FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Meow

If you have followed my blog for any time or read any of the archived entries, you know that I have had a past love/hate (ok, mostly hate) relationship with the squirrels. Well, I made my peace with the squirrels and, as you might have read, extended them grace. Great grace, I would say, since I purchased and had erected a squirrel feeder. Yes, a feeder just for them. One of my friends commented, “You are actually, intentionally feeding the squirrels?!” And I said, “Yes!” They have a feeder and I fill it with corn, seeds and nuts!

Oh, but now it is the cats!

Specifically, it is my neighbor’s cats.

All nine of them.

Yes, nine!

They are ever in my yard and ever after my birds! (For those who don’t know, I also intentionally feed the birds.)

I enjoy watching the birds and hearing them sing. They remind me of the Scriptures and remind me to be calm, to slow down, to enjoy life, to trust my Lord (Matthew 6:25-34).

But those cats! I know that they have only recently killed at least six birds. I saw them torture, tease and torment one. By the time I’d rushed from my kitchen to chase them away, it was too late. I have found piles of feathers and down beneath the feeders, behind the barn and under my car.

I see the birds pecking and searching the grasses beneath the feeders, and I think, “What are you, dumb? Why do you insist on eating on the ground when the feeders are perched high – safe – on posts or hanging from the limbs of the trees? How dumb can you be?”

At the very least, they are slow learners. You would think that they would know by now that the cats are coming; that the cats are not their friends; that the cats are the enemy, prowling, looking to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

And with that thought, it hit me! Sometimes (hmm, too many times), I’m not very smart either; I’m a slow learner. Like the birds I have flirted with the enemy, knowingly placed myself in his path, blindly turned my attention to other matters thinking them more important while ignoring his threats. I’ve assumed myself smarter, faster even, than the enemy.

We need to understand that Satan is real. Satan is powerful. The battle is real. The battle is continuous. There is never a time when he is not on the prowl, watching, waiting, ready to pounce. Though Satan was created as the chief of all angels, God limited his boundaries and his powers (Job 1:9-12). Still, he is wise, cunning, deceiving and always at work – like those cats, stalking, watching for whom He may devour (2 Corinthians 11:4, 1 Peter 5:8). Might this be why Jesus said we must pray daily for deliverance from the evil one (Matthew 6:13)? Hmmm.

Satan is the enemy who disrupts our lives. But guess what; He doesn’t have a chance against Jesus.

POSSIBLE RESOURCES

  1.  How to Have a Meaningful Quiet Time                                                 http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/how-to-have-a-meaningful-quiet-time-1338122.html
  2. How to Have a Quiet Time                                               http://www.lifeway.com/Article/how-to-have-a-quiet-time
  3. How to Have a Quiet Time – According to Martin Luther                             http://www.christianitytoday.com/iyf/advice/faithqa/whats-quiet-time.html

 

ps Those cats don’t have a chance against me!

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Peace on Earth (Part 2)

NOTE:  We’re vacationing, so Monday’s post is early!

There’s a saying that’s been going around, “Every family has that one crazy relative. If you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you.”

Here’s another saying, “Everywhere you go, there you are.”

What do these two sayings have to do with peace on earth? Well, in our last post we discussed that before there can be peace on earth we must individually have peace within, so without a lot of extra words, let me just jump to the point. Might you be the one robbing yourself of peace? “No way!” you think. Well, let me just offer you three more quotes.

“Nobody screws me up better than me.”

“Who needs enemies when you’ve got yourself.”

“Make sure your worst enemy is not living between your two ears.”

Again, are you robbing yourself of peace?

There are events and seasons that seem to thrust us into deep self-evaluation and self-reflection, and Christmas is one of them. This can be a good thing – pausing to consider the love of family and friends, the blessing of health, the satisfaction of a prosperous and fun career, the joy of children… It can also be not so good – dwelling on the loss of loved ones, failing health, the stress of unemployment or job disappointment, the fear of miscarriage…

The latter (and similar) thoughts can quickly launch one into a depression that robs one of personal peace.

What are you telling yourself? What script do you keep running through your head? “I’m no good.” “I’m all alone.” “I can’t make it.” “Nobody loves me.” “I’ll never – have children, get that job, leave this town, be able to afford a house, get married, be in love, go to college, be healthy again…”

It’s time to replace those thoughts. It does no good to simply try to just stop them; you have to replace them. Craft some new thinking based on Philippians 4:8 (NKJV): “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

What does this mean? What does it look like? Sound like? The Message translates the same text: “…filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from Me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

Do that, and “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7b NKJV)

THIS WEEK: Make note of the thoughts that rob you of peace. Write substitute thoughts then practice using them. (e.g. THOUGHT: I’m just no good – always have been, always will be! SUBSTITUTE THOUGHT: In Christ I am a new creature – old things, thoughts, ways and deeds are passed away! (2 Corinthians 5:17)


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Lion Killing, Part 2

Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.  And he struck down an Egyptian who was five cubits tall. Although the Egyptian had a spear like a weaver’s rod in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.  Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors.  He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard. 1 Chronicles 11:22-25 (NASB)

The Scripture says, “He…went…and killed a lion.”

