Tag Archives: Faith

Our Immovable Rock

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There is no Holy One like the LORD, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 1Samuel 2:2

In recent months we’ve seen images on television of unimaginable tragedies, here in the U.S. and abroad. It may be a financial crisis, a flash flood, category five tornado, tsunami, a devastating earthquake, or a whole country of people fleeing an evil army. When I see the look on these people’s faces I often wonder how they go on. How do they rebuild their lives when all of their resources were swept away? When we witness such losses in the world it reveals just how fragile the tangible things we depend on actually are. It also reveals another truth. It shows how fragile we are! And what’s really haunting is contemplating when a large-scale calamity will hit America.

Trusting in things or systems will not prevent us from being shaken. God designed us to depend on Him for what we can’t see coming or control. But “those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever” (Psalm 125:1).

In life, we view mountains as immovable or fixed. The ancient Israelites saw Mount Zion as a symbol of God–immovable and unshakable. We can be like Mount Zion which resembles stability. When we trust God (believing that what He says He will do, He will do) we can be inwardly fixed and established (sheltered, assured, and immoveable).

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forevermore. (V.2).

Doesn’t it seem like our world is rapidly falling apart? However, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have something of priceless value. When we cling to Christ He provides stability and security. In my backyard is a huge boulder. It’s impossible for my husband and me to move without machinery, so it remains where it is–a permanent fixture in the backyard of our country home.

The Rock

Similarly, our Heavenly Father is referred to as the Immovable Rock. He is completely stable and secure. He is immovable. Things that have the potential to shake us do not shake Him. Nothing can move Him from His place as our cornerstone. He can’t be undermined by any human plan, ruler, evil or secret plot. He is unchanging. And if He is unchanging, then we can trust Him when all else falls away. We can also trust His Word because it, too, is unchangeable. His Word never becomes irrelevant and it never goes out of style.

Focus on the Rock

When waves of insecurity about the future cause me to be shaken, I remember that huge rock in our backyard. It reminds me to focus my thoughts on the One Rock that has a secure foundation and has everything in His control. When your family sees you remaining stable, trusting the Immovable Rock, it will be a source of strength for them to do the same.

Know the Rock

We’re often reminded to prepare for emergencies. We are encouraged to have bottled water, non-perishable foods, batteries, flashlights, blankets, an emergency route and plan, and etc. for when a real emergency comes. Likewise, we need to prepare spiritually too. We need to know the Rock. When we place our trust in Christ, we not only have stability, but also perseverance to endure any type of storm with the Lord’s everlasting and immovable presence.

Blessings,

Lisa

Post/Tweet this today: God designed us to depend on Him for what we can’t see coming or control. But “those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.” #OurImmoveableRock#LisaNixonPhillips.com

 

 

 

Three Subtle Attacks on Military Marriages

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A sailor kissing his new wife.

Use your marital struggles to grow together not further apart.

In 1987 I was a new Navy wife–straight from the land of Oz. And I didn’t know the first thing about the Navy lifestyle; There are no warships in Kansas! So, when I moved to California and met and later married my husband, Ray, I became a member of the larger military family and Uncle Sam became my father-in-law. Thanks to my friend, Vernel, a Navy wife I met at my new job upon arriving in California, she offered a quick lesson one Saturday afternoon on Navy life 101. I learned to expect occasional squalls between my husband and I brought on by rotational deployments with following seas of emotional anxieties. I realized there would be repeated adjustments, unique challenges unlike traditional marriage, intermittent miscommunication, with large doses of trust a certain requirement. On the up side, moments of well-deserved joy at homecomings would be the pinnacle of pride and honor in our beloved military member, all to say this lifestyle is worth it. Either way, I embraced my new role as a supportive Navy wife, determined not to throw up the white surrender flag when the stormy seas crashed in.

Marriage is hard in the 21st century, but a military marriage is not for those with one-sided expectations or a casual commitment. Like a warship undergoing sea trials to test the limits of the workings and maneuverability to determine its seaworthiness, there are also difficult hardships inherent in  military marriages. These challenges will test a military marriage to see whether or not it is seaworthy. Three of the top concerns for today’s military marriages are outlined below.

