Recently we’ve been discussing spiritual warfare at my church. Anytime this topic is broached, it seems, you always land in Ephesians 6 to discuss the armor of God. Certainly you don’t have to limit yourself to these verses to have a conversation or a sermon about it, but you definitely can’t ignore it either. As I have thought about spiritual warfare over the past couple of weeks, I’ve realized three things that we should all be aware of in our spiritual lives.
We Are At War
It really is war
I’m not sure enough of us really take spiritual warfare seriously. Granted, too many people want to think a demon is behind every rock or that if something bad happens the devil made them do it. But do they really believe they are in a war? Too few really do.
If you are in a war, you have to be prepared for two things: defend yourself and fight. As my pastor said, and we could ask any soldier, if the military is not in an actual war, then they will train for the day they are in battle. We may not see evidence of the wars or battles in our lives presently, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t coming. We must prepare to defend ourselves against the enemies attacks. We must be prepared to fight with the weapon the Lord has given us. We cannot wait until the enemy confronts us to get ready. He is ready to shoot his fiery darts at us and roams around seeking who he can devour. He is at war with us and it’s time for us to acknowledge it.
Put On Your Armor
We have to put on our armor
If we are at war with an enemy, then we need to put our armor on before we meet him in battle. Are we really wearing the belt of truth or breastplate of righteousness? No enemy in war will wait until who he is attacking is fully clothed. That would be silly. Our enemy isn’t waiting until we put our armor on before he attacks us. We need to put it on and sleep in it and eat in it. We don’t know when the attack is coming.
Leave Your Armor On
Don’t take the armor off
If we put the armor on, we cannot be found taking it off. We can’t assume the battle is won and we can relax. We must keep the armor on. The attack will come when we least expect it and that is when we are most apt to take the armor off. Don’t do it.
You and I are in a battle every day. The ultimate war is won. We must prepare ourselves for the assault that will come as the enemy attempts to take as many of us out as he can.
What would you add to spiritual warfare?
Would you join me on a trip down memory lane today?
When I was two or so, my dad left a ladder leaning up against the house. He came inside for supper. Soon both he and my mom started looking for me. They went outside and there I was. On the roof.
A year or two later, my dad was looking for me . I suppose that I must have been hard to keep up with. There was one place on my Papaw’s farm where I was supposed to never go. It was the pond. My dad crested the hill and, sure enough, there I was, pretending to fish with a piece of barbwire. I learned to be afraid of that pond all the way back to our house.
The thing that strikes me about those stories is that I didn’t have any sort of natural fear in either situation. I climbed the ladder and sat on the roof. I walked to the pond. In my mind, there was nothing to be afraid of, no danger in either situation.
Today? I can tell you several things that I am afraid of. Heights? Check. Roofs? Not crazy about them. Bridges. Tunnels. Each of which I have learned to be afraid of.
Let’s face it. We all have fears, some real and some imagined. Some rational. Others irrational. The question looms in front of us in regard to each fear that we face.
What are we going to do about it?
I can avoid heights all I want. Sometimes, though, I have to face them. I had to climb up on my roof the other day. It’s a pretty steep roof. When my house was originally roofed, the roofers wore harness to keep from falling. Me? I put a ladder against my house. My father-in-law brought his tractor over with its bucket attachment on it. We put the bucket up as high as it would go. Then I put another ladder inside the bucket. I climbed the first ladder and then performed an amazing mid-air switch to the ladder in the bucket. That ladder was positioned to lay on top of my roof. I climbed up that ladder, did what I need to do and came down. Another death-defying switchover and I was on the ground. All was good.
I beat my fear. Was I still nervous about it? Absolutely. But we did enough to calm my fears and give me courage.
That’s what the Lord said, right?
“Be not afraid.”
“Be courageous and fear not.”
There is much to be afraid of in the world. However, there is nothing to be afraid of in the Lord. We simply have the “fear of the Lord.”
He does not want us to live our lives afraid of this or that. He had the book written. We know how it ends Why do we spend our time anxiously fretting over things that He tells us to be courageous about?
It’s time for us to face our fears and be courageous as the Lord wants us to be. It beats the alternative.
Do you fear anything?
This is an ongoing series of fiction. You can find all the chapters at my Fiction page.
David stood before the congregation with more than a little bit of nervousness. Most studies listed public speaking as the number one fear for most people. He wouldn’t say that it was he most dreaded in life, but neither would he say that he looked forward to it. Since he had been elected chairperson of the committee it fell to him to give a report to the church on what was happening with the pastor search.
They decided to do it just after the worship service was over. No one wanted to interrupt the normal flow of things. David would later think in retrospect that it really couldn’t have any worse than it did by having it just before the lunch hour.
David told the simple basics of what had happened so far, which was little after only one committee meeting. They had prayed. He had been elected chairman. They dismissed. They met again on Wednesday night decided to seek an interim pastor first. They had a few names for that position and had lined up a couple of supply preachers to handle the preaching duties while they contacted those worked on the interim. Once they did that, they would focus on finding a permanent pastor.
