Tag Archives: Spiritual Warfare

Pilgrim Warriors

Pilgrims. Whether you picture the Mayflower and a colony  in black outfits and buckled shoes, or  a religious group gathering to make a journey, I bet you see peace and harmony. I bet you do not picture a pilgrim with sword and spear, training to be a warrior.

Yet in Psalm 120 the two combine, just a little.

Psalm 120 is the first psalm, or song, in a series. Somewhere along the line of publishing the Psalms, chapters 120 – 135 became called the “Songs of Ascents” or the “Songs of Degrees” or as The Message translates it “A Pilgrims Song”. It is speculated that these psalms were songs that the Jews would sing during the stages of their pilgrimage to Jerusalem or since there are 15 songs, they would be sung on each of the 15 steps leading from the outer court of the temple to the inner.

But what does this have to do with being a warrior?

“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips,from a deceitful tongue. 3 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you, you deceitful tongue? 4 A warrior’s sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree! 5 Woe to me, that I sojourn in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar! 6 Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.7 I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!”

We are pilgrim warriors. The first time I read through this psalm I saw God as the warrior, waging battle against our tongues, our deceitful tongues and our sinful nature. As I read it again I saw it as God, and his children, being warriors against all of the deceit and sin in our world. And by “our world” I mean the world that we are passing through, the one that we are pilgrims in. We are making a journey through a land that hates peace, to find ourselves at peace with God.

The Psalmist, probably David, feels like he is trapped in the lands of Meshech and Kedar, two nations known for being barbarous people. Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever have days where it feels like everyone is against you, that you are being attacked from all directions, and all you are trying to do is get through your day, accomplish your job, get through school, or just order your cup of coffee.

That is our pilgrimage. Our journey to God will have us waging war on our own sinful nature, because sometimes we attack ourselves as well as others. Our pilgrimage will have us journeying through some treacherous places and meeting some malicious people. This malice, however, comes from our enemy, who is not our fellow man. Our enemy are the forces of Satan and his accomplices. They know that they closer we get to God the more powerful we are. The further along in our journey the more dangerous we become.

This song, the first song of 15 is already talking about troubles and war. Be prepared for quite a pilgrimage, it is not bound to get easier. Some days the only thing that keeps my feet moving is knowing that in the end, we win. We have already won. Jesus is already our champion, and we are called to be his warriors.

 


Warrior, Champion, Friend.

Out of the pot and into the fire. That is how I felt as I was scrolling through my Word document that contains all of the warrior verses that I have copied there. The verses get crossed off as I write about them and now more and more of my time is spent scrolling down to find the text for my next thought, and for my next enlightenment. 1 Chronicles was taking forever! That was my feeling. I learned a lot and was forced to think a lot. The posts were fun to write, but they were getting repetitive. With genealogies and the talk of David’s mighty men repeated again and again I was looking forward to what the next book would bring. What new and exciting picture, attributes, and lessons could we learn from our next set of warriors?

I knew I was close, I was pretty sure I was done with Chronicles. As I scrolled I saw the crossed out text end and a new book of the Bible appear. Job. A book that had always confused me more than inspired me. The feeling that God allows, permits, and even has a hand in the terrible things that happen to us, that is just not a feeling that is fun to wrestle with. The idea that bad things happen to us, and then God redeems them is a prettier picture.

Job brings us back to the image of our God as a warrior. An image that I do enjoy much better than the old, bearded guy sitting in the clouds. Where are the paintings of our warrior God brandishing a sword and wearing armor? Where are the pictures of Jesus sitting atop a war horse ready to take on the legions of demons lined up for battle? Job at least reminds us that God is powerful and is to be feared,

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He Had A Great Army, Like The Army of God.

So David had his mighty men. Then he got even more. While waiting to become king a force was gathering behind him. One great thing about being a warrior for God is that if your motives are pure and true and if your strength is found in the original warrior, others will see it and gather around you.

David now has an army.

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So Nice I’ll Say It Twice.

Might. Spears. Bloodshed. Massacres. Battles. Defenses. Attacks. Victory. Strongholds. Blood. Exploits. Valiant Fighters. Fame. Honor.

These are the lives and stories of David’s mighty men. Earlier this month we saw David’s mighty men show up in 2 Samuel 23. Now we see their stories again in 1 Chronicles 11. Some are the same, some are a little different. A different angle and some embellishments. These are such impressive men, that we’ll see their stories twice.

“10 These were the chiefs of David’s mighty warriors—they, together with all Israel, gave his kingship strong support to extend it over the whole land, as the Lord had promised— 11 this is the list of David’s mighty warriors:

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Famous Warriors and Failing.

The warm, stale air was annoying, but somewhat satisfying as it meant my body was working, and working hard. Part of that warmth was from my contribution. I watched intently as the instructor demonstrated the next combo we were to attempt. It looked like another fun one. Everything was flowing today. My punches were landing strong and my kicks were landing even stronger. With over a year of kickboxing classes under my belt I was feeling more and more confident as my technique and my power were improving.