Selfishness. Last year while driving to work one morning I heard that selfishness is the number one destroyer of relationships. John Paul II said, “The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort, and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” In any marriage, selfishness is a deterrent to a lasting relationship, but in a military marriage, its tolerance is short-lived, potentially sinking your military marriage soon after it departs the pier. Other than infidelity, selfishness left unaddressed, is the fastest channel to sabotaging your marriage, deeming it unworthy for a sea-faring relationship.

There is a new viewpoint out there in our marital culture. Dr. Brad Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, has written about this new perspective of marriage and its enemy, selfishness. “In the new psychological approach to marriage, one’s primary obligation was not to one’s family but to one’s self; hence, marital success was defined not by successfully meeting obligations to one’s spouse and children but by a strong sense of subjective happiness in marriage–usually to be found in and through an intense, emotional relationship with one’s spouse.1

This new view, contrary to the Christian belief of marital love, which highlights Christ’s love for the church, involves freely giving of one’s self to his or her spouse, is short on roots of generosity but deep in self-serving motives and entitlement. One way to stop or prevent selfishness is to focus on spiritual readiness. Instead of asking, “what will make me happy and fulfilled in my military marriage?” ask, “what will make us blessed and fulfilled in our military marriage?”

Unwarranted Expectations. Like selfishness, having idealistic expectations will send tempests into your marriage. Young military marriages in particular will benefit from recognizing that your military spouse has a job unlike most civilian jobs. Even on shore duty, he or she can’t be expected to always be available for wedding anniversaries, children’s birthdays, or even funerals for in-laws. Although the military understands the importance and value of these milestones and events, they can’t appease every request, nor can they be expected to. They must continually balance the needs of the military with military morale and sensitivity to family. I recall halfway into my husband’s military career, he was underway three consecutive wedding anniversaries. I was disappointed, but when I reflect back, was there really anything he could do about it? Try the following to increase the sea-worthiness of your military marriage:

  • Focus on the purpose and value of faith and discuss together whether or not your expectations are warranted and fit the example of faith Christ modeled.
  • Resist the urge to punish your spouse for what he or she can’t change or control.
  • Refuse the impulse to blame your spouse for being in the military.
  • Comparing your military marriage and family’s rhythm and schedule to that of civilian marriages only creates discontentment and plants negative thought patterns that the military lifestyle isn’t honorable service. Even in the civilian sector, there are unattractive job requirements. Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to live; you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

Deception and Distrust. These two undesirable traits are linked. If there’s deception, distrust soon follows. In  military marriages, getting to the first base of trust between you and your spouse is a must. Trust is a raw material that has to be cultivated. Trust is the cornerstone of marriage. It is what binds and links the other walls–unconditional love, commitment, transparency, communication, and honesty together. Conflict is inevitable in marriage. And our jobs as marriage partners is to navigate through trust issues, with sound resolutions, not around them, believing they will fade away on their own. Otherwise, the same storm returns over and over again, threatening to shipwreck your marriage. For trust issues related to infidelity, a couple can’t go wrong with biblical counseling. It may be a needed first step. Doing so will take hard work. There are no easy fixes, but if you’re committed it can lead to necessary discovery and growth. Pastor Chip Ingram, author, and radio host of Living on the Edge said about marriage, “conflict is an opportunity to grow.” Other ways to build trust are:

  •  Be transparent – While on deployment or even short underway periods, be emotionally responsible with your spouse to maintain trust. Share your day, the good and the bad. If you’re the spouse at home, tell your husband or wife what you did that day or week, where you went, people you met with, the money you spent, the bills you paid as well as those you forgot to pay. If you’re the spouse underway, do the same. If on a port call, share the places you went to, venture out in groups with the same sex, how much money you spent, and interesting events you encountered.
  •  Forget being right or wrong. We’ve all been there, but there comes a time when this mindset has to end if what is truly wanted is a healthy and working marriage. Strive for solutions that steer you in the direction of unity.
  •  Reconfirm your commitment to your spouse throughout the deployment. Think of ways that honestly convey emotional trust. Start with “I appreciate that you ________________ (fill in the blank).
  •  When failure happens, don’t give up. If trust was breached, it’s normal to feel hurt and want to shut the offending spouse out. However, if you’re willing, let your spouse know he or she can earn your trust back, but genuine changes that bear results must happen. Put accountability steps in play, but be realistic about time frames. Seek out a counselor trained in dealing with military marriages. Rebuilding trust takes time on the part of both spouses.

