I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.  II Timothy 4:7

Sometimes, the secular world describes life in terms of battle: minefield, attacks, ammunition, weapons, strategy, defense or offense, and so on. Whether or not you believe in spiritual warfare, I think it must be acknowledged that there are times that it seems a battle is being waged against us by powerful adversaries. Things occur that just don’t have a rational answer, and rational responses seem to be ineffective. Whatever language we use to characterize our circumstances, we can be assured that “the one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world.” (I John 4:4)

Looking at my hero Paul who often spoke of fights, I see that he had to endure many things I’ve never experienced. Just look at his suffering. In II Timothy 4:13 Paul asks Timothy to bring his “cloak” and “books and parchments” when he comes to Rome. One can only wonder if the cold, moist circumstances in which Paul found himself were uncomfortable, making him want to have at least the consolation of his cloak? The winters could be difficult without adequate warmth.

Paul was in Rome ostensibly to appeal to Caesar. He reports, “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.” (II Tim. 4:16) Then, of course, he famously said, “Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea…” (II Cor. 11:25)  (Thank God, I haven’t yet experienced those kinds of adversities.)

But, in summation, Paul explains, “…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) Time to stop looking at the people around us as enemies but instead to see the spiritual forces that motivate them.

Paul goes on to tell us how to fight these impossible battles: “… take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.” (Eph. 6:10-18) And returning to the Old Testament book of II Chronicles (20:15), we must remind ourselves that “the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

Knowing that we are destined for battle, let’s not be surprised when onslaught begins. Fully armored, let’s fight to ,knowing the victory is already ours through the cross.

Father, let us not lose heart and give way to fear. You’ve already empowered us to fight your battles, and you’ve already won. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.



Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be firm. Ephesians 6:13 (ESV)


A friend reminded me this past week that “the evil one” is always lurking around, looking for an opening through which to torment or derail God’s children. There’s no fear in that, but it certainly is important for us to remain vigilant and to remain abiding in the shadow of the Almighty (Ps. 91).
I think we’re  pretty much accustomed to safety messages all around us that tell us to “Be aware of your surroundings to minimize safety incidents.” But do we take seriously the need to abide in God and to be prepared for attack? Do you inventory your safety equipment? And do you take time to put it on every morning? I mean the armor of God:
• The helmet of salvation. Jesus Christ’s redemptive death on the cross paid the price for our sin—once and for all—and we have absolutely no condemnation if we stay in him and obey his Word (Romans 8). We put on Jesus’ salvation covering our thoughts so that the enemy cannot have access to our minds.
• The breastplate of righteousness. Our righteousness comes from Jesus alone, not from our good deeds, so that we have no right to boast (Romans 3:22). We choose to live in purity, giving glory to God.
• The belt of truth. Jesus described himself as Truth. We bind ourselves in him committed to live in light and transparency, without falsehood, deception, or exaggeration. Truth encircles us.
• Shoes of the Gospel of peace. We’re told to—as much as possible—live at peace with all men (Romans 12:18). We do everything we can to be disciples of Jesus’ peace, knowing that he gives us his peace so that we’re not troubled in spirit (John 14:27).
• Shield of faith. My personal thought is that the size of our shields is determined by the size of our faith (Luke 17:5). While that may be a scary thought, as we walk in obedience to the Lord and experience his faithfulness, our trust in him increases and prepares us for the battle ahead.
• Sword of the Spirit. This is our only offense—the Word of God. And it’s enough. It was the weapon Jesus used against his enemy, Satan, and it’s sufficient for us as we study, memorize, and rely on its truth in every situation.
Personally speaking, I don’t like battles, but we are well equipped to take on any enemy and to be victorious. Think of these battle verses and be encouraged:
• “This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s’” II Chronicles 20:15.
• “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me” Isaiah 54:17.
• “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to-day…” Exodus 14:13
• “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him” Isaiah 59:19.
• Finally, “…after you have done everything, … stand” Ephesians 6:13.
Oh, God, the enemy is breathing down my neck. But I am relying on your promises, wearing your armor, and standing. AMEN.


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  Matthew 5:9



My mother was full of homespun wisdom.  She was an avid student of Christian literature, and she put into practice what she learned.

