Everybody’s Hands GoUp…And They Stay There
Hold yourarms straight out in front of you. Seriously, try it. Now, keep them therewhile you read this. Your ability to maintain that posture through the durationof this message will depend on your fitness level, reading speed, and thenumber of words that I may or may not unnecessarily add into certain sentencesjust to make them slightly, or exceptionally longer than they really need to orshould be. LOL.
How you doing? Starting to burn yet. Keep them up. I want you to feel thestruggle by just carrying the weight of your arms. If you have an objectnearby, go ahead and hold it in your hand. Add to the challenge.
How long canyou do this? I bet you could squeeze out 5 minutes without too much trouble.I’m pretty sure you’d get to 10 minutes if you were pushed to. What about 20minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours? You are just in your first minute so far,and it may be hard to tell how long you could go, but do you think you could goall day?
Are yourshoulders burning yet? They will be talking to you soon and screaming after anhour of this nonsense.
There is a storyin the bible of an overhead bar hold that was literally a matter of life anddeath? Moses was on mission, leading theIsraelites out of Egypt and into the promise land (although he ultimatelydidn’t get to go with them when they made it). During the journey, they were toovertake other people groups in battle. These were to be decisive victories inorder to successfully take the promise land.
Are youstill holding your arms up? Are they getting heavy yet?
Oneparticular battle was decided with this physical test. Moses was watching thebattle from on top of a ridge with his brother Aaron and comrade Hur. Moses,with his famous staff in his hand, raised overhead, stood in position.Scripture says that “when Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, andwhenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary”(Exodus 17:11).
This wouldnot have been something noticed immediately and the whole thing took a fullday, so you can imagine the scene as it played out. Have you ever been to aThunder game and realized that the fans do not sit down until the Thunderscores their first point? This would be the start of the battle for Moses andthe Israelites. On his feet, cheering them on, giving them the confidence theyneed by raising the staff and signaling them to fight on. After the initialonslaught and early realization that they had the upper hand, Moses probablylowered the staff and maybe even sat down. He would enjoy the show in comfort.
It wouldhave taken some time to realize a shift in domination, but there was a momentof awareness in which Moses would have risen to his feet to spur them on andshow Joshua, his military general down in the battle zone, that the staff,which had parted the Red Sea and brought water from a rock in the desert, wasstill on their side and they would have been recharged.
It’s easy toforget the perspective of confidence with which we enter the day, a season, orjust a situation when the heat of the moment starts to take its toll.
Are yourhands still up or did you put them down?
With a newsurge of energy and boost of moral, the Israelites turned the battle again andtook the momentum. I imagine at this point, Moses stayed up a little longer toensure the struggle was under control. But then he had to have lowered hisarms, brought the staff down, and taken a seat, another time. Several ebbs andflows must have taken place in order for these guys to fully grasp the realityof the significance of Moses raising the staff. After they figured it out,Aaron and Hur probably became cheerleaders and encouraged Moses to keep itraised.
It must havebeen an excruciatingly long day, back and forth, up and down, winning – losing– winning, physically exhausting as well as emotionally and mentally draining.
At somepoint though, the fatigue was too great, the stress was too much, the pain wasunbearable, his fitness reached a limit, his grit began to wane, and what wasonce an easy task was now impossible. Aaron and Hur perceived this and jumpedinto action. We aren’t told that there was a meeting about what to do or aplanning committee formed. I’m guessing there was just some panicked and rapidbrainstorming and a hasty decision made under pressure.
They pulledup a seat and stood next to Moses, holding up his hands UNTIL THE SUN WENTDOWN. The Israelites took the Amalekites by the sword that day. What a way towin!!!
There is somuch truth for us in this story regarding our approach to victory in life.Success is attainable ONLY through the support and encouragement of others. Weare communal creatures as it is in our DNA, the fabric of our being as we werecreated, as God designed us. There are two sides of this coin for what thatmeans for you and me.
We needpeople to pull us up a seat, to hold our arms up.
We mustswallow our pride and let others help.
We have todecide that our discomfort, pain, and struggle will be worth it as it is lifegiving to others as we endure it.
We need tobe aware of the struggle of those around us.
We must comealongside them and hold them up.
We have tobe willing to walk with them until there is definitive victory, as long as ittakes.
FROM THE ARMSTRONGKITCHEN
4 Ingredient Sweet PotatoBrownies
I haven’t tried these yetbut they are calling my name for my next sweet treat!
1 cup mashed sweet potato
½ cup creamy nut butter
2 Tbsp maple syrup
¼ cup cocoa powder
(optional) handful ofchocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Grease with coconut oil a small cake pan or loaf pan and set aside.
In a small microwave safedish, melt nut butter with maple syrup. (be careful not to burn.)
In a large mixing bowl, addmashed sweet potatoes, nut butter and maple syrup, and cocoa powder. Mixthoroughly. (Stir in chocolate chips if adding them.)