 Unfortunately, in a military marriage there are no sea-trials to determine if your marriage will be seaworthy. Once married, the marriage must depart from the pier and the challenges and complexities of this military lifestyle will prove its readiness. But with the support of Family Readiness Groups (FRG), churches that offer a military ministry, and keeping your military marriage as a high priority will help ensure it is lasting and fulfilling.

Blessings,

Lisa

Lisa Nixon Phillips is a retired Navy wife and author of Faith Steps for Military Families – Spiritual Readiness Through the Psalms of Ascent. Visit Lisa at www.LisaNixonPhillips.com and check out her blog page for additional articles on the military lifestyle.

You can also find me on facebook at www.facebook.com/faithstepsformilitaryfamilies.

 Notes:

1 Richard P. Fitzgibbons, “The Selfish Spouse/Relative, www.maritalhealing.com/conflicts/selfishspouse.php (accessed 17 June 17, 2014).

 

Holiday Deployments: 6 Ways to Make the Holidays Notable

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Is there a deployment that runs through your holiday season this year?

Is there a deployment coming that runs through your holiday season this year?

Holiday Deployments

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

Even though we’re still several months away from the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays, it isn’t too soon to begin planning for them, especially if your beloved military member will be on a deployment at that time. Deployments that run through the year-end holidays have the potential to cause loneliness and isolation. Communication and feeling connected are vital components for powerful growth during  holiday deployments. During my first deployment that stretched through a major holiday season, I found six strategies that kept a sense of aloneness from completely sabotaging my holiday season.

 1. Have an Agenda in Place. Even before your husband (or wife) has left on deployment, focus on nailing down your holiday plans. Putting plans in place communicates to your children and to yourself that yours and their world hasn’t stop when your beloved service member has deployed. Planned experiences also aid in bringing about the kind of growth you want to see manifested.

Do you live far away from family? Instead of traveling to see them, mix it up, and invite members of your family to spend Thanksgiving with you. Then, if the budget allows, switch, and travel to spend Christmas with them. If that isn’t possible, and you’re the wife at home, join forces with another military wife with a husband also on deployment. Invite her and her children to your home for a potluck Thanksgiving meal. For a more festive event, invite several women and their children over.

For the remainder of the Thanksgiving weekend, put on the calendar one or two activities with just you and your children. Take advantage of the command’s sponsored activities for the kids, plan a day trip to an event or place you and your children have been looking forward to. If staying home for the long Thanksgiving holiday, incorporate simple at-home activities like putting together a care package for the deployed parent and include his or her favorite cookies or treats.

 2. Get Moving. If you are a seasoned military spouse with teenagers, or you want your children to acquire the skill and desire to help others, consider volunteering in a worthy cause. It is widely known that the most effective way to build personal growth is by serving others. In fact, one of the best benefits of volunteering is improved mental and spiritual health. Since deployments have the potential of creating isolation, by volunteering, you reduce your risk of depression. Other benefits include the satisfying feeling of making a difference in other people’s lives and bettering your community. You’ll may even make a new friend with someone you volunteer with, which can then become one of your support systems. Volunteering also builds bridges with other people who share a common interest with the cause you choose to help. If this is new for you and your children, start small and simple. Depending on the type of volunteering, fit your children’s age and skills, including communication skills, to the volunteer activity.

 3. Learn a New Skill. During my husband’s third deployment, I returned to school. He was nearing his time to rotate off of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and go to shore duty. You don’t have to return to college in order to learn a new skill, but a six month deployment may afford you the opportunity to learn a skill you’ve always wanted to master. Have you always wanted to take a course in creative writing, PowerPoint or Excel? How about something fun like learning to watercolor paint or take a dance class? The key is to find something that contributes to your spiritual and mental health and development. Even your volunteer activities may lead you to discover a new skill you’d like to enhance. By homecoming, you’ll feel more confident about yourself and your abilities.

 4. Seek Out Spiritual Experiences. If leaving a legacy of faith to your children is important to you, participate in your church’s Christmas activities. In each of my husband’s duty stations, we found a church home. As a military family today, you can benefit from churches that have implemented a military ministry. When God is a part of your family, He establishes your home. A family that incorporates faith creates its own unique spiritual bond, enabling the family members to see the military lifestyle through the lens of faith. It is this spiritual bond in which God’s strength is infused and enables the military family to overcome challenges that result in deeper relationships and spiritual unity. When there’s spiritual unity in your military home, it makes togetherness a richer experience and diminishes a sense of discontentment and aloneness associated with deployments.

