Category Archives: Preparedness

Knights in Daze

Photo: © Jørgen Erik Christensen

Photo: © Jørgen Erik Christensen

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 (Ephesians 6:13).

Like any good soldier, I put my armor on daily –at least most of it- but this old armor is dented, scratched and tarnished from battle. Come to think of it, so is my husband’s. I can only look back with amusement to those long-ago days when I, like most foolish schoolgirls, dreamt of my very own knight in shining armor whisking me away to the land of happily ever-after.

My knight did finally come along –and he was tall, dark and handsome- but his armor was certainly not fancy or impressive. Truthfully, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Yes, I could have settled for some dazzling knight in shining armor. Nevertheless, by the time my would-be husband entered my life I had matured enough to realize that true warriors were experienced in battle and their armors were well-worn. The Lord had sent me a man who was quiet and unpretentious on the outside but spiritually robust inwardly. I knew that whatever battles we would face in life, my rugged knight would be up for the fight.

That is not to say, however, that we have never been injured in battle. The Bible says that 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). Therefore, the battles we face are often arduous and exhausting, leaving us battle-weary and dazed.

Consequently, putting on the full armor of God is absolutely essential if we are to overcome these forces. Scripture instructs us to put on the armor so that we can withstand (resist) in the evil day, having done all, to stand. The Greek word for stand, pronounced his’-tay-mee, is speaking of abiding in steadfast faithfulness.

In other words; if we clothe ourselves in our spiritual armor each day -which is truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation- we will be equipped to overcome every battle –never faltering in our relationship with the Lord and never retreating from His service.

The whole concept of medieval knights has been greatly glamorized over time, but in reality the average knight, although well-respected, rarely achieved the fame and status that modern legend has portrayed. Though born of nobility, they were very hard-working soldiers who were trained in battle from the earliest days of their youth. They devoted their entire lives to serving their lords and protecting the general populace, laying down their own lives when necessary. The knights of old, like soldiers of Christ, never retreated from service.

Furthermore, the average knight rarely wore a shining, unblemished armor. Those who did were generally the lazy, uncaring men who flaunted their wealth and self-professed superiority. These men loved to don their most elaborate armor and participate in exhibition events. Not much has changed. There are a lot of folks walking around in shiny spiritual armor. They may look the part, but I would much rather be surrounded by the soldiers in God’s army whose armors show signs of use.

Why? Because there are times when I need other warriors to fight on my behalf. Sometimes “I drop my sword and cry for just awhile, ‘cause deep inside this armor, the warrior is a child. Unafraid because His armor is the best, but even soldiers need a quiet place to rest…” (Twila Paris song, The Warrior is a Child)

What about you? Do you feel that life’s battles have left you battle-weary and dazed? Jesus lovingly admonished: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).

The seasons of rest we now enjoy may be temporary, but always remember, someday soon the Lord will return to whisk us all away to the land of happy ever-after. I can hardly wait. Till then, I plan to keep this battered old armor; it has served me well.

Frozen Lasagna

lasagna

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but frozen lasagna generally cooks better when the oven is turned on. I was reminded of this just last week when my growling tummy urged me into the kitchen to partake of what should have been a bubbly, cheesy delight, only to find a rock-solid block of disappointment instead.

Heat is not always a bad thing!

Truthfully, I would do well to remember that this summer, as I begin to complain at the high temps, and grumble that I don’t do heat (or mornings). Better yet, I would do well to remember the benefits of heat when I am in the midst of spiritual battles -and spiritual growth –both of which often go hand-in-hand.

The apostle Peter acknowledges that our trials are fiery: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (I Peter 4:12)

Furthermore, James encourages us to embrace our trials: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

I repeat, heat is not always a bad thing!

Dear reader, may we all persevere through all of life’s battles, no matter how difficult they may be, knowing full-well that the heat of adversity is the element which refines us, and defines us; preparing us to be individuals who are pleasing to the Lord.

Those fiery trials, which we all know so well, only serve to ensure that when at last we stand before our Lord face-to-face, we will be ‘on fire’  –never  a cold,  rock-solid block of disappointment!

