Higher Ground – March 5, 2023 (78-79/365)

Announcement: The Grace Leadership Institute (GLI) meeting for the month of March shall happen on March 25, 2023. Reminder: the event has an entrance and participation fee of Php 300. As usual we will be listening to our good Pastor Joedy, as he continues to reveal the centrality of Christ. We’ve been talking about prayer, reading the Word, and worship, and we will continue to have our eyes opened to the Truth integrated in other aspects as believers in the body of Christ.

I’m excited because we’ve been hearing from other speakers on the importance of this theme: ‘The Centrality of Christ’. Just a reminder, this was all borne from what we’ve learned from the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Compassion International, last December. Their theme for the event was: “Moving together with Christ in the center”, and one fellow, a strong man of Christ named CB Samuel, shared his insights on his theme. I admit that his words were what led us to believe that this year would be a year of movement.

And we have been moving, haven’t we? We’ve seen how it’s our salvation through Christ that brings us to move, and we’ve seen how, in our moving, we would appreciate our salvation through Christ so much more.

Furthermore, when we took the time to listen to other Pastors, such as Pastor Joedy, we’ve learned how we’re in line with the flow of the Holy Spirit, as Good News is taking a stand to proclaim the centrality of Christ in our studies and in our movement. We’ve learned from folks such as Pastor Joseph Prince, who reminded us through their theme for their own church that in our moving with Christ, and in Christ moving with us, we are brought to the right place, at the right time. I just wanted to point this out to emphasize that we aren’t alone in realizing the importance of movement, this year.

And for the past weeks we’ve been talking about how we’re not merely moving, but we are moving forward: We’re moving forward with direction, we’re moving forward with enduring love, and we’re moving forward, and we aren’t stopping.

Before I move on I’d like to clarify one thing. At the beginning of this year, January 1 to be precise, I was telling all of us that we would be moving forward, then wider, then higher. However, as I was plotting our messages within this first quarter of the year, sure, we would talk about moving forward, but instead of talking about us moving and spreading out in the Z-Coordinate (or simply, wider), I’ve decided that we’d talk about how we’re moving, as it says on the newsletter, to the heights. We’re moving higher.

Lord, lift me up, and let me stand

By faith, on heaven’s tableland;

A higher plane than I have found,

Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

Let’s look back at what exactly brought us to this realization. This is from my post, 2023: The Year Of Moving With Christ – December 31, 2022 (381-382/365):

“Couple of things about Compassion International before we go any forward – the ministry has been active for a little more than 70 years now, and they’ve been in the Philippines for 50 of those 70 years. Throughout all that time Compassion International had a very short but sweet mission statement – that is, “Releasing Children From Poverty”; And they’ve stood by this mission so much that they’ve rescued hundreds of thousands of children on record, possibly even more. But one thing… when Compassion decided to amend the mission; That is, to add to the statement so it says “Releasing Children From Poverty In Jesus’ Name”, the graph they had which projected the overall progress of the entire ministry reflected a parabolic curve – Exponential increase in results!

So not only are we moving forward. Not only are we moving to cover wider territory… But, friends, we’re moving, and we are moving to higher grounds. We’re surely content in where we are right now, but because we have Christ with us, never leaving us nor forsaking us, we’re flowing in a river, and one that does not bring us downstream, but, again, to higher grounds.”

It’s important for us, not only to move forward, but for us to move to higher heights. See, according to all the data consolidated on the internet, we learn that if we are on higher ground, we are provided with constant advantages. I say ‘constant’ because they have been observed just as much in ancient times of business and warfare, as we see in recent history, and even in the present.

First, when we are on a higher position, it is easier and more effective for us to defend ourselves. In war, we are at an advantage at the heights, because we are able to see our enemies approach from a distance… and when they do arrive, it will be harder for them to attack from below, as they would have to expend energy by climbing uphill to reach us. We are not as easily surprised or ambushed. In business, if our billboards are higher, they are seen from further distances. It’s not an accident that we can see gas station signs and fast food restaurant icons from so far.

Second, when we are on a higher position, we do not only have a defensive, but an offensive, strategic advantage – We don’t just see enemies from a distance, but, well, we see much more about the landscape, which allows us to have a better grasp over the surrounding terrain. The more we see, the more we know, and the more we know, the more precise we can plan and execute military or commercial tactics.

A third advantage we have as we move higher is the prospect of benefiting from improved communication. Apparently, there’s an advantage to us lifting our cellphones whenever we have a hard time sending or receiving a message. There’s no mystery as to why cellular service towers are built on higher ground – besides them being easier to spot, and easier to defend, they are able to cover wider areas as well. To be on higher ground is useful for military communication, as well as for communication in other fields such as surveying, transportation, and construction.

Finally, there’s the advantage of enjoying fresher, purer air (Manny Pacquiao is known to train in Baguio City – not only for the climate and the challenging terrain, but also because of the air we have here), and the significantly reduced risk of flooding. In Metro Manila, the Pasig-Ortigas area was relatively safe during the 2009 Typhoon Ondoy – while the rest of the metropolis was in danger of flood and disease, I was high and dry in my bedspace. That’s where I thought, if it started to flood here, I should be crying for the rest of the city.

Anyway, from a point of view favoring this reality, we see that it is obviously to our advantage to get high. I mean that in the literal sense. However, we can also see in Scripture that this is also what God wants for us.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”

Psalm 18:33-34

From a proactive perspective, God is not only faithful to lead us to the higher heights, but here we see that He would also cause us to move forward, and swiftly – as a deer. And what’s more is that He not only brings us quickly to higher ground, but He trains our hands for battle – not only to take the higher ground, but to keep it.

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Psalms 61:1-3

We see that God is just as faithful to us from another perspective. When we find ourselves far from the ideal higher ground, it is God Himself who is the Higher Ground for us. It’s certainly no coincidence, how we like to quote and sing of the Name of the Lord being a Strong (and high) Tower, and how we run to Him and are saved.

For those of us in the body of Christ, there is still another advantage to us being brought to higher ground.

For all we’ve been talking about so far about getting high – sure, we can defend ourselves better from a higher position. We can plan better, and communicate more effectively on high. We’re healthier, and safer from natural disasters if we are situated in a higher place…

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

Philippians 2:4-8

Let us remember that Christ, in all His glory and power, brought Himself to vulnerability beyond any hope of defense, anxiety from not being able to see from afar – He became obedient the point of death, and even death on a cross – the ultimate strategic disadvantage.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11

He did this so that we can have peace beyond understanding, whether we find ourselves on higher ground, or whether we find ourselves weary and far away from safety.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

Colossians 3:1-2

Christ IS our Higher Ground. And one thing I failed to mention up until now is that it’s not all good things up at the top. The air may be more challenging in Baguio, but it’s life-threatening at the peak of Mount Everest. And that’s the thing – it’s not necessarily cushy up at the top. It’s just as difficult, if not much more trying as you go higher… and even then, we can be at peace, knowing that the Lord is as much with us at sea level, as He is in our ascent.

“Higher grounds entail wider perspectives. Personally, when I’m, say, on an airplane looking down – I don’t see how high I am, but I see how tiny I am compared to the entire planet, and I am reminded of how the earth is tiny compared to the stars in the heavens. And as such, we see, that sure, with great power comes great responsibility – but wise power is accompanied with great humility.

“The higher we are, the more we realize we need Christ.

Consequently, the more we realize we need Christ, the higher we get.

You can forget everything else I mentioned here regarding the specifics surrounding strategic advantage, if only to remember just how important it is to have Christ in us in and all things, no matter how high we get. He is faithful in the heights, faithful at the ascent.

Until the next post, God bless you.

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