5. Incorporate Fun and Reflection. The military lifestyle seems naturally bent towards seriousness. To even the scales, we must be intentional about incorporating periods of fun and reflection. Plan simple, yet fun activities like playing board or card games with your kids, or put up a tent inside the house and for one night everyone sleeps in it. Here’s one idea I did with my kids and it was a big hit. Create a story together. The idea is to make the story funny, meaningful, crazy, or amazing. It doesn’t even have to make perfect sense, just have fun.

The parent at home begins the story with his or her paragraph, then each child adds to the story with their own paragraphs. If your child can’t write, have your that child speak their part of the story and another family member writes it down. When everyone has added their part of the story, send it to the deployed parent to read and enjoy (and laugh). Then the deployed member builds on the story by adding in a twist or a surprise. He then mails (or emails) the story back home. Repeat the process several times so you have a beginning, middle, and end to the story. When the deployed parent returns, share the entire story at a special homecoming dinner. This can also be a time when everyone shares points of reflection about the deployment. It is through the exercise of reflection that we can truly measure personal growth.

6. Begin a Deployment Journal.If you enjoy writing in a journal, consider keeping a separate Deployment Journal. Record people and events you’re grateful God put into your life during your deployment. Include your circumstances, prayers, concerns, praises, or anything that was notable during your deployment. You can even include the fun story your family created above (for great laughs later).  When you spend quiet time before God, His peace will still your heart. His peace will protect your heart from rampant worry. And years from now when you reflect back on your deployment journal you’ll seen fresh insights of God’s faithfulness. That is a gift in itself. 

Blessings,

Lisa

 Faith Steps for Military Families – Spiritual Readiness from the Psalms of Ascent uses fifteen psalms to convey biblical concepts for building spiritual readiness in military homes. Each psalm carries a theme and Faith Steps for Military Families translates these relevant themes into the lives of twenty-first century military families. Through vivid pictorial metaphors, the themes cover:

  • Hope for when life as a military family is on hold
  • Understanding how God’s strength and love protects His own
  • Honoring God while living out the difficult military lifestyle
  • How unity builds resiliency in the military home
  • The danger of a complacent faith
  • Seeking God for a downtrodden spirit
  • A deeper understanding of God’s nature as Protector, Keeper, and the Night Watchman, and other topics.

 To order a signed copy of Lisa’s book, send an email to info@lisanixonphillips.com to order a copy. Books are $12.50 and includes shipping and handling. You can also order from Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and Christianbook.com.  

The Unseen Commander

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“For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations” (Psalm 22:28).Pharaoh

What is it about the amusement we receive from watching ungodly people in positions of power and authority fall? We saw this with the former dictator, Saddam Hussein, of Iraq and the head of the al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and other rulers in recent years.

 In the Old Testament there were several evil rulers, or commanders, who wouldn’t listen or alter their minds or decisions in light of God’s authority and might. Their hearts were hardened by their own proud estimation of themselves. When God sent Moses to go before Pharaoh and request that he let the Hebrew slaves go, Pharaoh gave it no attention. He saw himself as the supreme commander and even claimed himself to be a god. The Pharaoh didn’t give the Hebrew God much credibility. After all, how could their God be powerful if His own people were lowly slaves?  

Pharaoh’s doubt in a God above himself boosted his own confidence and he put some of this confidence in the strength of his army. Moses’ efforts to speak God’s truth to the Pharaoh at first failed, but in the end, God prevailed. The Pharaoh had to learn God’s truth the hard way. The death of his young son with the tenth plaque made his life uncomfortable, and he conceded, but only briefly. After letting his slaves go, His pride resurfaced again. God had to strike that final blow to his trusted army, by drowning them in the Red Sea.

