or even better than the others. I think he will grow up pretty, and perhaps be smaller; he has remained too long in the egg, and therefore his figure is not properly formed;” and then she stroked his neck and smoothed the feathers, saying, “It is a drake, and therefore not of so much consequence. I think he will grow up strong, and able to take care of himself.”

“The other ducklings are graceful enough,” said the old duck. “Now make yourself at home, and if you can find an eel’s head, you can bring it to me.”

And so they made themselves comfortable; but the poor duckling, who had crept out of his shell last of all, and looked so ugly, was bitten and pushed and made fun of, not only by the ducks, but by all the poultry. “He is too big,” they all said, and the turkey cock, who had been born into the world with spurs, and fancied himself really an emperor, puffed himself out like a vessel in full sail, and flew at the duckling, and became quite red in the head with passion, so that the poor little thing did not know where to go, and was quite miserable because he was so ugly and laughed at by the whole farmyard. So it went on from day to day till it got worse and worse. The poor duckling was driven about by every one; even his brothers and sisters were unkind to him, and would say, “Ah, you ugly creature, I wish the cat would get you,” and his mother said she wished he had never been born. The ducks pecked him, the chickens beat him, and the girl who fed the poultry kicked him with her feet. So at last he ran away, frightening the little birds in the hedge as he flew over the palings.

“They are afraid of me because I am ugly,” he said. So he closed his eyes, and flew still farther, until he came out on a large moor, inhabited by wild ducks. Here he remained the whole night, feeling very tired and sorrowful.

        In the morning, when the wild ducks rose in the air, they stared at their new comrade. “What sort of a duck are you?” they all said, coming round him.     He bowed to them, and was as polite as he could be, but he did not reply to their question. “You are exceedingly ugly,” said the wild ducks, “but that will not matter if you do not want to marry one of our family.”

Poor thing! he had no thoughts of marriage; all he wanted was permission to lie among the rushes, and drink some of the water on the moor. After he had been on the moor two days, there came two wild geese, or rather goslings, for they had not been out of the egg long, and were very saucy.

“Listen, friend,” said one of them to the duckling, “you are so ugly, that we like you very well. Will you go with us, and become a bird of passage? Not far from here is another moor, in which there are some pretty wild geese, all unmarried. It is a chance for you to get a wife; you may be lucky, ugly as you are.”

“Pop, pop,” sounded in the air, and the two wild geese fell dead among the rushes, and the water was tinged with blood. “Pop, pop,” echoed far and wide in the distance, and whole flocks of wild geese rose up from the rushes. The sound continued from every direction, for the sportsmen surrounded the moor, and some were even seated on branches of trees, overlooking the rushes. The blue smoke from the guns rose like clouds over the dark trees, and as it floated away across the water, a number of sporting dogs bounded in among the rushes, which bent beneath them wherever they went. How they terrified the poor duckling! He turned away his head to hide it under his wing, and at the same moment a large terrible dog passed quite near him. His jaws were open, his tongue hung from his mouth, and his eyes glared fearfully. He thrust his nose close to the duckling, showing his sharp teeth, and then, “splash, splash,” he went into the water without touching him, “Oh,” sighed the duckling, “how thankful I am for being so ugly; even a dog will not bite me.” And so he lay quite still, while the shot rattled through the rushes, and gun after gun was fired over him. It was late in the day before all became quiet, but even then the poor young thing did not dare to move. He waited quietly for several hours, and then, after looking carefully around him, hastened away from the moor as fast as he could. He ran over field and meadow till a storm arose, and he could hardly struggle against it.

Towards evening, he reached a poor little cottage that seemed ready to fall, and only remained standing because it could not decide on which side to fall first. The storm continued so violent, that the duckling could go no farther; he sat down by the cottage, and then he noticed that the door was not quite closed in consequence of one of the hinges having given way. There was therefore a narrow opening near the bottom large enough for him to slip through, which he did very quietly, and got a shelter for the night. A woman, a tom cat, and a hen lived in this cottage. The tom cat, whom the mistress called, “My little son,” was a great favorite; he could raise his back, and purr, and could even throw out sparks from his fur if it were stroked the wrong way. The hen had very short legs, so she was called “Chickie short legs.” She laid good eggs, and her mistress loved her as if she had been her own child. In the morning, the strange visitor was discovered, and the tom cat began to purr, and the hen to cluck.

