Tuesday, April 23, 2013

God Is Raising Up Warriors. . .


By Jennifer Uhlarik


Do you know the difference between a soldier and a warrior? While they might sound the same, there is a difference. A soldier is a person who serves in the army or is engaged in military service. As Christians, we are all called to be soldiers. John 16:15 tells us to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creatures.” According to English grammar rules, the subject of that sentence is the invisible you. “You, go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” The verse is talking to each and every one of us, and it tells us that our job as a soldier for Christ is to clear a space so Christ can be seen.

     So how is a warrior different from a mere soldier? A warrior is a person engaged or experienced in warfare. This is someone who has shown great courage or aggressiveness in the tasks he is called to. A warrior is one of the elite fighting forces, who goes in first to lead the way or use stealth to slip behind enemy lines. Think of the boy, David, when he faced Goliath. Until he arrived and faced the giant, Israel cowered and hid before their enemies. But David faced the giant, defeated him, and the army of Israel went on to defeat the Philistines. Or think of Joshua and Caleb, who scouted behind enemy lines in their Promised Land, and when they returned, they didn’t let the giants in the land deter them from offering a good report. They knew they could seize the promise God had given them, and no amount of giants would stop them! Need more examples? Hebrews 11 gives a great list of God’s warriors and what they did to set them apart. Some, like Abel, did nothing more than offer a “more excellent sacrifice.” Others, like Moses, led the Israelites out of Egypt among many other things.

     Warriors are more than mere soldiers. We are all called to be soldiers, but only the most dedicated and fiercest fighters will become warriors. These elite have several traits in common. They fight for higher stakes than their own needs. They fight for more than their own local community. Warriors operate for the good of a much larger group—a state, a nation, or the world. When David fought Goliath, do you suppose that he fought only for himself or his brothers? No! He fought to ignite the hearts of Israel. Warriors are also noble and brave, but most importantly, they are radically devoted to their leader. If they are so called, they will die for their king. David knew that the moment he stepped onto the battlefield to face Goliath,
there was the chance that he could be killed. But he loved his king, and he loved his fellow countrymen. Even more, he loved the Lord, who had promised them the land they were fighting for. Despite the danger to himself, he had to act. And the actions of one young man turned the tide for the army of Israel.


      Is there a burning desire within your heart to do something that feels far larger than you are capable of doing? It’s my belief that those desires are the seeds of God planted within you. We can’t accomplish greatness without first having the dream of something big. So look deep within and find that idea that won’t leave you alone. If you don’t have something like that, ask God to reveal to you what it is He desires in your life. He’s looking for a willing heart, as we see in Isaiah 6:8. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Fostering a willing heart is the first step in becoming the warrior we are called be.

     The second step is to realize that the thing God is calling us to is usually too big to accomplish on our own. We can’t do it, except that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13). So realize that God’s calling is not for us to do in our own power or flesh, but to do through His empowerment. We can’t, but God can.

     Third, we must realize that God’s calling often seems to go against our will and desires, or we find reasons we aren’t qualified for the task at hand. Moses was certain he would never accomplish leading God’s people out of Egypt because, I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Ex. 4:10). The good news is that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. When we lay down our will and take up His, great things can be accomplished. Within the heart of the warrior is immediate, unquestioning obedience, like that of Mary when she responded to the angel of the Lord by saying, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).


     In order to be the warrior God wants each of us to become, we must learn effective battle tactics. I’m sure there are many, but I’ll share my most important ones here.

     Do not focus on the circumstances. II Corinthians 5:7 tells us that “we walk by faith, not by sight.” There are two realms at play in every situation we face—the physical realm and the spiritual. If we only focus on the physical by looking at our circumstances, we dismiss God’s ability to overrule circumstances. God answers our requests in the spirit first, and we bring those answers into the physical one through our faith. When we focus only on what our natural eyes can see, we are very likely focusing on a lie because things have already begun to happen in the spirit.

     Ask God to give you a vision of the finished work. Have you ever watched a broadcast of a past sporting event even though you already know your team won? Knowing the outcome takes a lot of the tension out of those difficult moments in the game when all seems lost. It is the same principle here. If God has given you a picture of the final outcome before the battle heats up, it’s far easier to keep your faith strong when the situation seems to be going bad. Keep your eyes focused on Him. Do only what He tells you to do, and you will be victorious.

     And lastly, rest in Him. We have already established that these “warrior” battles are too big for us to do alone. And in fact, they are too big for us to do at all. He wants to do them in and through us. John 14:10 tells us that “the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” Our job is to REST in His Word to us, and go with the flow of the Holy Spirit in us.

If we will do these things, great and mighty feats will be accomplished through His Power, and we’ll be the warriors through which they are accomplished.

With over 20 years of writing experience, Jennifer Uhlarik holds a B.A. in writing from University of Tampa. She won the 2012 CWOW Phoenix Rattler, 2012 ACFW First Impressions contests, and 2013 Florida Christian Writers Contest, all in the historical category. She also won the Central Florida ACFW chapter’s 2012 “Prompt Response” Contest. Jennifer has worked as a schoolteacher of English and history and the marketing director for a small financial planning office. She is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, son, and four fur children. Jennifer is a regular blogger at http://christianfictionhistoricalsociety.blogspot.com.

I met Jennifer through ACFW and was privileged to crit one of her HISTORICAL WESTERN NOVELS - this woman is a writer extraordinaire, and I'm so glad she agreed to to guest post this article for JOURNEYS TO JOY. Be watching for her books. If you read one, you'll be begging for more.

