Sunday, August 2, 2009

Men of the Banner

In Boston’s Banknorth Garden, 17 championship banners hang from the rafters, signifying the Celtics’ unparalleled success in the National Basketball Association. When opposing teams come to town, the reminder of their host’s dominance is literally hanging over them. With a championship history like that on display, opponents can’t help feeling a little awed – perhaps even defeated – before the opening tipoff.

Men have always used banners to signify who they belong to, where they are from, and who they have been victorious over. In World War II, fighter planes displayed the American flag along with small banners denoting the enemy planes they had shot down. We proudly sing our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. Old Glory reminds the world of our identity as Americans and our heritage of courage and victory.

The Bible talks about banners, too. In the 17th chapter of Exodus, the story is told of Joshua and the Israelites’ victory over the Amalekite army. The chapter concludes as follows: “After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, ‘Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’ Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-nissi (which means ‘the Lord is my banner’)” (NLT).

The Lord is also referred to as a banner in Isaiah 11:10, which says, “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.”

If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, then He is your banner. Even though sin and death are still present in our world, you can live a victorious life in Him, because He has already defeated those things. “In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus said. “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

When a college football team runs onto the field before a game, a cheerleader or mascot often leads the charge. And what are they carrying as they run? A banner that prominently displays the team’s name or logo. Members of God’s family, wherever we go we have Jesus, the triumphant Lord of all the universe, going before us as our banner. As Psalm 16:8 says, “I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Jimmy Taylor, one of my fellow church members from back home, has developed a learning curriculum and a soon-to-be completed book on this topic. The intent is to help Christian men understand who they are in Jesus Christ, to understand the power and authority they have over evil, and to claim the freedom from sin that they already have in Christ – and then to share those truths with their families and communities. If you would like more information on these Men of the Banner resources, email me at

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