Monday, November 15, 2010

The Belt of Truth

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth... Ephesians 6:14 KJV

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind & be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ... 1 Peter 1:13 NKJV

"Girt & gird". These aren't the names of some dynamic Scandinavian brother & sister crime fighting duo... These words mean to prepare oneself for action.

When we see the armour of God in Ephesians 6, its easy to imagine it magically, invisibly, protecting our physical bodies. However, imagine, if you will, your mind as a body all its own. Imagine it like a newly enlisted person in the military. Perhaps your mind is troubled... it needs some structure, discipline. Maybe it enlisted as an obligation to family or personal conviction. Maybe it enlisted as a last resort. Either way, the goal is to learn submission, grow under discipline & be ready for action. Not only that, the enlisted mind must work with other enlistees to become a cohesive unit.

If we, as soldiers in this spiritual military, set our minds on the things of the spirit, we will succeed. However, if we set our minds on the things of the flesh, we will ultimately fail in our service as individuals & cohesively as a unit. Why? "...Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace." Romans 8:6 NLT

Jesus is the same yesterday, today & forever.
He is the One Who was & is & is to come.
He is the Way, the Truth & the Life.

If the opposite of girding is to disarm, loosen, or let go & if the opposite of truth is a lie, then what might the opposite of Jesus be, based on the descriptives above? Might it be someone shifty who is constantly changing the rules? Might this someone be finite, selfish, manipulative? Salvation would be something to work for, claw for, compete for. In the end, we would find that the hope of salvation was just a cruel joke b/c we tried to save ourselves & failed. This "opposite Jesus" might be a liar, a roadblock to experiencing freedom, sowing death in us instead of life. Imagine this "opposite Jesus", this counterfeit saviour, as your own sinful nature- your civilian mind- influenced by the lies of your enemy, the devil... Influenced by the malleability of another slightly lesser known enemy, your sinful nature.

We have a Saviour Who never changes. He has always been & always will be. He alone has the words of Life & all His words are Truth. When we learn to gird up the loins of our mind with the Truth He speaks, we learn how to prepare ourselves for action. We learn how to submit to the Spirit of God. When we learn how to submit to the Spirit of God, we are lead toward life & peace individually & cohesively.

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Armour, Applied

Today I decided to take a different approach to the Armour of God.

First, I wrote down the pieces of armour in one column:


Then I wrote down their opposites in another column:


I applied each of the negatives to me.
A) What are the lies I'm believing today?
B) Is sin mastering me?
C) Am I lethargic in body, mind, spirit? Am I distracted?
D) Do I doubt things about God that I've previously believed?
E) Do I feel alone, exposed or vulnerable?
F) Am I listening to the word of the world about me, about God?
G) Am I choosing to avoid God because of sin or do I feel like I don't have anything to say?

I wrote my answers down under the negatives & sat with them for a bit. Everyone's answers will be different. Then I went over to the truth column, took each "piece of armour" & applied it to the corresponding negative. It looks something like this:

A) LIE (What are the lies I'm believing today?)
I have no hope, I can't change, I may as well give up.
There IS hope for me, God has given me a hope & a future, I CAN change, it just takes time, like any living thing.

Belt of Truth: fastened.

B) DEPRAVITY (Is sin mastering me?)
I am struggling with "X, Y & Z" today.
I choose to repent & abstain from "X, Y & Z" b/c God has called me to deny my self & be Holy as He is Holy.

Breastplate of righteousness. Check.

C) LETHARGY / DISTRACTION (Am I lethargic in body, mind, spirit? Am I distracted?)
I'm tired, don't feel like cracking my Bible open. I have to check my email anyway & make lunch and...
I choose to stop & give my anxiety & distractedness to God. I choose to take time & read something today. Maybe I'll be able to share it with someone...

Shoes of readiness that come from God's peace. Good to go.

You get the idea. The "armour of God" is more than just a list of words in Ephesians 6. It can be used to effectively protect & defend us, if we can learn how to apply it to our lives...

Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Waking Dream

Many years ago, I had a waking dream- perhaps it was a vision- I don't really know how to describe it. I was in the middle of an angry sea, standing on a lone rock. The waters were violent, red... blown about by a gale force wind. I stood upon that rock (which was no bigger than a manhole cover), unwavering in the middle of the ocean for some time before the scene ended & I "awoke".

The following are verses from various passages that have impacted my life as of late... They're slightly edited & re-written as prayer. Let this waking dream serve as an illustration of sorts... I'm standing on this Rock, calling out... The waters are so high, threatening to overtake me, threatening to drown me... I can't escape... I'm trapped...

(You) set the earth on its foundations... You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. I hear the tumult of the raging seas as Your waves and surging tides sweep over me... So I seek You, and You have answered me; You delivered me from all my fears. You said “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you."

Those who look to You are radiant. Their faces are never covered with shame. This poor girl called, and You heard me; You saved me out of all my troubles. I love You, LORD, My strength! You are my Rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold! I called to You- You are worthy of praise- & I have been saved!

In my distress I called to You, Lord;  I cried to You for help. From Your temple You heard my voice; my cry came before You, into Your ears. At Your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of Your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place You assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross... Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name! Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all His benefits! Amen!

Psalm 104 NIV, Psalm 42 NLT/NIV, Psalm 34 NIV,
Isaiah 43 NIV, Psalm 18 NIV, Psalm 103 NIV

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Skip Days

"I'm skipping church with the Body of Christ- I'm doing my church on Tv today."

This is an actual quote. It seemed so striking to me that I had to write it down. The person speaking started off by saying she was a heathen for not attending church. She was joking, of course, but there are folks out there who actually believe things like that. I'm not one of them, but I did think her statement was interesting. I'm not out to split hairs here... but I wanted to play with this some, entertain the idea... We can slip into this mindset easily without even realizing it...

She "skipped" church, like one might "skip" school. Church that day was a function, just another thing to add to the already overwhelming list of things to be done. Church was a thing to "do"... a place to go, instead of a living being (spiritually speaking) that just "is". The church IS the Body of Christ, so to say that one can do church "WITH the Body of Christ" seems to imply disconnection, disembodiment FROM the body of Christ... She spoke as if she were independent of it at will- perhaps in honor of halloween, like a living disembodied arm or some such thing (This particular Sunday fell on halloween)...

She said "I'm doing my church on Tv today", which equated to watching Tv preachers while she prepared lunch for the family. What exactly is church then? Is it only for the weekend? It is listening to sermons? Reading scripture on a screen & listening to people pray? Is it watching the camera pan through the hordes of beautiful people sitting in their mega churches? Is church merely something one "does" by observation or listening as an individual? Is church a building, a function? Or is it more than that? And are we really contributing more to the Body of Christ on a Saturday or Sunday, as opposed to the rest of the week? "Church" is lived, not attended. It can be- should be- experienced through everyday life... All week long, at any time of night or day, anywhere with anyone.

Would she still have been able to justify her "skip day" if she hadn't turned on the Christian tv program? Maybe not, especially if she defined church as just another slot in her schedule. On my skip days, I tend to sleep in, go for walks or just "be". I don't have to listen to Christian music, watch some preacher on TV or even crack open my Bible that day. I might pray, I might write. For me, this is rejuvenating. I tend to burn out easily. Some parts of the body are like that- eyes get tired, senses get overwhelmed, feet hurt, muscles ache, but with a little T.L.C., those parts can function & support the rest of the body just as the rest of the body supports those parts... Skip days aren't neccesarily something bad. Jesus Himself went off for hours or days to be alone. But its always helpful to examine why we skip, and how we remain connected when we skip... Jesus always came back... do we?