Armed and ready

The armor of God didn't make much sense to me as a kid; I had a hard time understanding the purpose of it all.  And, what good is head knowledge of God's Word if we can't apply it to our lives?  Over the last few years I've have gained a greater understanding for this armor and an appreciation for wearing it daily.  

A couple of  years ago Ethan became quite intrigued by the armor of God.  I assume it's a boy thing, but his intense interest led him to memorize the whole armor very quickly.  However, it stopped there.  So, for Christmas he received an Armor of God board game.  In this game you draw "battle cards".  Each card has a scenario in which you either received a piece of armor or lose one.  For example, the card reading "you get a brand new Bible for you birthday, but you never bother to read it" also tells you to give back the Sword of the Spirit.  On the other hand, "You are tempted to cheat on your test, but you don't" gets you the Breastplate of Righteousness.  We also thought it was fun to just read the cards and try to guess which armor you would earn from each situation.  

Let's do some grown-up battle cards:

You pray for protection and God's presence throughout a difficult situation.

You are not ashamed to tell non-believing family members why you love to follow Christ.

Your boss asks if you are done with a project.  You are not, but you know it will look good if he thinks you are done and you will be by the end of the day anyway, so you say "yes".

So, you gained your Shield of Faith and Helmet of Salvation, but you lost your Belt of Truth. Now, what does a little kids game really have to do with our reading today?  Because this game made me wonder how many of us really apply the armor of God to our lives.  Can we translate each piece into our everyday living? Let me end with one more story.

My mother-in-law is one of the most patient, loving, compassionate people I've ever met. While I realize some of that is her God-given personality and demeanor, there is much more to this. While sharing with our Thursday morning women's Bible study a year ago, she told us that every morning she put on the armor of God.  Before her feet hit the floor she verbally talks through each piece and lets God know she's ready for the day.  And, if she knows a certain piece of armor could be in greater use that day, she gets specific: "Lord, I fit my feet with peace as I know I will be spending all day with Sue who is a very difficult person" or "I know this meeting will be filled with confrontation and I will need to speak the truth, so I put on the Belt of Truth today Father."  

I suddenly realized why there had been a soldier dressed in the armor of God on the bathroom mirror in my in-law's  bathroom for as long as I had known them.  She can't just recite the pieces of armor, she knows what they are for and puts them on every day so she can use them to follow and fight in the path of Christ. I had gotten a little lazy in strapping on my armor each day.  So, today I will put on this armor before I leave, knowing that without Christ I cannot attain or display Truth or Peace or Righteousness or any of these qualities.  As the battle rages daily both in the Heavens and in this culture on earth, I thank God that He gave us all we need in Him to not just survive, but win!


Submit and Love

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

If you are a husband or a wife, you know that this is a tough one. This is not easy to do, is it? This passage is inscribed on my wedding ring, as a reminder to how I am called to submit and love Robin, my wife (she put it on the ring because she knew that I would forget...). There are a couple of things that I have learned over the past 11 years with Robin - principles that have helped me to better submit and love her.

1. I am not called to submit to her out of reverence for HER, but for CHRIST. If I was called to submit based only on her actions or out of respect for her, I would, at times, be off the hook. Because she isn't perfect (although she is very, very close), I would have an out on the whole submission thing. BUT, I am called to submit out of reverence for CHRIST. This means that there is no out. My submission to her has nothing to do with how she responds to my love or how she treats me - my submission is based entirely on what Christ has done for me. My call is to submit to her no matter what may come up - no matter what hiccups we face - because Christ gave everything for me. When I remember this, it makes it much easier to submit again and again and again and again to her.

2. This passage says that I am supposed to be willing to lay down my life for Robin. Now, if push came to shove and it was my life or hers, I think it would be fairly easy for me to step up to the plate and give up my life. The odds of that happening are slim to none (and I think I just saw Slim walk out that back door). BUT, there are plenty of habits, hobbies and attitudes that I may need to be willing to lay down for her. DANG! When I said those vows 11 years ago, I thought I would have all the benefits of marriage AND get to keep doing everything I did as a single college student. Marriage involves sacrifice, and there were/are certain things that I need to lay down, just as Christ laid down His life for the church.

