We’re Not Created Equal

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I’d always vowed I’d never marry someone who thought I should be subservient. I wanted to be equal with my spouse. I didn’t want to do all the duties traditionally seen as “women’s work” alone. Today, I’m so thankful I have a husband who helps me, encourages me, and supports me.

After being married for 10 years, I’ve realized that it’s okay to have “woman” and “men” duties, as long as you’re always offering to help each other out. God tells us to be Christ-like, and I believe it is often hardest to be so with our husbands because we are so comfortable around them.

Sometimes, we can get caught in our selfishness and forget the hard work, time, and effort our spouse is putting into something. We focus on how late they came home, always being on the phone, and not being as present as we would like them to be; but to be Christ-like is to “encourage one another and build each other up…” I Thessalonians 5:11 (New Internationaal Version.) We should be one another’s biggest supporters and work together as a team to achieve each other’s goals in anything we do.

Four years ago, my husband’s job relocated us to move up north. Away from friends and family, 8 months pregnant, and raising an 18-month old. One would think this Boston girl would be excited to be back up north, but instead, I was devastated. I had no family or friends close by. My family was still a six-hour drive away. I had no choice, but to stand behind my husband and choose to believe he was making the right choice for our family. We lived in Philly for 14 months. During those months I would have said those were the worst months of my life. Now, when I look back, they were not the best, but they definitely helped our family grow spiritually.  It was a time in my life, I had no choice but to let go and let God. I spoke to Him daily because I had no one else. God listened, and I started understanding Him more. Our faith grew more than ever, and my husband and I knew as a family we would get through this with God’s grace. We prayed for a change, for doors to open, and for us to be okay with whatever He hands us. Low and behold, He did just what we had prayed for which allowed us to move back to Florida. I can look back on this chapter in our lives and say that this time was the biggest turning point for my husband and I. We were forced to rely on each other and God.

We are not created equal in our talents and skills, but that means we must learn how to become one flesh ever day. I imagine that even couples having been together 50 plus years are still learning new ways to do so. I know we will encounter roadblocks along the way, and we will fight hard to work through them. Marriage is difficult—an uphill battle in so many ways, but when you find that steady running pace that works for both of you, amazing things can happen.

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I have been a stay at home mom for almost seven years now, and my husband will still help out when he gets home from work. Working for himself, he has a more flexible schedule, but I’ve had to accept his work is done in unconventional places like restaurants. I’ve started a fitness coaching business which means I’m on social media and my phone more than I would like. With all of our life stages we continue to find our balance between work, family, alone, and social time. As long as we’re working together towards bettering ourselves and our relationship I think we’re headed in the right direction.

How has God impacted your relationship with your spouse to help you find a better balance?

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Prem Adams

After six years of committing her energy, heart, and time into her family, Prem ventured into the world of fitness. Always having the desire to help people reach their goals, she believes she’s found her calling. While still being wife and mother, she coaches individuals through private bootcamps on how to incorporate fitness and nutrition into their busy lifestyles. In her spare time, she enjoys freelance writing on nutrition, fitness, and Christian parenting.

If you’re interested in finding out more about her bootcamps you can email her at mycolorjoy@gmail.com or follow her Instagram page@mycolorofjoy.

When Jesus Becomes Less Like Me

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I’m writing this from my hotel room in Tiberias, Israel. My husband, Jay, surprised me for my 50th birthday with a trip to Israel. I’ll admit, I feel bit spoiled albeit grateful, and blessed to be here.

The night Jay and I arrived we decided to venture out in the dark and walk around the streets of Tiberias. Foreign food smells filled the cool air, exotic music and street vendors all called out “American’s! I work you a deal.”

Further down, we land on the steps of an ancient ruin that looked like an old church of some sort, but I couldn’t read the sign it was written in Hebrew. I’m tempted to stand on my head to read the letters. They appear to be upside down.

While walking back into the hotel and the pungent peppery smell the hotel releases into the air greeted me, I realized something.

Jesus wasn’t white.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never believed or even imagined Him white, but I never grasped His culture until now. He probably spoke his thick-throaty language using His hands like the men here do. He walked through exotic markets, and sampled foods like tangy olives, eggplant,  pomegranate, and smoked fish. He lifted heavy stones to create homes. He danced to the exotic music at weddings. He walked along the seashore and rippled the Sea of Galilee skipping stones to clear His thoughts. He looked over the rocky edge of Mount Precipice as angry scribes threatened to throw Him over the cliff, but He slipped out of their grasp. He walked on water. He calmed the sea with His word. He…He…

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Jesus Christ is being fleshed out in my mind.