When he was finished, he looked around and began to leave the podium. Just as he started to move, he caught some movement out of the corner of his eye. He saw Tom Jennings stand up. Tom was one of Bill Johnson’s best friends in the church. David fought to not let his body language say what he was thinking as he saw Tom begin to speak. He could almost see Bill begin to smirk as he stood there waiting to hear from Tom.
“I have a couple of questions. First, I understand there was some controversy at the meeting regarding your election as chairperson. What do you have to say about that?”
David paused before he began to speak. He thought to himself, “What controversy is he talking about?” He stood there for just another second before he responded.
“I’m not aware of any controversy in the meeting. The majority of the team chose me according to the by-laws of the church. It’s not something I necessarily wanted, but I’m happy to serve in this way.”
Tom quickly replied to David’s answer. “We , the church, elected Bill Johnson to the team. He’s the deacon chairman. Without a pastor, he’s the leader of the church. Why wasn’t he just made the chairman?” A murmur rose through the church. A few people nodded their heads, while others just seemed confused by what was going on.
“Tom, all I can tell you is that we followed the procedures this church decided should be followed in choosing a chairperson. Until those are changed, this is the way it happens.”
Tom looked undaunted.”I also understand that Bill brought five names to the table to consider for interim pastor. You folks decided dismiss so that you could pray. Why did you choose to do something that doesn’t help things over looking over those names? We didn’t elect you to do nothing.”
David stood there stunned. He couldn’t believe someone would think this, much less say it out loud. There were a few people looking at Tom, but most eyes fell on David. He was so shocked that he didn’t really know what to say to Tom.
“David, do you mind if I answer this one?”
David turned to see Fred McGinley rising from his seat to David’s left. Fred had shown wisdom in their first meeting. Perhaps no one else in the congregation was respected more than Fred. He had stood in the same place David was numerous times before. David was more than happy to let Fred answer this one.
“Folks, there was no controversy in electing David chairperson of this committee. One person on the team wanted to automatically be named the chairperson. Four of us wanted to follow the by-laws. By following the process that this body decided on many years ago, David was named chairperson.”
David saw more than a few heads nod. He knew that Fred’s words carried more weight with the people than his ever would. He was relieved to see the effect Fred was having among everyone.
Fred continued. “Yes, we dismissed so that we could pray about this matter. We could have jumped right into choosing an interim pastor, but we would have been choosing who we wanted. We decided to dismiss and seek the Lord’s guidance and wisdom in what we should do. My personal hope is that this will be a praying team. It really doesn’t matter what do if prayer isn’t a major part of it. I’m afraid everything we do would be in vain if that isn’t the case.”
Fred sat down. A few people clapped. A couple of amens came from different sections of the auditorium. David could see the smiles and nods in agreement. Fred had quickly diffused the situation that Bill and Tom were trying to create. David felt relief, but also was aware that this would be no easy process going forward. They were all going to have to be on their toes.
David glanced at Tom and Bill. Tom looked defeated and sat down. Bill simply sat there glaring at David. David supposed that things had not gone quite the way they had suspected they would.
“One final thing I would like to ask. We need your prayers. This is and awesome task that you have entrusted to us. We cannot get this done without your help in this area. Pray like you’ve never prayed before.”
With that, David left the stage and folks began to leave.
Jesus said some things that on the surface seem outlandish. Crazy. Insane.
For example, when he is told his mother and brothers have shown up to see Him, He responded by saying that those around Him who do the will of the Father were his brother and sister and mother.
Later he says that whoever comes to Him and does not hate his own mother and father, wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even their own life could not be His disciple.
Crazy again, right?
Imagine that for a minute. Jesus is saying something very significant here. There are a couple of ways that we can take it.
First, we could say that our love for Christ must be so strong that our feelings for our loved ones looks like hate. I can see that and I can accept that this is what Jesus is meaning. But could there be more to it?
Is Jesus calling for a shift in family relations?
What He seems to be saying is that when you become His disciple, your overriding concern is to do the will of the Father. Isn’t that what being a disciple is? You pattern your life after Jesus. You live like Jesus.
Jesus said that his food was to do the will of the Father. His fuel was the Father’s will. What drove Him was what His Father wanted Him to do.
If we are a disciple, a follower, of Christ, shouldn’t that be our food? Our fuel? Our drive? Our desire?
When we live that way, then we become Jesus’ brother and mother and sister.
Imagine what some of the people in our natural relationships might say. “You don’t love me.” “You don’t care about me.” “You hate me.”
Because we have chosen to follow God’s way rather than our own.
Jesus knew that following Him would be hard. So hard that it might harm the relationships that we have were born into and developed here on earth.
Do you “hate” anyone by following Christ?
