Monthly Archives: September 2014

God’s Protection Is As Close As Our Right Hand

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God’s care and protection is as close as our right hand.

“The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore” (Psalm 121:8).

My son, Lawrence, is leaving for Navy boot camp next month. As the date of departure draws closer, I’ve been feeling the need and urgency to step up my prayers for God’s protection and his future in the military.

 New experiences bring excitement and hope. But they can also bring a certain amount of apprehension. When our children are small God expects parents to care and protect them. He gives us roughly eighteen or nineteen years to be directly involved in their lives and this includes protecting them from what might be harmful or threatening. When they leave home, a shift takes place. As parents, we can no longer follow them around to shield them. Now, we prayerfully place them in God’s hands and ask Him to protect them because He can be everywhere they are.

 Psalm 121 is my assurance that I can depend upon God for His help and protection for my childen. The ancient Israelites knew this, too. When they traveled by foot to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual festivals they had to often pass through dark mountains and hostile lands. But their confidence was in God. “I lift up my eyes to the hills–from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). The Israelites, also known as pilgrims, knew God as their Keeper. He was the Keeper of their lives. The word, keeper also means to protect, or preserve. The hills may have provoked feelings of insecurity at what might have been lurking there, but they also represent a timeless character trait of God–as mighty and stable. If God created heaven and earth, including the mountains, He was certainly qualified to be the Source of the pilgrim’s help.1

 God is not only all-powerful, His loving nature watches over us. God’s care and protection is as close as our right hand. “The Lord is your shade [shelter] at your right hand” (v.5). We will never find ourselves beyond His untiring watch over our lives.

Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. Psalm 91:14-15

God’s pledge of Protection will carry us through all the fears we have about our futures and that of our loved ones. There is nothing that takes God’s attention away from caring for us. He is not a lesser god who sleeps. And if we need a visual for how He does this, we have Jesus. When I am tempted to fear over concerns of safety for my son, I recall the story of Jesus blessing the little children in Matthew 19. Because He loved them, I can trust His love to guard and protect my children.  If you’re like me, getting ready to send off a child to the military, college, or even to seminary school, “the Lord is [their] shade at [their] right hand” (v. 5).

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Lisa Nixon Phillips. Faith Steps for Military Families (New York, NY: Morgan James  Publishing, 2014), 18.

To order your copy of Faith Steps for Military Families, click on the “Order Today” button at the right. You can also find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter @lisanixonphilli

 

 

 

Does Your Military Lifestyle Soar Like An Eagle or Cluck Like the Prairie Chicken?

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Does your military life soar like the eagle or cluck like a Prairie Chicken?

Does your military life soar like the eagle or cluck like a Prairie Chicken?

In Chuck Swindoll’s book, Living On The Ragged Edge, is a Native American folklore story that bears a resemblance to something we often see in real life. It is a story about a Native American boy who came upon an eagle’s egg that became separated from its nest. Unable to find the eagle’s nest, the boy decided to put the egg in the nest of a prairie chicken. The hen didn’t seem to notice there was an additional egg in her nest. Later, the eaglet hatched along with the rest of the prairie chicks. But a sad reality soon emerged.

 “All his life, the changeling eagle, thinking he was a prairie chicken, did what prairie chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seed and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled and flew in a brief thrashing of wings and a flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, that’s how prairie chickens were supposed to fly.

 Many years passed. The eaglet became an old eagle. One day, he saw a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong wings. “What a beautiful bird!” said the eagle to his neighbor. “What is it? “That is an eagle–chief of birds,” the neighbor clucked. “But don’t give it a second thought. You could never be like him.”

 So the eagle never gave it a second thought. And it died thinking it was a prairie chicken.”

(From Living On The Ragged Edge by Charles Swindoll).

Prairie Chicken or Eagle

When I read this, I felt sorry for the eagle. He was a great and mighty bird, but he didn’t even know it and even sadder is the fact he spent his whole life not living out the greatness that God placed within him. The eagle’s story is a good reminder that we, as God’s children, and as military spouses can find ourselves adopting the prairie chicken lifestyle. It is easy to imitate the world–covet what civilians have, desire the same things, behave the same way, and like the eagle, not realize that you, as the spouse, have been called to a special purpose–and to be a strong symbol to our country. Don’t be like the eagle, barely giving it any thought that God has a purpose for you in your role as a military wife.