We toured the Basilica of Annunciation in Nazareth, which stores the childhood home of Mary.  Along the walls paintings hung, each from different countries illustrating Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. One artist was from the Philippines, and I couldn’t help but notice the Holy Family looked Filipino. The Canadian artist gave Him blue eyes and pale skin.

Maybe that’s what Christ wanted all along for us to see Him in ourselves and to see ourselves in Him. Seamless.

And just maybe, that’s not a bad thing after all.

Until next time…

Please note: We still have some relationship articles coming for the month of February. Please be patient with me while I’m traveling. Thanks

God Doesn’t Need Us

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This morning Bella’s Transitional Kindergarten class delivered the chapel message for the lower school at The First Academy. Dressed in chef hats and aprons, Bella and her class acted out a skit that explained our part in God’s kingdom. The Master Chef—a boy named Kipton—played  the role of God. He asked all the other bakers to join with him in baking a cake.

Another student stepped forward, “But you don’t need us to bake the cake, You’re the Creator of the Universe You can do it all by yourself.”

“God” explained, “I don’t need you, but I want you to partner with me.” (that was the message—not exact wordage.) They each added an ingredient to the cake as God called them out.

“Who has the sugar?” God said. The girl with the sugar walked over and shook it into the bowl.

“Who has my butter?” Another student put her butter in the bowl. (Hmm…don’t skimp now)

“Who has my salt?” The boy with the salt, shook, shook, shook, and shook his salt into the bowl. (Over kill…Yuck!)

They mixed it all together and popped it into the Master oven.

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It was a brilliant way to illustrate our part in the work God gives us to do. It made me realize how we have a tendency to get it wrong. We can believe the lie God needs me. He needs my money, time, energy, talents, and knowledge, in order to help someone or reach people for Jesus Christ; but here’s the kicker…

He doesn’t.

He doesn’t need us at all. Think about it…the God who spoke the universe into existence needs little me? I’m a nobody.

Case in point, take the wisemen for example. They didn’t have anyone to share the news of Jesus’ birth. God plopped a star in the sky to lead them to Him. He wooed them by piquing their curiosity. Don’t you love that?

And God woos us too.

So, we should never believe God needs us. Satan uses that lie to trap us into pride, anxiety, fear, and exhaustion.

Here’s truth…

He wants us.  Now, isn’t that better?

And doesn’t that make you want to use your money, time, energy, talents, and knowledge for His glory?  He wants us to be willing to join with Him in the work He’s already prepared for us to do.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 English Standard Version.

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Bella and I snuggled on the sofa last night to watch Cinderella. In the movie, Cinderella’s nasty stepmom gets rid of all the house help, and forces Cinderella to keep things in order. That is the true picture of a God who needs us to work for Him. We would be unloved, uncared for, and treated like a slave. Instead, we are His children, whom He loves and adores, and wants to work side by side with us in growing His kingdom.

So wipe that ash off your face Cinderella because you’re not a slave, instead you’re an adored child of the King.

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As men line up like cattle buying their last minute, heart-shaped box of chocolates (you poor fellas… the pressure of it all), I hope that we take time to remember the God who wants to bake a cake with us. Let’s remember Who invented love to begin with. The Creator who can fill us with more joy than an expensive heart-shaped box of dark chocolates. (Don’t give me the cheap stuff hon.)

And just in case after reading all that, you’re still not feeling loved today. Here’s a love message from God Himself.

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 New International Version.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.   For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, “nor heavenly rulers” neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 NIV

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Answers Prayers in Unexpected Ways

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My Toyota Scion sped pass the “Welcome to Maryland” sign. I’d been driving over twelve hours from my home in Orlando, Florida. Finally, my GPS announced I’d arrived. I pulled into the driveway and stared at the house I’d now call home. I resented the move—this disruption in my life—but I’d lost my job due to an economic crash.

I’d spent months praying and sending out resumes to no avail. Until one day I received an offer for a design position. The only problem…the job would require a move to Maryland. My heart sank at the thought of leaving life-long friends, family, and the only town I’d known as home; but I glanced at the stack of unpaid bills piled on my desk knowing I had no choice but to take it. God answered my prayers, just not in the way I envisioned.

Despite my discomfort and the fear I felt of the unknown, I packed my bags and followed the path He placed in front of me.

‘At least I’d have my sister,’ I thought.

I’d planned to live with her, her husband, and my two nieces for six to eight months, until I could get back on my feet. Although, grateful for the bedroom that housed all my belongings and the bath I shared with my nieces, I needed a place of my own.

