Tag Archives: Grace

A Time Of Peace.

Psalm 76 – The Message

1-3 God is well-known in Judah;
in Israel, he’s a household name.
He keeps a house in Salem,
his own suite of rooms in Zion.
That’s where, using arrows for kindling,
he made a bonfire of weapons of war.

4-6 Oh, how bright you shine!
Outshining their huge piles of loot!
The warriors were plundered
and left there impotent.
And now there’s nothing to them,
nothing to show for their swagger and threats.
Your sudden roar, God of Jacob,
knocked the wind out of horse and rider.

7-10 Fierce you are, and fearsome!
Who can stand up to your rising anger?
From heaven you thunder judgment;
earth falls to her knees and holds her breath.
God stands tall and makes things right,
he saves all the wretched on earth.
Instead of smoldering rage—God-praise!
All that sputtering rage—now a garland for God!

God is a warrior and He has never been, and will never be, defeated. We are his warriors and even though we will win through God’ glory and grace in the end, we will suffer hard blows and devastating defeats. This Bible passage is an encouragement in those dark times. It is a picture of the aftermath of battle with a day of peace and praise on the horizon.

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Kicking Spiritual Butt

“Have fun kicking boxes!” That is the usual dismissal I hear as I leave my apartment dressed to sweat. My wraps and gloves bounce gently in the bag on my back as I hurry down the steps. I hop into my jeep and crank some adrenaline pumping music as I head down to the Fargo Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & MMA Academy.

As I step inside a quick memory of ball pits and plastic slides with the slight smell of shoe-less adolescents meets me at the doorway. I slip off my flip-flops and add them to the pile, grabbing my membership card. As I wait off to the side for the kids bully-proof jiu jitsu class to end I start wrapping up my wrists. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday you will find me here, practicing kickboxing.

And I think as I warm up with a jump rope, have I been working out my soul and preparing it to fight as much as I am working out my body?

Ephesians 6:10 – 18. (NIV)

The Armor of God.

“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.”

Hmm. Now how to make this idea a bit more palpable, a little bit more relevant. We obviously do not don the type of armor or weapons described above to do battle anymore. Let us see what some paraphrasing will clear up for us.

Ephesians 6:10 -18 (The Message)

A Fight To The Finish

“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”

The old school in me still loves the NIV version, the imagery of putting on the battle gear is awesome, but even though I am not the biggest fan of The Message the images it stirs up are ones I can relate too.

Last month I ran a 4.something mile muddy obstacle course. It was called the Hard Charge and it was hard, and awesome! Out of the three of us girls I had done the most running, Ann was probably the most athletic, and Monica had the most drive. We waded through thigh high muddy ditches, army crawled through mud on multiple occasions, dunked ourselves in icy water, climbed a cargo net, belly crawled through sand, carried a tire, climbed over many, many walls, and slide down a fireman pole to finish, well not to finish, to earn. Our shirts and the banner across that finish line held the one word motto of the Hard Charged, Earned.

That is me attempting the muddy monkey bars.

That is me attempting the muddy monkey bars.

Now to earn this we ate mud, we felt like our legs were going to fall off, I tried to cross the monkey bars only to drop 20 feet into muddy water. I boosted Ann and Monica over walls and got over one big one by myself. On the second big one Monica came back around and helped boost me over. It was the best team building thing I had ever done.

It took determination, strength, and drive. Our spiritual warfare takes the same. We have a race to run, and I hate to break it to you, it will not be one of those fun colorful ones. We will have walls that we will have to help others over. There are some we can tackle ourselves and there are some were we will have to admit we need help. We will face some fears and we will want to quit, but there is no turning back.

Now before some obstacles we had some time to wait, things would get a little backed up and we could rest a little. There are times between our spiritual obstacles as well, and this should give us time to pray and rejuvenate, because it probably means a big one is coming up.

In the end when we cross the line we can look at God and know that we have earned this, only not by our own strength but by his grace. He has to help us over that big wall, we cannot do it on our own.

So, the term may be spiritual warfare, but I like to think of it as spiritual kickboxing. It is said that we are running a race, but I know this race is in the form of a muddy, obstacle course.

Time to prepare to kick some spiritual butt and fight to the finish.


I Would Like To Tell You A Story of God’s Victory. Part Two.

