Monday, August 7, 2017

Armor of God Part One / Spiritual Warfare


I am excited to introduce a new series on the Armor of God.  Please join me in the upcoming weeks as we look at each piece of the armor, the history behind it, and what it means for the Christian.  If you stick with me, you might even learn about some secret weapons.

Free Image from Pixabay
The Battle:

Why do we need God’s armor in the first place?

Any parent will tell you the most used word in their kid’s vocabulary is the word “Why”.  When we as believers ask this question, sometimes we get an answer, sometimes we don’t.  In the case of spiritual armor, and why we need it, the answer is clear.

Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV) 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

For the believer, the battle is for their minds, for their witness, and for their ministry.  For the unbeliever, the battle is for their very soul.  The battle is real, and we are experiencing it minute by minute, every day.

The Enemy:

Free Image From Pixabay
1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

I don’t want to focus on our enemy, but we can’t really talk about the battle until we know who our enemy is.  I want us to never take our eyes off of the One who has defeated Him, but also we need to keep our eyes open to what is happening around us so we can stand firm against him.

First, he is a defeated foe.  As we see in this passage, he has limits.  Yes he has power, but by using Jesus’ name, he can only go as far as God will allow him to go.  This says he is seeking someone to devour, but it does not say he is devouring them.  Take heart, he may be a lion, but he is a chained one, and God has given us the tools to walk in victory.

So what can he do? His goal, told to us by Jesus Himself in John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

I believe part of him being a defeated foe means he can’t literally kill us, and so what he does, is try to kill our abundant life.  He tries to kill relationships, our joy, our will, and he tries to kill out testimony and ministry.  How does he do this?  By destroying things in our life.  He plays havoc with our minds, he casts doubt and fear into our lives, causing us to doubt our salvation and ourselves.  By using our human frailties, he tries to fracture every relationship.  He estranges children from their parents and destroys marriages.  He steals our peace with God, he robs our very joy and he steals our witness…if we let him.

I heard a good analogy recently, (I wish I could remember so I could give proper credit). It is that, like a chess game, it is possible to declare “check mate”, but still have moves left on the board.  It won’t change the outcome, but the game can still be played for a while.  That is how Satan is.  “Check mate” has been declared at the cross, but he is still moving his pieces around the board.  He will never change the fact that God has won.
Photo by Patty

The Attacks:

He does not play fair and will always attack us where we are the weakest.  I have suffered from migraine headaches for many years, and it seems like I get a headache at the exact time when I need to be healthy for ministry or something important.  I have never suffered from depression before, but in the last few years since I lost my husband and father, my grief has made me susceptible, and when I least expect it, I have severe bouts of depression.  These attacks were so great, that I really thought something was wrong with me.  For me, the way out has been through study, prayer and fasting.  I find I need to constantly put on, as well as keep my armor on daily.  For those who suffer clinical depression, this is real, please seek the help of a medical professional.

How do your attacks come? 

What is your biggest battle?

God has given us tools, the armor, to help us.  In the weeks to come, we will look at each piece. 

Next week:  The Belt of Truth.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Finish Well.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV) I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

I wonder, what is a good fight? What is the fight? What does it mean to have finished the race?

As I pondered this passage I thought about Paul, who wrote this to Timothy as part of his final instructions before he was to be martyred for his faith. Reflecting on his life, Paul was saying he was ready to meet Jesus, not only was he ready, but he longed for His appearing. 

In my opinion, a fight for a believer is either a trial we are in, a spiritual battle for our minds, or a physical fight that some of our brothers and sisters are in around the globe.  Many are losing their lives, like Paul, every day for their faith.

“Fight the good fight.”  The Amplified version says this is a fight that is worthy, honorable and noble. 

When my daughter was in the throes of teenage rebellion, I was given some good advice, which was to pick my battles.  That advice was good then, and is relevant today for so many things.  For example, do I get into it on Facebook with someone who opposes my views on marriage or the rights of the pre-born? 

Sometimes a fight or battle is thrust upon us and we don’t have a choice.  No matter the battle, it is how I respond that makes it a good fight.