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I hustled every day to eliminate my debt. Before long, I searched for an apartment, but reality slapped me with a setback. The cost of living in Maryland/DC far exceeded the housing costs of central Florida. After paying my bills (car, cell phone, credit cards) there wasn’t enough money left over to afford the matchbox-sized apartments. I felt defeated, helpless, and filled with anxiety. I questioned if I’d misunderstood God to begin with.

While living with my sister, not wanting to intrude on her family, I spent much time alone; but I never felt alone. On long drives, I prayed over my circumstances. The moon slipped through the tall northeastern trees—trees I didn’t have back home. On those nights, God filled me with peace about my situation, and I grew closer to Him.

I chose to trust.

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Meanwhile, as I financially bounced back so did the Florida economy. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome and applied for jobs in Florida again. While visiting my friends and family in Orlando, I reached out to a former rep of mine. He told me I’m in luck, his company was hiring. I applied and sadly, after two consecutive interviews I didn’t get the job.

A few days later, the owner of the company asked me—via text—to meet him that night at an ice cream shop. I thought it odd but agreed.

I arrived first and when I saw him enter I greeted him; but he seemed surprised to see me. While waiting in line we chatted. He stated his wife and kids sat outside on the patio. (Which explained his hefty order)  I couldn’t understand why he’d bring the entire family, but silently prayed I’d get the job. I followed him to their table. I cracked jokes with his little ones and rubbed shoulders with his wife. After a while his wife made a comment about their friends being late in joining them. ‘There were more people joining us?’ I thought.

He glanced down at his phone and realized he’d been corresponding with me instead of his friends all along. He explained what happened. Embarrassed, we had a good laugh and finished out the evening. The following day, he offered me the job. He thought I handled myself well, and I would be a great addition to the team and work well with their clients. I accepted.

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Looking back, I’m grateful for my time in Maryland. At that time, I didn’t see it as my wilderness journey. It was a time in my life I learned to lean on God and spend time with Him in constant conversation. Sometimes God calls you out of your comfort zone in order for you to learn to rely on Him solely. He calls you to a place His voice can’t be drowned out by the constant chatter; much like the Israelites wandering in their wilderness. The only option they had was to fully rely on His grace before He allowed them to enter their promised land.

A verse that played in my thoughts during this time was “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 New International Version.

I recognize this time as a pivotal point in my life, but God didn’t stop there. A year later, He continued to open doors—one leading me straight into my husband-to-be’s office.

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Today my efforts are no longer spent paying the bills but raising our twin boys. Isn’t it funny how God works? What about you? Has there been a time in your life God has called you out of your comfort zone so you would learn to lean on Him?  I hope my story gives you hope in knowing that even when it seems like God has abandoned us… maybe it is because He has already planned it all out for us.

FullSizeRender.jpg-2Lisa Sciacca is a regular contributing writer at The Hallelujah House. Her passion is her family and telling her story through photos. Lisa enjoys connecting with other moms and exchanging information and encouragement. You can see examples of Lisa’s work on instagram @Life_inPieces. Here, along with her photography, she shares what she’s learned along the way from recipes to quick teaching strategies. If you would like to connect with Lisa her email is life_in pieces@yahoo.com. To read her complete profile, you can find her under the “Team” tab above.

Fabulous February!

people-2559723_1920Welcome to Fabulous February. This month our theme is relationships. Some of our topics this month will cover our relationship with our Heavenly Father, marriage, relationships between women, and a look at the rising problem of pastor depression and suicide. Hope you enjoyed January’s Spiritual Warfare and if you didn’t get to read all of them they are still on the site for your viewing at your convenience by scrolling down to older posts.

So, stay warm and we’ll get started on Relationships on Monday with an article titled, “When God Sends You Into the Wilderness.”  We’ll see you then!

Inspiration From J-Lo

Preparing the Harvest:

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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2 English Standard Version.

If there’s one thing for sure it’s this…my mother Priscilla raised strong women. When her daughters were knocked down by rejection, cancers, or sorrows we brushed the dirt off and moved on. Probably because Momma came from a long line of strong Alabama women with Cherokee backbones. Most probably because the women in our family know Who to go to when we feel weak in the knees.

While watching the Super Bowl game on Sunday it was evident the commercial’s aim was to point out the strength of women, and that’s okay with me. I’m raising my daughter to know God raised women to be strong. God made women to follow Him carrying their own crosses.

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My Bella

My five-year old daughter Bella had pneumonia the night of the Super Bowl. Her medication makes her wired so she stayed up late watching the game with us. She picked the 49er’s after finding out the family cheered on the Chiefs. After San Francisco scored, she lifted her chin and asked if anyone would like to switch to her side.

