"The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the Lord." Proverbs 21:31

The Battle of Hastings in 1066 was a clash between the Norman invaders of William the Conqueror and the Anglo Saxons led by King Harold. In 1077 the Bayeaux tapestry was unveiled to commemorate the Norman victory. It is a 230 foot long, and 20 inch high narrative depicting the battle with a Latin inscription for every scene. It is one of the earliest examples of "spin" control.

Both armies made use of horses, but each had a different strategy. King Harold's Anglo Saxons used their horses as a means of transportation to arrive at the site of the battle. They took a defensive posture behind a wall of huge shields, and dared the Normans to take the hill. The Normans used a cavalry of mounted lancers as an aggressive attack weapon. History reveals the wisdom of the latter over the former. It was a particularly gory kind of warfare, and at times even the bravest warrior was tempted to flee the field. One of my favorite sections of the tapestry depicts Odo, half brother of William, and a bishop of the church encouraging the French warriors while waving his club or shepherd's staff in the air. He was forbidden by church law to carry an instrument of war that could shed the blood of the sheep, but he was free to club them over their helmeted heads or whack them on their backs to turn them around and face the enemy. In Latin the statement next to the picture is, "Odo... confortats." Translated, he comforts or encourages the men. One of the next scenes depicts the death of King Harold, and the Anglo Saxons fleeing the battle. The Battle of Hastings was over and the invasion of England successful. This was no small accomplishment considering, Napoleon and Hitler were never able to pull it off.

Obviously, the word "comfort" has lost something in translation down through the years. Today it used to describe a gentle touch, a soft word spoken or a blanket that is to be left untouched. The word once meant an infusion of courage. Break it down and you can see it in the word, en-courage-ment. Back in the day, comfort could be a knock on the head, or a whack on the back of a discouraged warrior to turn him around to face the enemy. There is no substitute for victory, but it will never be won by victims. Victors are just victims who have fired back at the enemy. When Jesus depicted the posture of the forces of evil, He revealed them to be on the defensive, and His church would be attacking the gates they were hiding behind. "I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." Matthew 16:18

During my first year in seminary, I was introduced to a book, "Success Motivation and the Scriptures." It was written by William H. Cook and published by Broadman Press in 1974. The gist of it: Be filled with the Holy Spirit to become the person God intended for you to be, and leave the results up to God. It was a breath of fresh air. It is always a bad exchange to substitute personal ideas of success for God's concept of victory.

Ancient proverbs are as fresh as the latest newsprint, or the most recent Twitter of the day. They have influence far beyond the day in which they were first spoken. Their longevity is proof positive of their reliability. Keep passing on and practicing good advice found in Proverbs. Eventually it will have a positive influence. Even Wood Allen knows, "Ninety percent of success in life is found in just showing up." Scripture reminds us that victory is ours if we will get behind a movement of God, and give Him the elbow room to do what only He can do in this world through our lives.

"Some boast in chariots, and some in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God." Psalms 20:7 (David's prayer for victory over his enemies, must have been known by Solomon.)

"A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength." Psalms 33:17 (Solomon collected horses, but David had known victory and defeat.)

"Salvation belongs to the Lord; Thy blessings upon Thy people!" Psalms 3:8 (David knew that God was in control even when family turned against him.)

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." I Corinthians 15:57-58

The key to victory is not found in how fast we get to the battle, but in how long we are willing to stay and fight the enemy. War can be terrifying at times. Christ followers need shepherds who will encourage them to return to the battle, and stay on the offensive. God's people strike fear in the heart of the enemy when they mobilize as prayer warriors against the gates of hell. Fire when ready! If you listen carefully, you can hear the enemy screaming, "INCOMING!"

"We must not be content to be cleansed, but filled with the Holy Spirit. The word Comforter as applied to the Holy Spirit needs to be translated by some vigorous term. Literally it means "with strength." Jesus promises his followers, "The Strengthener" would be with them. This is no lullaby for the faint-hearted. It is a blood transfusion for courageous living." E.P. Hovey