Shofar So Good!

shofar

Have you ever heard the sound of a shofar? There is just something deeply stirring about the deep trumpet-like sound that erupts from this (ram’s) horn, signaling either a solemn or joyous occasion.

This week, folks around the globe celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles, starting with a shofar blast. Tabernacles is a time of great rejoicing because it is one of God’s appointed times and according to Scripture, it is the true time of the Savior’s birth.

As I listened to the sound of the shofar this week, I couldn’t help but think of a time, many years ago, when the sound of a shofar greatly excited my daughter, who was only three or four years old at the time. As we travelled down the road, I popped a new music CD into the player. Unbeknownst to me, the very first thing to play was the very long blast of a shofar.

“THE RAPTURE!” she squealed with delight.

Even at that tender young age, my precious knew that in the near future, a heavenly shofar will sound when the Messiah, Jesus Christ, returns at the last trump, or shofar (I Corinthians 15:52).

Of course, no one knows the day or the hour that our LORD will return, but we know He will; and that, I believe, very soon! When he does, saint and sinner alike will hear the shofar blast and every eye will see Him coming in the clouds (Revelation 1:7).

Whether that shofar blast will be solemn, or joyous, will depend on the faith of the hearer. I pray, dear reader, you are ready for His return, and like my young daughter, waiting with great expectancy for that glorious day when He catches us away to be with Him.

If not, it is never too late to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you have any questions, or would like someone to pray for you, I would be honored; just drop me a note.

Matthew 24:44 – Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Time to Book It

books

When is the last time you heard someone say that it was time to “book it”? For those of you who aren’t familiar with this phrase, it means that the person speaking it needs to leave; usually in a hurry. Perhaps we don’t hear this phrase very much anymore because our fast-paced society has become so hurried that ‘booking it’ is pretty much implied.

I still like to ‘book it’ every chance I get, but not in the same way. When I tell my family that I am going to “book it,” they know that I’m headed to the library to load-up on books.

My love of reading started when I was very young, and thankfully, my children have inherited that same bookworm gene. In fact, there are many evenings when the only sound in our home is the sound of turning pages. I must admit, as a parent this brings me great joy.

I know of another parent who surely feels the same way; our Heavenly Father. I believe it pleases Him greatly when His children shut-out all the distractions of this world and immerse themselves in His Word; like the Bereans, for example, “…. in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things [which the apostles taught] were so.” (Acts 17:11)

Personally, I long to be a Berean. After all, 2 Timothy 2:15 instructs us all: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Although, truth be told, I’m not always as disciplined as I should be, and sometimes let the demands of life keep me from studying the Bible as much as I would like.

Can anyone relate? I know how overwhelming life can sometimes be, and how very hectic. Perhaps, though, (and I’m preaching to myself), those are the best times to pull out our Bibles and ‘book it’ like a Berean.

Normal People Worry Me

Adorning my refrigerator is a rather large magnet that reads: Normal People Worry Me! I’ve told my closest friends they have no cause for concern, though, because there’s hardly a normal one in the bunch. Still, despite the lighthearted jest, I do believe that being abnormal is, in today’s world, a good thing, because the LORD doesn’t care for “normal” either.

How can we know this?  Obviously, the LORD doesn’t rely on magnets to make His thoughts known, but He has certainly given us His word, wherein, He speaks of His children thus:

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself… (Deuteronomy 14:2)

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:14).

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people… (Exodus 19:5).

The word peculiar, in both Hebrew and Greek, has the same meaning; something that is uncommon, set-apart and very valuable. Quite the opposite, normal denotes that which is common or ordinary.  Hence, when looking back on my adolescent years, I find it humorous how often I then  lamented that, “I just want to be normal.”

Presently, normal is the last thing I want to be.  Which brings me back to the aforementioned magnet; whenever I see that humorous little phrase, “Normal People Worry Me,”  I sometimes take a moment to ask myself if my witness, as a believer, is commonplace and ordinary. After all, each of our lives, like a refrigerator magnet, clearly displays a message.

Dear reader,what message does your life display? Is it “peculiar” enough that people take notice of the LORD, whose ambassador you are. Or, is your life so normal, your Christian witness so common, that the world simply overlooks it?

It’s your choice, you can either blend into the world effortlessly, or you can choose to be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (I Peter 2:9).