That’s my girl!

But no one did, and she remained rooted.

Yep, that’s my girl.

 

When the half-time show came on, I was excited to show her two Latino women dancing and singing—a nod to girl power and the Latin culture. Bella danced in front of the television to Shakira’s guitar playing, before J-Lo’s grand entrance down a stripper pole. From there, it went from bad to worse. I tried to brush it off, but the images had been planted in my daughter’s mind. Later, after my brother admonished me for letting her watch it, I retorted back, “she’ll never remember it.”

But she will. She rarely forgets anything.

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I’m not writing this blog post to shame J-Lo. She’s doing what she’s paid to do, use her sexuality to sell her music. Furthermore, as a follower of Jesus Christ it’s not my place to judge her, it’s God’s.

I’ve read all the admonishments from Christians on Facebook, but my thoughts are why are we surprised? We live in a country screaming for women’s equality at the same time women across America praise a book about a perverted psycho who inflicts physical harm on a woman while having sex. Fifty Shades of Grey ranked the top selling book of the decade. Let’s get real, there was nothing gray about it.

Women march in the streets for their rights—even if it means killing their own babies—while displaying female genitalia on their heads. The culture loves to toss us about on its ever-shifting, dark waves of hypocritic morality.

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My niece…my deliciousness.

Even the Super Bowl has a record of not protecting its youth from raunchiness. My sons witnessed the boob explosion in 2004. So, I admit on Sunday I should’ve known what to expect and wasn’t surprised a bit when J-Lo spread her legs and rubbed her crotch for the camera.

What did surprise me is…

I let my daughter watch it.

Shame… On… Me.

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Bella and her sweet cousins.

We live in a world of deception that would like nothing more than to degrade our daughters, whittle their curves into sex toys, and make them believe their source of power is in their appearance and sensuality—not their God. Too often, as mothers we give into the culture or at least compromise a bit. Even strong women have moments of weakness, but if we keep letting things slip, it’ll cook us. My husband calls it the “boiling frog syndrome.” Put a frog in cold water and raise the temperature bit by bit, and he’ll cook. If we’re not careful one day our own innocent daughters will be pushing sensual selfies across the hemisphere or worse.

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She’s got this!

Through my lapse of judgement, the half-time show reminded me of what this culture feeds our children, and I’m not going to allow it anymore. My daughter is going to grow up knowing her God makes her strong, her humbleness makes her beautiful, her mission gives her passion, and her servant’s heart gives her joy.

Show me a woman who’s strong and I’ll show you a woman who practices restraint, one who doesn’t need to have her ego fed, a woman who doesn’t put it all out there for lustful eyes, and a woman who knows her self-worth comes from what’s inside her spirit not her bra.

I’m going to be careful in the future what messages my daughter receives because I love her. I refuse to allow her to become enslaved to insecurities, anxiety, depression, or constant self-focus. I want to raise her with eyes that see beyond herself, a mind that’s focused on what is good and holy, and a healthy body geared toward the calling of Christ.

So I have a message for the media, music industry, and Hollywood:  Females are worth more than the degrading buffet you’re serving.

This Girl Mom has had enough!

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you as I warned you before that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:19-24 ESV

 

 

 

 

When God Shuts the Door

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Preparing the Heart:

“What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.” Revelation 3:7b New International Version

Every doctor’s door I opened—feeling hopeful—closed without remedy.

For five months, I suffered with sever sinus inflammation, head pressure, ear -popping, and migraines. No one could locate what caused my debilitating health problems which left me feeling hopeless, and I feared I’d die from it.

During this time, I led a group of over 100 women through a Bible study called, “Me, Myself, and Lies” by Jennifer Rothschild. Some in my study noticed that I struggled with anxiety and the inability to focus, and they prayed for my healing. One day after another doctor’s doors closed, I cried out to God. I begged Him for peace and understanding as to why He shut every door giving me no remedy for my ailments. Once home, I opened my Bible to a passage in Matthew 7:7 (NIV) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

“I’m asking for revelation God;” I prayed. “nobody knows what is going on with my head, except for You. I need Your revelation. Please show me what to do.”

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The Bible study workbook

That particular day in Bible study, Jennifer referenced Daniel chapter 10. During the Hebrew exile, Daniel received a troubling vision. He sought revelation and understanding from God. He mourned and fasted for three weeks. Afterwards, the angel Gabriel appeared to him and brought a divine answer.

