I am a warrior

A Warrior After All

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. ~ 2 Peter 1:3, NIV

I’ve been struggling this week to know what to write. I am called to be a warrior? If you couldn’t tell from earlier posts, I’m tired. Discouraged. Talking about battles and training and perseverance didn’t delight my fancy.

Funny how God’s more concerned with our relationship with Him than He is with our personal space and comfort, right?

But today, as I was mulling over what to write, the Spirit whisper this word from Second Peter straight into my heart and mind. Everything you need. He’s give everything I need.

“But I’m not much of a warrior,” I argued. I think He laughed (because He knows it’s true, but also because He knows I’m nearsighted). And then, He showed me.

I’ve spend the week as a coach in a youth basketball camp sponsored by our church.  Our teaching leader caught me this morning before camp with a smile. “Jen, you are just totally in your element here. Basketball and Jesus, and eighty kids.”

Yep. Life doesn’t get much better than that. I’m having a blast.

Everything I need . . . A few weeks ago we wrote about being God’s workmanship, about being equipped to do what He calls us to do. It’s funny, though. See, I love basketball. Used to be I loved it maybe a little too much—like it became an idol in my life. Coaching was my dream, but after moving to rural Nebraska and then started having kids, I had to unclench my fists on that hope. It wasn’t a conducive career for the kind of home my husband and I wanted to create, so with many tears, and a bit of disillusionment—and a long process of surrender, I let that one go.

But this week, I got to be coach. Not in the setting I’d hoped, not in the way I planned, but coach none-the-less. And it’s been a blast.

So, there’s a connection in here, I promise. But it took me a bit to see it—to understand what God was showing me—because what’s a basketball game have to do with being a warrior, anyway?

It isn’t the game. Not at all—it’s why we’re there, running this camp in the first place. Our slogan for AWANA is “Kids matter to God.” I know on Wednesday nights when I go to AWANA, I’m doing battle for those kids. Because they matter to God. But this week? On a basketball court?

I’m doing battle for those kids. Because they matter to God.

Isn’t that ironic? A dream to which I’d bid farewell over ten years ago has come back full circle. I’m equipped to coach basketball. But more than that, He has given me everything I need to coach kids. To do battle for them. Because they matter to God.

I love that. I’m a warrior after all. Isn’t God just so good?

I am a warrior

Weapons of Our Warfare

For although we are walking in the flesh, we do not wage war in a fleshly way, since the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

Several years ago, I realized I had a stronghold.  I had a pattern of thinking that was sinful, but comfortable and even pleasurable.  When the Holy Spirit finally got through to me that I was sinning, I tried to stop.  Really.  But I couldn’t stop thinking in that sinful pattern.

I was sitting on my back porch in Africa, watching my children play under the mango tree, whining to God that really – I couldn’t stop this sin.  It was just a thought pattern, God.  And I couldn’t get rid of it.

In my lap was a Bible study by Priscilla Shirer.  And while I’m not quoting her exactly, she wrote something to this effect: “The same power that raised Christ from the dead lives inside of you.  Don’t tell me you ‘can’t’ get free of a stronghold.  The very God of the Universe indwells you.  Can He not do anything?”

God wasn’t taking my wimping out for an answer.  He wasn’t going to pat me on the head and say, “That’s ok, darlin’.  You tried.  I know the intent of your heart, and you wanted to get rid of this sin.  It was just too hard for you.”  No.  God expected me to draw out my weapons and go to battle.  He expected me to take His power, His presence, and demolish that stronghold.  Not just poke at it.  Not put it on a back shelf.  Demolish that sucker.

Even as I type these words, pondering a past victory, God is convicting me of a different stronghold in my life – a quite current pattern of behavior that is long held and comfortable, even justifiable.  But I know He doesn’t like it.

It’s time to draw out my weapons again.  Sigh.  This is hard, sweaty, long-term work.  This isn’t a one-time, glamorous, sunlight-flashing-on-my-sword battle.  This is marching and fighting and marching again, wearing holes in my boots, digging trenches, and staying the course.

But my victory is assured.  Because my weapon is not my own strength.  It is the Spirit of God Himself.

 

I am a warrior

Not easy. Delivered.

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of [this] life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. ~ 2 Tim. 2:4

“I don’t need easy. I just need possible.” ~Bethany Hamilton

Uh, I think I’d like easy.

Life’s not working out that way. And you know what? The hard stuff isn’t obvious from the outside. The warfare’s on the inside, and I somehow have managed to reach a time a fierce conflict. All hidden under my made-up face, my seemingly perfect life.

That’s more common than not, isn’t it? And here’s what I think—I’ve entangled myself in the affairs of this world, and the spiritual hardship has done caught me by surprise. An explosion in my soul has recalled my attention—“Hey, you. Girl with her mind on the carnal. There’s a war going on in here, and you need to stand your ground!”