  As God did then and still does today–He maintains control over earthy rulers. He sees their evil deeds and it will only prevail as long as God allows. In Psalm 125:3 it says, “For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous…” A scepter is a rod or a staff symbolizing authority. In other words, God will not allow ungodly rulers to reside and maintain authority in the land he designated for His people indefinitely. Nations and rulers continue to rise and fall as we have seen in recent years in the Middle East. There will be a day in which God will allow them to stumble and eventually fall. But He, at a time only He determines will execute His judgment and eradicate those with a scepter of evil. We can trust our God on this truth. Because He never changes He is completely trustworthy, consistent, and steadfast.

Delight in the Lord’s mighty power today,

Lisa

To order a copy of my book, Faith Steps for Military Families, click here. You can find me on Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and Twitter @lisanixonphilli

 

Is Someone Telling Lies About You?

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Are you hurt because of someone's lies?

Are you hurt because of someone’s lies?

When my kids were small I began reading, The Power of A Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian. I was particularly interested in the chapter on lying. I wanted to know how to handle lying with a godly approach.  I found what was needed to help my son understand why God hates lying. Stormie says, “Every time you lie you give Satan a piece of your heart.” Ouch! Those twelve words was all it took for my son to grasp the magnitude of lying and the unattractive consequences. Even I had never thought of lying in that way.

 In Psalm 120, the writer is the recipient of lies and untruth. “In my distress I cry to the LORD, that he may answer me: ‘Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue…A warrior’s sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree!” (verses 2-4). Lying lips and a deceitful tongue is compared to sharp arrows. A deceitful tongue, like arrows, cuts deeply leaving behind a lingering sting. Now, consider the second part of verse 4: “with glowing coals of the broom tree!” The broom tree is a large desert shrub that adapts to dry conditions. Like hot coals glowing from a long burning campfire, the broom tree holds its heat. If you accidently get burned by an ember there’s instant pain, leaving behind a sting. It is the same with slanderous words.

 While living in 1940’s transient military housing that was considered sub-standard living quarters, gossip and lies spread like an uncontrolled wildfire. Perhaps the shoddy and inadequate temporary accommodations stirred up inferior feelings that provoked residents into this unattractive behavior. Often this is the underlying reason for unjust criticism; there may be some sort of pain or suffering going on within the offender. In this case, you can’t go wrong with praying for this person.

 So, what is the Christian service member or military family to do when a victim of slanderous talk or unjust criticism? Even though you may want to seek retaliation, resist that urge. It’s unbecoming of a military member or his/her family. And revenge isn’t God’s method for us anyway. The psalmist in verse 7 of Psalm 120 steers us in the direction to seek peace. He says, “I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” More often than not, our egos get in the way and giving the situation more attention just sparks more controversy and incites a verbal war.

 Instead, be smart by first taking your complaint to God in prayer. If you’re serious about hearing from God, pray earnestly and consistently for Him to bring justice and rebuild your reputation and integrity. Just be on the watch for His hand to direct. Because God hates sin not all of His justice will be postponed into the future. He also rescues and vindicates His children in this life as well. So trust Him to reestablish you.

 I also like what First Peter 2:23 has to say. “When he [Jesus] was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.”

 As a Christ-follower, we gain comfort and strength from the knowledge that God is on our side because God is Truth. If we have done nothing wrong, then truth is on our side. If we are wrongly criticized or lied about, one aspect of God’s nature is to uphold you.  Joshua 23:10 says: “It is the LORD, your God who fights for you” and Psalm 124:2: “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretched out your hand, and your right hand delivers me” (NRSV).  God will deliver you from those that seek to bring you down with lies and deceit. All truths come to the surface eventually, but meanwhile trust in God’s promises. God will deal justly with the one who has lied, deceived, or criticized you with an untrue assessment. The best action one can take in times when we’ve had more than enough disrespect is to settle our eyes upon Jesus and seek His guidance. He will make straight what is crooked either now or later. Pray and trust Him. This isn’t idle behavior, but exercising discipline and faithfulness to the One who will uphold you and truth.

 Blessings,

Lisa

 To order a copy of my book, Faith Steps For Military Families, click here. Do you have a thought on this topic? Comment below. You can also follow me at http://www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter @lisanixonphilli

Military Family: Unity is Key to Spiritual Readiness

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Book_Cover_for_Faith_Steps_for_Military_Families

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity. It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes. Psalm 133:2

 If you’re familiar with King David’s story, you know that he was probably a better ruler than a parent. He triggered a string of unfortunate consequences when he sinned with Bathsheba. To make matters worse, he tried to cover it up by having her husband, Uriah, killed in battle. Even though God forgave David, He didn’t hold back David’s consequences. “Thus says the Lord: ‘I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house…”’ David’s consequences included a tumultuous home. His son Absalom plotted to overthrow him, David’s other son, Amnon, raped his half-sister, Tamar, then Absalom took revenge two years later and killed Amnon. It isn’t hard to see why David’s home starved for unity.