So with that in mind, I came up with some rules to make our fight one that is worthy, honorable and noble.

1.       Expect a fight:  Our adversary prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour.  No matter who you are, a fight, trial or battle is coming.  We need to expect it and be prepared.

2.       Fight fair:  No cheap shots.  The enemy will throw them at you all day long, but to be an example of Christ means you must be just.  You never know who you will win over to Jesus just by doing what is right.

3.       Fight with Integrity:  Always remember that others are watching.  How we handle ourselves is just as important as the fight we are in.

4.       Know when to let go and turn the struggle over to Jesus:  There have been many times when I continued on when I had no business fighting, and God was saying, “You have fought well my child, take a breather, it’s my turn.”  Know when it’s time to “Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you.”

5.       Know your enemy:  As I mentioned, our enemy is like a lion, seeking to destroy.  As such he his subtle, and stealth, he also does not fight fair, use integrity, or is in anyway an honorable opponent.  He uses any and all means under his power to try to destroy you.  But God… “Greater is he who is living inside of me that is living in the world.”

6.       Know your weapons:  God has given us some awesome weapons to fight with, some defensive and some offensive. Ephesians 6:13-17 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

7.      Fight with joy:  James 1:2 Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.  We are told to face trails with Joy, how can we do that?  A few years ago, having been sad for so long after losing my husband Dave & my dad, I asked God to restore my joy. I started seeking scripture and looking for everything I could about joy. I came across this revelation. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.  God had already given me joy.  Okay I thought, if I have Joy as a fruit of the Spirit, why don’t I feel it?  I began to pray through all of the fruits one by one, saving joy for last, when I got to it, I simply said, “God, restore and increase my joy for you, for your people and for the trial you have given me.”  Within 6 months, I found that my whole attitude had changed.  My circumstance remained the same, but I was joyful, my love for others had improved, and I was truly worshiping God.  Worship, along with a joyful spirit, I am convinced is one of the secret weapons in the Armor of God.

Paul said to Timothy that he had finished the race.  Finishing a race is the one thing every runner strives for.  Runners train, and work hard to be in condition to go the distance. I am sure we have all seen pictures of a marathoner crawling to the finish line.  Or of those being carried across, so they could finish.  Me, I want to run well and finish strong, but some of us have fought such a hard battle, that we need the extra help to cross that finish line. 

Paul, as he looked back on his life was happy to say not only did he fight well, and that he finished well, but he also kept the faith.  We all know the trails that Paul went through, and how he never seemed to waver in his faith.  I, think also of our brothers and sisters around the world who, being persecuted are facing an ultimate choice.  Choose life by denying Jesus, or death by keeping the faith.  Think of those men lined up, and tied up on the beach, with hooded captors behind them. The first person in the lineup had faith, but there may have been a small glimmer of hope that his captor would not actually kill him.  But what about the faith of the second man, knowing for certain he would die?  He remained firm and did not deny Christ.

A crown of righteousness is the reward for fighting valiantly, finishing the race and keeping the faith.  The crown mentioned here is one like those given to a victor in a race or battle in first century Rome.  It is one of laurels. Our crown will be awarded to us from the one true righteous judge Jesus.  It is because of His sacrifice that we are given righteousness, and then, He rewards us for living it out well. 

What will you do with the fight you are in?  The marathon race of this life you are running?  Will you fight well, will you finish well, and will you keep the faith against all odds? 

The reward is not just the crown, but it is Jesus Himself.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Jesus the Cornerstone

The Bible speaks of stones in many places, they all point to one person, Jesus

A Stone for a pillow: Genesis 28:10-12 (NKJV)10 Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Jesus, was Jacob’s pillow, and when he woke, he had a dream about a way to Heaven, Jesus said “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.

Stone for the Law: Exodus 24:12 (NKJV) 12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them.”

Jesus was the only perfect person to walk the earth.  The purpose for the law was not to give us a way to get to Heaven, but to show us that we can never achieve God’s perfection.  We have all broken the law, some of us more than others, but the bible also says that if we have broken one, we are guilty of all. 

