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Battle Strategy

Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who 
trains my hands for war, my fingers 
for battle. 
Psalm 144:1

I have a very strong personality.  I’m a fixer and a doer.  I’m a creative problem solver.  So, for me to sit back and let God take control or direct me has been one of my greatest challenges.  A few years ago, I was working in a school counseling office.  There were two of us with essentially the same job.  When my co-worker left for greener pastures, we hired a new, young woman as her replacement.  She was fun and interesting.  And then she stopped showing up on time for work.  And at times not at all.  Then she started spending what time she was in the office on personal phone calls or social media.  The bulk of the work fell on me to accomplish.

I jumped into fix it mode.  Trying to help her figure out a better work style.  Talking with our supervisor about how to discipline her.  Each morning as I headed into work, I created all the conversations I wish I could actually have with her.  I became angry and bitter.  I might or might not even jokingly asked God to take her out with a bus.

Fortunately, my faith was maturing.  One morning during my commute, the Holy Spirit whispered to me: “This battle needs a different approach.  Try praying FOR her.”  And so, I did.  For one week, every morning I prayed that God would intervene in her life to help her be more successful at work.  And that whatever was happening in her home life would not deter her from doing a good job.

And after one week she stopped showing up completely.  Two weeks later it was determined she had “abandoned” her job.  Essentially, she had fired herself.  And in the next hiring process I was able to recommend someone else who was amazing!

He is my loving God and my fortress, 
my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, 
in whom I take refuge, who subdues 
people under me. 
Psalm 144:2

You see, I was fighting the battle all wrong.  I focused on myself rather than God.  It was an in-your-face lesson delivered by the Holy Spirit.  

Since then, I have faced other battles.  I’m remembering to pray before I enter the battlefield for God to direct me and protect me.   Because I recognize that I can be a bull in a china shop with my “Miz Fixit” personality.  

“When I release my weaknesses and blind spots to God, He uses them to help me grow up spiritually.” 

Crystal McDowell

I love the visual from 1 Peter 1:13 to “gird your loins.”  The saying comes from the concept of tucking your tunic up into your belt so that it doesn’t get in the way while running.  

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, 
be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the 
grace that is to be brought to you at the 
revelation of Jesus Christ; 
1 Peter 1:13

And in this verse, it specifically reminds us to pull our thoughts together and have a disciplined mind so we can rest our thoughts on the grace of the returning Christ. We escape from the perils of the worldly mind – trying to fix everything ourselves — with the teaching and guiding hand of God.

Before we make that difficult phone call, head into that important meeting, sit down with the wayward family member we need to “gird our loins” and seek God’s battle plan.  Stand confident in prayer and listen to what He really wants you to say or do.  For me, He reminds me I need to be silent at times and let Him do His good work.

Most of us are “can do” people.  And when it comes to conflict or issues in our lives we so often want to take back command of the battle.  But like Joshua before us we need to be fired up and bold in our faith that He will be our deliverer.

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

The Spirit of Christmas

“Turn to me and be saved,
    all you ends of the earth;
    for I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn,
    my mouth has uttered in all integrity
    a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
    by me every tongue will swear.
They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone
    are deliverance and strength.’”
All who have raged against him
    will come to him and be put to shame.
Isaiah 45:22-24
On coming to the house, they saw 
the child with his mother Mary, 
and they bowed down and worshiped him. 
Matthew 2:11

Glory to God the King!  I praise you, God, and bow down to you in thankfulness for your covenant with us!  Your promise to deliver us, through your son Jesus, is the great gift for all mankind. 

It has really hit home to me this year about the idols so many of us rely on for strength and deliverance.  We cling to our routines.  We put our trust in government officials.  We place our joy in dining out, going to the movies, gathering with friends.  Our peace rests in financial security.  And God comes and reminds us that no idol can bring us any of these.  He is God and there is no other.

In a God-like way it’s perfect that we can see a light at the end of this pandemic as vaccines begin rolling out and we celebrate the birth of His son.  God is the savior of Babylon – for those who believe.   And yet so many, even Christians, fail to truly grab a hold of this truth.  

I was talking with my BSGs the other day about the “spirit of Christmas” and how many rely on an outside source to descend upon them for this feeling.  My own parents sit alone in their home without any sign of Christmas to be seen.  I asked my mother the other day why that was.  And her response was, “We just don’t have any Christmas spirit this year.” Now granted, they aren’t Christians either.  They are just two of millions across the globe who have chosen not to bow down and accept God as the Almighty.  One of the BSGs describes her brother’s family in much the same way.  They wait to be lifted by the outside world.  They wait to feel joy in the material.  They wait to find peace in routine.

It made me realize how, once I accepted Jesus as our deliverer, I no longer need idols to feel “saved.”  I no longer need idols to experience the joy of Christmas.  My “spirit of Christmas” comes from above and within and I’ve been holding on tightly to that gift. 

We are such comfort-seeking souls!  I think of a soldier at war during Christmas.  Laying in a foxhole or cave in a foreign land.  There’s no twinkly lights or Christmas tree laden with gifts.  There’s no Christmas ham and glazed carrots.  There’s just cold, and the distant sounds of gunfire.  And yet, the Christmas spirit still is there – in the small pocket Bible or the verses kept close to his heart.

This Christmas is not unusual in that there is strife in the world.  This Christmas is not unusual that many are in dire financial need.  This Christmas is the same as it was on that day that Christ was born – He has come to be our deliverer.  That’s all the Christmas spirit I need.