Armor Will Help you be Victorious, Right? Suit Up!

On May 21, 2020, a Naval officer who guarded the gate at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi was shot in the chest at close range by an intruder. However, because she was wearing body armor, she was able to recover in time to activate the alarm and help to end the threat. Her Kevlar armor not only saved her life, it helped to save the lives of others on the base by enabling her to dispatch the perpetrator.

As long as there has been conflict, men have sought ways to protect themselves. Roman soldiers carried shields; samurai wore protective body panels; and armor has been employed by everyone from medieval knights to battleships. Gladiators wore pieces of body armor in the arena, and NFL football players wear pads and helmets on the field of play. People need protection when engaged in conflict whether it be military or sports-related. In the Bible, Paul describes a different kind of armor for a different kind of conflict.

Armor That Helps

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV)

armor football

Can you imagine an NFL football player taking the field with just their shorts, a t-shirt, and their cleats to protect them? Or wearing their shoulder pads but no other protective gear? Or even just their helmet? No way. These guys compete on a field with strong, fast athletes who are trying to knock them into the middle of next week! If they weren’t wearing the proper equipment, they couldn’t perform the same way the other guys could. They would be tentative, limited, and vulnerable. Football players wear all of the protective gear they can in order to keep from being hurt or knocked out of the game. Makes sense, right?

How about the body armor worn by troops and SWAT team members? Let’s ask that Naval officer whose vest just stopped a bullet if she thinks it’s a good idea to wear armor… The battle against terrorism requires troops, and those troops need protection.

The Struggle is Real

So, why do you go into daily spiritual battle against far more malicious foes wearing less than the full armor of God? There are spiritual forces at work in this world that want to bring you down, to limit you and make you vulnerable. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “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.” You may not think about it much, but you are in a spiritual war every day, and there really are forces at work trying to change the values in our world and in our culture.

If you are uncertain about that, read the news once in a while… Or just check yourself: are you ever tempted? Ever lose your temper, or think critical thoughts about people you don’t even know? Is there any bitterness or offense that drives your emotions? Do you find it difficult to love others the way Jesus describes? If there is a God who encourages us to love, there is just as certainly a malevolent force who is probing our armor, looking for weaknesses he can use to promote selfishness and hatred.

While Paul doesn’t tell Christians to go around knocking people down, he does tell us to stand our ground. So stand firm. Protect yourself. Avail yourself of all of the equipment God offers. If you are walking around wearing only gospel shoes, you are pretty vulnerable. Read the rest of the list, which includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shield of faith (verses 14-17). Don’t go into battle un-equipped. Make sure you are completely dressed.

A Different Kind of Armor

When you take the battlefield, conditions can be hard;
Make sure you protect yourself, and maximize your guard.
God has armor He designed to guard His troops before, behind,
To keep his soldiers all aligned in all conditions they may find.
The armor of God has been designed and put together, all combined
To guard your heart and mind when Satan tries to put you in a bind.
In the battle always keep your weapon close at hand;
When evil comes, you’ll be equipped to rise! And fight! And stand.

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

You Succeeded. Give Credit to The Foundation of Your Success

Whenever people work together, there is always a question that comes up: Who Should Get the Credit? (And we’ve all worked on that school team project where somebody does nothing but still gets the grade you worked for!)

The human ego is an amazing thing, fueled by the survival instinct, self-interests and a hierarchy of needs and hidden agendas that would make Maslow’s head spin! I’ve often thought it should be called “Igo” instead of ego. As Chris Farley’s motivational speaker Matt Foley may have said, “There is no “I” in team, but there IS an “M” and an “E”!”

Gimme An I

Igo certainly makes itself known in the business world, and it even pops up in the humble circles of Christian ministry. Maybe that’s why Jesus told his disciples, “And herein is that saying true, One man  soweth, and another reaps. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors.” (John 4:37-38 KJV) He knew that the work he started would be a shared project.

There’s an old saying that it’s amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit. Jesus was reminding the disciples not to get too proud about what they were able to do. Their accomplishments were based upon the labor of many who went before them. Men like the Patriarchs, the prophets and even John the Baptist and his disciples had labored before them.

Credit Due

This is so true in life. Much of what we do, we accomplish because someone has gone before. Think about it: Can YOU take credit for learning to walk, or to tie your shoes? Someone else taught us to read, to solve problems, to be independent… you are who you are at least partly through the labor of others.

credit

Before you roll your eyes at your elderly Mom’s lack of knowledge about technology, just remember that she’s the one who potty trained you and taught you how to use a SPOON. My own mother passed away over thirty years ago, but I know I owe her many debts. I also owe my Dad and Stepmom, my wonderful grandparents, and numerous other teachers, coaches, and friends along the way! I can’t even begin to estimate the contributions they made to my growth along the way.

So, to all of those of you who have taught me, who labored before me so that I could grow, I give a heartfelt THANKS! You deserve the credit for any growth I have or progress I have made. Each of us attains more because of what has been accomplished by those who have gone before. Isaac Newton said it this way: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Intellectual and Spiritual

In our spiritual world, the same thing applies. Without the labor of others we are surely at risk. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age.” Someone else has studied or lived the Gospel in such a way that it motivated or inspired us. Don’t forget to give them credit. We have all entered into a greater enterprise that requires higher stakes. It offers richer rewards than any business endeavor or athletic competition.