Jesus, having lived a sinless life, dying on the cross, taking our sins on Himself, then rising to life on the third day, defeated death and sin.  Because He was perfect, when we accept Him, He becomes the way for us to get to Heaven through our imperfection.

Stones of Remembrances: Joshua 4:5-7 (NKJV) and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

The Israelites had to cross a river to step foot into the Promised Land.  The problem was the river was a flood stage when they got to it.  God gave the people instructions on what to do.  They were to send to priests with the Arc of the Covenant ahead of the people, and stand in the middle of the River.  God pulled back the water, much like the parting of the Red Sea, and they crossed that flooded river on dry ground. 

To remember what God had done for them, Joshua instructed a representative from each of the tribes to take a “stone” which in reality were huge rocks from the center of the river and set them on the banks inside of their Promised Land.  They were to leave the rocks there as a memorial, stones of remembrance, so that for generations to come they would be reminded of what God had done.  Jesus is not just the stone of the Law, or the stone of access to Heaven.  He is everything.  He is the cornerstone or foundation.  He is God.

I have taken a small stone and written on it some things He has done for me in the past to remind me that He will be faithful to me no matter what I will ever go through.

Precious Stone or Stumbling Block? 1 Peter 2:7-8  (NASB)This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,The stone which the builders rejected,
This became the very corner stone,”and, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

 Jesus, more precious than gold or silver, more valuable than diamonds or pearls, is a stumbling block.  How can that even be?  I have often wondered why people who are atheists are so vocal about removing Jesus from schools, government buildings, and any public place.  They are hateful and adamant in their view.  If someone who doesn’t believe in God, why do they care I wondered? Now it makes perfect sense to me.  They are trying to avoid the stumbling block that He is, but they never truly can, and therefore they are never at peace.

But what about the believer?  How does a follower of Jesus find Him a stumbling block?  I know there have been times when I was 100% not doing what God was telling me to do, (sin).  I avoided Him, I didn’t read the Bible, I didn’t listen to what He was telling through friends, and other sources, and I stumbled through life until I had turned from my sin and back to my walk with Jesus.  Am I the only one who has found Jesus to be a stumbling block?  I suspect not.

The Rock that is higher. Psalm 61:1-2 (KJV) 61 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

This has been one of my life’s verses since my losses.  I have it taped up in several places in my home and in my office.  Jesus is the Rock that is higher than I, He is higher than anything, and when I do get overwhelmed, He is there.  He is the steady rock that I cling to.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Hope for a Grieving Heart
Practical Advice When Speaking to a Person Experiencing a Loss
(Revised March 2017)
“Now you can have your pick of men.” This was said to me within months after losing my husband by a well-meaning person.  We have all been there, someone you know has lost a person close to them. You are standing there, face to face, and you don’t know what to say.  If you were like me, before my losses in life, you either…  
A. said nothing at all, gave a sad look and quickly left before you had to say something,
B. said the worst thing possible.
Anyone who has experienced loss will tell you they have had both A. and B. happen to them.  Most grieving people have learned to deal with this and make the most of things, but if you really want to minister to someone who has experienced loss, the following are just a few practical things that have helped not just me, but others I have spoken and ministered to. 
Don’t say “If you need anything call me.”  You may really mean what you are saying, but most grieving people use all of their energy getting from one minute of the day to the next. The thought of picking up to phone, and making a phone call is daunting, therefore most will never make the first move.  Most grieving people are really hoping that someone would care enough to call them, to check on them, to seek out what they need.
Don’t say “they are in better place.”  If the person who has passed was a Christian, this is certainly a true statement, and it may bring comfort later, but in the first days of a loss, it is not what a grieving person wants to hear.  All they can think about is missing their loved one, and wishing they were with them at that moment.  Instead say something like, “I know how much you are missing ___________, I am praying God will grant you peace that passes all understanding, and that God Himself will heal the hole in your heart that you are feeling with your loss.”  This acknowledges the loss and the pain that is associated with it, plus it offers prayers for peace, which truly can only come from God.
Do ask open ended questions:  don’t ask the question “how are you doing?”  You will usually get a “fine” and that is it.  Most grieving people don’t even quite know how to answer, and instead to trying to put words to what they are feeling, they say something that will make the conversation end so they can get out of it.  Ask a question, like “how are you holding up?” This type of question will usually get a more honest answer.  Ask about their struggles with something like “What is your biggest struggle today?” or “What do you need help with today?”
Do make yourself available, for when the grieving person wants to talk, or needs something.  Always make the first move.
In the initial days of a loss, even scripture can seem like platitudes. However well meaning, and appropriate it is.  Please go ahead and share scripture, write it down, not just the reference, but write out the passage.  Real comfort comes with time and the grieving person will come across this scripture when they need it most.

 Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Just being there, to listen and to cry with the person is usually all a grieving person is seeking.  

Send cards.  In the initial days of loosing a loved one, a grieving person will receive cards, however, those cards stop within days after the funeral.  It is a real comfort to receive a card weeks or even  months after the loss.

The main thing is the grieving person wants to know that you care, now is not the time to walk away, but to draw close.  Follow their lead; if they want to talk, listen. If they want to hear what you have to say, they will tell you.   
For those who are a few years into their grief journey, the rules change a bit.  You do not need to be there at every twist and turn on the road they walk.  As they heal, and begin to live life again, they may not want constant reminders that they are grieving.  Follow their lead, when they need to talk, be there to listen.  For widows especially, check to see if they need any help around the house. 

For all who have lost someone, there may be a daunting task involving taking care of the loved one's personal things.  Be available to help when they are ready to handle this task.
Mostly just be there, and always, pray, pray, pray.   

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Dark Night of the Soul

Photo by Patty

As the anniversary of the death of the two most important men in my life looms ever so near, I think many times of the deepest, darkest nights I have experienced in the last five years when I lost both my husband and father just two days apart from each other. 

Many dark nights have come and gone, many times I have laid in bed, and prayed for the morning to come.  Dark nights followed by some dark days, but light does have a way of penetrating the dark.  Just as Jesus is the light of the world, His love also has penetrated the darkness in my soul. 

Photo by Patty

John 8:12-13 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

But what if you can’t feel His presence, or see the light through all of the darkness? Just what is that dark night of the soul?  I believe it is a point in life when you are at your most vulnerable, when light seems so far off that at that moment, you can’t even see it.  It is the point in time when God seems like He is not there, or if He is, you wonder, how much more will He give you before you actually break in a million pieces. 

Every year, during the month of March, it creeps up on me.  I begin the month saying it’s not so bad this year, it will be just fine, and then there it is, the darkness once again. 

This year, I was beginning to feel the sadness roll in my soul like fog, when today I had this overwhelming urge to pray for a cousin and her family.  I had constant reminders of the day I lost my husband, but it wasn’t the loss of my Dave I was feeling, it was something completely different.  Later, I found out my cousin lost her husband, suddenly, much like I lost Dave.  My feelings of loss came crashing in like a huge ocean wave, almost knocking me off of my feet.  Those feelings that I felt for myself, were then directed to her.  I knew exactly how she must be feeling, what her day would be like, the decisions she was having to make, and the reality that, she would be a widow, way before she should saddened me.  I thought of her first night without her husband, how hard that was for me, and now would now be her hard dark night.

We all have dark nights, dark days, and yes, even dark weeks/months.  But there is a light.  A light that, according to Revelation, is so bright there is no need for the sun.  

Revelation 21:23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

Jesus Christ Himself is the light.  If we let Him, He will be our comfort, our strength, our rock, and someone who will carry us through the most difficult times. 
Photo by Patty

 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Jesus is also our hope.  He never promised that we would walk the road of the human life free from trouble, in fact he promised that we would have trouble, but we are to find courage in the fact that He Himself has overcome the world.  I find hope today that no matter what I will face, no matter how I feel, I can find hope and courage in Jesus.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So take courage today, no matter what you are going through.  What Jesus has for us on the other side is worth more than any trial, or dark night that we may face.  He has also promised that we do not walk this path alone, seek Him and He will be found. Trust Him, for He is trustworthy and true.

