May We SEE the Battle, and Fight

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13

It is hard to live on this planet and not see the battle that is raging around us. Not battles between countries, nor political battles. Not battles between law enforcement and angry citizens, nor battles over rights and religion.

But the battle which rages and fuels all those battles; the battle between good and evil. This battle has been raging since the world began, and will continue until the world, as we know it, ends.

The brilliance of our enemy’s battle plan is to blind people to the fact we are in a battle. He loves complacency, misdirection and fear. Those are some of his greatest weapons. He stirs up people to think they are fighting one battle, without realizing the greater battle raging around them.

There is a real battle going on and it is impossible to deny. Evil grows all around us and hearts are being turned away from God as the enemy prowls around looking for people to devour.

However, good is stronger than evil because God is stronger then satan! And God has already won the war. But we are called to fight.

Obviously, we cannot fight on our own. Just as a soldier would have protection and weapons, God has given His children protection and weapons so that we can stand against our enemy and fight back.

I just got done writing a children’s lesson on the armor of God, and while I’ve read that passage many times, it was as if God opened my eyes to see it in an entirely new way. I saw our armor in a whole new way that excites me, and drives me to my knees in praise and pleading.

The Belt of Truth. Just as a belt surrounds our waist, we must be surrounded by God’s truth if we are to stand against our enemy. Surrounded in truth: reading God’s Word everyday, praying for spiritual insight, thinking about Jesus, listening to Godly wisdom from others, speaking truth, singing truth, literally surrounding ourselves in Truth. There are so many lies and half-truths out there. We will most certainly fall to the lies, if we are not surrounded by Truth.

Breastplate of Righteousness. The breastplate covers the heart and lungs, and Jesus’ righteousness covers the hearts of those who trust in Him. His righteousness literally covers us so that we can stand before God. Satan cannot accuse God’s children, because they have been redeemed and justified by Jesus Himself.

Shoes of the Gospel. Our “Gospel shoes” give us both the ability to stand, and the reason to move. We stand on the Gospel and because of the Gospel, and we move so we can share the Gospel.

Shield of Faith. Satan attacks with arrows of lies, deceit, half-truths, and tricks. He knows he cannot take God’s children away from Him eternally, but he will do everything he can to make them ineffectual for God’s Kingdom. He seeks to turn hearts away from God. Faith in Jesus is our protection. Knowing who Jesus is, and who we are in Him is how we deflect those arrows. When our faith is in Jesus, He becomes our shield, which means satan’s arrows strike Jesus instead of us! Those arrows are no match for The King!

The Helmet of Salvation. Just as a helmet protects a person from a deadly injury, our salvation protects our lives from being snatched away from God. While satan will attack, he cannot remove God’s children from His hand. Satan may win a battle, but he will never win the war because the names of those who know Jesus are engraved on His hands.

The Sword of the Spirit. This is the only weapon in our armor, and it is the only one we need. What is more powerful than God’s Word? With His Word, He created the universe. And with His Word, He will one day destroy satan. God’s Word is so powerful that it is what Jesus Himself used to fight satan in the wilderness. God’s Word is the most powerful weapon of all, capable of changing the very core of man. However, just as a soldier must pick up his sword to use it, we must pick up God’s Word so we can use it. We must read it, speak it, pray it, talk about it, listen to it, and meditate on it. We must know God’s Word so we can use God’s Word in battle.

Prayer. While prayer is not officially listed in the armor list, it is no less important in our arsenal of weapons. I read an amazing quote by John Piper that I believe sums up the purpose of prayer beautifully: “Prayer is the walkie-talkie on the battlefield of the world. It calls in for the accurate location of the target of the Word. It calls in to ask for the protection of air cover. It calls in to ask for fire power to blast open a way for the tanks of the Word of God. It calls in the miracle of healing for the wounded soldiers. It calls in supplies for the forces. And it calls in the needed reinforcements.”

We must admit that we are in the battle of all battles, and we must put on each day, the armor God has given us. Surround yourself in truth, ask Jesus to cover your heart with His righteousness, run with the Gospel, ask Jesus to be your shield, battle confidently, know God’s Word, and pray.

“God, raise up warriors to fight boldly and confidently, knowing that You have already won the war!”

Two Edged Sword

May we SEE You While We Wait

I seem to be suffering from a mild case of writer’s block. Curriculum lessons have become harder to write, my thoughts are a jumbled mess, and yet non-existent at the same time. Even writing a grocery list feels overwhelming. The former grief counselor in me, knows that grief can cause distraction and focus problems. I am being patient with myself (as patient as I can be with deadlines looming;) and trusting the One who wrote The Book in the first place, to help me write lessons from His book, for His kids.