I can’t help but wonder if David wrote Psalm 133 while enjoying a rare moment in his household in which things had quieted down, his family members were getting along for however brief it might have been, and he reflected on how sweet unity is “when kindred live together in unity” (verse 1).

Because spiritual unity was rarely a part of my home growing up, I can relate to David’s desire and appreciation for harmonious relationships. At the time I left home for college, many of my family relationships laid in ruins. And the devastation extended several generations deep. Disunity had a strong foothold. When my husband, Ray, and I began our family, nurturing a spirit of unity in our military home became paramount. My heart’s desire was to stop the cycle of disunity that began with the three generations before me.

 Let’s see what golden nuggets are tucked in this beautiful psalm.

 In verse 2, David makes a comparison. It says, “It [unity] is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down over the collar of his robes.” Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Its purpose was to bless someone for a particular calling. Aaron was Israel’s first high priest. He was anointed with oil for his new role. Recall that Mary anointed Jesus before His death on the cross. Once she broke the jar open, the sweet fragrance permeated the air. Likewise, when we live in spiritual unity with our own families our homes are blessed with the sweet fragrance of harmonious relationships.

 Unity also serves another purpose. David provides a hint in the second part of verse 2. It says: “…running down on the beard of Aaron…running down over the collar of his robes.” Oil spilling over Aaron’s beard and running down over his robes conveys the idea of spreading out to others. Thus, when unity is present in our homes, it multiplies and unifies. What happens when we unite? We become one, but stronger.  A spirit of unity also deepens our resolve. This resolve is that tough inner edge to persevere; it is what aids in building resilience for those hard days of military life. Psalm 133: 2 provides us with a beautiful illustration of what a blessed home looks like.

 When unity is the prevailing rhythm and energy of your military home, it not only multiplies, by extending to others, but it reaches down to successive generations-to your children to be lived out in their homes.

 Next, we’ll unpack the meaning of a unique metaphor in our final verse of Psalm 133 that also includes an interesting geography lesson revealing how to maintain a spirit of unity. You don’t want to miss part 2.

Blessings,

Lisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer: Ask God to Be Their Protector

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"He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler" (Psalm 91:4)

God is Your Protector. “He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler” (Psalm 91:4)

Lord,

If I can’t understand Your ways, I can take comfort in the truth of Psalm 25:10. “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.”

Thank You, Lord, for every member of our armed forces. Each one serves from the heart with a strong sense of duty for his or her country. Each one has voluntarily given up certain freedoms in order to answer to a higher calling. Lord, may their sacrifices be appreciated by the citizens of this country. Bring a revival in the hearts of the people of America to pray for our military so that under God we remain the strongest military force. May each military operation be just and carried out with a clear and honorable vision.

The challenges are many, Lord, and I pray for daily strength as they march into unknown dangers. Arm them with courage, shield each one from evil intentions, injustice, deceptive tactics, and reveal every unknown threat that would undermine their safety and the mission. Protect their feet from slipping (Psalm 121:3), no matter where they are, no matter the circumstances. In the light of day or the darkness of night, shield them with Your protection. When exhausted, be their Source of strength.

Lord, like You did for the pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem be the Keeper of our men and women in uniform (Psalm 121:5). Should any return home wounded, physically or from the effects of posttraumatic stress syndrone, I pray that immediate help would be theirs for a complete healing and for the return of a sound mind. For those who have already given the ultimate sacrifice, comfort their families by encamping around their hurting hearts.

Faithful Father, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22). May the mercy You provide be experienced by my loved one and all our troops. Let Your compassion be theirs and give them opportunities to see Your faithfulness daily. Psalm 25:21 says: “May integrity and uprightness preserve me.” May our military leadership be men and women who value Your vital role in the affairs of our country. May our military commanders call on You for guidance, and give them understanding of things they don’t know (Jeremiah 33:3). In doing so, may Your name be exalter. In addition to physical readiness, may our leaders be dedicated to preparing our service members with spiritual readiness, so faith can make a difference. In the strong name of Jesus, Amen.

