Twenty-One and it’s Just Getting Better!

July 6, 1996 two kids stand at the alter with the world at their feet. How time flies, today we celebrate our twenty first wedding anniversary.

We celebrate our marriage in a place of blessing and strength. Though times have brought its fair share of bumps we are the stronger for it.

Sure, it’s had all the ‘give ins’, ‘give ups’ and ‘give’n’takes’ that every marriage has – we have grown together as we go forward — and so today twenty one things I’m grateful for.

IGF my wife, for she is a gift of God.

IGF my wife, because she shares her pizza crust with me even when I don’t want it!

IGF for my wife, because she sets an example worth following.

IGF my wife, because life with her is a journey that leads to a smile at the end of a difficult day.

IGF my wife, because we have cheesy names for each other that indicates genuine affection for each other.

IGF my wife, because she actually pretends to find some of my jokes even remotely funny.!

IGF for Norma, because she makes difficult bearable.

IGF her, because of who she is.

IGF for my wife, because food caught in my teeth doesn’t cause her to run.

IGF for my wife, because my weakness doesn’t cause her to quit, but to love.

IGF for my wife, because in sickness and in health she’s there — except when I’m vomiting (love has some limits).

IGF for my wife because she loves unconditionally and cares relentlessly.

IGF for my wife because her nose gets cold in winter and somehow thinks I can warm it with my cheek!

IGF for Norm, because somehow, she sees me as a hero.

IGF for my wife, because after twenty-one years and a couple of gained kilos I’m somehow still better looking than Tom Cruise.

IGF for my wife, because we still love holding hands in public!

IGF for my wife because her ability to parent two fantastic kids is nothing short of amazing.

IGF my wife, because she continues to serve the Lord without thought for herself just others.

IGF my wife, the quintessential Proverbs 21 woman.

IGF my wife, somehow, she still loves Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Sound of Music (extend your hands and pray for me!)

IGF my wife, because after twenty-one years it’s just getting better!

Nathan

Stronghold in the Wilderness

Jashobeam, Eleazar & Abishai, just a few of the men who are known as ‘David’s Mighty Warriors’. David, himself no stranger to the field of battle, killing lions and slaying Giants made him a formidable enemy to anyone wishing to pick a fight–at your own peril throw the first punch.

And so, we chronicle a list of heroes that stood tall, Benaiah who saw monsters fall at his hand “he struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into the pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. He struck down an Egyptian who was five cubits tall.”

And others, known for their bravery, those who stood tall and fought hard.

In first Chronicles, we are introduced to the tribe of Gad. Some of the Gadites joined David and his men in what the bible calls ‘a stronghold in the wilderness.’ This term caught my attention. We know David spent a significant amount of time in hiding, a defence posture to evade capture. With Saul, his decision to run was honourable, it showed his ability to be a king, earned in deed and not by title.

Back to our unnamed friends of Gad. They came to the ‘stronghold’ which carries the following definition: ‘a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack.’ Let’s look at 1 Chronicles 12:8 to establish my ‘take home’ message.

‘Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the wilderness. They were brave warriors ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains.’ While there in the stronghold, this fortified dwelling, we learn that they were ready for battle, shield, and spear in hand. There is an important lesson here, though protected and fortified you still need to be ready and able for battle.

This speaks of an attitude, a preparation, a willingness to stand and fight! I sometimes think (me included) that as Christians we like the ‘protection’ but not the ‘battle’, but victory often needs to be won! While there are times we need to simply stand aside and let God (2 Chronicles 20) we cannot deny that we are in a fight that requires fighting. You have the face of a lion or lioness.

Going forward catch that phrase, ‘faces of Lions’. Like the men of Gad once you recognise you’re in a fight you can also quickly learn that you are a warrior that can stand tall, ready, and able to take down the giant that must fall (a borrowed phrase).

But the key point is, ‘strongholds in the wilderness’ and remember the definition. The wilderness is often thought of as a lost place not a battlefield. But make no mistake, it’s where the action is, which was established by the sons of Gad, you need to be ready.

Jesus taught us this when He went punch for punch with the enemy in a desert place. And here is my fundamental take home, whether you feel like you’re wandering around the wilderness, lost and without direction. Or, on a battlefield battered and bruised — you have a stronghold, God has seen to it that you are fortified and ready for battle. Stand against your enemy with the face of a lion, ready and able to take down the giant that stands against you, knowing there is a ‘stronghold in the wilderness.’ And be counted as a mighty warrior like David’s mighty men.

Nathan