As I wait, and trust, and slowly write, I keep reflecting on a beautiful song by Francesca Battistelli called, “Holy Spirit.” It has become my prayer the last few weeks. I played around with the song and some of my dad’s and my aunt’s gorgeous pictures. I ended up creating a slideshow which I wanted to share here. I pray that as you listen to the words of this song, your heart will be stirred by the Holy Spirit and you will become more aware of His Presence. Waiting is hard, but waiting in the power of the Holy Spirit can become a beautiful time of rest and refreshment.

You can download this song (and her entire album which is INCREDIBLE) by clicking the following link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/if-were-honest-deluxe-version/id794038418

Help us SEE You in the Darkness

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (and the darkness) I will fear no evil, for You are with me…..” Psalm 23:4

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

“He restores my soul….”Psalm 23:3

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I have always hated darkness. As a child I was talked into crawling through a “touch tunnel.” Sounds all well and good, but you are in a maze in total and complete darkness where you must feel your way out; you cannot even see your hand in front of your face. Even thinking about it now, makes me shiver.

As a child, I thought darkness referred only to the absence of light, and if I could have a night-light at all times, then I could chase the darkness away.

Of course, now as an adult, I know that darkness comes in many different forms. Some forms of darkness can easily be chased away, while others have the power to consume you.

The darkness of a loved one’s death, mental illness, a psychological trauma, abuse, a scary medical diagnosis, a broken marriage, a wayward child, can all threaten to consume us. The darkness of these realities seek to overtake the light.

This past week, the world lost a precious woman. Questions like: “Why?” “Could I have done something?” and “How did I miss her pain?” nag at our thoughts day and night. Answers are few, questions are many, and grief is palpable.

When I received the news of her death, I was unable to process anything for awhile. I heard the words people were saying, but the words just could not make sense. My friend was never without a smile or a joke. I never once left her presence without a smile on my face. She loved Jesus, her family, her friends and anyone in need. She treasured God’s Word and she spoke it often. How could she be gone?

As time passed, the numbness gave way to sadness, the sadness gave way to anger, and the anger gave way to guilt. In those moments of complete confusion and disorientation, I felt like I was back in the touch tunnel. I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t see God’s purpose. I couldn’t see why He allowed this. I couldn’t even pray.

This blog is dedicated to seeing God in my everyday life, but what happens when it is dark and you can’t SEE Him?

You hold tight to who He is, and you ask Him to turn on a night-light!

If you have godly friends (and/or parents), you call them and ask them to pray with you and for you. You cry out to God to help you. You beg God to help the others affected. And you begin speaking out loud, who God is.

Darkness does not change who God is. God is good (Psalm 136:1). God is love (1 John 4:8). God is in complete control of this world (2 Chronicles 20:6). God is working all things for the good of those who love them, even when that means temporary, yet unimaginable pain (Romans 8:28). God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9). He is our shield (Psalm 28:7), our refuge (Psalm 46:1), our stronghold (Psalm 18:2), our rock (2 Samuel 22:3). He is our salvation and our strength (Isaiah 12:22).

God feels our pain and holds us close. He “hides us in the shadow of His wing” and sets our feet upon The Rock.

The day I heard the shocking news, I sat in my car for an hour. I went from feeling nothing, to gut wrenching pain in a matter of moments. As I was emotionally back in the touch tunnel I cried out to God. It was not a fancy prayer. In fact, it went something like, “Daddy, help!”

And He did. He turned on the night-light through a friend who prayed for me, because I had no words. He held my hand in the darkness as He brought the truth of who He still is to my mind. He hid me in His wings as the numbness gave way to pain.

I still have no answers, and my heart still hurts for my friend’s family. I don’t know why the darkness was allowed this temporary victory. But this I do know: darkness won this battle, but God has won the war!

My sweet friend was and is a child of God. She had given her heart to Jesus and knew that she was forgiven. His blood covered her sin: past, present and future. She is His and He is hers. (I can still say “is” because she is with Him right now).

We are still left in the dark in so many ways, but we cling to The Light. I pray that good will come from this. Let’s pray earnestly for transparency in relationships, especially in the body of Christ. I’m so not perfect and neither are you. Let’s be real with each other. Let’s ask “How are you?” and mean it! And let’s not be afraid to answer that question honestly!

Let’s earnestly pray that the church will lead the way in addressing and helping to provide for those with mental illnesses and emotional pain. It is a complicated and highly debated subject, but Jesus never ever avoided complicated and debated subjects. We live in a broken world and have to acknowledge that brokenness affects all of creation, including human bodies and minds. Let’s follow our Savior’s example and not judge, but love.

And let’s shine the light of Jesus into each other’s lives. You never know when someone is groping through the darkness, unable to SEE in front of them. We can shine the light of love and of truth into the darkness as we remember and reflect on who God is.

Just as Mary Magdalene discovered early one Sunday morning as she wearily walked to a garden tomb thinking that darkness had won; there will be times when the darkness will win a battle, but praise God, we have a victorious risen King who has already won the war!

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (and the darkness) I will fear no evil, for You are with me…..” Psalm 23:4

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

“He restores my soul….”Psalm 23:3