So, the question I left you with was, “How?” “How do you kill a lion in a pit on a snowy day?” “How do you kill your lion?”

You fight.

Sorry. I’m sure you thought I would be sharing a secret.

We know that Benaiah won because the Scriptures tell us. But they do not reveal the details. Sometimes I just hate it when the Scriptures seem to skip over some important detail, but then I stop and think. “God had a reason why.” Proverbs 25:2 tells us, “The glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search it out.”

So, while we still do not know all the details, we can be sure that Benaiah fought. He fought his lion. He didn’t simply lie down in the pit, cross his fingers, close his eyes and hope for the best. As a matter of fact, look back at Verse 22 and you will “search out” a clue.

Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. It seems that Benaiah wasn’t drug into the pit. He didn’t fall into the pit. Nobody pushed him into the pit. He went down. He went after his lion. He was determined to take it out! Easy? Absolutely not; it was a lion!

Turn the tables on your lion, the Devil, who prowls seeking to devour. He thinks he has you on the run. Like, Benaiah, flip the script and put him on the run. In an old joke, a Sunday School teacher asks her class what to do when Satan knocks at your door. A little girl responded, “I send Jesus to answer the door.” Ahh, out of the mouths of babes!

To defeat Satan we must turn to God (Matthew 6:13). To resist the Devil, we must submit to God (James 4:7). To stand against the Devil, we must put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-11) and arm ourselves with the greatest weapon, the Word of God (Matthew 4:1-11).

Winston Churchill, rallying troops and indeed an entire nation, during World War II said, “You ask, “What is our policy?” I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and all the strength that God can give us…You ask, “What is our aim?” I can answer in one word: Victory…at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be… We shall go on to the end…we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.  Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in… Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

What enemy is greater than the Devil, our lion? None! We must, therefore, fight – in the fields, in the streets, in the pits on snowy days. Never give in. Never give in!


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Lion Killing

Yesterday felt like the title of a book I read some years ago, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day (Mark Batterson, Author).  Just read that title and ponder each word while adding the next word and image to it.  In a pit.  Bad.  With a lion.  Worse.  On a snowy day.  Worst!  But actually, there is good news in this story from 1 Chronicles.  Paul tells us in Romans 15:4 (NASB) that “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that…we might have hope.”  So what are the lessons from the text that gave title to Batterson’s book?

First, let’s read the Scripture.

Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.  And he struck down an Egyptian who was five cubits tall. Although the Egyptian had a spear like a weaver’s rod in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.  Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors.  He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard. 1 Chronicles 11:22-25 (NASB)

What instruction does this text, written in earlier times, have for us?  Well, let’s see.

Benaiah was the son of a Priest.  We have a personal relationship with a great High Priest – Jesus. (Hebrews 4:14)

Benaiah was a valiant fighter.  You are a fighter.  Daily, you must fight the good fight of faith! (1 Timothy 6:12)

Benaiah was from Kabzeel, a city in southern Judah. The name means “gathering of God.”  As a Christian, you are part of God’s gathering, the church.

Benaiah struck down two warriors from Moab.  The Moabites were closely related to the Israelites, but they were enemies of Israel.   There are those who are close to you, but they are your enemies.  Perhaps your closest enemy might even be you – your flesh, that is.  And you must strike down those enemies – yes, flesh included.

Benaiah went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.  Bet you’re thinking, “Hmm.  Let’s see her make a connection with this one!”  1 Peter 5:8b says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Renowned Pastor, Ray Stedman said in a sermon addressing this topic, “Benaiah slew a lion — a lion, not a leopard, not a wild hyena or a boar or a buffalo, but a lion… it is not for nothing that the lion is called the king of beasts, because it is indeed a very powerful animal.”

But I did a little research.

The “king of the jungle” doesn’t have the strongest bite.  There are many other cats and many other animals that surpass the lion for bite.  As a matter of fact, ListVerse says, the lion has the “weakest bite of the genus Pathera or big cat.”  Wow.  But the research clearly points out that the lion doesn’t need a strong bite.  This big cat is really a social animal and presents as quite cooperative during the hunt.  It is not by power of bite that the lion kills; rather, it is by strangling its prey – biting the trachea.  ListVerse says lions “lack the need of a strong bite.”

