Suit Up

I know several motorcycle people, and all of them are into wearing protective clothing when riding. I usually see them putting on jackets and gloves as well as goggles and helmets. They are always wearing the proper clothing and shoes for riding. I found the following acronym on a biker lingo blog:

ATGATT = All The Gear, All The Time (helmet, gloves, vest, trousers and boots).

Some even talk about armor, or specially reinforced gear. I thought it was a great reminder that has spiritual implications:

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesian 6: 11-17

The reason we put on the armor of God is the same reason bikers put on their gear: protection. When I took martial arts, I wore gear when I was sparring to reduce the chance of injury. Bikers and martial artists suit up as protection  just in case there is an incident. Even more so, we should wear our spiritual armor because we are going into battle every day. It isn’t a chance of battle; it is a foregone conclusion.

Not only should we wear it every day, but we should also wear every piece of armor. Each piece protects a different part of our being. Whatever we leave undefended, the enemy will target. For example, if I want to retrieve something from my car but I don’t want to take the trouble of finding my shoes. I tiptoe out over the hot concrete, and while I am digging around in my car, a fire ant bites my foot. It’s the same in our spiritual lives. Every piece has a purpose.

We wear a helmet to protect our mind, we wear the breastplate to protect our heart, the belt of truth keeps us grounded, the shield of faith protects us from the enemies weapons, and our feet are prepared to step out to do God’s Will. Our only weapon is the Sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word. People often say talk is cheap, but not this talk. God’s Word is powerful, more powerful than a two-edged sword because it can cut to the heart of the matter. Not only that, God’s Word also brought the world into being. What He says happens. When we wield His Word wisely, no foe can stand against us.

So, before you leave the house, or maybe even the bed, suit up. You never know what the day will bring.

Be Not Deceived

Lately, I find myself being aggravated and irritated at every turn. It usually occurs after I read some post on social media or just the media in general. I start going over and over a comment, replaying it in my mind and getting more annoyed. I was praying for God to help me get past this attitude when I came across verses in my daily reading and was reminded by the Spirit of other verses. You see, I had recently determined to have a more Christ-like attitude. Let’s face it, I had decided to be less grumpy because I had so much for which I should be grateful. The minute I determined to work on that goal, I was hit by every kind of temptation imaginable in direct opposition to that goal. I had gotten the enemy’s attention.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

 (1 Peter 5:8)

The devil is always looking for ways to trip up Christians. He wants to make us ineffective as ambassadors for Christ. The more you try to follow Christ’s example, the more he will attack. However, he is sneaky and tries to use others to do his dirty work.

 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

(Ephesians 6:12)

We spend our time fighting things and people when in reality we should be fighting a spiritual battle. We need to recognize who the true enemy is and how he is at work. Only then can he be defeated.

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

(James 4:1-3)

We need to stop fighting each other, and recognize our true enemy. The devil keeps us so busy fighting one another that we fail to do what we have been commanded: Love one another. The only remedy to eradicate hate is love. We can jump on every bandwagon to fight injustice that there is, but if we do it without love, then we are just a lot of loud noise (I Corinthians 13).

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Romans 12:21)

So, instead of going on a rampage on social media, let’s try and show a little kindness to our neighbors. Instead of returning hate for hate, and meme for meme, let’s spread the Good News of hope in Christ. Let’s be an agent of good.

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

(I Corinthians 15:33)

To me, this verse sums up the problem these days. We have allowed the enemy to divert us from our purpose. Let’s not be deceived anymore. Let’s take up our only spiritual weapon, the sword of the Spirit (God’s Word), and turn it on our real enemy (Ephesians 6: 17).

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

The Power of Naming

 

2011-09-26 21.31.06When a little bobble-headed, tuxedo kitten showed up in my yard howling for help, I picked her up and felt ribs. She hissed when her feet left the ground but by the time she reached my shoulder she was purring like an Italian sports car. It took less than a week to realize she had chosen me as her human, so I set about trying to come up with a name for her. I tried Squeaker for a week or so because the way her cry sounded, but she categorically refused to answer to it.  She was extremely vocal and sounded like Beaker from the Muppets, like she was actually having a conversation in a high-pitched voice. It sounded like a series of “meeps”. One day as she stood with her back to me I called “Meep.” She turned around and looked at me and that was that.

There is something powerful in a name. In Genesis chapter one, God created the world by calling it into being by name. God said let there be light and there was light. Then he created man and woman and named them Adam and Eve. God even granted man the honor of naming things in the Garden of Eden. Then as Adam and Eve had children, they chose names for them as well. In Old Testament times, and even still today, great thought was taken in choosing a name. The Israelites called God multiple names based on different aspects of His character, such as Our Father or Our Provider. There is power in asking for something in God’s name and in God’s will.