As military spouses, we can become complacent in our faith and settle for so much less than what God intended. Complacency is a state of idleness that prevents growth from taking place.  How can we become the military spouse God wants us to become by living a prairie chicken lifestyle? You are married to a military man who is part of the greatest fighting force in the world. When your spouse is away on a training mission or even a short underway period, resist the urge to pull away or shrink back, believing you have little to contribute.  You were uniquely skilled for a supporting role in his ability to carry-out assignments with honor and integrity. Discover what God gifted you with and invest it back into our armed forces.

 Seek Those Things That Are Above

In traveling around promoting my book, Faith Steps for Military Families, I’ve heard stories of military wives who, inadvertently, sabotaged their own military marriages by fixing their eyes and heart on the negative aspects of the military lifestyle. Sure, you live under a different set of circumstances and those circumstances can get difficult. Whether you know it or not, you have a direct affect, however subtle, on your husband’s (wife’s) ability to carry out his or her responsibilities. How you live out the military lifestyle either adds or takes away from our overall standing as a military superpower. As difficult as this may seem, following Jesus and taking on His lifestyle is the most rewarding and satisfying lifestyle on earth. Think about the eagle. Just like the eagle that soars high above the earth, we are to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is…not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2-3).  Are there things you need to do away with that resemble the prairie chicken mindset so you can live the life of the eagle?

Blessings,

Lisa

Care to comment? Please do! I would love to hear from you. You can also connect with me at http://www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter @lisanixonphilli

Would you like to order a signed copy of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families? Email me at info@lisanixonphillips.com. Books are $13.00/ea and this includes shipping.

A Prayer of Praise to God, Our Defender

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Facebook Template -This Weekend's prayer A Prayer of Praise to God

Lord,

As I grow to know You, the more I appreciate You. As the apple of Your eye (Psalm 17:8), You have kept me from being swallowed by the raging waters of overwhelming circumstances and from people who despise me. Out of immense care, You have made a way of escape, a way through to victory. You are my Defender. You did not leave me defenseless. People may leave me, but You will never quit on me. And Your protection is limitless; it has no boundaries. Thank You for being my Defender. Use any pain or suffering I endure to teach me spiritual lessons to that it makes me into a better servant for You. Let me be a praising person who never forgets what You have done, or will do, telling others so they will see Your mighty hand at work and praise Your name (Matt.5:16).

Lord, show me the areas I am vulnerable to attacks by Satan so I can arm myself with Your Word. Continue to develop my level of trust in You so I remain firmly rooted in my faith. With Your defensive help, I will prevail over my enemy-Satan. Like You did for the Israelites, keep Your eye upon me. Because You were on their side, I can trust that You are for me, too. Thank You for being my Defender. Amen.

-Prayer taken from Faith Steps for Military Families by Lisa Nixon Phillips. Click book cover to the right to order, or email me at info@lisanixonphillips. Each copy is just $13.00 and that includes shipping. Get free prayer cards for your service member and for military families. Thank you!

See Lisa also at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies

POW/MIA – Never Far from Our Hearts

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POW-MIA-TableToday , September 19th is the day we, as a country, remember our POW’s and MIA’s. Did you know that there are still 83,000 MIA’s or POW’s? In their honor, I would like to post my story of how I learned about the remembrance table for POW’s and MIA’s.

The year was 1986. When my husband and I were dating, he often brought me aboard the U.S.S. Kansas City, the ship he was stationed on at the time.  I was straight from the land of Oz and didn’t know the first thing about the Navy lifestyle; there were no warships in Kansas! So, when I became Mrs. Phillips, I also became a member of the larger military family and Uncle Sam became my father-in-law. The military lifestyle was a whole new world for me and I embraced my new role as a supportive military wife. My growing appreciation of our nation’s military was shaped early on by the great privilege of shipboard visits. Oddly enough, it was in a ship’s galley where I first became keenly aware of the importance of remembering that in order to maintain peace in our land, it involves souls–real lives with hopes, plans, and families.

POW/MIA Table

One afternoon day in 1986, I got my first tour on board the U.S.S. Kansas City (AOR-3) home-ported in Alameda, California. My then boyfriend, Ray, had duty that day and he invited me to join him for the unique dinner experience on board a warship. Continue reading

Praising God in the Depths of Despair

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Praise Letterpress

Praising God results in seeing God’s Power revealed.

