Saturday, May 30, 2009

In Times Like These

Romans 13:12
The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

Ephesians 6:10--20
Finally, brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel, in which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

"I'm world-weary. I'm tired of having to do battle almost daily against those who would dismantle and redefine this republic, those who relentlessly attack faithful Americans. I'm sick of the wickedness and perversion we see on every hand. I'm tired of pre-born babies' being slaughtered because they are an inconvenience to the mothers." Several people have expressed these sentiments to me in recent days, and I understand them. As I send out letters to Mr. Obama, senators, congressmen, and corporate leaders, I grow tired of the need to do so. Yet, for the sake of others, I must.

Romans 13:12 reminds us that, while we now live in a very dark place, we should put on the armor of light. We know that this refers to Jesus Christ, because His Word declares that He is the Light of the world; He is the light prophesied in Isaiah. As His disciples, we are to reflect Him to the world. Putting something on is a deliberate act. We don't haul ourselves out of bed in the morning and say, "Look at this. I'm all dressed for work. How did that happen?" This verse calls the light armor. While armor is defensive, it also protects the wearer as he or she charges into the fray. Paul would know about such things, because he was an officer in the front line of the King's troops.

"What does it mean to you to 'put on the whole armor of God'?" said a dear friend recently. Ephesians 6:10--20 is a familiar Scripture that many of us have memorized, at least in part. I notice several things about these verses.

God warns us about the enemy, and it is not a person or a group of people. The enemy is the same old serpent Satan. We are so used to identifying the enemy differently, aren't we? I want to say, "This man, with his hyper-liberal beliefs, those abortionists, these people who would redefine family, that group that would tax us into socialism, that would commit high treason against our Constitution and nation--they are the enemy, but they are not, according to these verses. As our God is One God; our enemy is one enemy. I choose to serve Yahweh, but Satan has his workers of iniquity who practice "spiritual wickedness in high places." While we must be prepared to do what we can, the real battle is in the heavenlies (the high places), because we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. This seems to be an oxymoron. Prepare for a battle that only Jesus Christ can win, indeed, did win on Calvary.

Again dressing for battle is a deliberate act. Paul, inspired by God, names parts of the Roman soldiers' uniform and repeatedly tells us to stand. The armor helps us with that mandate. Consider each part.
  • "...having your loins girt about with truth...": Isaiah 11:5 identifies this priestly girdle as a symbol of the Messiah, Who says, "I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
  • "...having on the breastplate of righteousness...": The breastplate protects the soldier's heart. Notice how personal this is. It's your breastplate; I have my own. Yours is made to protect your heart. Mine is to protect my heart. defines righteousness as being "morally upright, without guilt or sin." We know how to acquire that position before God, and it's only through Jesus Christ as we repent and confess our sin.
  • "...your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace...": This refers to the Roman soldier's sandals that were made to be tough, protecting the feet and supporting the ankles. When the soldier would walk in rocky, thorny, hot places, his feet would be protected. What are your rocky, thorny, hot places? The peace that Jesus gives will protect you.
  • "...the shield of faith...": The Roman soldier would soak his thick leather-covered shield in water before going into battle, so that, when the enemy fired burning arrows, they would hit the shield, hiss, and drop harmlessly to the ground. Keep the faith, Brother and Sister. Let your shield soak long in the Living Water.
  • "...the helmet of salvation...": The helmet protected the soldier's head or mind. Remember the distinctive design of the Roman helmet? It clearly identified him as a Roman soldier. Our salvation through Christ should not only protect our minds but should also identify us as His own soldier as we work out our salvation in the daily.
  • "...the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God...": A soldier is helpless without his weapon, and the Bible is a two-edged sword. A good soldier knew his sword well. No dust settled on it, either.
  • "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit...watching...": Finally, we are to pray for one another, since we're not in the battle alone, to make supplication (humble, earnest prayer), and to watch with all perseverance. Dear ones, that means that we cannot give up. We cannot give in. We must continue, bearing in mind the nature of the real enemy and that the battle belongs to the Lord.
Brother Paul closes that portion of his letter to the Ephesians by requesting that they pray for him. He is likely writing from prison in Rome, but he continues to minister. To whom? To the recipients of his letters, to his fellow prisoners, to his jailers, and to any who would hear him.

I do notice two other things about this armor-donning passage. Since I doubt that the Roman soldier made a habit of sleeping with his armor on, sword in hand (unless he went to sleep on his watch, in which case his life would be forfeit), I think it's safe to say that the passage implies a daily putting on of the armor, an armor that protected only the front of his body. If he were to turn and run, he would be dead before he had taken a step.

Finally, Brothers and Sisters, please read I Thessalonians 4:13--5:24. Why? Because God, through Paul, says, "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." Be comforted, dear ones, and do not grow weary in well-doing, K.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dating Younger Men

Last night I had a date, the second in as many weeks, with a much younger man. His name is Eli and he will turn four next month. He's my younger grandson.

He chose Steak 'n' Shake where he had his very first Very Berry Strawberry Milkshake and a hamburger platter. The shake disappeared quickly.

Two weeks ago, I had taken his older brother, Reubs, to Cracker Barrel, his choice. I love these outings where we can talk and laugh and imagine. By taking one boy at a time, that child gets all the attention.

Unfortunately, the S 'n' S sound system was blasting rock music. Though Eli sat right next to me, I couldn't hear a word he said, so I asked the server to have them crank down the volume. She said she would, but it continued to blare, so I asked again.

"I told them."

"But we still cannot hear one another. Restaurant music is supposed to lend to the ambiance, not drown out all hope of communication. If it cannot be turned down, please cancel our orders."

This time they turned it down. Further, they changed stations to something more pleasant.

The loud music might not have bothered most people, but we wanted to talk. This was a special event for us. Eli had been asking me about it all week long, and I had looked forward to solo time with him.

I must confess to being a chronic people-watcher and eavesdropper. (That comes with being a writer.) Too often, I've watched people in restaurants--couples or parents with children--dining in silence. Sometimes they gaze around at other diners or at the decor, not even making eye contact with the person they are with.

This is especially disconcerting when the other person is a child. When the parties are adults, they have apparently reached a mutual agreement that conversation is unimportant. But children love the attention. They want to talk, to share their dreams, to tell about their adventures, real or imaginary. They're on a journey toward adulthood that will be intersected with the tumultuous teens. Those same adults who cannot find it within themselves to carry on a conversation with a young child over dinner will be blindsided when they have reticent teens.

"Why won't he talk to me?"

"I had no idea that she was ______________." (You fill in the blank.)

"I cannot communicate with him. It's as though we speak two different languages."

So I cherish my one-on-one dates with my grandchildren. They are blessed by having parents who also value them and care about what they have to say.

Guess what. Eli wants to be a doctor and a super hero when he grows up. I'm pretty sure he'll make it.