There is also something about naming something that takes away fear. The unknown is scary and full of worst case scenarios. However, when we can finally name our fear or disease or problem, it calms us because until we can name it we don’t know how to fight it. I was watching a television show called Chasing the Cure. The guests were people with mysterious conditions that their doctors had been unable to identify or cure. Many had suffered for years. On the show a group of doctors work with a network of medical specialists and the general public to try and put a name to their illness and then hopefully find a cure or at least a treatment. For many of them, just finding a diagnosis was freeing after so many years of uncertainty.

The same can be said about sin. When we name our sins before God, then we can ask forgiveness and move forward.  When we just say a blanket forgive me, the “hidden” sins still taunt us as if God doesn’t already know about them. When we admit them to Him, then He can heal us and help us move forward. Identifying a problem is the first step to a solution. In this case, naming the sin and admitting it is the first step in battling it.

The same can also be said about our enemy. In the series Harry Potter, people refuse to say the name of the evil wizard Voldemort out of fear. Harry refuses to fall prey to that fear and says his name out loud, unwilling to give Voldemort any power over him. While Voldemort is a fictional character, our enemy is not. Ephesians 2:6 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” There is power in identifying the enemy and knowing that we are fighting against something more than other humans. We are fighting a battle at the spiritual level.  When we name our sins and ask forgiveness and we name our enemy and claim God’s victory, then we know we can win the battle we are facing because God has already won the war.

Doing Your Part

We’ve spent Monday nights in April studying the story of Gideon in the book of Judges. One concept that was discussed was fulfilling your role. Gideon was given a battle plan from God. In order for it to work everyone had to take their place and do their part. Like our physical bodies, if one part doesn’t work right, the rest of the body suffers and doesn’t work at its optimum capability. It has to make up for the missing or damaged part.

At the same time we were doing the Bible study, I have been working for a company online. During my shifts, there are managers who monitor the work. In previous years, I either ignored their presence or got irritated or discouraged when they gave me feedback, especially when it was negative feedback. I took it personally and got frustrated. I wanted to quit.

I also teach online and get frustrated when I give students feedback and they ignore it, or they get defensive. I am only trying to help them improve their writing and their grade. I’m just doing my job. Why aren’t they listening? I tried to make it clear that I was here to help. All they had to do was ask, but they rarely sought help or applied the help I tried to give in feedback.

It hit me that the monitors were also only doing their job and trying to help me improve and do my best so that the job was done correctly. They were there to give me help if I needed it. All I had to do was ask for their input and listen to their feedback and apply it. Why hadn’t I listened?

The Holy Spirit also works to give us feedback. He lets us know whether or not we are doing our job and doing it so that it will be most effective. The problem is we often don’t listen because we don’t want to do the job, or we take the constructive criticism too personally and get our feelings hurt. We each have a job to do for the Kingdom. If we don’t do it, the church has to take up our slack and suffers for it.

What is your job? Are you working to the best of your ability or are you refusing to do the work? Are you an employee of the month or a slacker? Doesn’t God deserve our very best effort? It’s time to find the job you were meant for and become the person you were meant to be…me included.

#LessonsfromGideon

 

Life is a Battle

In Oswald Chambers’ book My Utmost for His Highest for December 4th, he states the following:

“To him that overcometh…” (Rev. 2:7) – Life without war is impossible, either in nature or in grace. The basis of physical, mental, moral, and spiritual life is antagonism.”

The goal is to overcome anything that is not of God. We have to do battle on every front, sometimes all at the same time.

Whenever we enter a battle of some sort, we think there must be something wrong, like it is against nature. The truth is that battle or antagonism is the nature of life in this world. We are at war with our sinful nature and a fallen world. Just as we battle against disease in our bodies from the day we are born, we also battle against diseases of the mind, the morals, and the spirit.

The key is to know that the battle is not ours. It is God’s. Jesus Christ has already overcome the world. We only have to let the Holy Spirit do the work within us. It’s not easy, but nothing worth winning is easy. This is why Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the Armor of God every day.

“13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17)

First, it is a daily battle, so we must prepare every day. Second, we are not without protection. We have a full suit of armor at the ready. We just have to put it on and stand firm and allow God to fight our battles for us. Begin each day preparing for whatever the day may bring by putting on his armor and knowing that God has already overcome and won the war.