Our enemy, the Devil, prowls like a roaring lion seeking to devour.  Like a lion, he is often social.  Like a lion, he is often cooperative.  Like a lion, he doesn’t need a strong bite.  Like a lion, he often slips up on us and strangles the life out of us.

Every one of us has a lion prowling and pursuing us – that something, someone or some situation that is waiting, seeking to devour us.  It might be a loss that we just can’t seem to move beyond – the grief of it has entangled our hearts and minds and even our lives.  We may even feel as though a part of us died.  There may be a physical disease that is daily draining our bodies of strength or our minds of clarity.  Possibly your lion is a habit – a bad habit, that you know is killing you – a substance addiction, gambling, overeating, gossiping, worrying…  Your lion might be fear – of the unknown or of something very specific, but it has you paralyzed.  You know your lion.

But let’s get back to Benaiah.

Benaiah met his lion in a pit on a snowy day. Bad enough to meet a lion – anywhere.  (I once met one on an African road.  The body and windows of a little old minivan separated us.  That was not enough for me, so in a pit?  Not!)  But Benaiah met his lion in a pit.  Pits tend to be small.  They tend to be deep.  They tend to have slippery sides.  They tend to be hard to escape.  And then it was snowing!  When I first read this Scripture, my response was, “Really!”  (Not as in I doubted, but as in “Really.  Can this get any worse?”)

Have you been there yet?  In the pit with your lion?  On a snowy day?  Ray Stedman said, “He met the worst possible foe, in the worst possible place, under the worst possible circumstances.”  Now, that’s the Devil for you.  Getting you right where he wants you and setting you up for the kill.

Turn to Benaiah once more.  The Scripture says, “He…went…and killed a lion.”

Victory!!!!!

Hopefully, you are encouraged that you can face your lion. You can go down into the pit with him – even on a snowy day, and emerge victorious.

But there is one remaining question. How? How did Benaiah kill the lion? How do you kill your lion?

See you next blog entry…


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Hold the Ketchup, Please

I should have known that it was coming.

Life has been good. Real good! I retired – for the second time. I spent the summer resting. It was wonderful. I read. I cooked. I napped. I rediscovered trash TV. (Thankfully I am over that now!) But even better – I prayed. I journaled. I began this blog. Did I say I napped? Yes, it was all good!

Then my phone rang. It was a job offer. It seemed good, so I said, “Why not?”

Then an email came. The very next day. It was a job offer. It was something I thought I’d enjoy, so I said, “Sure.”

I’d forgotten that I had registered for three seminary classes, but still I wasn’t worried. I was confident that I could balance it all. And so, after about 60 days of sweet, blissful rest, I returned to the world of work and homework. My days (and nights) are busy, but they are enjoyable. The pace and culture are very different from my last season of work. I soon got caught up in setting my new calendars, meeting new people, rethinking my days and even shopping for a few new outfits because the hose and heels weren’t necessary every day. I got caught up in this new life which was such a change and such a relief from the past that I forgot.

I forgot the warnings of 1 Peter 5:8-9. I forgot to be self-controlled and alert because my enemy, the devil, prowls around seeking to devour.

But he didn’t forget, and this week he came. The prowling enemy. The devil. He sought to devour. He sought to steal my joy, to make me doubt, to make me second guess myself and my work, to thwart the success I was experiencing, to scatter obstacles in my path, to confuse my mind and to trouble my spirit.

He caught me off guard because I was having such a good time in life. He opened wide his jaws to devour me. And at the first snap of his teeth, I gave up. But thank God I quickly regained my senses and my footing. I realized that the devil may come, actually the devil will come to devour, BUT I don’t have to spread the ketchup on myself making me all the more tasty for him.

Isn’t that what we do sometimes? At the first nip we give up and give in. We surrender to him our thoughts, our sleep, our peace and our joy. Rather, we should fight against him. Take captive every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), refuse to lose sleep understanding that our Lord never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:4), hold fast to the peace that our Lord has given us (John 14:27) and guard our joy realizing that it is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Too often we have given the devil far more credit than he is due. He is NOT an all-powerful being who is the evil equivalent of God. He and God are NOT two equal forces in opposition to each other – one good and one evil, one light and one dark. Jesus Christ defeated Satan on the cross of Calvary. He us under the foot of Christ and, therefore, under out foot.  As we submit to God and intentionally resist the devil, we can enforce the victory Jesus won thereby forcing Satan to flee from us.

Hold the ketchup. Please!