Another Voice

This morning I awoke to the cheerful sound of a puppy barking. Pleasant as this was, I don’t have a puppy. I do, however, have a vivacious cockatiel that loves to entertain. Boaz has a whole repertoire of songs he likes to whistle, and sounds he likes to mimic.

Admittedly, there have been times that I have mistaken some of Boaz’s sounds for others, especially his imitation of the oven timer, which he has skillfully mastered. However, being bamboozled by a feathery friend is a far cry different than being deceived by an enemy. I would like to say that has never happened to me, but sadly, it has happened far too often.

This afternoon, I was reflecting on the ease by which a person can be deceived, when the following scripture came to mind:

And when he [Jesus] putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.   And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers (John 10:4,5).

The truth is, dear reader, that today’s culture tends to bombard each of us with all kinds of “voices” –voices which beckon us to turn this way or that; to do something, buy something, accept something. While most demand simple life decisions, all too many of those “voices” serve only to distract, or confuse us in our faith, if we aren’t careful. Sadly, in our present culture, what used to be black and white has slowly turned into varying shades of gray, and that which used to be absolute has become ambiguous, even in the church.

So how do we know where to draw the line? How can we, as Christians, be “culturally relevant” without weakening the foundations of our faith? It’s quite simple, really. As one of Christ’s sheep, we will know His voice. And if we purpose to listen to His voice daily, we won’t be duped into following another, nor will we be easily deceived by the adversary of our souls. I don’t know about you, but this brings me great comfort!

Like A Flood

Sometimes God calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.

This past weekend, the weather here was horrendous. We were hit with the whole gamut of storm threats, including tornadoes, hail and flooding. In fact the hail stone pictured –or should I say hail boulder- was one of many that pounded this region. There was quite a bit of property loss in our area, but praise the LORD, there were no serious injuries.

I thought of the second half of Isaiah 59:19: When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. However, the ancient Hebrew texts did not have commas, or paragraphs for that matter, so instead of reading:

When the enemy shall come in like a flood —the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him

the verse could just as easily read

When the enemy shall come in —like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

What’s the difference? The difference is where you place the emphasis. Dear reader, when you are bombarded with the storms of life, do you focus more on the storm, or on the one who can calm it?

It is only natural to feel completely overwhelmed at times. Undoubtedly, many of the folks here that lost their homes in the tornadoes felt that way. I’m sure they could relate to the words of King David did when he penned the following:

My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.
Psalm 55:4-8 NIV

But David didn’t stop there, allowing his situation to flood him with despair. Instead, he confidently proclaimed, “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me” (verse 16).

Dear reader, I leave you with these encouraging words from the same Psalm; may they flood you with peace during your roughest storms.

“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved (verse 22).

The End of the Matter

Surely, you’ve heard the story of the young bride that always cut the end off a roast before she put it in the pan to cook? It is said that her husband asked, “Honey, why do you do that?” To which she replied, “I don’t know. My mother always did it that way, so I do it that way.”

This made the young bride curious enough to ask her mother, “Mom, why do you always cut the end of the roast off before you cook it?” Her mother answered in like manner, “I don’t know. My mother always did it that way, so I do it that way.”

By this time, her curiosity had really peaked. “Granny,” she asked the following week, “Why do you always cut the end of the roast off before you cook it?” Smiling sweetly, her grandmother answered, “Well dear, I always bought a big roast to feed a big family, but my roasting pan was too small. I had to cut the ends off the roasts so they would fit in the pan.”

Whoever first told this story was probably trying to make a point about the folly of following others blindly. Scripture speaks to that issue as well when it says if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch (Matthew 15:14). But that is not the point I wish to make.

I would like you to ponder this Scripture instead: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (I Peter 3:15).

Dear reader, if someone were to ask you why you believe as you do, are you prepared to open your Bible and answer them through Scripture? And if someone were to ask why you, as a believer, why do you do certain things, are you prepared to answer those questions also? It might not be in your best interest, or theirs, to say, “The church has always done it this way, so that’s how I do it.”

After all, there are many folks out there who are hungry for the truth and they want definitive answers. Telling them, “It has always been done this way,” is a bit like serving a roast with the end cut off – pointlessly lacking.