Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Friday, June 14, 2013

How Do We Treat The Frailest Of Our Own?

“You can tell a great deal about a person, people, or faith based on how they treat the frailest of their own.” R.C. Sproul

   This quote says enough and I don't think I have to comment about it a whole lot. I think it is an encouragement to the body of Christ to be intentional in tending to those who are weak. Why? Because, in our flesh, we don't gravitate to the frail. We gravitate toward those who have their act together, those who appear clean and well dressed, those who have money, and those who appear intelligent. 
  Every church has weak people visiting or coming in. It is interesting to watch and see if those coming in with handicaps or who are wearing hand-me-downs from previous generations are made welcome. 
  Anyway, this is just an encouragement for us to be on the lookout for these people. They are created in the image of God, just like us. How we treat them will reflect who we love and who we are serving.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Body Lotion

 (Note before you read the article: Please don't think I am condemning anyone who uses body lotion or has facial hair. I am just covering some reasons why people use body lotion. Not everyone does this to 'cover up' anything. It is just one of the many reasons people might use this product)!

I am intrigued by the fact that so many people use body lotion. I never really liked the stuff, and, well, maybe there is something wrong with me.
  I was thinking about this as I was taking a bath tonight. I have containers of body lotion from friends and as gifts, but, I rarely use them. Sometimes, I will put it on so I won't feel guilty. But body lotion is a big business. So, what is my problem with body lotion?
  I figured it out. I don't like body lotion because it seems like it's a cover up. It's kind of like painting over something that isn't pretty. Or maybe cleaning the outside of a cup, but missing the inside?
  When I put body lotion on, it's like saying that I want to smell pretty, because underneath the body lotion is the body odor. It covers up the body odor so I won't smell. But wouldn't it be better if I just took a bath and used soap and water and washed myself off? Then I could put body lotion on, but really wouldn't need it so much. I really wouldn't need to apply body lotion if I am cleaned off, would I?
   So much of our lives is like that though. We like to cover up things, because we really don't want to be known in reality. Sometimes, we do things to cover up our guilt. Sometimes, we are just embarrassed and put on a front to cover over our shame. I've seen girls wear bangs to cover over their eyes, and guys growing facial hair to hide their faces (and I have heard this as being used to 'hide' or 'cover' who they are). I am not saying that girls who have their eyes covered or men who have a lot of facial hair are hiding though. But some are. They have admitted it and that is good.
   This is not unusual though. This idea started back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God came to meet them after their disobedience and they hid. Then they sewed fig leaves together to cover them. God had a better idea though. He took the skins of animals and covered them with the animal skins. The animals were sacrificed in order to cover their sin.
  When Jesus was walking on this earth, His cousin, John the Baptist, pointed Him out and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world'. In the days of the Old Testament, God instructed the priests to sacrifice animals, and particularly lambs, to cover over the sins of the people. John the Baptist was pointing out that Jesus was going to be the sacrifice for people's sins! Now they won't have to sacrifice lambs anymore. Once Jesus came and died for our sins, the ultimate sacrifice had been provided for. Jesus' last words were 'It is finished'. Now the sacrifice had been complete, but there's even more! Jesus was buried in a tomb, and a large rock was placed in front of it, along with guards to protect His dead body from being stolen. But three days later, Jesus rose from the dead! Many of His friends saw Him and talked with Him, and He gave them more instructions before He went back into heaven.
   When we come to Jesus in faith and repentance, He washes all our sins away. All of our sins are paid for in full. Our sins are covered and God does not see them anymore. Plus, He robes us with robes of righteousness! Our robes have been washed in the blood of the Lamb and they are totally clean!
  We are not only clean on the outside though. We are clean on the inside. When the inside is clean, it makes the outside clean as well.
  If you are interested in learning more about this 'Good News' please go to The Gospel Conversation, Are You A Good Person, or The Colorful Story    Please send any questions to: RUgood@mail.com

Monday, June 10, 2013

What Will You Have To Let Go Of When You Get Married?

