Thursday, May 15, 2014

When You're in the Cross-Hairs

I must have a target on my back.

And on my forehead.

And between my eyes.

The past...too long to even remember...has been riddled with one spiritual attack after another.
"Spiritual attack" sounds so grim and foreboding, I know, but it's real stuff. 

Ephesians 6:10-18 The Message (MSG)

A Fight to the Finish

10-12 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
13-18 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

And today, after having one of the worst days I've had in a verrrrrrrry long time yesterday, I decided I am ready to do a series on the Full Armor of God and Spiritual Warfare. It sounds kind of ominous and spooky, but it's real. The Bible is clear about that. It's so real and to be expected, in fact, that the book of Ephesians talks about putting on the Full Armor of God in order to withstand these attacks. 

This Armor is not to protect us physically like it would protect a warrior in battle, but each piece of Armor represents a spiritual tool to protect our minds:

The Helmet of Salvation

The Breast Plate of Righteousness

The Belt of Truth

The Shield of Faith

The Sword of the Spirit

Shoes to Spread the Gospel of Peace

Over the next 6+ posts, I look forward to going over each one, learning more about each and sharing what I am learning with you.

We are not powerless. 

We just need to learn how to use our tools. 

Until next time...
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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Coffee Time #4: Got Your Dukes Up?

"But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him." Titus 3:9-10, NIV

If we all took this to heart, there would be absolutely no comments section on most of Facebook's Pages.

Have you ever scrolled through the comments of USA Today's Facebook page? A musician or actor's Facebook page? A YouTube video? Have you ever followed the conversation of some Tweets?

Who knows how many countless hours have been lost to people arguing back and forth on social media. Who knows how many enemies have been created by hot tempers and furious typing behind an iPad or laptop screen.

How many family battles are waged in Status Updates?

Surely we've all experienced the urge to weigh in on petty disagreements and hot-button issues?

Am I the only one who has spent 15 precious minutes creating a profile just to argue with someone on a message board??

Please, anyone?

It doesn't just happen on social media, though.

I see this happen within churches, Christian circles and other ministries as well.

I see heated, passionate arguments surrounding an issue that clearly is not integral to salvation.

I have seen people leave the church over songs that were sung in service.

Embarrassingly, I stopped attending my church for several months once because of a disagreement about volunteering in the nursery.

(It seems I'm unveiling a bunch of my dirty laundry today...)

What is it you may need to avoid?

What foolish controversies to do you buy into?

And...uh oh...what foolish controversies might you start?

I am guilty of this myself. I read a blog post this week that immediately set me on the defensive. I read the post and then I read the comments and I was angered and upset.

But when I sat back and looked at it, I realized that Christ still died for me. He still rose again and God is still on His throne.

If it is not something that calls into question who Jesus is and what He has done, I am not going to allow dissension in my relationships because of it.

Most of us know someone who likes to make waves just to make waves. This person is desperately in need of something productive to do because much of their time is spent causing trouble.

Let's not be those people.

Let's not die on a hill that isn't meant to be died upon.

Is there something on your mind that you're unsure if it's a hill to die on? Consult the Word. Titus is a short book of the Bible that is loaded with Paul's wisdom on how a successful church should run, and on what constitutes being worthy of "quarreling".

Many issues require discussion, especially when there are differences of opinion. However, not all need to break down into a battle that does more to harm our cause than to further it.

So, the next time we are poised with our hands over the keyboard, ready to blast someone with our thoughts and give them "what for", let's take a moment to decide if that's the best way to go about it.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

That Time When I Blogged About NOT Doing Something...And Then Went Ahead And Did It

So the other day I not only blogged but I also made a video about gossiping and why we shouldn't do it. I read from Proverbs about how listening to gossip is like eating junk. I asked "why would I possibly want to talk about other people's lives...?"

And then I went right on ahead and spent at least 30 minutes of my time "catching up" with a friend this weekend. And that "catching up" included chatting about other people and their lives and decisions they have made that I disagree with.


How many times do I feel like Paul in Romans 7:

14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.c For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So, that part of this weekend left me with a sick feeling. I failed miserably again. And I not only failed, but I was a hypocrite to boot. 

