My Dad was a Marine and when he was in the Marines, he was a drill Sargent, heavy equipment operator and boxing instructor. When I was young, I was a tomboy and he and I would watch boxing matches and he would explain things to me and teach me some moves along the way. So, I carried that love of boxing with me throughout life and to this day appreciate a good match. And I got to thinking about my walk with the Lord. All the teachings on love and forgiveness and turning the other cheek always kinda bothered me. And I realized something tonight. I think the Lord put it into my head, as He has a habit of doing. All these teachings are really boxing training because every good boxer knows that you can not be any kind of successful in boxing unless you can block, dodge and take a punch. Good boxers hit well and have agility and strategy, but no matter their skill, they will go down if they haven’t been trained in blocking, dodging and taking a punch. When we wake up in the morning, we put on the boxing gloves and prepare ourselves for our fights of the day/hour/minute. Some fights, unfortunately, are right there in the home. Others, just as unfortunately, are in the church. Most are in the workplace, shopping centers, dark places, roads, etc. There is never a question IF we will be hit and really from where shouldn’t be the priority question. The big question is has my training been extensive enough to prepare me for the fights and am I awake to see the punches coming to defend myself? What spiritual training do we need? Bible reading and prayer and lots and lots of both. And the reason Christ teaches not to hit back is because we might be tempted to think the blow was actually from the person at the other end of the punch, and we know decisively that our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers and powers of this world’s darkness, the enemy. As such, we are not strong enough to take on this supernatural force and have to leave that to the Holy Spirit in us, our supernatural force. And if we are foolish enough to attack the flesh and blood person being used and duped by the enemy, we could crush them completely and harm ourselves in the process, for vengeance is God’s and He will repay. Every person was made by Him, you see, not just you. There is hope if you don’t exhibit pride and weakness enough to fight back foolishly and prove the enemy right. The enemy would win that round. However, if you are strong enough to be humble and peaceable and allow God to fight in the spirit world, where the fight is actually taking place, He has a better chance to not only make it right but also try to save the person from a fate worse than death. Any boxer knows that control of self is essential in any winner. Forgiveness is also relevant here. We are to block punches with forgiveness, pretty limitless, because we have to forgive the way we want God to forgive us and the way He has already forgiven us. Then, especially in the home but everywhere else also, we have a chance of helping save their souls long term. Just a thought.
Love is a smile when the world is frowning.
Love is a soft poem when the world is rapping.
Love is hugs and kisses when the world is abusing.
Love is gentle words first thing in the morning.
Love is forgiving when the world holds a grudge.
Love is accepting when the world is criticizing.
Love is peace when the world is troubled.
Love is natural landscapes when the world is concrete.
Love is butterflies when the world is lifeless.
Love is rainbows when the world is colorless.
Love is service when the world requires.
Love is fruit when the world is stale crackers.
Love is bounty when the world is want.
Love is life when the world is not.
Every day we are hit by little tests of character and goodness and Godly purity. These little biters can range from the seemingly small (grabbing a few envelopes from the office to save you a trip to the store) to very large (porn watching, cheating, rage). However, I contend that there is no “small” temptation or “large” temptation,… there is only temptation. The small leads to the big (the gradual sin decline- mastered by the enemy to lure you into sin in a way that seems good or moral or not dangerous). However the small is also big. Sin is missing the mark, not being holy. A small drop of red wine will show up just as clearly as a large spill does on a white linen napkin. Temptations are all based on lies. You being told a lie is the temptation. For example, “It’s just one time. You deserve it.” Or “You are so good most of the time and this one time is not going to hurt anyone.” Or “As long as no one gets hurt or finds out, it is fine.” Or the classic “No one will ever know”. These lies are the temptation. You hearing these lies in your head is just good hearing, no sin involved. Unless. Unless you buy the lie and agree with the lie and act. Then, you have sinned. Lie and usually pride (how could I leave that out?) Are the basis for every temptation because of the simple fact that the king of evil fell because of these and hence became the father of lies. So, how can this help us as Christ followers? Let me tell you now. Knowing how the enemy works and where he will attack gives away the element of surprise and allows you to arm yourself for battle before he strikes another blow. If you want to be free and saved, that is. And how we do this is through much prayer (He who is in us is greater than He who is in the world- see yesterday’s blog) and Bible reading (filling with truth from Truth) and self talk (personalizing these components). We can win victories every day, one resistance at a time. And if giving into certain temptations has become a habit and lies are etched into the mind to look like truth, remember that you break a bad habit with a good habit and you do it one good decision at a time until all the practice becomes a habit and God purifies you again with love and truth. He wants us to freely love Him and have joy and peace and life, whereas the enemy wants us in bondage and without joy to the point of death. We choose our “fate” one decision at a time and we all choose for ourselves right now who we will serve.
Last night, there was a funny blurb on ways to get out of jury duty and one of them was to respond to the lawyers question with “I am also a victim of murder”. The goal was to be found crazy and get out of jury duty, which was done in jest for laughs and I strongly recommend not getting out of jury duty (being part of why our system of justice is pretty fair and works.) But now that I’ve killed the joke, I must say that often we do in fact operate that way, as if we are victims of murder, as if we are innocent victims of sin and give up because it already won over us or something. However, when we are saved, the chains of bondage are cut. For some people, these chains fall away slowly because they are uncertain they really want it or it is safe without them and let go one link at a time. Other people believe and trust a greater degree and hurl them all off and never look back. As long as the chains come off, keep moving forward with the certain undeniable knowledge that the Holy Spirit within you has immeasurable power. So, the power within you now, the Holy Spirit, one of the Godhead, can instantly defeat whatever temptations or negativity or evil ways within you anytime you ask Him too. That is fact. There is no room for debate, and your unwillingness to remain a victim of murder or sin is simply a prideful lack of faith which thankfully can be remedied with a little or lot of contrition/humility and a simple request, “Help, I need your help.” Most wars are won in the heart and mind before any punches are thrown, before you are surrounded. Most wars are won or lost with decisions you make, knowingly or unknowingly, and it is the responsibility of the saved one to make these decisions you captives and decide that the Holy Spirit’s power can overcome any obstacles or foes and simply ask Him for help and confirmation. Maturity of faith comes with humble requests of dependence on God (practice) until you have such a habit of seeing His power in your life that you stop doubting it and just do it. Then God can move onto richer lessons for you. We must embrace this great power within us to grow in Christ and allow Him to work through us. There is much for us to do, much for the Holy Spirit to do through us.
The best lessons I have learned in life have been from 3 sources (no offense to my teachers): the Bible, my own experiences and nature. We all know that the Bible really has all we need to be saved now and forever and that our own experiences in life are presented to teach and test us. However, do not forget in your activities that we learn amazing lessons about the nature and character, peace and beauty, joy and perfection of our Creator by studying His creation/nature/us. We are at best a reflection of many facets of our Lord: thoughtful, communicative, social, beautiful, capable, independent, etc. Of course, we can be certainly contrary to those amazing possibilities if we stupidly decide to live contrary to our true nature. However, nature does not lie, does not choose to be something other than it was meant to be. Nature is pure and can not be less than it was made to be. We are wise to look at our natural world and reflect on it and you will find that when you spend enough time and attention on nature and quiet yourself, you will always always find God there. What I mean is that God’s great qualities are always reflected to us in His natural creation. It is the nature of nature. We are so blessed to have opportunities wherever we look to see birds and trees and plants and animals and sunsets, even if you live in a city that limits landscapes. These things are treasures, little nuggets of glistening gold.