When I mentioned last week that I was changing the way I approached blogging, I received quite a bit of positive feedback. Many of you were extremely positive about this move. One of those was my friend, Ricky Anderson. He tweeted to me, “A fine change, Larry. Relieved to not see any platforms.” It seems Ricky isn’t a fan of those words being bandied about throughout the blogosphere.
I understood what he meant. In the blogging world, the buzzwords are platform and tribe. We are encouraged to build our platforms and tribes. There is just one problem that I see as I go about this activity called blogging. When I focus on building a platform or my tribe, I tend to focus on those things rather than why I really got into blogging in the first place.
I began blogging for one simple reason. I had more to say than I was able to get out in my normal routine. I was a Sunday school teacher. I had so many ideas floating through my head that I needed an outlet. So I began blogging about my faith and such. Soon enough I really wanted my blog to grow. I learned that I needed a tribe.
The thing is that it’s easy to begin to lose sight of the whole thing. Just like in about anything else, really. You begin to think that it’s all about you. The entire exercise can become one of vanity.
Most of you who read and follow this blog follow Christ. I hope that follow me because something that I write will help you in your walk with Christ.
I hope that the platform that you hear about on the blog is the platform that matters most. It’s the platform that make our relationship with Christ possible. It’s the platform that Christ gave His life on for all of us. The platform that matters most is the cross.
Tribes? If you read and engage with me on this blog, you are, I suppose, technically a part of my “tribe.” I say that doesn’t mean a whole lot. At least not ultimately. What matters most is that the tribe you belong to is the one created by what Christ did on His platform. What matters is that you are in His tribe.
The words platform and tribe are overused in the world of today’s blogging. They have begun to lose their meaning to many of us. They tend to be all about us. Let those of us who follow Christ use them in a way that glorify Christ. Let’s promote His platform of the cross. Let’s build up His tribe, the tribe of those who follow Him.
Let’s give renewed meaning to these words that we tend to hear.
Whose platform and tribe are you promoting?
It seems like Seth Godin set off quite the thought process amongst those of us who happen to write blogs. He wrote a piece called THOSE People a few days ago that you can refer to here. Clay Morgan wrote one entitled THOSE People as well. Since those two wrote their’s, I thought that I might as well write my thoughts on THOSE people as well.
Godin’s post struck a nerve with me because I know that I have been guilty of that in the not so distant past. In fact, I have to fight to make sure that I don’t do it today and I will have to fight to make sure that I don’t do it tomorrow
What is the problem with saying that someone might ask? If someone really asks that question then I’m not sure there is anything I can do to help them. Simply put, if you are a follower of Christ there cannot be THOSE people.
Who are THOSE people who I am referring to? It could be someone of another socio-economic class. It could be someone of another ethnic background. It could be someone of another orientation, physical status or employer. You name it and anyone could be THOSE people.
So, what are we to do with THOSE people?
First, we should remove that way of talking from our vocabulary. We must banish this type of thinking from our minds. There is no place for it for those of us who claim Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, nor are there THOSE people in the body of Christ. We are a people who includes every type of person imaginable who have entered the kingdom of God. We don’t have room for this in our lives.
Second, we must welcome them. Yes, I know this will be uncomfortable. There will be people who we don’t agree with or feel comfortable with. Guess what? Get over it. There will be plenty of people who don’t feel comfortable with us. Do you think all of Jesus’ disciples felt comfortable with each other? I doubt it.
Does this mean that we must agree with everything THOSE people are up to? No. We may change people by our love. Sometimes we may be changed. What most matters is that people will enter the kingdom. It will be an awesome experience if that happens.
THOSE people will always be around. Why? Because other people will be around. So will we.
What are you going to do about THOSE people?
Today is the last day of Deuceology as you know it. Everything that you have known over the last couple of years is changing after today. I am scaling back to three regular posts each week, with Saturday remaining the day that I post fiction.
Let me explain. I am in the midst of what you might call a slight shift in theology. At one time I would have considered it a major shift, but as I have sat back and examined it, it’s not really that major. Perhaps I’ll even write about it in more detail soon, but I would describe it like this: Sovereign Spirit-Filled Satisfaction. Regardless if anyone else thinks that it is a shift or not, I am experiencing some change as a result of this.
Obviously we have changed churches. I have come to realize that my lack of involvement in a local church enabled me to crank out a daily dose of Deuceology. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I want to be more involved in our new church. Something has to give if I do that and writing six blog posts each week has to be one of them.
There are a couple of other things that I am interested in doing as well. I have been piddling around with writing a book. I have some of it written. I want to spend a bit more time doing that in the near future. I also have ideas for a novel or two. I want to write those things as well.
So, yes, change is in the air, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. I’ve changed before. I used to have Two-For-Tuesday. Twitterific Thursday used to be one of my regular posts. I have changed each time these have gone away.
What I want to happen is for my posts to be of greater quality. I hope that less quantity will bring that.
Pray with me as I head in this new direction.