Pour mixture into greaseddish and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven andallow to cool completely before slicing.
These brownies are best keptin refrigerator and best eaten when cooled completely. They are also freezerfriendly.
Have you ever said something you immediately wish you hadn’t? Have you offended or hurt someone because you spoke when you should have kept quiet? Is there a scar on a heart from an injury you caused due to not keeping your mouth shut? Have you created a relational disaster because you opened your pie hole? Has there ever been a time when you embarrassed yourself by not thinking through your response? Did you ever ruin a surprise or break someone’s trust by saying too much?
I think itis safe to say we have all suffered from verbal diarrhea – we tried to hold itin and it came out anyway or we thought it was safe to let one out but turnedout to be more than we bargained for. One of my favorite worst personal momentsinvolves just such a moment.
One summerin college, a good friend of mine and teammate from football at SNU lost hisdad in a terrible accident. Richard’s dad was a truck driver and had pulledover to help a stranded traveler in a broken-down vehicle when another highwayrider struck him as he was walking along the shoulder to assist the persons.
Afterhearing about the tragedy, I called Richard to offer my condolences, let himknow I was praying for God to comfort him, and see if there was anything heneeded. This was our opening few lines of the conversation:
Brett: “Heyman, It’s Brett Armstrong.”
Richard: “Ohhey, what’s going on?”
Brett: “Ohnot much, just been hanging out, working out, and trying not to DIE in thisheat.” (Immediate panic as the taste of rubber overwhelmed my pallet frominserting the entirety of my size 11 shoe in my mouth.)
Are youkidding me? What an idiot. The guy just lost his dad. My friend’s father justDIED and I’m using death to joke about the weather in small talk! WOWZERS. Wayto be a friend, Brett, way to go.
There is astory in which Jesus teaches a great deal by his actions that we can learnfrom. He is confronted with a legal situation and the accusing leaders want toknow what should be done. A woman was “caught” in the act of adultery and thelaw said she should be stoned – death by rocks, not getting high.
They aretrying to trap Jesus because if he agrees then he’s killing this lady whichwill really go against his message, but if he excuses her then he’s throwingout the whole law book. Instead of answering immediately, he does somethinginteresting, he bends down and draws in the dirt. There have been lots ofspeculation from many biblical scholars about what he was writing. Some say thelaw or others say sins. But I tend to think it might have been a practice ofinfinite wisdom and self-control! He was waiting before he spoke. He knew thegravity of the situation and what was at stake, so it was absolutely criticalthat he get it right He didn’t let the pressure of the situation cause him torisk this woman’s life or derail his mission a it wasn’t terribly timesensitive since they weren’t going to do anything until he answered anyway.
This causesme to think that if Jesus, the perfect son of God, had to think before hespoke, that maybe I should as well. Several other writers in the Bible echothis sentiment.
James saysthat everyone should be slow to speak and quick to listen, and slow to becomeangry. (Chapter 1) He also states that no one can tame the tongue and tells ofhow great an evil the mouth can be. In one minute, the tongue praises God andthe next minute it curses men. (Chapter 3) This should be a significant warningto consider.
Paul writesin Ephesians 4:26 (NIV), “Do not letany unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful forbuilding others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those wholisten.”
The writerin proverbs says it in multiple ways.
Proverbs10:14 (NCV) “The wise don’t telleverything they know, but the foolish talk too much and are ruined.”
Proverbs 13:3 (NIV) “Those who guard their lipspreserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.”
Proverbs 15:1 (NLT) “A gentle answer deflectsanger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
Proverbs15:23 (ESV) “Everyoneenjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the righttime!”
In oursociety of everything instant, and the world of the immediate, I invite us toWAIT! Do not spek everything that comes to mind. Do not share everything youknow. And do not talk the instance silence finds its way into yourconversation. Give time to pause! Breathe in the moment. Ask God for wisdom andto conclude with a quote from an intense warrior and beefed up Gerard Butler,“Choose your words carefully…”
FROM THE ARMSTRONG KITCHEN
$3 Power Plate
1 can Tuna
1 bag microwavable frozenpeas
1 can Water Chestnuts
Drizzle of dressing
Microwave the peas perinstructions on the bag. While they steam, open and drain can of tuna and canof water chestnuts. Dump those onto a plate and microwave for a minute. Drain peasand add a serving or two (or 3) to the tuna and water chestnuts. Top with alow-calorie flavorful sauce, dressing, or plain yogurt and season the heck outof it with whatever you are feeling. For my sauce, I used Walden Farms – Asiandressing and for my seasoning, I chose Lawry’s adobo plus onion powder. Itopped it with a handful of sunflower seeds and dried edamame. The plate wentoff like a rocket for me and left me fully satisfied.
This is a high protein, highfiber, low fat, low carb hunger buster!
The $3 plate refers to the 3main ingredients of tuna, peas, and water chestnuts.
Jicama root can be asubstitute for water chestnuts.