Immediately, I sensed God calling me to fast like Daniel. The truth is I had never fasted for spiritual reasons before, and I didn’t know how or what to fast from; yet I was desperate for a discovery from God. Daniel became my fasting model. In Daniel 10:3 (NIV) “I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.”

For the next 21 days, I ate only fruits and vegetables, and drank only water. I. gave up coffee! Coffee had been my go-to all day, comfort drink. Serious business. In addition to abstaining from certain foods and beverages. I felt led to fast from dousing myself with perfume and bath sprays. Like coffee, smelling good ranked high on my daily regime. The final area I denied myself was watching tv. Yes, I gave up my favorite shows. In studying Daniel, I learned the spiritual warfare weapon of fasting and prayer.

For the first time in my life I understood that fasting was not so much about abstaining but rather, indulging. We as Christians get hung up on the foods we deny ourselves, rather than focusing on the joy of intimacy with God.

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For three weeks I poured my heart out to God in prayer daily. First, I praised Him for Who He was, focusing on His attributes and His goodness. “Dear God, You are Jehovah-Rapha, and I praise You because You are the God Who Heals me.” Next, I confessed my fears and inadequacies and asked him to forgive my sin. “Lord, You. Know I’m scared that this illness is going to be the death of me’ please help me to trust You. Forgive me for worrying.” Then I petitioned Him on the behalf of others in my life to do what only He could do. “God, my son Christian is struggling with nightmares. I ask that you give him peace, so he can be at rest.” Lastly, I thanked Him for being so faithful and for answering my prayers ahead of time. “Thank you Lord that you have heard my cry, and I know you are working even now to do what’s best in my life.”

In the mornings when I craved a cup of coffee, instead, I found my comfort in the pages of His Word. As the day wore on and the hunger for something other than broccoli or bananas hit hard, I learned to feast on the Bread of Life, by digging into my Bible study. It was there that I found both physical and spiritual nourishment for my soul. By day 10 the cravings for coffee lessened and my desire for God increased. It wasn’t long before God’s peace filled me, and I knew no matter what He chose to do about my health I would be alright.

Isaiah 58:8-9 “Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: ‘Here am I.’” (NIV)

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By God’s providence—not coincidence—my primary care doctor had ordered a Cat scan and a full panel of blood work during my fast. Around day 17, I received a personal phone call from him.

“Liz,” he said, “we received the results of both tests’ I know what’s wrong with you. You have Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism. Can you come into the office so I can discuss treatment with you?” We finally had an answer! I felt perplexed by this newfangled terminology. I had no idea what it meant, or if it was life-threatening. Before he ended the call, he assured me it was a thyroid disease which was treatable and not to worry. As I hung up the phone, praise erupted from my lips, “Thank you Jesus! Thank you God; You are so good.”

 

In my doctor’s office, I learned that when my endodontist pulled one of my upper molars, it perforated my sinus cavity, which caused severe infection. Due to the fact that I had undiagnosed Hashimoto’s, the damage to my sinuses wouldn’t heal like a healthy person’s would.

“Your body is not producing the thyroid hormone and therefore cannot heal itself properly.” My doctor explained. “It’s no wonder you’ve been in so much pain. Your thyroid is your second brain. Before the discovery and treatment of this disease, most people died from it. Your blood work revealed off the chart records for Hashimoto’s.  Let’s get you treated.”

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Often I wondered why God didn’t reveal this sooner. Why did He continue to shut so many doors that could have helped me? Eventually, I discovered God closed the doors to redirect me into His perfect will and timing. Knowing God’s love and learning to trust His timing is paramount. Without the extreme discomfort of being left untreated, I wouldn’t have initiated the discipline of prayer and fasting. God also shut the doors so that He could provide something greater, more beautiful, and more powerful than anything I could have planned or imagined for myself. When it seemed God said, “No,” it caused me to seek Him more earnestly through fasting and prayer. He taught me a powerful spiritual discipline that would bless and benefit me the rest of my life. A greater “Yes” came when I realized God was more than enough, even when He shuts the door.

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“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may. Have power together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory…” Ephesians 3:17b-20 NIV

 

Blog post by Elizabeth Hammond a team member of The Hallelujah House. Elizabeth can be contacted at Elizabethhammond8@gmail.com. To see Elizabeth’s full bio click on the “Team” link above.

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How to Fight Spiritual Warfare part 2

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How to Fight Spiritual Warfare part 2:

Preparing the Heart and Harvest of your life.

 

If you haven’t read How to Fight Spiritual Warfare part 1 you need to start there. You can access that blog post by clicking here:

Note: Most of the material for this article is taken from Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God Bible study. I highly recommend the seven-week study, and it can be purchased at www.lifeway.com or a local mom and pop Christian bookstore in your area.