What does it mean to submit? Practically, what does that look like in marriage?
So, are you submitting to your spouse out of REVERENCE for CHRIST, or have you been submitting to your spouse ONLY when s/he deserves it?
Husbands, what hobbies, habits, attitudes, etc do you need to lay down for your wife, just as Christ laid down His life for the church?
What might change in your marriage with a couple of adjustments in your perspective based on these passages?



Just have to blog tonight's conversation with my kiddos. It was awesome. This morning, we read Ephesians 2 (yep, we were already behind). Connor recognized one of his memory verses from this past year - For we are God's masterpiece... Tonight, I asked if they remembered anything that we read. Here's the conversation:
Calvin: "Yes."
Me: "What do you remember?"
Calvin: "Something."
Connor: "My memory verse: For we are God's masterpiece..."
Me: "So, what does that mean?"
Calvin: "I know."
Connor: Picks up a piece of chalk and proceeds to begin a piece of artwork on the chalkboard. "Calvin, It is like......"
Calvin: " I want dad to tell me."
Me: "Just listen for a minute."
Connor: "Well, Calvin, you know how sometimes you paint a bunch of stuff on a piece of paper at school?"
Calvin: "Yeah."
Connor: "That is like, your masterpiece. And God is saying that you are like that - you are his piece of art."
Calvin: "Oh. I'm hungry."

I just love the simple truth of scripture -- simple enough to be understood by children. And that is often missed by me. Enjoy Ephesians. May you find the simple truths...

Done. Now live.

Ephesians is a letter that can be divided into two main sections. Section one contains chapters 1-3 and section two contains chapters 4-6. Chapters 1-3 are built around knowing “what is the hope to which he has called you” (Eph. 1.18), while chapters 4-6 are built around living “in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” (Eph. 4.1) In other words, chapters 1-3 are speaking toward what God has done through Jesus Christ and chapters 4-6 contain the call, the instruction to live in light of what God has done. John Stott says it this way: the writer “turns from exposition to exhortation, from what God has done (in the indicative) to what we must be and do (in the imperative), from doctrine to duty…from mind-stretching theology to its down-to-earth, concrete implications in everyday living.” So how are we to live in light of what Christ has done?

Paul's first order of business is to speak toward unity in the church. He wants to begin by building a foundation on Jesus Christ alone. It is obvious that there are many gifts, many personalities, many preferences, many __________(fill in the blank) when you gather many people together. But in the midst of those differences, there must be some commonality, there must be a single foundation and focus. How many times does Paul use the word 'ONE' in chapter four? Why do you think that is?

Go back and read Jesus' prayer in John, chapter 17. Do you see any connection here?

Here's the deal - God has given the church the responsibility of carrying/displaying/living the message of Ephesians 1-3. The most important truth people can know has been handed to the church. You and I carry the truth that holds eternity. We are a part of the most important thing going on in the world today. Unity is essential - it is a non-negotiable.

Where have you seen unity in the church disrupted? What happened? How can we, as a local church, better unify ourselves in carrying this life-giving mystery?

When apostles pray.

I am constantly inspired by the prayers of the Apostle Paul for the people in the many churches to which he wrote letters. And in Ephesians 1:17 we find a prayer that might need to be repeated every day. I wanted to form my sermon around this prayer this week but decided to take a different approach. But the prayer is simply this:

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

The Greek word for wisdom is “Sophia” which would make a great name for a girl ☺ (Strongs 4678). Now, there are two forms of wisdom Earthly and Heavenly (James 3:13-17). Please read how Paul contrasts the two, in 1 Corinthians 2. As you read the James and I Corinthians passage, what do you think is the importance of this type of wisdom?

The Greek word for revelation is “Apokalupsis” (Strongs 602). It literally means to take off the cover, to reveal, or to lighten. It appears in Romans 16:25, Ephesians 3:3 and it has something to do with a mystery. What do you think is the importance of this type of revelation?

As we reflect on wisdom and revelation, let us come to know Christ better. Let this prayer for the church in Ephesus become our prayer, and let us be more in tune with the Spirit and what it has for us today.