    What are some things you will have to give up or even change when you get married? If you are married, you can probably think of some things you had to let go of. After all, being married is a lot different than being a child living at home, or a single adult. There will be a lot of changes, and there will be some things that will be no more.
   When I first got married, my mom and dad didn't give me an allowance anymore. It didn't really matter because I had a job anyway. But financially, the things I was used to having, weren't there any more. At Christmas time, the presents I received were now shared with my spouse. Well, I knew when I got married that it would be different. My husband was in college and I was supposed to be trained as a dental assistant but no dental assisting jobs were available in our area. We lived on the little bit of money I brought in plus what was leftover of my husband's tuition. So, we had no money for Christmas presents the first year of marriage. We could spend up to $5 for each person in the family, and on each other we got to spend $15. That was really different than what I was used to.
  What helped me though, was that before I was married, I considered all of this. It really didn't take me by surprise. I  would have liked things to have been easier financially, but it didn't happen. There were other things I had to let go of, but when I counted the cost, it was worth it. And God did take care of us through the rough times.
  When I was a child, I didn't have any financial concerns. It was all taken care of. Maybe that's the reason I think I have happy childhood memories? I don't know. Life was easy, and I could have most of everything I wanted. What I had to let go of when I got married was the freedom to have materially whatever I wanted. There was very little available when I got married. But I let go of all of that for something better. Something that would be of value and would last a lifetime.
   Maybe when you got married, you had to give up other things. Maybe you always had dreams of living on the beach or in the mountains, and you were heading toward that idea until you met Mr. or Mrs. Right. Your spouse just wants to live in a place close to work and doesn't have any desire to go to the beach or mountains. Maybe you ended your career when you married your husband, as you didn't need to work anymore. Then children came along and you realize how much time and work they are, but your career, at least for the time being, is only a memory. Or, perhaps you are a woman who married a military man, and now have to move every year or so to a new place. You always envisioned yourself raising your children around the hometown that you grew up in. All of these things, and more, are things to consider when we marry, and we have to decide if we are willing to pay the cost. Isn't making a marriage and a home more valuable than having our dreams fulfilled?
   There is another angle to this question as well. Some people think that becoming a Christian is as simple as saying a prayer or asking Jesus to come into your heart. The Bible says that if we believe in our hearts that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and confess that Jesus is Lord, that we are saved (Romans 10:9, 10). Anyone can say that 'Jesus is my Lord' and not really understand what the cost is in that statement being true for them. In the book of Romans, Paul is addressing people who are undergoing persecution for their faith in Christ. People in that society had to address Caesar as their Lord. They would have to pay homage to him. It would be hard for a Christian to do that because they knew that Jesus is the only Lord to bow down to in that way. How would you feel if you had to pay that kind of homage to Obama? Either you confess him as your Lord, or you get your head chopped off. No wonder Jesus was such a threat to the Roman leaders and persecution was rampant.
   Jesus asks us the same thing. He tells us that we will have to forsake things that we have now, in order to serve in His kingdom. "And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38 ESV
   What is it that we will have to get rid of or forsake? It will look different for each person. I know a man who came from a Muslim home. When he came to Christ and the parents found out, basically, they did not want anything to do with him anymore, and would have even tried to get him back through kidnapping and brainwashing. So this man lost his parents because of his relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. Some people lose their lives for the cause of Christ. In other countries, people are murdered often because of their faith in Christ.
   How much will it cost us to be a disciple? It depends how deeply rooted we are in the world and in ourselves. Jesus tells us that we cannot serve two masters. Only one. And it is either God, or it is something or someone else. We serve something. When it comes down to it, all of us serve ourselves. So the choice is serving ourselves or serving God. 
   So, if you are wondering, what is it going to cost me to become a Christian, start talking about Jesus to people. You might find out quickly what you will have to let go of. Friends, maybe? Parents, siblings? A job or lucrative career? A girlfriend? A boyfriend? A philosophy? Leisure? Share with people what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Explain what it means to live solely for God. Show what it means to repent from sin. There is a good possibility that you will begin to see the answer to the question as you start doing these things and living out your life for the Lord.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I Hate It When People Outright Lie!