 

We are going to jump right back at the point we left off by examining the remaining armors Paul mentions in Ephesians 6: 10-15.

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  1. The Shield of Faith:

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16 English Standard Version. The shield of faith provides protection from anything the enemy uses against you. It helps guard you as you step into what God has called you to do. The shield of faith is your reliance on God.

A dear friend of mine named Vanessa died in August of 2018 from brain cancer. God had led this girl to me years before, and I shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with her. Soon after she accepted Jesus as her personal Savior. On her death bed, she admitted she wished her family and friends knew her testimony. She wanted them to know the reason she had peace about dying, but she never got to tell them. Being a witness to it, I knew God wanted me to tell her story. Many of her family and friends were Muslim and Hindu, it wasn’t like speaking at the funeral in front of Christian mourners. The night before I laid on the sofa because of the knots in my stomach. I prayed God would take the anxiety away from me. It wasn’t until the next day when I stood up and took the podium did the fiery darts of anxiety and fear stop. God met me when I stepped out in faith, and a peace came over me. Several times, I stated the God of the Bible was the one true God. A friend of ours sat in the back of the room and claimed every time I called God the one true God, the Muslim men moaned. What’s amazing is, I didn’t hear them, my shield of faith protected me.  I couldn’t have done that without placing my reliance on God.

If you believe Jesus Christ died on the cross, rose again, and saved you, how are you living your faith? A life of true faith in an all mighty God is evident in the way we live. Our good works don’t save us, but we live how we believe. Do you fear going to a Bible study? Many women I’ve talked to fear they don’t know enough Bible to go to a Bible study. Isn’t that what Bible study is for? Those are fiery darts! Don’t let the enemy steal your opportunity for growth. Grab your shield and sign up.

In another example, let’s return to giving up wine and how to apply that to taking up the shield of faith. I admit, I’ve experienced temptations and you probably will too when God asks you to give something up; but here’s the kicker, God always provides a way out of the enemy’s enticements. If I were to disappear in my bedroom when the wine is poured at a family birthday dinner, I’m not holding up my shield, that’s retreating. Instead, I prayed for God’s strength in the face of it. God will never ask something of you He’s not ready to be a part of. God is faithful and will meet you at your temptation.

I’ve already pointed out the fiery darts of the enemy could be fear, anxiety, and temptation. Another common dart he loves to send is distractions. He loves it when we become so distracted we never accomplish what God wants us to. When Paul wrote the book of Ephesians a popular war tactic was to send fiery darts towards the enemy’s line. This would start fires the enemy had to extinguish. This distraction left wide open holes in their line of defense allowing the archers to break through and attack.

Pick up your Shield of Faith and don’t allow the enemy to tempt, fill you with fear and anxiety, or distract you from God’s calling.

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  1. The Helmet of Salvation:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Satan is after your mind. Priscilla points out during the time Paul wrote about the spiritual armor the Roman soldier’s helmet had been redesigned around 10 years prior. The new design no longer only covered the crown, but the metal came down the sides of the soldier’s face and the back of the neck as well. If we apply this new design to the spiritual armor, the helmet covered the ears, the mind, and the neck.

The enemy will try to affect your way of thinking. He is not God and therefore can’t read your mind, but he can influence your thoughts if you allow him to. When you put on the helmet of salvation you are liberating your mind from lies, negative thought patterns, and darkness.

Have you heard the expression Satan’s whispering in your ear? There’s a helmet for that.

The covering on the neck signifies freedom from strongholds or slavery. The message of the gospel is freedom. Guilt, addictions, sin, and pain places you in the yolk of slavery. Do not free your minds to be filled by the enemy but keep them focused on what is good and acceptable to God.

Did you know negative thoughts actually change your brain physically? Check out this article on Huff Post https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-your-thoughts-change-your-brain-cells-and-genes_b_9516176.

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  1. The Sword of the Spirit:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 ESV

The Sword is your only offensive piece of armor. It is the Word of God- the Bible. Paul describes it in Hebrews as doubled edged, very sharp sword. The Roman soldier’s sword of that day, was short and needle-sharp, made to attack the enemy in hand-to-hand combat.

The Bible is God-breathed and living. A sentence or paragraph leaps off the page and it seems to have been written for only you. It can stab into the heart of your situation. Truth from the Word of God is your biggest offense against the deceiver.

Recently over lunch, a girlfriend stated, yes Satan is the father of lies, but he’s also a deceiver. We believe deceivers. Lies we recognize as untruths, but deception is his ability to make us believe his lies because he knows our frailties and weak spots. Hence, why the sword is important.

