Friday, February 26, 2010

Fight to Win!

If you know the school bully has targeted you for a "whooping", do you just show up and let it happen? I don't know about you, but, knowing I have an enemy who wants to hurt me, I would take steps to make sure I won the fight! I've had a few people try to fight me in my earlier years. As a person who does NOT want to or like to fight, I had a plan. My plan? Bring along the little sister. Yes, she's younger (only a year), but she's mean, and I knew she could do some serious damage if provoked.

In one instance, a girl kept bothering me as I walked home from school. She was dating a boy I had previously dated, and I guess she didn't like me walking down the street. Anyway, when the fight came, it wasn't with her and it wasn't me doing the fighting. My sister beat the crap out of the other girl's sister. Yes, it's a girl thing, but you should have been there. The other girl was flopping around like a fish, able to do very little against the wrath of my little sis! Neither girl ever bothered me again: fight won!

I am so glad I had my sister there to fight for me, because I have no fighting skills and she has more than enough. If we won't face a human enemy without a plan, why do we go about our lives fighting with our spiritual enemy (satan and his crew) without making plans for the battle? Do we expect our troops to head into battle without guns and other things they need to tip the battle in our favor? Absolutely not! Guess what? We shouldn't do that either.

In Ephesians 6:13-17, we learn that God has provided us with armor to wear as we go into battle with Him. The biggest thing we do is make sure we're on His side. I was soooooo glad my sister was fighting FOR me and not against me! Then He gives us armor and expects us to use it. It is arrogant to go into battle against the devil without the full armor of God!

Every Christian will face spiritual warfare: it's inevitable as the devil attempts to attack through deceit and outright warfare. We can stand strong in the battle if we suit up, put on our armor, make sure we're on the right side and be aware of the enemy's tactics.

In studying the armor of God, we need to:

---"LOOK OUT" (Eph. 6:10-12) Are you prepared and aware that spiritual warfare will and does happen?
---"GEAR UP" (Eph. 6:13-17) What is the armor of God and how do I get it?
---"THINK STRATEGICALLY" (2 Cor. 10:3-5) Plan for battle, know the enemy's tactics and outsmart him by wearing your armor in battle.

Clip art:
Headings for studying" " - Life Focus, Bible Studies for Life Leader Guide, WINTER 2009-2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Create in me a clean heart....

Why is it that whatever I teach in my Sunday School class is stepped up in my own personal life? That was a rhetorical question; I already know the answer. God has been using these lessons as well as other things in my life to point out some of my issues where I still allow the old self to pop up.

I think one reason I keep returning to the sin of pride is that it underlies so many of the sins we commit as human beings. Anger - how dare that person hurt me....; Greed - I deserve those things....; Gossip - I know something you don't know....; Backbiting/slander - I deserve to get even/hurt that person.... Whenever we have a reoccuring sin, it almost always boils down to pride or the sin of rebellion in the end. After all, that's what pride is: rebellion.

When I lose my temper, I am rebelling against perceived injustice; etc. I, like everyone else I know, am not real fond of looking at the sin in my life. In my rebellion, I want to see myself as perfect or at least "not as bad" as the other guy. But, in God's eyes, sin is sin is sin, and even if I perceive myself as "better than" others in some way, it is an illusion and must, inevitably, come crashing down if I am shining the light of God's Word upon my heart. For many of us, the idea that we have pride or the "at least I'm better than that person" syndrome is far from our conscious mind unless and until God points it out to us.

I read recently that a survey of convicts in prison showed that not one of them really believes he or she is a "bad" person. No matter what crime was committed, they justify their actions and still consider themselves to be good people who maybe did something wrong. I'm guessing this even applies to murderers! All humans have this tendency to justify their own actions, beliefs, etc. while condemning others for theirs. We magnify the sins of others and minimize our own sin. When we ask God to cleanse our hearts and show us the wickedness therein, we can often become overwhelmed by what He shows us.

I have learned never to rest on my laurels and never to think I've arrived and vanquished sin from my life. Every time I do, God bursts my bubble and shows me how a sin is not quite dealt with or a new way it pops up in my life. This is one reason I love my God and my Savior so much! He saw the wickedness of my heart before I was born, and provided a way for me to be forgiven and have renewed fellowship with Him.

But God commendeth His love toward me, in that, while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me!!! (Personalized Romans 5:8KJV) No, taking an honest look at the sin in my life is not a fun thing to do, but I'm so glad I can deal with it by placing it under the blood of Jesus Christ - FORGIVEN!!!!!!!

"Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love, I know it's true;
It is my joy to honor You, in all I do!"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dangerous Minds

The show, "Dangerous Minds", is one of my favorites. One of the themes of the show is that the unsub starts out with small stuff and escalates until he or she is caught, becoming even more and more vile in what he or she does.

Today I was thinking about this, and realized that's how all sin is. We all have 'dangerous minds'! Our sin starts out small, a candy bar stolen from a store, a small bit of gossip told to a friend, or a dislike of another. It tastes sweet in the beginning, but soon, we become immune to the caliber of our sin and have to escalate it. Soon we find ourselves delving deeper and deeper into our sin, unable to stop.

One current example is Tiger Woods. I'm sure he never intended to have so many affairs when he met the love of his life and settled down to raise a family, but the pattern had already begun, and he couldn't stop himself until he was caught.

Only time will tell if Tiger will change his ways, but it will not be an easy road. His sin has left a wide swath of devastation behind him. Maybe you didn't get caught having multiple affairs, but your sin, whatever it is, is just as devastating. It harms you, true, but it also harms all those in your path. Sin is destructive, and it always escalates if left unchecked.