"Christian of the Year" material right here. 

It's not like I had blinders on, or the subject caught me by surprise. I wasn't tricked into talking about someone else, and neither was a weapon held to my head to do so. 

Instead, I practically licked my lips with glee before launching into my thoughts on so-and-so's situation and how I think everyone involved is an idiot, etc etc. 

Sadly, this is a true story.

After the smoke cleared and I had time to think back on every ridiculous, hypocritical word I said, there was something that I think I should try next time that may very well halt me in my tracks when I get the urge to gossip:

When the opportunity arises to put in my 2 cents about someone else or to listen to details of someone's life--particularly details that aren't very flattering--I can offer to pray for the parties being discussed. Right then. On the spot. With the other person(s) who is/are either listening to or dishing out gossip. 

That actually makes me uncomfortable. 

What if the other people talking aren't Christians?

What if the other people think I'm over-reacting?

What if the other people think I'm weird?

I have decided that if I am too embarrassed to pray for someone, merely because someone else may think I'm weird or over-reacting, than I am taking man's opinion in higher regard than I am God's.

And I definitely don't want to do that. 

I am hoping that this will [help] zip my lips and stop me from offering up my thoughts on someone else or asking leading questions in order to get someone else to "volunteer" information on others. 

Honestly, I have P L E N T Y in my own life to focus on--I have no business focusing on anyone else's.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Coffee Time Video #3! Are You a Gossip?

Proverbs 18:7-8 (MSG) says:
Fools are undone by their big mouths;
their souls are crushed by their words.
Listening to  gossip is like eating cheap candy;
do you really want junk like that in your belly?
I am smarting from how close to home that hits me (like, right-in-the-center-of-my-living-room, close!)

I cannot tell you the number of times I have gossiped about someone under the guise of "asking for prayer" or "seeking wisdom". For sure, there are times when seeking wise counsel is necessary, but that line gets blurred too often in an attempt to rally support or to have my ego stroked--or simply because I want to chew the fat about someone!

If I am in conflict with someone, it's SOOOOOO easy to go to someone else asking for advice and then vomit up a list of the other person in the conflict's shortcomings. Sooo easy. 

I am trying to learn the difference between genuinely seeking counsel and merely trying to get someone in "my corner" who will reassure me that I am right and the other person is wrong. 

I am horrified at the thought that someone talks negatively about me behind my back. Yet, I know it has happened. When it gets back to me, it's hurtful, it makes me mad, and any trust between myself and the person who spoke about me is damaged, at best. 

If talking about someone else isn't because of a conflict, and I just feel like talking about someone else, I really need to examine why I want to do that. What do I possibly gain by speaking about someone else behind his/her back? 

It's a hard lesson and gossiping is so easy to do. What can be innocent and seemingly harmless (sharing a funny/sad/moving story about someone) can quickly turn into gossiping. 

Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online defines "Gossip" as: " (n) Information about the behavior and personal lives of other people."

So, while I might like to candy-coat it by saying I'm merely sharing something because I'm "worried" or because I'm asking for "prayer," the truth is that talking about someone else's life is gossip. 

If I'm really that worried, I can take it  to the One who knows the details without me having to broadcast them to everyone. 

Also, bringing a third party into the conversation is bad on so many fronts. For one, it is shining a light on someone else's flaws. What I share about Person A may change Person B's opinion of Person A. Do I really want to be the cause of conflict--especially if I am already in the middle of a conflict with Person A?


Second, my perspective is probably (most likely) skewed about the situation. What I believe to be truth may well just be my take on the situation. There may be far more (and usually is) to the story than just the piece of the puzzle I hold. Sharing my one piece of a 5,000 piece jig saw puzzle is unfair to whomever I am sharing with. It leaves Person B lacking and unable to see the Big Picture.

Guarding our tongue is tough. 

Knowing the difference between a genuine concern/prayer request can be tricky.

Words said can never be unsaid. 

Let's use our words to build each other up rather than tear each other down. 

Let's not air others' laundry simply because we feel like it.
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