Stay in the truth.

Fight.

Offend the enemy.

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Now that we know the spiritual armors and their jobs, there is one thing that will infuse them with power and that’s prayer. The constant conversation with our Heavenly Father keeps us alert to the spiritual world. Paul instructs us to “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)

On our next blog, Elizabeth Hammond will share how prayer and fasting led to her physical healing. See you then.

 

Picture Credits: Thanks to Pexels, Stocksnap, and Rudy and Peter Skitterons at Pixabys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Fight Spiritual Warfare

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Preparing the Heart and Harvest:

“Finally be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For 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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breast plate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. All the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with al prayer and supplication.”  In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish” Ephesians 6:10-15 English Standard Version

 

I’ve got a red juicy confession to make, recently, I’ve had to give up red wine. I can see you teetotalers out there nodding, but to be clear, I don’t believe drinking in and of itself is a sin. It can be when you drink without self-control or in front of someone who has a problem with alcohol. In my case, it became a sin when God told me not to and I did.

I’ve spent the holidays clinging to my rights and arguing with God over the issue. You know when it’s not fair God pries something out of your hands but not others. That my friend is called personal relationship. Then, there’s that smell of Italian food wafting from the kitchen. Have you noticed when God tells you to give something up you want it more than you did before? That’s called temptation. Then, you pour a glass and think after the holidays I’ll give it up, but that’s called disobedience.

Delayed obedience is only disobedience.

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So, I’ve had to confess my disobedience and surrender my wine glass to the Father. Some have asked how long I will abstain, but I don’t know the answer to that question, except to say, as long as He says no.

Throughout my wavering, I tried to hit temptation head on. I purchased Kombucha drinks, trying to put something healthy in the fridge that I could drink with dinner, but it didn’t work. I’d justify using pizza night as my excuse or I’d pour a smaller glass and think to myself I’m not hurting anyone. But that’s a lie too. I hurt my Father and our relationship. It felt as if He was pulling away, but instead, I’d built a crystal wall of rebellion between us.

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My rebellion is the perfect example I could find to illustrate the armors of God, so I’ll throw myself under a bus for the sake of truth. I’ve found if we’re not willing to admit our own failures how can we help anyone else conquer theirs?

This month, I’ve been leading a women’s Bible study on Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God. Right up front, I’m going to tell you this is where much of my information in this article will come from, but you’re only getting a taste, so I recommend you take the study at your church or on your own to get the full buffet. (I will post the link for the study below)

It is believed Paul was imprisoned when he wrote the book of Ephesians. He wrote the book in a dark, moldy, cell while Roman soldiers stood guard. I imagine when he looked up through the manhole in the ceiling of his cell and saw those Roman soldiers fully clad in their physical armor, it clicked. God spoke about putting on the armor in the book of Isaiah (chapter 59) and as Paul wrote that letter to the church in Ephesus he reminded them that they are in a spiritual battle, just as we are today. Every difficulty we face as an abiding follower of Christ has spiritual implications.

So, let’s find out what each piece of armor is supposed to do for us, and how we can apply it to our lives.

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Belt of Truth

 

Paul starts with the Belt of Truth. Being the first piece of armor the soldier put on, the belt held the other pieces in place and gave support to the soldiers core. This belt kept him from falling over under the weight of all the other armor he wore.

Spiritually, the belt of truth keeps a believer from falling for any lies of the enemy that can make a believer stumble. The belt of truth keeps you grounded in recognizing what is true and what is not. It is a tool of discernment that keeps you standing firm in your spiritual battles.

When God started impressing on me to give up dinner wine, immediately and repetitiously, I had the thought, “Did God really say I had to give up red wine completely?” If you begin thinking this thought, “Did God really say to …” Then, the answer more than likely is yes, He did. Truth tells us Satan used those exact words in the Garden of Eden when Eve looked upon the fruit God told her not to eat. Truth also states the enemy deceives and sets out to destroy us with deception. He tries to muddy the waters, so we start to question the voice of the Father. One litmus test I use, I ask myself do I feel peace continuing to do whatever I felt God had asked me not to. If you feel a wrestling in your spirit pouring that glass of wine, spending that money, eating that chocolate cake, or whatever it is God commanded you to give up, then you’ve fallen into enemy territory. You’ve taken a detour from following the path God illuminated for you that leads to the purpose He’s already prepared ahead of time for you in your life

But there is hope in the detour.

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“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

“Commit your way to the Lord, trust Him and He will act.” Psalms 37:5 ESV.