Momo told me about a little tiff she was having with my father.  Apparently, neither of them wanted to concede a point, and neither wanted to surrender.   To this impasse, the Holy Spirit spoke, “Share with him some of the mints you’re eating,” was the simple directive, which implied reaching out across the firing line.  At first she resisted, but the sweet Voice continued to nudge.  Finally, Momo obeyed, and the battle was ended.  Just like that.

Momo said that pride and the insistence on always being right can bring and maintain grief to any relationship.  Humbling oneself can be as easy as extending an olive branch (or mint) to our opponent and then watching God bring down the barriers.  Yes, we often have to be First Responders.

How many battles do we win and lose by refusing to make peace?  How often do we miss golden opportunities for moving from the Self Life to Kingdom Living because winning is everything, and Self is very much in control?

I am learning that the more I listen and obey, the more consistently I experience God’s joy.  And God’s joy is one of those fruits of the Spirit that grows in a heart that lives and moves and has its being in him.


Lord, thank you for nurturing me through family members who loved you and willingly followed even when it meant losing—for the time being.  Help me to be a peacemaker.  I want to be called a child of God.  AMEN.


Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  I Corinthians 9:24  (NKJV)


Our city is justly proud of our wonderful, world-class basketball team.  During annual playoffs businesses display massive banners with the team logo, cars fly team flags, and people wear T shirts bearing the likeness of the players.  One of my colleagues has a player’s form on a bobble head in her office, and another jokingly created a candle to be burned during games.

And so it was that after they’d won their first series of playoffs this past week and began the second round, I was totally confident they’d again be champions.  I watched the first half of the second series game and went to bed confident in their 25-point lead.  In the morning I was totally shocked to see that they’d lost the game by one 2-point basket.  Just 2 measly points.

Paul often used sports metaphors in his preaching.  He talked about fighting a good fight; finishing the race (II Timothy 4:7); not running in vain (Phil. 2:16, Gal. 2:2); running well (Gal. 5:7); and competing to receive a crown (I Cor. 9:25).  He saw the importance of not only beginning a contest and continuing it, but the necessity of finishing the race well.

All of us are engaged in a fierce competition to win a prize that is eternal and in which we must not fail.  We may falter, we may be benched for a while, we may even be injured, but we must persevere.  And all the while, Christ Jesus is running in and with us encouraging us to keep going.  It’s not enough to be ahead midway through the battle; we must persevere to the very end where he will greet us with a well done, good and faithful servant.

Hebrews 12:1, 2 says it best:  …let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.


Heavenly Father, you’ve called us to live a life we cannot live and to run a race we cannot run.  But in you, we can do everything you ask of us, and we always triumph through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We press on, looking to that blessed hope in you.  AMEN.


When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset.  Exodus 17:12 (NIV)


The Children of Israel had their fair share of battles (many of them self-initiated), but as they passed through the wilderness, they encountered the fierce Amalekites.  The enemy was engaged, and, as Moses stood on the mountainside overlooking the battle, he discovered that as long as he held up his hands, the Israelites prevailed.  But after standing a long time, he grew weary, and his arms began to sag.  That’s when his helpers, Aaron and Hur, stepped in, brought a stone for him to sit on, and held up his hands.  The Israelites won the battle.

We all need those Aarons and Hurs in our lives, those people who love us enough to hold our hands when we’re weary from the conflicts in our lives.  They are already there if we’ll only open our eyes.  God noted from the very beginning that it’s not good for us to be alone—that we need helpers (Gen. 2:18).  But in our individualized culture, we’re taught from birth that we must be self-reliant, and we begin to feel guilty when we reach out for help.

We build walls around ourselves, and our pride (We call it independence.) blinds us to the caring that waits to be accessed.  We say that we don’t want to be a bother to anyone when, in truth, we are all interdependent.  “No man is an island, entire of itself.” (Donne)

Let down the barriers.  It won’t be long until you’ll have the opportunity to be the help someone else needs.


Father, you told us to bear one another’s burdens.  We forget that our brothers and sisters are there for us when we need them.  Give us courage to allow you to help us through them.  In Jesus our Lord.  AMEN.