 “…the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Messengers came and told Jehoshaphat, ‘A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea…’” Jehoshaphat was afraid; he set himself to seek the Lord , and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the towns of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

I love the stories of the bible in which God defends the underdog. Such is the case in 2 Chronicles 20. It is the account of a king on the verge of disaster.  Warned that a great army was bearing down upon him, King Jehoshaphat became fearful. These three kingdoms coming against him all at once had formed an alliance against him. And Jehoshaphat knew he didn’t have enough fighting power to defeat them. “For we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us” (2 Chronicles 20:12 nrsv). Jehoshaphat may have been terrified, but he didn’t panic. Instead, this king did five incredibly wise things:

1. King Jehoshaphat’s fear was the catalyst to seek the Lord first. He positioned himself before God. He committed his dire situation to God before moving forward with preparations. Then he told all of Judah to do the same. Knowing that the army was fast approaching, this king did the opposite of what one would expect. Rather than quickly ordering his army to assemble and gather weapons first, Jehoshaphat assembled “all [his people of] Judah before the Lord” (v. 13). This communicated to his people that their victory was not in their hands, but in God’s.

2. King Jehoshaphat  recognized that God was in control. King Jehoshaphat knew he had little fighting power, and in fact, didn’t even have a plan! “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (v. 12). Just imagine for a moment, this king didn’t know what to do, and instead of throwing together a hasty counter-attack, looked to God to be their unseen Defender. As the enemy bore down on Judah, God spoke through Jahaziel: ‘Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s’” (v. 15).

 You and I may not fight an actual enemy army, but our loved ones serving in the armed forces do. Even today, when it seems like the enemy is gaining ground, recognized that God still remains in control. We are to keep our eyes focused on God, ask for His help, acknowledging every battle they fight is really His. And God will fight for us.

 3. King Jehoshaphat praised God for the great God He is.

“…are you not God in heaven? Do you not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In your hand are power and might, so that no one is able to withstand you. Did you not…drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of your friend Abraham?” (vv. 6-7). The above verses are verses of praise to God. They are the expression of faith. Before the battle even started, Jehoshaphat praised God.

In the midst of our own battles that are greater than our strength or abilities, if we praise our Lord for His sovereignty (His control) over our situation, acknowledging the battle is not ours but His, then move forward with God’s Spirit in us, and trusting in His promises, God will prevail in our behalf.  When we praise Him, He reveals His power.

 4. King Jehoshaphat declared to the people of Judah his dependence on God, for their deliverance.

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (v. 12). Jehoshaphat relied on God’s power and might instead of his own. He knew what his own weaknesses were. A sign of a great leader is one with a humble heart towards God and who also acknowledges his strength comes from God.

 5. King Jehoshaphat was content in God’s promises. God promised Jehoshaphat victory. “This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf…do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” Jehoshaphat trusted in God’s plan and promise. We are to do no less. A key factor in having victory in God is having confidence in God’s promises. One of my favorite promises is Deuteronomy 31:6:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

You can’t get a better promise than that. Praise, Promises, and Prayer–all keys to moving the heart of God in your personal battles.

 But wait! There’s more to King Jehoshaphat’s victory. As they went out to meet their enemies, Jehoshaphat had the people of his kingdom do this one thing while the Lord set an ambush against their enemies. Return for part 2.

Blessings,

Lisa

Have you experienced a situation in which you praised God even while in dark circumstances? How did God reveal His power in your circumstances? I would love to hear your story. You can post it below in the “reply” section. For more on this subject, see chapter two of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families

Also find me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsforMilitaryFamilies

 

 

King Solomon’s Wisdom for Discontentment

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Are you discontent? Discover Solomon's Cure.

Are you discontent? Discover Solomon’s answer to discontentment.

“…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.” Philippians 4:11

In my previous post, we looked at discontentment from the standpoint of Eve’s mistake. The serpent (Satan) was successful at getting her to doubt God. She ignored all that God had provided in the garden and instead focused on what she lacked. This triggered a forever battle with discontentment in all of mankind. We fall into the same kind of trouble when we center our heart on the few things we don’t have rather than on the many blessings God has given us. If we allow a nagging discontentment to linger, a state of restlessness will hijack our contentment. King Solomon learned this vital lesson.

 The book of Ecclesiastes is likely King Solomon’s last words of reflection on the meaning of life and his search to derive satisfaction from it. He discovered that a life void of a relationship with God led to a discontented state of being. Solomon learned this truth the hard way–through bitter experiences. Whatever contentment gained from worldly opportunities and successes are merely temporary. When we leave the Lord out of our quest for contentment, it results in a lost search. Frustration and inner turmoil will continue like a cut that festers until we seek a cure. And since God created us with eternity in mind, our souls long for something more–something that satisfies. Security, satisfaction, and contentment are found in pursuing a relationship with the Lord.