If you confess your disobedience and commit your will and way to God, it is up to Him to straighten your path. He will lead you out of darkness and back into the light.

 

Satan knows I hate legalism. I truly think legalism is a death spiral for the freeing gospel. It points out you must do these actions and stay away from these things in order to be saved. This is a lie. For many who subscribed to this false doctrine, they may have checked off you must not drink wine in order to be saved.

For me, I wanted to cling to my hatred of legalism as a reason to not give up wine. But, I’m free in Christ. I thought. You see the pendulum can swing too far the other way. Our freedom should never bring disobedience to what God is telling us individually to do. When I tuck my arguments into my belt of truth, this is what I find. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I tell you?” Luke 6:46 (ESV)

Gulp!

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 The Breast Plate of Righteousness

 

            The Breast Plate of Righteousness hooks into the belt of truth. The soldier’s arms would give out if he had to hold the full weight of this breast plate. It is a plate meant to protect the soldier’s most vulnerable spot—his heart.

When we are in disobedience to something God is telling us to do, we have relinquished wearing our breast plate of righteousness, and through that one disobedience have opened ourselves up to a full-on attack from Satan. He will aim straight at the heart, which pumps into every other part of you. In my experience, I felt guilt, sudden insecurities, and defeat. There is no peace in disobedience because you’ve willingly entered into a war with the enemy allowing him to have the upper hand.

If you try to hold the weight of your righteousness without hooking it into the belt of truth you will surrender under the weight of trying to be good. God’s truth states, “None is righteous, no, not one;” Romans 3:10a. (ESV) “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)

When your breast plate of righteousness remains hooked into the belt of truth, you will have freedom of movement. Let’s apply this to my story. When I tried to give up wine in my own way…I couldn’t. In fact, it backfired. I wanted it more. It wasn’t until I prayed and asked God to take the desire away from me, that I could walk into the kitchen, smell that good Italian food cooking and not want a glass of red wine. It’s as simple as releasing your grip and allowing the Father to take it.

Hooking your breast plate of righteousness into your belt of truth, means you are relying on God’s power through the Holy Spirit in your life to help you overcome sin and live out God’s will. It is His righteousness that will work through you, not your own.

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The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace:

A Roman soldier’s sandals contained cleats across the soles. The cleats helped them stand their ground when an enemy attacked in battle, because the cleats dug into the soil. It also prevented them from slipping on wet terrain which gave them stability.

Spiritually speaking, the shoes of the gospel of peace keep a Christian from slipping when life becomes stormy. It helps us remain calm in the midst of difficulties, because we have God’s peace firmly locking us in place, so we will not waiver. Within the will of the Father we will find peace through Jesus Christ. When you wander outside of God’s will through disobedience, we lose our peace and slip on the enemy’s slope.

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Shoes are an important piece of armor because they are what move you forward. They put distance between you and that “thing,” but also move you towards living out your faith. Having faith cannot be just a head knowledge. True faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord is a faith in action which grows fruit as a result. What fruit has you life produced? Strap on those sandals and move soldier!

In part two we will look at the three remaining pieces of armor and what makes them all work properly.  The Shield of Faith, The Sword of the Spirit, The Helmet of Salvation, and Prayer.

See you then…

To purchase The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer go to http://www.lifeway.com or your nearest mom and pop Bible bookstore.

 

 

Monday’s Motivational

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Happy Martin Luther King Day. I’ll admit I didn’t really appreciate Martin Luther King until I married a black man, and began raising bi-racial children. Where would my kids be today without his willingness to speak out against injustices and hatred stemming from racism?

It has been an adventure being married to Jay. In the first year of our marriage, my brother- in- law, Kareem, called me on Martin Luther King Day. He asked me if I’d baked the “King” cake. I had no idea I was supposed to bake a cake, and glanced at my watch to see how much time I had left before  Jay came home. He told me it was my turn to bake this cake for the family and they’d be over later to celebrate. Frantic, I asked him if he could send me the recipe because I didn’t know this was a family tradition.

Then, he couldn’t hold back, he burst out laughing.

Ever so often I’ll still get a message about the “King” cake from him. I love that my brother- in- laws love to prank their white sister.  Another brother-in-law, Gordon hid a black Santa in my house every Christmas. I’ve been disappointed in the last Christmas’s that this tradition has died. I hunted for that Santa until I found it.

Today, I wanted to find a Martin Luther quote that speaks into our January theme of Spiritual Warfare and found this one:

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Martin Luther King

So, today on MLK Day let his words encourage you to talk to your Heavenly Father.

See you Wednesday.