   I was thinking back to when I was in elementary school, of how mean and unfair the bullies were. I had a couple of bullies over me, and I'm sure that bullies are in every classroom in every generation of students. It is one unfortunate aspect of living in a fallen world.
   We had a teacher who was in a bad mood. She kept the students in my class after school for some unknown reason. As we were sitting in this classroom, the bully was causing trouble. She had no trouble speaking up for herself, nor did she have any reservations about speaking against others. I'm still not sure why we were sitting in this classroom, on this school day afternoon, but the bully announced to this teacher that I was looking out the window. She was very accusatory of me. I still don't even know what the crime was for looking out the window, and I don't even remember doing that! Needless to say, because the bully spoke up and told the teacher a lie about me, I got in trouble! I don't think I ever got mad before that point in my life, but I was really, really mad now. The teacher made me stay after for an extra amount of time for looking out the window! And its all the bully's fault! She lied about me!
   I laugh about it today. This incident is probably long forgotten by everyone else, but it is a good example of what happens when we are lied about. Another term for this is called, 'slander'.
   The goal of slander is to destroy the credibility of a person. Usually, there is some truth to the slander, but by the time it is communicated to the public, the story looks a lot different than what really happened.
   I think of the story of Jonathan Edwards while he was pastoring at Northampton, Massachusetts. Someone was really irritated with his preaching and took it upon himself to slander Jonathan Edwards. Jonathan Edwards lost the pulpit because the people listened to the slanderer and believed the lies that were being purported.
  Here is a definition of slander from the legal dictionary:
slander n. oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed.
 On this web page, there are a number of Bible verses dealing with the subject of slander: http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/dictionary-of-bible-themes/5951-slander
One such verse is this, from Matthew 15:19-20a "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person." ESV.
 Here are some verses dealing with slander from the book of Ephesians, chapter 4: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." ESV.
  There are incidents from the Bible that describe what slander looks like. For example, Jezebel hired some scum of the earth guys to falsely accuse Naboth, in order to get rid of him. Her husband, King Ahab, was having a pity party because Naboth had beautiful gardens that were probably a family inheritance passed down to him. Ahab wanted the gardens for himself, but Naboth was unable to give them to Ahab, so Ahab was irate and went pouting home. King Ahab's wife had a solution though. She planned to get rid of Naboth so that Ahab could have his gardens. She was successful in getting the legal system to believe her lies when she hired some guys that would accuse Naboth of things that he didn't do, but would require him to have to die. Naboth was killed, as Jezebel desired, but God was displeased. Ahab never got the beautiful gardens he wanted. Everyone lost out on this one. 
   People did the same things to Jesus, when He was in court. They accused Him of many different things. One thing they accused Him of, and what was most successful in achieving their goals, was their accusation of blasphemy. They didn't really understand that Jesus was telling the truth, so they won in court. We know the rest of the story though. God used all that to bring about His plan of redemption. Jesus was accused of many false things, even though His life showed just the opposite. 
   Today it is no different. People accuse Christians of many things. Some are just warning others about a potential danger (whistle blowing) while others take this step much further with the intent to defame the Christian. I am reminded of one of my friends who was falsely accused of being flirtatious with someone, and it caused her to have to be isolated from other Christians in her church, and she was not allowed to work with the children in that particular church. She handled it gracefully. I think I would have been irate. God would have to have worked in my heart in a big way if I were falsely accused like that. 
   I am writing this article because there seems to be a rash today of slander on Christian pastors and leaders that are well known in Christian circles. Granted, no pastor is perfect and all, without exception, are going to make mistakes. We all do. If we are in the lime light, that makes it harder though, because people notice and complain. Then they read things into the situation that aren't there. They make false judgments and assumptions. Stories that start off simple become stretched way out of proportion. I have seen many well respected men of God being projected as evil or, as false teachers. There doesn't seem to be much ground to base these assumptions on, but I see how angry people are using the internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs (in a big way), as well as using the media to promote the supposed evil of the accused. As Christians, this should NEVER be the case. If we are truly born again, and are living in the grace of God, we do everything necessary to bring reconciliation and restoration in the body of Christ. We need to be careful, and this is so important, that we don't listen to just one side of the story and make our conclusions. We really have to have the whole story to get the right context of what is going on. If we don't, we will be joining in with slander as well. Also remember, the newspapers and magazines eat slander up. Even Christian magazines are just as guilty of doing this, which is unfortunate. 
  Yes, God wants us to point out those who are teaching another Gospel. We point them out and we pray for them. It doesn't have to go any further than that. I don't have to make blogs up telling people all the things that Rob Bell does to undermine the Gospel. I just state the facts and the readers can evaluate those facts for themselves. Nothing more needs to be done. 
   When you see blogs with unlimited numbers of complaints against a person, take heed. This is probably a sign of an angry person wanting to destroy someone's reputation. These blogs are everywhere. God is not pleased, but angry when we slander. Slander basically comes under the category of lying. If we truly have a complaint against another believer, we take the steps of Matthew 18 and work them out from there. Once that is done, there is absolutely no need to go on the internet and slam the other believer. Also, we are in the wrong when we bring our brothers and sisters to court. I am not talking about if someone is robbing your house, or doing personal harm to someone. Of course, that needs to be taken care of legally. But the intent of the Bible is to work things out, so that reconciliation and restoration will take place. 
   A question for you: Do you really think God is glorified when we backbite a person, or, tell others the bad things about a person? Do you think God is big enough to expose a person's sins when necessary? If we have a complaint and want to work through an issue with someone, after we have followed the Biblical directives, can we just leave it with the Lord to work the details out? Or did we not get what we wanted and are we continuing to strive to make this thing work in our favor, even though we have committed it to the Lord? Does the Lord need thousands of blog pages to do His work? If something serious needs to be addressed, can't it only involve the people who have been affected by it? Does the world have to know all about the situation? I think you know the answers to these questions.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Why Do We Struggle With Legalism? (or Lawlessness)?