The battle with sin doesn't begin with the sin; it begins in the mind with a thought. Now thinking something is not a sin, but dwelling on it is. Our potential for action begins in our thought life and escalates until it becomes action. That's one reason God tells us that hatred is the same as murder and lust is the same as adultery. It is by controlling our thoughts that we control our actions.

This is why the battle for the mind is so important. In the flesh, we have dangerous minds that tend to sin and death. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we gain a new mind: the mind of Christ. Unfortunately, even though the dangerous mind is dead, it still fights with us as we seek to gain the mind of Christ. Paul puts it well when he says he does the things he doesn't want to do and doesn't do the things he wants to do. If Paul struggled, who are we to think we will not?

One way we put to death the dangerous mind and attain the glorious mind is to keep our focus on Christ and the things above. In Colossians 3:2, God tells us to "Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." In other words, don't allow things into your mind that will feed the dangerous mind.

We put the dangerous mind to death in our lives by starving it to death. Which ever mind we feed, whether our dangerous mind or our glorious mind, will be the one to grow. Which one are you feeding? What are some things in your life that "feed" your dangerous mind?

In Colossians 3:12-17, it says "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all those things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful." These are the things that feed the mind of Christ in us and allow us to put the dangerous mind to death.

PUT ON: A heart of compassion,
A heart of kindness,
A heart of humility,
A heart of gentleness,
A heart of patience.

Bear with one another; forgive one another; and above all:

PUT ON: LOVE, unity, thankfulness and

let the peace of Christ RULE in your hearts.

There is no room for two minds; one will destroy the other, the cannot coexist. Letting God's peace and love grow in you puts to death the dangerous mind and grows the Christ mind. Every time you choose compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, love, forgiveness, love, unity and thankfulness, you feed the glorious mind.

Which mind will you feed today?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

hOOters: Undercover Boss

Last week on Undercover Boss, the head guy at Hooters went incognito to some of his stores. Despite the fact that one of the managers was totally exploiting the waitresses and the statements of several women who said Hooters exploits the women, el bosso just didn't get it. He hired a couple of the girls for PR to help improve Hooter's image in the eye of the public as they have been losing business.

I don't have a problem with the outfits these girls wear if there was just a bit more of them. I know I'm probably different, but I do not like to look at other people's personal body parts as I'm eating! Butt and sandwich do not go together in my book. Wear them tight if you want, but for pete's sake, cover up the boobs and butts!

The women said Hooters exploits their waitresses, but what they really mean is this: No woman in her right mind wants her man slobbering all over the waitress while he's with her (or any other time). If you want good wings, sorry, but Hooters is not the only place to get them.

I personally think the boss would do better if he would faze the "sex" out of his business and concentrate on the food. You can't build good PR with half of the world's population when you continue to exploit women and male lust as part of your restaurant.

I've never been there, and I never will be if they don't get the point. No loss on either of our parts, I guess, but if the guy is sincere in his desire to build clientelle, he needs to understand why women feel as they do. Put your bottoms and hooters away - leave a little mystery - and maybe Hooters will fare well in the future.

Thanks to a couple of my wonderful facebook friends, I realized the consequences of Hooters are much more widespread than I even thought. Males, especially teenage males, are visual creatures with a quick trigger. To bring them to a place that makes it easy for them to lust, encourages them to sin. The Bible tells us that to lust after a woman is to commit adultery. You get my point?

Another thing is the influence on girls. Would I want my daughter working there? Absolutely not! Would I want to bring my girl there? Nope to that as well. I'm sure there are more reasons Hooters needs to reconsider and desexualize the help,but this gets us started. Civil comments are welcome.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'm dreaming of a white ...

As I sit in front of my computer, looking out at the white wonderland of my back yard,I have to wonder at how God made something so incredibly beautiful that also has such a dark side. As long as I'm looking out the window, I can appreciate the beauty. If I have to go out in it, my attitude changes just a bit as I struggle with the downside of snow.

This reminded me of several things that have two sides to them. First, let's look at sin. As long as we're sitting and looking from our comfort zone, some sins look very attractive to us. It calls to us to come and experience the wonder.

So, we go out into the sin. At first, we're having fun making sin-angels and playing in it, but soon the chill and danger begin to creep in. We realize our defenses (coats, boots, etc.) are not enough and the reality of the cold and downside of sin begins to creep in to our very bones!

Just as a person who stays out in the snow and cold for two long with not enough protection will suffer frostbite or even death, sin has a deadly side that is often hidden by the "beauty" of its inticements.

From an evangelistic standpoint, if you saw someone freezing in the snow, wouldn't you want to offer them a warm place to go? When we see people suffering in the throws of sin, God wants us to offer them a refuge in Him. Of course, the snow analogy doesn't compare that well with the flames of hell in some senses, but death is death, and we need to be about the business of rescuing others from certain death.

In that light, if you go out to offer help to someone trapped and freezing in the snow, you wouldn't go out with no coat, no boots, no way of helping that person out of their trouble. To do so would be extreme foolishness, for soon both of you would need rescued!

A close walk with Jesus and making no provision for the flesh help keep us safe from falling ourselves into sin. Putting on the armor (coat, gloves, etc.), keeping close to the fire (a relationship with Jesus), and taking the tools we need to help (Bible, fellowship, prayer, etc.)help us stay safe as we seek to rescue those lost in the bitter cold of sin.

A last analogy: Do you remember the soup commercial where the child comes in as a snow man and melts into the child as the soup warms him? We take the "soup" of God's love and provision to sinners trapped in the "snow man cold" of sin.

Thank you Father for a warm, safe haven in You, even as the blizzard of sin swirls around us!