Photo by Patty

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Speak Life


James 3:13-18

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.  (NIV)

I have been working my way verse, by verse through the book of James and this passage struck me.  I asked myself some pretty hard questions.  Who among us is truly wise?  Where are we getting our wisdom?  Where am I getting my wisdom?  What has me bitter, or better yet, what am I jealous of? 

I had not really thought about earthly wisdom before, but according to James, this “wisdom” is truly demonic.  Even if a person seems wise, if they are speaking out of jealousy, or out of selfish ambition, then they are not speaking life into a situation.  They are actually speaking from a perspective that is unholy.  You will probably leave a conversation with that person feeling worse about yourself or the situation. 

According to James, wisdom from above comes from a perspective of peace.  It is gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and without hypocrisy.  Wisdom from above embodies the fruits of the spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness and self-control.  So if you are truly connected to and in relationship with God, you have these fruits flowing through you.  If you are living out the fruits of the Holy Spirit Himself, then you are experiencing and expressing Godly wisdom.

Words matter.  Where is the spirit of which you speak coming from?  Is it your own desire to be “right” in a situation, or is it your desire to lift up and encourage another?  Is it your desire to be a peacemaker, or does selfish ambition get in the way of any relationship, making peace an impossibility?  Do you pride yourself on speaking the language of sarcasm, or do you walk humbly and speak life to others? 

If we are truly walking in relationship with Jesus, and the fruits of the spirit are on full display in our lives, then Godly wisdom will flow in and through us, therefore speaking life to others will be natural.  If we are not connected (daily) with Jesus, then there can be only one alternative and that is we are connected with the world.  When connected with the world, then worldly fruits will be on display.  Bitterness, jealousy, envy and selfish ambition.   

         It is a choice. Today, will you speak life, or will you speak something other than life?






Saturday, December 3, 2016


I live in the beautiful Smoky, Appalachian Mountains.  This year, we have experienced a severe drought.  Along with the drought, there have been wildfires, devastating and scary fires.  Fires that have destroyed homes and businesses, and have taken lives.

Even though I live in an area that was not directly on fire, I personally have been impacted by them.  The road that I take home, was closed just a few miles away due to a fire.  I have family members who were vacationing in Gatlinburg, and had to evacuate at a moment’s notice with just the clothes on their backs, and were very fortunate to get out alive.  Images and stories have been seared into my brain of the devastation, so much so, that I asked God to show me what I can learn from all of this.

I asked, this is what He gave me…

Fire in itself is a good thing.  In a survival situation, we are told, fire is one of the essential things a person must have.  Without it a person would not be able to stay warm, cook, or purify drinking water. 

Fire, in a proper setting is life.

How can something so necessary to life also be so destructive and deadly?  I asked myself this question, and then it came to mind, that this is true for almost everything in life.  Things that are good and essential, are often some of the very things that, if misused, can be the most harmful.


1.        Fire, in itself is a good thing, beneficial, but used outside of a healthy way, such as the containment of  a fireplace, cook stove, or even a well-built camp fire, is extremely destructive.  Just like most things God gives us for our good, they must be used under the confines of His rules.  He gives us His rules, not to harm us, but to keep us from harm. 


Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  (NIV)


   2.       God’s Holy Fire, which is the Holy Spirit, used under His guidance, is for us to help others.  It is for the believer to inspire, to help others, and to share the warmth of God’s love to others.  When I try to do things on my own, I take the fire out of the fireplace so to speak, and I can do major damage to relationships.  It is only through staying connected to God through His word, that I can do any good.  On my own, I am just like the wildfires our mountains experienced these last several weeks.

Hebrews 12:28-29

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.” (NIV)

                                                                                   Luke 12:48b-49

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. 49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! (NIV)


3.      Be ready!  Another reminder to be ready for the return of Jesus our savior.  We do not know the day or the hour, but like those who had to evacuate, if you do not have a plan, or are not ready to go at a moment’s notice: in other words, if you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, you will be caught a fire much worse than those that burned through our beautiful mountains. 

Matthew 25:41

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (NIV)