Blessings,

Lisa

-Prayer taken from “Faith Steps for Military Families

Hello, I Am…Waiting For Better Times

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  O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; [my prayers] in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch [wait]. Psalm 5:3 NRSV

What has the military life put on hold for you?

What has the military life put on hold for you?

In our waiting for God to usher in better times, it can seem like God has forgotten us. We know in our heart it’s not true, but that doesn’t always remove the ache of waiting. Even the ancient Israelites wondered if God had forgotten them at times. But then, God did something so incredibly wonderful that it seemed too good to be true. Have you ever experienced something like that? The author of Psalm 126 wrote about an event that was truly wonderful that it seemed like a dream. “When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream” (Psalm 126:1).
The Crockpot of Waiting
Because the Israelites had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians, their lives took a drastic downturn. Due to their exiled status, their lives and better times were on hold-indefinitely. Commentator James Limburg describes this period of waiting perfectly. “Psalm 126 comes from a people who are living between the times, between a good time remembered and another good time hoped for.”

What about you? Do you find yourself living between the times-between a time filled with fond memories and another time waiting for good times to return again? I have. I recall as a Navy wife in which circumstances were less than desirable and for a span of five years it seemed like life in the military would never yield better times. I frequently wrote in my prayer journal “how long, Lord? When will these discouraging times end?” But God is not concerned about our discomfort so much as He is concerned with molding and shaping us into mighty vessels for His kingdom work as a result of those dry, and disappointing times. It’s as if that period of feeling stuck between the times is God putting us into the crockpot of life and keeping us at the “simmer” setting. We have to patiently bear the wait as the obstacles of our dry circumstances grow and shape our faith, saturating us with the aroma of God’s spirit permeating our lives.

Active Waiting Brings Discernment

Our fast-paced culture desires quick fixes. We want the easy 5-steps for bringing happy times back into our lives or homes. God, however, operates in a totally different fashion. He ordains our days and the circumstances in our lives for our good and His glory. And when we find our lives on hold this is our cue to soak our minds in God’s Word. Doing so enlarges our spiritual perception to better discern our circumstances. “But those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). By anticipating God’s promise of strength, we grow in hopeful expectation that God will move in our less-than-desirable circumstances and usher in better times. The results are worth the wait.

Those Israelites taken into captivity by Babylon were carried away in tears, but their tears of sorrow became the seeds for a future harvest. God did the extraordinary. Seventy years later He used King Cyrus to end their captivity. And this is why it seemed like a dream to them. Something this wonderful had to be from God’s hand.

God still desires to bless His children with events that astonish us-and move us to the other side of James Limburg’s quote to “another time hoped for.” God’s great harvest will come and with it His joy for our parched hearts.

Go and Delight in the Lord today!

Lisa

If you’ve experienced something so astonishing that it could only have been from God’s hand, I’d love to hear from you. Please use the “reply” button at the bottom of this page to share your story. Come visit me at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and ‘like’ my page.

 

 

Step by Step

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Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

God not only orders our steps; He orders our stops. -George Muller

The Christian walk of faith is just that–a walk, one day and one step at a time pace. Think about the idea of taking a walk. This implies a short stroll; we amble along at an unhurried but comfortable pace.

 Understanding God’s Blueprint for Trust

When my son was growing up he was fascinated with Legos. He spent hours in one sitting putting together colossal cranes, three foot aircraft carriers, boats, airplanes, semi’s, tractor-trailers, and other structures. His level of understanding of how the Lego pieces fit together was uncanny.  With each new Lego set, he immediately spread out the directions and then categorized the Lego’s into piles, and more times than not, just by looking at pictures he could figure out how each piece went together.  Perhaps you have a child with the same skill. By trusting in the directions or the pictures given, he was assured his Lego creation would come out right and he would be satisfied and content.

Deployments are another example done on a day by day basis. Our impatience wants to rush ahead and get to “homecoming day” so we can skip the middle part that brings about disruption and longing. But God created time in order for us to grow into His likeness. He’s interested in the final outcome – what growth He’ll see as you keep your feet firmly planted on His path. As you mark off the days and weeks of a deployment, you’re making incremental steps and that produces deep roots of growth which reaps blessings of satisfaction and being content.