To every one of you who has taught me spiritually, or who has encouraged me, or challenged me to be about God’s business, again I say thanks. Believe me, I don’t have any illusions about who I am spiritually: I am a selfish sinner saved by grace. I have failed many times, and I’m still very much a work in progress.

But, there is a legacy of love upon which I walk, and through which I rejoice! I am blessed, not because of my own merit, but because someone loved me and taught me to continue past those first, halting steps. If you are laboring, I hope you will encourage someone today and have faith in the Lord of the harvest. And if you are reaping, I hope you’ll take a moment to remember those who prepared the way for you to be fruitful!

Credit Line

We all take credit for what we do– but when you’re keeping score,
Remember the legacy of love from those who’ve gone before.
They found some diamonds in the rough among your rocky ore…
Remember there were hands that picked you up from off the floor,
Who taught you how to use a spoon, to read, to do a chore!
They worked in you, you worked in me– and if we work some more,
Our legacy may bear some fruit, upon some distant shore…

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David

To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread
For the Kindle Edition, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Bo-Jackson-ebook/dp/B01K5Z0NLA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-2&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread

Christmas Untold: The REST of the Story of Fear, Flight and Faith

After you have celebrated the Nativity scene, considered the angels’ announcement, and are anticipating the birth of Jesus, it is time to think about what Christmas was all about for Mary and Joseph. Yes, there were the messengers who came, but there was more to come from his time in Bethlehem than the stable and the manger.
“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:12-15, NIV).

A Very Creepy Christmas

The Christmas story doesn’t end with the Nativity. It begins there. For Joseph and Mary, it meant a hasty departure under cover of darkness to a strange land. It meant hard travel in open country with a young mother and an infant whom Herod was seeking to kill…

Come to think of it, it had to be a scary trip, maybe the scariest road trip experience of all time. Yes, there was an aging and jealous king trying to eliminate a potential threat to his throne, but it wasn’t just Herod who wanted the baby dead. Paul reminded us in Ephesians 6:12 “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…”

Christmas

It was not only Herod, but every dark power in this world had to be uneasy, sensing this sudden goodness which was now present on planet earth. Surely every evil force could feel a shudder of its own death knell, and stirred blindly and restlessly, reacting with vague disquiet against God’s work in the world. Against a creepier background than any horror film could conjure up, Joseph took his little family in the dead of night and set out for Egypt.

Spiritual War

Behind the holy family, Bethlehem was about to experience the slaughter of the innocents; before them lay a long and uncertain journey to Egypt. Satan has never been omniscient, or surely he would have known who this baby was in advance, and ended the Christmas story at the manger… But the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of evil.

Undoubtedly, throughout the millennia Satan had anticipating the arrival of a coming king, and was ready to do battle with God’s royal emissary and savior. Perhaps, like the Pharisees, he was looking for a majestic, powerful king who would come heralded in glory, ready to fight the Romans. After all, that was how power asserted itself in his domain, so the logical thing would be to sow corruption and evil wherever men wielded it.

Start At The Top

Satan certainly worked hard in the courts of both Judean kings and Roman emperors (and most royal houses throughout history), using ego and treachery to corrupt and contaminate almost everyone who attained a position of strength. Winston Churchill, who was a pretty astute chronicler of history, said “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

The devil has been pretty effective at corrupting leaders (he’s still doing it today, even in our hallowed Republic), but Satan did not foresee God’s unusual plan. God chose weakness to confound strength. He heralded not a military kingdom but a spiritual one. Against all logic, He sent humility to oppose power. God chose a frail baby in all humility to end an evil empire based on selfishness and pride; and He sent Jesus to begin a new kingdom based on peace and love. And guess where it starts, the week after Christmas? Look no further than your own heart…

Just like the Holy family, you too are on a journey facing uncertainty and choices. There is a selfish, grasping evil that wants you to fail; yet there is a humble, loving Savior who wants you to succeed. As you consider Christmas and all that really happened around the birth of Christ, remember why he came and the person to whom it matters the most: YOU.

Christmas Mayhem

Forced to flee in the dead of night,
Joseph had disturbing dreams
Which warned him that they must take flight
From Herod’s mad and murderous schemes.
Commanded by his jealous word,
Assassins through their village crept,
And performed their duties undeterred
As mothers wailed and fathers wept.

But Herod’s minions missed the mark,
As Joseph took his wife and infant son
Traveling hard to safety in the dark:
Their long and dangerous journey had begun.
And every evil power on this earth
Was restless as it sensed this new-born king,
Uneasy since the announcement and the birth,
Uncertain of the changes it would bring.
The powers of darkness felt the child’s great good,
Felt the Spirit around him as it flowed,
And stirred to end this danger, if they could,
From the family alone, out on the open road…

To buy my latest book, Real People, Real Christmas: Thirty-one Days Discovering the Hidden Treasures of the Christmas Story, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1729034918/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Slaying-Giants-Thirty-Devotions-Ordinary/dp/172568327X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1535814431&sr=8-1&keywords=Slaying+Giants%3A+Thirty+Days+With+David
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Beggars-Bread-Devotions-Ordinary-Guy/dp/1535457392/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473336800&sr=8-1&keywords=Beggar%27s+Bread