Okay, but does it have to be hard? Can’t I just readjust my sights without it having to be painful? Apparently not. Because I’ve enlisted in the Lord’s army, and the battle is not against flesh and blood, that’s why. See, I have this deal with taking on a cause. I have a pretty fast tongue, and a quick mind for an argument. I don’t mind going to battle in that way (which, by the way is often a fast-lane pass to trouble, but that’s another post). But when the battle is in my soul? Ugh. That’s some flat-out H-A-R-D work. Weariness. Tears. Aches. They’re all involved in that kind of warfare. And if it weren’t for strength beyond myself, I’d be done. Right now.

I like that Paul ended his second letter to Timothy with a parallel word of strength. He writes in chapter four, verse eighteen, “… the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”

I don’t need easy. I just need delivered. Amen indeed.

I am a warrior

Fighting the Right Enemy

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength.  Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil.  For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.  Ephesians 6:10-12

He made me so mad.  So stinking, hopping mad.  He did some really nasty things, things that hurt people, things that hurt me.  And this guy had a face and a name.  He was flesh and blood.

My battle wasn’t against him.

That was sure hard to remember though, because the man was right there in front of me.  I was itching to verbally tear him apart.  I was ready to go to battle against this person.

But my battle wasn’t against him.

And it isn’t against whoever you are mad at, either.  Our battles aren’t against flesh and blood.  They are against Satan and his demons.  Satan sometimes uses people as pawns in his mission to destroy families, churches, friendships, and lives.  But instead of wasting our time slashing at the humans involved, wouldn’t we be more effective warriors if we dropped to our knees in battle against the spiritual forces behind the fight?

Certainly, people sin.  And the sin is sometimes just plain old fleshly choices.  But sin often happens when person is entangled in Satan’s temptation trap again – reaching for the shiny apple that sure looks “right.” 

Just try this:  Envision the person you are hacked off at, irritated with or at odds against.  Say the name of the one who is causing you pain, making terrible choices, fracturing your family or work environment or friendship.  And now, pray for him or her.  Pray that person will be freed from Satan’s lies. 

Go to battle on his or her behalf.  Pray against the spiritual forces ensnaring her, and you, in this conflict.  Pray that God would obliterate the demonic influence, would flood the situation with His Spirit, would bring unity and peace.

Go to war, soldier.  But know your enemy.  It’s not the human you are nose-to-nose with.  It’s Satan who would love to destroy you both.

I am a warrior

I Am a Warrior for the Kingdom: A Joint Post

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1, NASB

From Jen

Freedom and warfare seem contradictory in our minds. We think of freedom with peace, don’t we? But the truth is freedom has a steep price tag. Our American history shows us that.

The cross shows us that.

Freedom is a precarious position. It is coveted, and sometimes it is hated. Worse, sometimes it is taken for granted. Because of its cost, and of its fragile nature, freedom must be guarded if it is to be kept.

Christ died for the sinner so that they may be free from the bondage of sin. So that I may be free. And so I am. But because I am free I must be on guard. The emancipated sinner has been given armor in which to stand firm under the banner of Christ. Laziness is not endorsed. I cannot drive a stake in the ground and then dose away my life in frivolity. Jesus calls me to be alert, on guard, ready to defend His calling, to fight against the schemes of the devil.

What on earth (and beyond) does that mean?

From Susan

It means that while I am part of a free nation (God’s Redeemed), I have been drafted into the army to protect that freedom.  I must constantly do battle against my flesh and Satan himself to keep from falling back into sin’s slavery.

The thing is, my battle to maintain my freedom isn’t fought on a bloody field with deafening cannon fire.  It’s fought silently, invisibly – in my mind.  What I choose to think about shapes my attitude and determines my emotions.  In turn, what I am feeling guides my actions.  Thought leads to feeling, which leads to action.

For example, take a slight delivered by someone I love.  I can choose to think “He/she was so inconsiderate!  I can’t believe he/she did that to me.”  That makes me feel bitter.  Bitterness makes me speak sharply.  Sharp speech starts a fight.  The fight escalates.  Yelling ensues.  The silent treatment begins as we both harbor our hurts, building up cases against each other, taking into account all those wrongs suffered, choosing not to forgive.  Sin.  Slavery.  There I am, under the yoke.

Or, consider that same slight delivered by someone I love.  I can choose to think: “He/she made a mistake, and I’ve made plenty of those myself.  If I’d done the same thing, I’d want forgiveness and grace.  So, I’m not going to hold it against him/her.  I’ll just forgive right now.”  That makes me feel peaceful. Peacefulness makes me speak kindly.  Kind speech builds up the relationship. There I am, dancing in freedom.

But it’s a battle to get there!  The first choice – the one for bitterness —  is what comes naturally to me.  Only when I consciously make the Spirit-filled choice to fight for my freedom do I get to keep it.  May I fight well in every area of my life, in every corner of my mind, this week.