Everyone must train. For anything. School is training our brains on how to think through situations and how to thrive and enjoy the wide world beyond our classroom doors. Athletes train in their respective sports, enjoying both cross training and cardio workouts as well. Our military elite train and drill and drill and train. All so that their minds and their bodies will be ready when they are called into action. Dedication, technique, and consistency are all key.

This is also true in our spiritual lives. Not only does a daily walk through the Bible and constant practice in prayer keep our souls and minds on track with God, but they will help us prepare for battle as well. Oh yes. Our minds will soak in the guidance and our spirits will be uplifted by the encouragement and when the time comes when we are being attacked, we will have the mental and spiritual fortitude to parry and defend against the attacks.

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There Once Was A Boy Named David. . .

So far I have talked about how we should be warriors and how we should not be warriors. We have discussed that God has called us all to be warriors at one level or another and that without him our bows are broken and we are powerless. We have talked about how we can be warriors no matter what our pedigree is or what excuses we have. We can be warriors even if we are stay at home moms (or dads).

So now what? What does a warrior of this day and age do? Do we truly pick up swords, spears, and arrows and march against the physical evils of this world? Well yes, and no. We do not need to pick up actual weapons, and some of our enemies will be physical and some will be spiritual.

The next warrior we come to in the Bible is David and his first battle. He will definitely show us how we should fight.

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We Can All Be Mighty Warriors

“My parents did not go to college, why should I?” “Look at my father, he’s an alcoholic. I am sure I will become one too.” “My family has a history of depression. I will never escape it. It will always follow me.” “My mom cannot seem to keep a guy. She sleeps around. She’s always dependent. This is life and this is what I should expect.”

In college I took two entry level psych cases. There was my mandatory general intro to psych class and then for funsies I took a social psych class. They were both really interesting and I learned a lot about myself and my fellow humans. One of the ideas we discussed in both classes was the nature verse nurture argument. What this comes down to is that psychologists agree that there are two main things that shape us into the people that we are.

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Chapter 2. The Beginning.

Why does Batman get head to toe kevlar?

Why does Batman get head to toe kevlar?

If the words, “You just know a bunch of guys made this,” cross my lips, then you will usually find our Xbox controller in my hands. On the screen will reside my character, there stands my female heroine, the poor girl. If she lived in this world most people would stereotype and sneer that she is the butch side of a lesbian couple. If it is not the roid raging body builder dressed in ugly armor, then it is the overly feminine, curvy yet skinny, and scantily clad heroine to save the day. It always amazes me how she can, with all of the other soldiers and assassins dressed head to toe in armor, it cannot be practical to enter a battle with so much skin showing.

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Why Doesn’t Proverbs 31 Just Give Me Eye Liner Tips?

“Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?

I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.” Galatians 3:1-4 NLT

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 ESV

Mirror

A vendor of exquisite jewels, well made and beautiful, sits at the door of my church. There are necklaces, bracelets, ear-rings, and hair pieces all adorned with black jewels. They are just my style. I walk over entranced and excited as I look at all of these things that are especially enticing for me. You know that feeling when you walk into a store and you find the exact piece of jewelry, that perfect shirt, those awesome shoes, and it is just what you were looking for? Everything laid out on those tables seemed designed especially for my taste and my wardrobe. An ornate black mirror sat on the table for the shoppers to admire themselves and their new adornments. As I entered the area I noticed a feeling. A terrible feeling. These beautiful things that seemed to be made just for me, they were not for me, I should not touch them. These things were indeed black, and black beyond their color. I tried to warn my friends, I tried to tell my brothers and sisters in Christ. Some listened and went into the sanctuary without weighing themselves down with these fake jewels, but others stayed and tried on the jewelry and gazed longingly into the mirror in vain.

Vain. Vanity. God laid those words on my heart last night.

I feel like most of us humans, especially us girls, are constantly trying to improve and update our reflection. We try to become perfect or at least look perfect. Our words, actions, and wardrobe are all carefully weighed and measured. I know that I am guilty. I hate letting the world see me in sweatpants. If I do go out in my comfy, alma mater’s sweatpants it will be offset by a cute top. Even rarer than seeing a Kristin out in the wild in her sweatpants, is spotting the almost extinct Kristin-Without-Eyeliner. You can take away the rest of my makeup, but please leave my onyx black eyeliner! I have realized that it is very hard for me to look at myself in the mirror and think “Wow, I am beautiful.” Unless I have my eye liner applied just right I feel like I look like a zombie.

One of my college friends rarely wore eyeliner, or any make up at all really, and I always thought of her as so beautiful and I always wished I could be as confident as her. But when I would looked in the mirror every morning I would see tired eyes and imperfect skin and I would apply my foundation and eye liner to cover it all up. My efforts were in vain, in both senses of the word.

You see the word vain is an adjective that has two meanings:

  1. Having or showing an excessively high opinion of one’s appearance, abilities, or worth.
  2. Producing no result; useless.

