Sunday, September 26, 2010

First, not Last

Sometimes, as we watch all of our options for help disappear, it makes it even easier to see what we really need – A loving, all-powerful God, waiting to be seen as our first option for help, not our last.  :)

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Shield of Faith

I’m one of those people who have a hard time with “will power.”  Seems like no matter what I try to do – lose a few pounds, break a bad habit – Satan knows exactly when and how to dangle a temptation in front of me.  Sometimes I have more resolve than other times, but almost always, I feel overpowered.  And no wonder!  I am!

Yesterday, I heard a message on the radio from Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries.  I have to pause here and mention that I have absolutely no affiliation whatsoever with Dr. Stanley or his ministry.  I just happened to catch him on KTIS in Minneapolis one day, and enjoyed what I heard.  I try to catch his show when I can.  And yesterday, I did, and I’m really glad.

I have read the wonderful passage in the Bible on how to resist Satan in Ephesians 6:11 - “Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks.”  (Good News Bible) I especially love Ephesians 6:16 - “At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One.”  Oh, how I love the thought of being able to take refuge behind a protective shield, while those flaming arrows of temptation, selfishness, and pride hit with a “thud” and drop to the ground!

The only problem for me was that I didn’t know what the shield of faith looked like in practical terms.  What specific steps do I take to put on that shield every morning?

Dr. Stanley’s broadcast yesterday addressed this issue in concrete, specific terms.  If you don’t have a concordance, get one.  Use it to look up Bible references to your particular struggle.  See what God has to say about it, and commit the passage(s) to your memory and your heart.  When Satan sees that you’re having some success at doing good, and comes to ruin it, meet him with scripture.  You’ll be armed and ready.  Don’t argue.  Don’t debate.  Just tell him simply that “this is what God says, and I have faith in God.”

After thinking about it awhile, I realized that this was the exact strategy Jesus used when Satan fired flaming arrows at Him in the desert.  So this morning, I will put on my shield of faith, and hit the ground running.  I can.  I have the confidence of God’s word!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Keep Your Eyes on Me



One of the things I find most fascinating are peoples’ faith stories – their personal interactions with the God of the universe.  I’ve had only a couple of these intense, life-altering experiences myself, but they are moments that keep coming back to me in significant ways.

Now, when you start telling people you’ve had a personal interaction with God, many of them roll their eyes or wonder if there’s something wrong with you, or chalk it up to a dream.  I’ve had my share of strange dreams - I’ve driven a dump truck to work, I’ve lived in a box at my old house, grown power tools in my vegetable garden – so I know a dream when I see one.  But this felt nothing like a dream, not while it was happening, and certainly not afterward.

Quite some time ago, I went to bed one night, extremely upset about something that happened at work.  I knew I’d be up all night ruminating it, and fretting about it.  I’m sad to say, prayer, or God in general, never entered my mind.  I closed my eyes, and after a few hours of tossing, turning, and anguishing, found myself on a subway car, which was interesting since I’ve never been on a subway car.  I walked through the crowded corridor looking for a quiet place to sit, but didn’t find one, so I moved to the next car, and the next, and the next, looking for my quiet place to sit down and get some sleep.  The crowd began to thin out eventually, and on an otherwise empty car, I passed a gentlemen sitting on one side of the aisle, absorbed in his newspaper.  I walked past him a couple of rows to the end of the car, and started to take a seat.  As I took a passing glance back at the man, he looked up at me with a smile that was pure evil, and a blood-chilling look in his eyes.  I knew at that moment there was no place I could go to get away from the torment.

As quickly as that happened, I looked the other direction and saw another man, this one radiated extreme strength, and extreme tenderness at the same time.  My eyes were locked in awe with His.  I started to look away from Him long enough to see Satan take his newspaper and leave, but He took my face in His hands and turned it back towards Him, and said, “Keep Your Eyes On Me.”  At that point, I drifted off into one of the most peaceful, restful nights of sleep I’ve ever had, worries or not.

Call it a dream if you like but I’ve never gotten such good counsel from a dream, and I’ve remembered that advice many times over the years.

1) Run from evil.

2) Remember, there’s only one place to find real refuge from anything life has to dish out.

3) Satan will try to torment you, but in the end, he knows he’s no match for Christ.

4) No matter how weary and beat-down you are, He is tender and knows how to take care of you. 

5) And most of all, Keep Your Eyes on Him.