“What is that noise about?” said the old woman, looking round the room, but her sight was not very good; therefore, when she saw the duckling she thought it must be a fat duck, that had strayed from home. “Oh what a prize!” she exclaimed, “I hope it is not a drake, for then I shall have some duck’s eggs. I must wait and see.”

So the duckling was allowed to remain on trial for three weeks, but there were no eggs. Now the tom cat was the master of the house, and the hen was mistress, and they always said, “We and the world,” for they believed themselves to be half the world, and the better half too. The duckling thought that others might hold a different opinion on the subject, but the hen would not listen to such doubts.

“Can you lay eggs?” she asked.

“No.”

“Then have the goodness to hold your tongue.”

       “Can you raise your back, or purr, or throw out sparks?” said the tom cat.     “No.”

“Then you have no right to express an opinion when sensible people are speaking.”

So the duckling sat in a corner, feeling very low spirited, till the sunshine and the fresh air came into the room through the open door, and then he began to feel such a great longing for a swim on the water, that he could not help telling the hen.

“What an absurd idea,” said the hen. “You have nothing else to do, therefore you have foolish fancies. If you could purr or lay eggs, they would pass away.”

“But it is so delightful to swim about on the water,” said the duckling, “and so refreshing to feel it close over your head, while you dive down to the bottom.”

“Delightful, indeed!” said the hen, “why you must be crazy! Ask the cat, he is the cleverest animal I know, ask him how he would like to swim about on the water, or to dive under it, for I will not speak of my own opinion; ask our mistress, the old woman; there is no one in the world more clever than she is. Do you think she would like to swim, or to let the water close over her head?”

“You don’t understand me,” said the duckling.

“We don’t understand you? Who can understand you, I wonder? Do you consider yourself more clever than the cat, or the old woman? I will say nothing of myself. Don’t imagine such nonsense, child, and thank your good fortune that you have been received here. Are you not in a warm room, and in society from which you may learn something. But you are a chatterer, and your company is not very agreeable. Believe me, I speak only for your own good. I may tell you unpleasant truths, but that is a proof of my friendship. I advise you, therefore, to lay eggs, and learn to purr as quickly as possible.”

“I believe I must go out into the world again,” said the duckling.

“Yes, do,” said the hen. So the duckling left the cottage, and soon found water on which it could swim and dive, but was avoided by all other animals, because of its ugly appearance.

Autumn came, and the leaves in the forest turned to orange and gold. Then, as winter approached, the wind caught them as they fell and whirled them in the cold air. The clouds, heavy with hail and snow-flakes, hung low in the sky, and the raven stood on the ferns crying, “Croak, croak.” It made one shiver with cold to look at him. All this was very sad for the poor little duckling.

One evening, just as the sun set amid radiant clouds, there came a large flock of beautiful birds out of the bushes. The duckling had never seen any like them before. They were swans, and they curved their graceful necks, while their soft plumage shown with dazzling whiteness. They uttered a singular cry, as they spread their glorious wings and flew away from those cold regions to warmer countries across the sea. As they mounted higher and higher in the air, the ugly little duckling felt quite a strange sensation as he watched them. He whirled himself in the water like a wheel, stretched out his neck towards them, and uttered a cry so strange that it frightened himself. Could he ever forget those beautiful, happy birds; and when at last they were out of his sight, he dived under the water, and rose again almost beside himself with excitement. He knew not the names of these birds, nor where they had flown, but he felt towards them as he had never felt for any other bird in the world. He was not envious of these beautiful creatures, but wished to be as lovely as they. Poor ugly creature, how gladly he would have lived even with the ducks had they only given him encouragement.

The winter grew colder and colder; he was obliged to swim about on the water to keep it from freezing, but every night the space on which he swam became smaller and smaller. At length it froze so hard that the ice in the water crackled as he moved, and the duckling had to paddle with his legs as well as he could, to keep the space from closing up. He became exhausted at last, and lay still and helpless, frozen fast in the ice.