I was lead to Galatians 3 this morning and it made sense to me. Not only because God had laid the word “vain” on my heart the night before, but because I am struggling in this transitional period I am experiencing spiritually. I grew up in this Christianity formed in this pretty white box. It was a safe box, filled with WWJD bracelets, teen devotionals, lock-ins, Christian music, and no clapping in Church. It was a Christianity that expected you to sit up straight, act all nice and normal, and whatever you do, do not express any spontaneous joy during the service.

It was a nice Christianity. It was a great place to grow up. It was a wonderful place for me to start my journey, but I am moving forward now, and struggling with that forwardness. Behind me lies a world that I had nearly conquered, I was capable of appearing nearly perfect. I could perform the niceties and give my Sunday school answer to applause.

But if I go back now, all would be lost. Anytime a Christian moves closer to God, when they journey down the path of righteousness, they will meet trials and they will be under attack. It would be much easier to turn back. But if I, if we, turn back now, now that we have suffered for good and for His glory, it would all be in vain. Our journey would be empty.

If I turned back now, it would show my conceit. Behind me is someone who could fake a bit of perfection, but going forward I have to leave that behind. There may be some mornings that I must face myself in the mirror without my eye liner. I must look at the true me, the bare me, and I must love myself. We must continue forward past the tempting jewels that this world has set before us and into the loving embrace of our Creator.

“She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.” Proverbs 31:17 ESV

“Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.” Proverbs 31:25 ESV


There is a reason. There is a rhyme.

Plans

Last Thursday morning I woke up early to the morning sun shinning through the walls of my tent. I had a morning prayer and then laid there for a while. In part to open my ears to God’s voice and in part to relax yet as I heard no one else stirring in our campground.

When I did hear stirring I got up and put on my running gear. We, two of the women leaders and I, went for a nice 2 mile jog. We got back, slightly sweaty and hot, stretched out and got ready for breakfast. It was going to be another wonderful day filled with fellowship and music here at the Sonshine festival. I was enjoying getting to know the youth group that I was helping to watch over.

Fast forward a couple of hours. I am sitting alone, leaning up against a tree. Crying. I had been crying for at least an hour and I could not stop. I was feeling like a high school girl again. Left out and forgotten. Why could I not seem to cement together a friendship, why was I always the person on the outskirts. Most of these feelings were completely unfounded. A demon or two had managed to find me here, tap me on the shoulder, and whisper in my ear. My friends were trying to get a hold of me, even though I told them I wanted some space. I did not want anyone to see that I had been crying. I tried and tried and tried to shake these feelings. I prayed, I talked to James on the phone (he would be arriving at the festival tonight) and I asked God why I just could not feel better right now. Well, He knew why.

I eventually pulled myself together and headed back to the group. Despite that little upset, the day went wonderfully from there. We watched more bands and I learned some new games with the youth group.

Evening came and we gathered at the tarps by the main stage. After a bit the main female youth leader, who is also one of my closest friends up here, came over and sat by me. One of the girls in the youth group is struggling greatly with depression and cutting, I knew this, it was part of the reason I gave my testimony in church a few weeks back. It was something I struggle with as well. Anyway, the youth leader had noticed the girl seemed to be struggle today. With all the spiritual and emotional stuff going on around her, I am sure her spirit was trying to break free and feel the joy of the day and I am sure her darkness was trying to drag her down. The youth leader told her that she knew she could come talk to me, but this youth was worried that I was fine, that I now had it all together and wouldn’t understand anymore. Ha. So the youth leader asked if I would watch for an opportunity to talk to her and see if I could connect and help. I said sure.

As LeCrae, a rapper that one of my friends was excited for, was ready to take the stage a bunch of us went to head to the front. Only one youth group kid remained, the one who was struggling. I stopped and asked her why. She had wanted to head back to the campground to grab something she had left behind and was waiting for a time to ask the female youth leader to go back with her. I said, oh you could probably go ask her now, and as she got up to ask I turned and continued heading up to the stage, not really thinking.

WHACK. Spiritual two by four to the head. Oh, Oh yea. . . um that probably was my opportunity wasn’t it God? Oops. I turned around and caught them just in time and I offered to take her, since the female youth leader had already walked three other kids to the camper and back this evening.

The youth and I gabbed all the way to the camper. I really didn’t know how to start this conversation. I am not sure if she even knows that I know about her depression. I just kept the conversation going hoping to find an opening. On the way back she quietly asks, “Were you scared when you gave your testimony?” Here goes. I talked about my thoughts on giving my testimony and the conversation went into more of my struggles and how I feel when I am depressed. “That’s how I feel too!” She actually seemed to have a little excitement in her voice.

I did not try to help today. I did not try to tell her what to do to feel better. We just talked about what we feel and what we think and she was comforted to know that she was not alone. That these problems were not just her own, but that for once she had found someone who could relate with her. I told her I had broken down earlier that day and that even though I haven’t cut in over six years I still struggle with depression. I told her it gets better. Some days I can manage it better.

I am the way I am for a reason. I am broken. I am perfect.