“I would like to tell you a story of my victory. Unfortunately, that seems to be a story of another day.” Oh how wrong I was . . .

The first post I put up on July 4th was on my other blog, ended with the quotation, and my second post ended with the full quote above. I had suffered a lot of pain that day, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. That first post was written while my pain was still fresh and the day was still young and the second was written as a new day had dawned.

When the tears had subsided and when I had unloaded my heaviness, telling James all of the lies that I had been hearing and had been believing and might still believe, we took a nap. I woke up a couple of hours later not knowing what I would do with the rest of this painful day.

I went on my computer. Wasted some time on iwastesomuch.com and read some blogs. One of the blogs I followed had posted about a failure they were struggling with and trying to learn from, so I thought I would take my fresh pain and turn it into some prose as well. Writing “I Would Love To Tell You A Story of My Victory” on my Ripples in Culture blog.

I then moped around for a bit. Slightly uplifted from the blogs I had read and some inspirational images I had stumbled across. I asked James to make me some home-made mac n’ cheese and I started my bubble bath. This combination may sound strange to you, but James will easily tell you that this is my routine when my body and my mind need some healing.

I was in a half daze. Trying to pull myself out of this funk and yet the old me enjoying it. Like a pig wallowing in the mud, welcoming this gunk and enjoying the feeling of it covering me up so I can hide.

I hunkered down on the couch to watch James play some video games, Dragon Age 2 to be exact. On the coffee table were  the two books that I had been given by one of the members of our congregation. This lady is a wonderful and lovely woman, but I fear very misunderstood, even by me. She makes me feel uncomfortable. She likes to hug people, especially those that she knows who are hurting. And she likes to linger. She is a little socially awkward wonderfully sprinkled with lacking personal space.

She is one of the most amazing children of God I have ever met. When it comes to giving and sharing she is beautiful at it. She was there when I shared my testimony and has been reigning hugs down on me ever since. She shared with me part of her story and showed me the scar that was left from her own self-mutilation. I was then handed a card with a poem she wrote for me, a gift of a glass crystal that makes rainbows in the sunlight (I had shared how I used to love colorful gifts as a child, but had lost some of that to my dark depression), and two books called Walking With God and Waking the Dead, both by John Eldredge. She told me that they had helped her and some of what I said in my testimony had reminded her of those books and she hoped that they would help.

So I picked up Walking With God and started to read. It only took one page and I wanted to cry . . . and to laugh.  I also wanted to chuck the book across the room and forget it existed. The words hit too close to home. I had been opening myself up, or trying to at least, to the Spirit. I had been pouring out concerns and hopes to our mentors trying to figure out why God still has us living in Fargo. We have been here for two years now, and I had only been thinking we would be here for one. I wanted to move to Chicago, but every year when our lease is up for renewal we find a good reason to stay. We renew again next week.

I mentioned during my last post that I had been seeking, but had not been finding. It was my fault. I was not really opening up. The part inside of me that likes to do things on my own was taking over. I should be able to fix myself. So with that and the lies of the demons I was made deaf.

This book was all about how to seek intimacy with God, how he craves that from us, and how we should seek to hear him, and how we should crave that as well. Darnit, my crappy day was bound to get better.

I read and read and read. Stopping only for a moment as we got ready to drive out to a campground to visit our friends, our mentors, and their family for some campfire, somes s’mores, and some games. I read in the car down there. We hung out, and I was okay. I actually smiled and felt happy. There was very little time for serious talk, so I was not able to discuss in length the problems I had been having that day, too many other people around. But I was still doing alright. We played some pinochle, and of course girls rule and boys drool, we crushed them.

I read on the way home. I was hooked. I was mesmerized. My eyes and ears were starting to be opened. During the car rides that day, while I was reading, my ears would perk up to a song here and there. We had our radio tuned to the Air One station, it plays some awesome Christian music. And every time my ears would perk up for a song, it was one that was a song that my soul longed to sing. Music can be such a counselor and such a healer sometimes.

By the time I laid my head down that night I was a new person. I no longer wanted to recede back into the old me. I no longer believed Satan’s whispered lies. I wanted to run the race set out before me, full sprint.

And tomorrow would be a new and wonderful day, with a new gift from God. . .