 Are you feeling restless about another PCS (Permanent Change of Station) and the upcoming move? Burned out with the moving process? Dissatisfied at leaving your job? Dry and Disillusioned about the future? Is there a nagging sense of discontentment about where you are occupationally or physically in the military life? Or are you agitated and impatient concerning your current circumstances, but can’t put your finger on what will improve it? Consider using this discontentment to draw close to the Lord for the answers, contentment, and direction you need. If you have a concordance, look up Scripture verses that pertain to discontentment.  And pray. Prayer is the channel for connecting to the heart of God. His desire is satisfy your soul’s search for contentment in Him.

 The Cure

Like Solomon discovered, the cure for discontentment is to center on God. If you’re serious about getting through the impasse, ask Christ to teach you how to be content and patient in your current situation. The apostle Paul found contentment by a willingness to obey Christ and by doing what Christ asked of him, for this brought joy to his heart knowing it pleased Him, rather than insisting on what he felt was due him.  And also, realize that life is ultimately better with God.1 He provides the wisdom, direction, and knowledge for our searching hearts. Consider the truth of Chuck Swindoll’s words:

God never intended anyone to sail his own boat, without help, through the uncharted waters of life or ministry.

True satisfaction and enjoyment is ours when we build our lives around God’s guidelines for living. We must not build our lives on perishable pursuits, but on the solid foundation of God.2   Then, even if we lose it all, we still have God, who is all we really need anyway.3

Blessings,

Lisa

If you would like to order a signed copy of Lisa’s book, Faith Steps for Military Families,

Notes:

1 Bible Note for Ecclesiastes 8:12,13, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 Bible Note for Ecclesiastes 2:16, Life Application Bible

3 Ibid.

 

Eve’s Mistake – Discontentment

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Heed Eve's Mistake

Are you content in the military lifestyle?

“…I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.” Psalm 131: 2

Most of us are familiar with the Genesis account of Eve taking the fruit from the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden and eating of it. But have you considered why she was tempted by the serpent in the first place? She was discontent. The clever serpent (Satan) was successful in getting Eve to question God’s goodness after he posed the question, “Did God [really] say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’? (Genesis 3:1).  He planted the idea in Eve’s mind that God was tightfisted, not wanting to allow Adam and Eve to partake in His knowledge of good and evil. She reasoned, if she couldn’t have anything from that one tree, how could she be happy or content? The crafty serpent managed to get Eve to take her eyes off of God and refocus on what she didn’t have. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve defied God and received understanding of good and evil–with disastrous consequences.

In the military lifestyle, perplexing circumstances are a norm. Some of these difficult circumstances will test your level of contentment. Like Eve, you may sense a nagging dissatisfaction with your life.

Lingering discontentment causes us to look at the lives of others and secretly covet what they have. Discontentment turns our focus from all that God has provided for us to what we lack. This lack, whether tangible or intangible, becomes our “I’ve got to have it”3 mentality. Basic human nature hasn’t changed since Eve. She was convinced that having the knowledge of good and evil was harmless. 4 However, we must also consider that perhaps what we don’t have is best for us. Consider Eve’s mistake. The serpent told Eve that she could become like God by taking matters into her own hands and deciding for herself what was best for her. She believed that by having the knowledge of God she would be content. What it boils down to is that the serpent convinced Eve she could become her own god. Her shortsighted plan backfired. In the end, it saddened and displeased God.

Humility Leads to Contentment

Jonathan Edwards said this about humility:

A truly humble man is sensible of his natural distance from God; of his dependence on Him; of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom; and that it is by God’s power that he is upheld and provided for, and that he needs God’s wisdom to lead and guide him, and His might to enable him to do what he ought to do for Him.1

Only God knows what’s best for us. Like Eve, some of the things we want are not good for us. When we defy God’s authority and decide for ourselves what we believe are good and right for us, we are making the same mistake Eve did. If what we desire is a worthy goal, but we leave God out of our plans, we are putting ourselves above God. Sadly, this is exactly where Satan wants us to be.

Until God changes our current situation, we are to work at being content in the here and now. We must rest in the secure knowledge that He will be the Keeper of our hearts. This means taking our desires and plans to the Lord for Him to determine what is best for us – trusting Him with the outcome. It also means putting on humility. Humility declares that God knows what’s best. Humility acknowledges God is in control. Humility also means that for the things we don’t understand, we leave in His hands. It is in this framework that our humility leads to contentment.

Blessings,

Lisa

Notes:

1 Lisa Nixon Phillips. Faith Steps for Military Families–Spiritual Readiness Through the Psalms of Ascent ( New York, NY:, Morgan James Publishing, 2014) 126.

2 Ibid. 131.

3 Profile of Eve, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc. 1989).

4 Bible Note for Genesis 3:6, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc. 1989).