Early in the morning, a peasant, who was passing by, saw what had happened. He broke the ice in pieces with his wooden shoe, and carried the duckling home to his wife. The warmth revived the poor little creature; but when the children wanted to play with him, the duckling thought they would do him some harm; so he started up in terror, fluttered into the milk-pan, and splashed the milk about the room. Then the woman clapped her hands, which frightened him still more. He flew first into the butter-cask, then into the meal-tub, and out again. What a condition he was in! The woman screamed, and struck at him with the tongs; the children laughed and screamed, and tumbled over each other, in their efforts to catch him; but luckily he escaped. The door stood open; the poor creature could just manage to slip out among the bushes, and lie down quite exhausted in the newly fallen snow.

It would be very sad, were I to relate all the misery and privations which the poor little duckling endured during the hard winter; but when it had passed, he found himself lying one morning in a moor, amongst the rushes. He felt the warm sun shining, and heard the lark singing, and saw that all around was beautiful spring. Then the young bird felt that his wings were strong, as he flapped them against his sides, and rose high into the air. They bore him onwards, until he found himself in a large garden, before he well knew how it had happened. The apple-trees were in full blossom, and the fragrant elders bent their long green branches down to the stream which wound round a smooth lawn. Everything looked beautiful, in the freshness of early spring. From a thicket close by came three beautiful white swans, rustling their feathers, and swimming lightly over the smooth water. The duckling remembered the lovely birds, and felt more strangely unhappy than ever.

“I will fly to those royal birds,” he exclaimed, “and they will kill me, because I am so ugly, and dare to approach them; but it does not matter: better be killed by them than pecked by the ducks, beaten by the hens, pushed about by the maiden who feeds the poultry, or starved with hunger in the winter.”

Then he flew to the water, and swam towards the beautiful swans. The moment they espied the stranger, they rushed to meet him with outstretched wings.

“Kill me,” said the poor bird; and he bent his head down to the surface of the water, and awaited death.

But what did he see in the clear stream below? His own image; no longer a dark, gray bird, ugly and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan. To be born in a duck’s nest, in a farmyard, is of no consequence to a bird, if it is hatched from a swan’s egg. He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him; for the great swans swam round the new-comer, and stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome.

Into the garden presently came some little children, and threw bread and cake into the water.

“See,” cried the youngest, “there is a new one;” and the rest were delighted, and ran to their father and mother, dancing and clapping their hands, and shouting joyously, “There is another swan come; a new one has arrived.”

Then they threw more bread and cake into the water, and said, “The new one is the most beautiful of all; he is so young and pretty.” And the old swans bowed their heads before him.

Then he felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wing; for he did not know what to do, he was so happy, and yet not at all proud. He had been persecuted and despised for his ugliness, and now he heard them say he was the most beautiful of all the birds. Even the elder-tree bent down its bows into the water before him, and the sun shone warm and bright. Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, “I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”

What’s the Name of Your Trojan Horse?

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I watched Troy this evening, the one with Brad Pit. The scene with the Trojan Horse comes on, my niece is asking a hundred questions, so I narrated what was happening. As I narrated it became more of a spiritual narration than about the movie.

Troy was a strong fortress, protected by a wall the enemy (the Greeks) could not penetrate. In order for the enemy to defeat Troy, they would have to get inside the city. But how?

The Greeks came up with a clever plan… “build a huge wooden horse, put our best warriors inside the horse, then Troy will carry us into the city, beyond the wall, unaware. Then when they fall asleep we will jump out of the horse and take the city.”

So, believing the Greeks gave up, Troy brought the horse into the gates… with much fan fare I might add. One man speaks up and says, “No! Do not bring the horse into our city. Burn it!” But the horse was such a prize, it was their plunder.

I am sure you know the rest of the story. Troy fell asleep, the warriors slid out of the horse, opened the gates from the inside to let the rest of the Greeks in and they burned the city down.

I am thinking about what kind of Trojan Horses do I have? What have I allowed to enter in, only to slumber, and then the enemy snuck in.

The word tells us to be ever watchful, the enemy prowls around like a lion, seeking to destroy us. As long as we remain in Him, as long as we stay in His refuge, we are safe. But if we let our guard down, if we become complacent, arrogant, lazy, side tracked, distracted… then the enemy will find his way in.

Obviously if Troy knew the enemy was inside the horse they would not have brought it into the city, they would have burned it down immediately. But they got swept up in the awe of such a massive thing. They did not see the danger. They didn’t even question it. They ignored the one voice that said, “geesh guys, I don’t know, this just doesn’t seem right.”