Be sure to leave a comment pertaining to this guest post by JENNIFER UHLARIK and I'll enter your name in the drawing for a choice of one of my MANY books authored by an ACFW member.

FOLLOWER # 100 will automatically receive a choice of one of my MANY books authored by an ACFW member. 

FIRST:                                                                          ARE YOU A SOLDIER?
SECOND:                                                                     ARE YOU A WARRIOR?


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Journey To Joy Through Disicpline ~

One cannot travel the Journey God sets us on without it!

 Read JOB 23: 10-14 ~ Vs 14 especially spoke to me this week.

One never knows what a day might bring, but there are those of us with chronic disease(s) that KNOW the JOURNEY isn’t always straight and/or smooth.

This year I set goals with God as I did last year – edits of so many pages during the months of March, April, May and writing so many words during the months of April, May and June. Since I’m also a freelance critiquer, I had to set some hefty goals to include the numerous crit jobs I have ahead of me and the hours and hours added to my other tasks in the desk chair.

That was only a very small part of my annual goal-setting but it’s a significant amount of the pressure I face to get writing-related things accomplished.

As I set those goals with God He reminded me how often I tend to slack off on my personal, alone time with Him and how it was beginning to affect my communication with Him and adversely change how well I managed the goals WE had set. OUCH!

Therefore I set a personal spiritual goal to get involved in a Bible study with a friend. God worked that out immediately, connecting me with a dear friend from my past (not the first time he’s done something like that), and He gave us an older study that Charles Swindoll did on his radio ministry years ago. INTIMACY WITH THE ALMIGHTY – Oh boy – We had a dozen studies to choose from, but that’s the one my dear friend said would help her the most, and I had to admit it was tugging at me as well.

We had our first meeting and the introduction discussed the topics we’d be faced with. The first one would be SIMPLICITY – ok – I’ve simplified my life to be able to devote lots of time to writing and its related activities. I’d included the time alone with God I knew would be needed.

But, a week ago yesterday, I met with my rheumatologist,and he informed me it was time to CHANGE my habits. SAY WHAT?

He blasted me with the fact I was manifesting symptoms of the chronic diseases this body carries and doing so in such a way that it’d only be a matter of time, and I’d be back to sleeping more days away than experiencing them, that I’d be using my cane again, and the pain would once more be excruciating and unmanageable. SAY IT AIN’T SO, DOC.

I’d done so well since the early Spring of 2008. I’ve been able to live a near-normal and exciting lifestyle since God’s intervention and connections He gave me that year. BUT here I’m faced with the probability that it’s all going to crash around me. I knew the fatigue had reared its ugly head and caused me to take naps like I did as a child – only – more willingly. I’d noted the increase in pain and brain fog. I’d recognized changes in my stamina. I just pushed it off and away. I didn’t have time to deal with it again. I was NOT going backward. God had a plan for my writing. After all, He’s the ONE who called me to do it and gave me a story I argued with Him about writing. I’d surrendered to that story and His will. He’d given me words that flowed and even added two other stories to make it a trilogy. He had a plan and that meant I had work to do.

The doctor told me I would have to go back to the MEAL-PLAN the wellness consultant had given me 2008 AND I’d no longer be able to sit for HOURS at my computer. You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me ~  but for every two hours in the chair I’d have to get up and walk – either the treadmill or outside and he preferred I do it outside – for a full fifteen minutes. YIKES!

I nodded my head in the doctor’s office while kicking and screaming in defiance inside.

After all, I’d not kept up with all I’d wanted to accomplish as it was. How on earth would I be able to go back to weighing and measuring foods that had to be purchased separately from that for my husband? How would I manage to take the time to fix his meals and mine (he won’t eat the way I’ve been told to eat) and have time to do the writing, editing, critiquing, teaching, and I haven’t even mentioned the housecleaning and other homemaking jobs. I had all kinds of excuses to dish out to God about the changes crashing down on me. He gently reminded me He would NOT allow me to ignore the issues any longer.

I did the study last week for my Friday meeting with my wonderful, praying friend. You can guess what the main theme was ~ DISCIPLINE. ~ That’s right. Bringing my body, soul, heart, and mind under submission in EVERY WAY to please the LORD to obey His desire to keep me productive for HIM.

Peace flooded me, overwhelmed me, saturated my soul when it struck me how He’d AGAIN connected my JOURNEY DOTS.

None of this has taken Him by surprise. He knew my stubborn streak and contrary thoughts.

1. -He brought my dear Pat back into my life for just such a time as this, and when I just thought I wanted to do a Bible study to be held accountable for truly delving into His Word and spending time with Him.

2. -He knew what study He’d be prompting us to do.

3. –He knew what my body most needs and what to tell my doctor to ORDER me to do.

It’s difficult to swallow the idea that my life will always be DISCIPLINED in such specific and tough ways.

Whether I FEEL like it or not; Whether I like it or not; Whether my prayers are answered YES or NO.

I must be controlled by the Spirit and to do so I must be subject to the DISCIPLINES He sets for me.

1 Timothy 4: 7b -8 says;

            Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of

            little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the

            present life and also for the life to come. (nasb)

There can be NO detour in my personal JOURNEY TO JOY when it comes to DISCIPLINE. It’s going to be a constant, in order to produce the peace and joy I so crave in Jesus. To accomplish the call He’s placed on my life, I no longer choose to ignore the difficulty but embrace it as all a part of the WORK toward BLESSING IN THE JOURNEY.

Praying, God will bless each of you in your own personal Journey To Joy ~

Please share something about your Journey and I'll place your name and email address in the drawing for a book written by an ACFW author.