Strength, Fortress, Refuge, Love

Tuesday was a long day for me… fifteen hours of study, administration, meetings and some tough e-mails and phone calls.

But I am not complaining. It was a great day also, ending in our weekly prayer meeting, including the graduation of one of the men from our discipleship house, New Heart Place. Nothing more encouraging than seeing a life transformed by Christ in front of your eyes over the twelve months of the program. The whole church was blessed and inspired.

Went to bed late but a good kind of tired.

I have been doing this now for 32 years as a senior pastor and I am starting to show signs of wear. The last 32 years have been punctuated by some pretty significant battles. I am tired.

So, this was one of those mornings where I dragged myself out of bed at 6:30, had my bowl of oats, and, coffee mug in hand, headed into my study. I needed to hear the voice of the Lord. I needed the assurance that comes only by hearing His voice and  sensing His presence and love.

I opened up my Bible and started out in my reading plan. One chapter from the history books… Numbers 12.

After facing down the whole congregation, Moses is attacked from inside his inner circle… Aaron and Miriam. The ESV Study Bible footnote says, “After the protests of the people comes an even more painful challenge to Moses’ authority.” I can feel for Moses. Anyone in any capacity of leadership can.

My next chapter was Psalm 59, in the Poets and Wisdom section of my reading plan. David is talking to God about the challenges and opposition he is facing in his life. Not very different than Moses’ problems in Numbers 11 and 12. Not very different than the opposition of the enemy in any of our lives.

We need help from above! And that is exactly what I got.

In four verses of the Psalm, David confesses some things that God pushed down into my heart this morning that totally refreshed me.

I hope these words encourage you the way they did me.

“O my Strength, I will watch for you,

for you O God are my fortress.

My God in his steadfast love will meet me;

God will let me look in triumph on my enemies.” (vs.9-10)

 “I will sing of your strength;

I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.

For you have been to me a fortress

And a refuge in the day of my distress.” (vs. 16)

 Who needs Strength, but the one who is weak? I feel that way a lot lately. That must be why Paul rejoiced in anything that forced him to confront his lack of ability, capacity or courage. He said he had learned that when he was weak, that was when God’s power was released in his life.

Who needs a fortress, except those who are under attack by an aggressive and advancing enemy? Our battle is not against flesh and blood. It is way more sinister and dangerous than that. That must be why Paul told the Corinthians they had spiritual weapons of the Spirit that were powerful and could tear down strongholds.

Who needs a refuge, except those who are on the run, driven from their place of security?

And all of this, wrapped up in two different reminders from David of God’s steadfast love towards us. Let that sink in for a moment in your heart. Strength. Fortress. Refuge. And steadfast love.

I’m going to make it! I can do this! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

3 thoughts on “Strength, Fortress, Refuge, Love

  1. Beloved Pastor Alec….If you knew how we still love you, from afar, maybe you’d be encouraged. We still look back on our time at Westgate as among our best years. And it was because we felt you and Rita were not just our leaders, but our FRIENDS. Your girls babysat our sons, and now those boys are married with homes of their own, and your girls are beautiful wives and mothers. Time flies. I am so glad that some day we will spend eternity renewing our friendship, and worshiping our glorious Lord together. Your life has had an impact on ours, and no doubt on many many others. You’re not getting worn out, maybe just a little “vintage”! In Him, Diane Baxter

  2. Leadership is not for the faint of heart, but only for those called who have the ability and willingness to lead during challenging times as well as the character to model humility and grace following improbable, miraculous victories. A recent sporting event served as a vivid challenge to me to view life as a glass half full, always focusing on opportunities rather than the barriers. Or better yet, as my son-in-law advocates, is to view life as a glass clear full, i.e., a cup that runneth over.

  3. I know all to well how you feel. As a man who is in authority as you are I’ve learned over the years that the war is never won only fought. I’ve seen God do amazing things and the enemy come seek kill and destroy. My only response to all of it is to commit to The Lord that I’m in it to the last breath. I want to thank you pastor Alec and Westgate for helping us fight the good fight. WeI couldn’t do it without you.

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