We clean our house, we tell the intruder he has too take his filthy shoes and leave, because he is tracking up our clean floor. So he leaves. But then he remembers what a great time he had at your house You were the perfect host and so very accommodating. He comes back to your house, sees how nicely kept it is, how clean it is, and he decides he is going to throw a party, in your house and at your expense. He sends party invites out to seven of his friends and they all gather for the party, but they have to be clever about getting inside. They know you wont “just let them in.”

So they build a Trojan Horse…. maybe your Trojan Horse is called wrong relationship, adultery, sex, pornography, addiction, unforgiveness, pride, envy, dishonesty, lust, wounds…. Whatever your horse is called, you must take care, be sure your house is fortified.

Do not give the enemy a chance to wreak havoc on your soul. Listen to the Voice that tells you, “this is not right, he is not the one, you must forgive, etc… Whatever your struggle is, whatever temptation placed before you, do NOT fall for the shiny thing!  It is a trap!

Resist the devil and he will flee.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the [consistently] righteous man [upright and in right standing with God] runs into it and is safe, high [above evil] and strong. Proverbs 18:10

Be Free & Stay Free

When the Glass Slipper Breaks

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You know when you find a good book and you can’t put it down? You get lost in the characters and you live vicariously through them. You turn each page with anticipation and as you approach the end of the story you already begin to feel a loss, because this time and experience you lived with the characters will be over.

Sometimes it is a happy ending, even through many trials, love wins out.

Sometimes the story didn’t end the way you hoped.

Then as you close the book, you reflect on the story. There were the pivotal moments in the story and you wonder what if they would have….

I remember the childhood books where you could choose your own ending. Do you remember them? ‘If you want the character to go to the store turn to page 39, or if you want the character to go to the park turn to page 25.’ I loved those stories. I would go back and forth choosing different endings.

Some times life is like a book. Each season is a new chapter and things change as quick as you can turn the page. Sometimes the change is good and sometimes it is… well, let’s just say, not the ending you would have chose.

The story has been written and you find yourself thinking about it. You remember the little things, the things you wish you would have paid more attention to and savored longer. Like the look he had in his eyes when he smiled at you, the comfort you felt when his hand touched your shoulder, or how you walked in sync when you took walks together. Even the silly things, like when you would beat him at chess, although it was only one time out of twenty, it was still worth a victory dance.

You remember how much of a couple you were. How when you would go into a store without the other the clerk would ask where he/she was. The neighbor stopping you for prayer for her granddaughter and you both joined hands with her and prayed, then rejoicing together when the report came back she was doing better. And how everywhere you went together people would notice you, they would say what a beautiful couple you were together. It felt good, right.

But then one day you are making a certain dish for dinner and you cry, because you miss making dinner together. You grab the brown sugar ( a secret you stole from him) and the movie reel plays in your mind of memories watching him make the biggest mess in the kitchen to make a delicious meal. And sadness begins to engulf you, because the reality starts to really hit home… you will never again clean his mess in the kitchen.

The grief comes and goes in waves. As much as you hate the feelings grief brings you and you pray for it to finally end, you also feel a twinge of sorrow knowing even the grief will end and then there will be nothing left of what/who you held so dear.

It is a process, I suppose. Missing him, hating him, loving him, missing him, anger, sadness, missing him, fear, betrayal, rejection, missing him. It can be confusing. All of the what if’s. What if I would have turned to page 39 instead of page 25.

Grief of loss of a relationship is similar to the mourning of a death. In a way, it is a death you are mourning. It is the death of a dream, expectations, promises, a future with that person. But, remember, it is not the death of you. You are still you and there is life after a break up.

It may not feel like it now, but you will love again and you will be loved.

Do not hold onto regrets. Do not be ashamed of what you are feeling. You do not even have to be embarrassed if you still love him/her after this. You do have to love yourself. Care enough for yourself to allow the healing to your heart and soul to come. It will come.

Click Here for 5 Stages of Grieving a Break-Up

You are not alone in this. Psalm 34:18 says, The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.

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This too shall pass. When you have closed the last page, lift your eyes, look up, lay the book down and step into a new season of your life. Welcome the story God is writing with you, because His promise to you is He is with you to the end, He will never leave you, and you are always His Beautiful Beloved.

Be Free & Stay Free