 The Key Word is “Daily”

Matthew 6:11 says, “Give us this day our daily bread” (nrsv).  When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, God provided them with manna one day at a time. Matthew 6:11 doesn’t say, “Give us all the bread we will need for our entire journey.”  There was no bulk ordering for the duration of their road trip through the wilderness. God only gave them enough to eat one day at a time (Exodus 16). And they were satisfied. Step by step is God’s way of guiding us along. And the keyword here is daily.

 Jesus also taught with daily in mind. Again, in Matthew 6, Jesus teaches this idea of trusting for our daily needs in a prayer He modeled for us. This prayer, often referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, is our example for day to day needs. It begins with a praise: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed [holy, blessed, sacred) be your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (vv. 9, 10). We start with a praise to God for His work in the world1 and then we address our daily needs,2  and our daily struggles. By praying this way on a daily basis, just imagine, if we recorded in a prayer journal, all the various ways God meets our needs and blesses us in return.

 Let God and His Word guide you by building your faith one step, one day at a time.

Delight in the Lord today!

 Lisa

  Notes:

1Bible Note for Matthew 6:9, Life Application Bible (Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1989).

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

 Lisa is also on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsforMilitaryFamilies and on Twitter @lisanixonphilli, Google+ at www.Google.com/+LisaNixonPhillips4487 and LinkedIn at LisaNixonPhillips

 

 

Psalm 127: Have You Deployed Your Arrows Yet?

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Did you get the blessing?
Am I aiming my children in the right direction so they will hit their target for God?

 

Sons [and daughters] are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3)

Have you deployed your arrows yet? I’m talking about children, that is, not actual arrows released from a bow. Psalm 127 uses the metaphor of arrows to describe our children. This psalm, written by King Solomon, offers wisdom for the spiritual building of our homes and children as gifts from God. He says, “Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (v.3). Rest assured, even though verse 3 refers to sons, daughters are included in this blessing. Today, our western culture too often views children as liabilities. But according to King Solomon, children are to be regarded as assets. In fact, in Old Testament times, a father with many children was honored in his home town.

As parents, it’s our responsibility in preparing our children for life outside of our home. This includes skill building for how to manage on their own, but also includes training them up in God’s Word so they can add faith and godly living to their lives, too. If you have children, God has tasked you with the job of aiming your children towards a relationship with Jesus. But there’s more to this than simply raising godly children. There’s also a purpose behind this crucial responsibility. Our children will become the next generation of salt and light dispensers in our dark and warped world. They become Christ’s agents as they live out their lives. While they’re still with us in our homes, it’s important to ask ourselves, “Am I aiming my children in the right direction so they will hit their target for God?

As I write this, my son, Lawrence, is about to head off to Navy boot camp. He is following in his father’s footsteps, as did our daughter. She serves in the Army National Guard. Clearly, my husband’s military service had a positive influence on our children, but my hope is that our faith in the Lord makes an even great impact. Our influence as parents will never be as strong as it is while our children are still in the home where we can shape their minds with godly principles, goals, and choices. When we deploy our children into the world, to navigate their way through life, will they draw from their faith and relationship with Christ, or slowly mold into the culture of our world? This is where the rubber hits the road for me. As a mother, did I carry out my responsibility to my fullest potential in steering both of my children towards a faith in Christ? Did I incorporate into their lives good building materials that led them to develop their own unique relationship with Jesus–a foundation that equips them with a stout faith and grounded by the principles of God’s Word? In other words, did my convictions, values, and beliefs make an imprint on their lives to such a degree that I leave them a legacy of faith?

Fortunately, just because our children will leave the security of our homes doesn’t mean our influence as parents comes to an end. In reality, parenting doesn’t end when they leave home; it just changes. Our daughter, while in college, often called us for our opinions or our thoughts on a particular subject she was considering. This was my confirmation that her father and I must of done something right because she values our responses, whether they are spiritual in nature, or just wise living. Everything else our children encounter in life, once released from our charge is prayed over and entrusted into God’s hands.

Delight yourself in the Lord today,

Lisa

You can also find me on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies, Twitter @lisanixonphili, http://google.com/+LisaNixonPhillips4487 and Goodreads.