  I have been learning a lot about guilt and shame in our counseling classes and I see a lot of similar patterns among people. Many people suffer with guilt. Some of the reasons are valid, like they have done something wrong and they want to make it right, but don't know how. Others think they have done something so evil that God can't possibly forgive them.
  I was in a meeting this morning and the lady, Ruthie Delk, was teaching on this very subject. She was helping us to understand that when we have a small view of God, and small view of sin, our view of the Cross will also be small. She used her hands to illustrate this point. She was showing distance by holding one hand above the other and the hands illustrated her shallow view of God. The space between her hands showed the resulting view of the Cross.
   When we rightly understand who God is, and the gravity of our sin, we have a clearer picture of the Cross, and its magnitude. So why do so many people struggle with perfection and legalism? It is because we want to bring something to the table. We trust God for some things, the things we can't do, but we forget God, or try to do many things in our own strength, striving for some kind of approval, from God and also from others. Instead of resting in the finished work of Christ on the Cross, we feel like we have to add something to that. Like C.J. Mahaney would say, "The only thing I bring to the Cross is my sin." The answer to this problem is to understand the Gospel correctly. We have to understand that sin is not necessarily what we do (although there are things we do that are sin), but  sin is at the core of our being. For example, if we made a decision to never tell a lie, we still would be sinners at heart because sin is at the heart of every person. It is our fabric. The lie is a symptom of our sin nature. It's kind of like being sick. You can find all kinds of over the counter medications to help relieve the symptoms, but taking care of the symptoms does not solve the problem. You are still sick. Another way to look at it is, if you took a fruit tree, and removed all the fruit, you would still have that type of fruit tree. It would be bare, but it would still be a fruit tree of that sort.
"I think the problem we have in understand the Gospel correctly, is that we think sin is a behavior vs. a heart condition. We label things that we do that are wrong, as sin. Yes, they are sin, but sin starts in our hearts. These actions could be better described as a symptom of sin. We could cut off all the symptoms of sin, but we, at the core of ourselves, will still be sinful."