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spiritual warfare

The faintest light penetrates an inky sky as I awaken to the sounds of my husband shuffling about the house. I hear the clink of the coffeepot as it meets the edge of his mug and know that it’s time to ready myself for the day ahead.

Leaning toward the nightstand, I fumble for my glasses and then flick on the table lamp. My first impulse is to slip my fingers around the cool metal of the laptop waiting expectantly on my desk. I’ve been preoccupied lately, filling the first few minutes of the morning checking various email accounts and posting on social media.

None of these activities are wrong, but the quiet pre-dawn moments are the rare, uninterrupted  times I used to share with the Lord. Now, I’ve fallen into the habit of settling for less. Of forgetting that each day comes with its challenges. Of ignoring the importance of preparing for spiritual battle because I know I exist between the realities of the seen and unseen.

The sunrise my be beautiful, the house may be quiet, but the enemy is always prepared to infiltrate, attack, or ambush.

“The devil is working against (us). He is walking around like a hungry lion with his mouth open. He is looking for someone to eat.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Scanning Facebook instead of donning spiritual battle gear puts me at risk. Makes me vulnerable. And, worse, renders me useless as a woman living in her own strength rather than Christ’s.

If you’ve ever struggled to remain disciplined in prayer or Bible study, you understand.

But, there are souls walking around who need the hope we have. There are wounded hearts hemorrhaging for the love of Jesus. And, we are the ones called to serve as spiritual soldiers. With eternity hanging in the balance, it’s no wonder we’re told to put on the full armor of God.

I’m gearing up and strapping on, friend. Will you join me? Let’s get ready to stand our ground.

Action Step:                                                                                                                        Personalize the verses below as you pray them aloud by inserting your name in the blanks.

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 _____________’s 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)

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We are God’s children set free from the bondage of slavery and delivered to a kingdom of restored hope and promise.

(This is an excerpt from the book I am currently writing. May these words encourage your heart. Blessings, Tammy)

A perpetual champion of the underdog, I regularly root for the outcast because I’ve always consider myself a bit of a David—a next-to-nothing-unknown standing in the shadow of a man who caused grown men to tremble.  A man without regard for others and even less for God.

Do you relate? Your giant may have a different name or even a label, but he is no more immune to the Father’s power and justice than the Goliath of scripture.

A Giant in the Land

You may recall the story. Goliath of Gath was the Philistine’s war hero. Arrogant and puffed up with pride, he and the other troops taunted Saul’s army for forty days and nights boasting of their strength. Stories of Goliath’s conquests were certain to have spread among the Israelite camp and God’s mighty men quaked at the sight of this giant of a man who stood nearly ten feet tall.

But, David, a pubescent boy and the least of his family, gathered his courage along with five stones and embedded a rock into Goliath’s skull. The great enemy? Conquered. The threats of the previous days? Eliminated. David’s future? Full of promise.

In the same way, I lived with a giant of my own—a 6’4”, red-haired stepfather with a protruding nose, handlebar mustache, and bulldog tattoo on his upper right shoulder. Invited into immediate fatherhood following a month’s long engagement and subsequent wedding, Doug inherited a toddler and preschooler in need of a daddy. With a penchant for randomly shouting Marine jargon, his voice boomed loud on the average day and rose several decibels when drunkenness or rage coursed through his veins like a prairie wildfire scorching everything in its path.

Like a Philistine warrior, he’d swagger through the door of our trailer house spewing curse words and condemnation. “Where are those little brats? I never wanted to be their father.” And my brother and I would squat in the furthest corner of my tiny bedroom hoping the blustering would stop with the traditional after-work six-pack.

If the ranting continued, we knew. The approaching evening would be one of continued slurs and violent combat—husband pitted against diminutive wife. Her face and body bearing evidence to the events of the night before.

Giants like Goliath and Daddy Doug have a lot in common. They raise their fists to heaven, defying God and abusing his people. Empowered by the fear of those around them, they mock the weak, defenseless or powerless; mercilessly punishing anyone foolish enough to challenge them.

The Mighty Warrior doesn’t stand idly by—cooly observing calamity and chaos directed at His children without intervening.No, He was and is your Defender and mine. Click To Tweet

Friend, the Mighty Warrior doesn’t stand idly by—cooly observing calamity and chaos directed at His children without intervening. No, He was and is your Defender and mine. The giant in your land and mine may have invaded in an attempt to overthrow hope.  Plunder peace. Steal innocence. But he is no match for the one who defends His children. Just as Goliath continued his rampage unhampered for a time, your giant and mine will one day stand before the true King—his threats nothing more than blustery words evaporating in the wind.

Just as Goliath continued his rampage unhampered day after day, your giant and mine will one day stand before the true King—his threats nothing more than blustery words evaporating in the wind.. Click To Tweet

Giants cast imposing shadows and only those who’ve lived within the darkness of that shadow understand the way it stretches far and wide, nearly engulfing the landscape of a child’s spirit. Much like Saul’s men, a little one learns her position. She recognizes her own powerlessness and at the rattling of the giant’s saber, remains on the sidelines—aware that venturing beyond the boundaries not only invites danger into the midst, but guarantees she’ll be its target.

And, while witnessing turmoil from the edges of the crowd causes her knees to knock, bearing the brunt of Goliath’s hate and fury invites brutality. Reprisal. Retaliation. So the child remains in the relative safety of anonymity, praying her nonresponse will assure tacit favor. Hoping she’ll discover safety in compliance, avoidance, or aquiesence.

The reaction of the child is expected and even justified. After all, she relies on others for survival. They are the faces in the crowd that should raise up in battle against the giant—fighting on behalf of those who depend upon them for safety and protection. The parents, church leaders, and teachers. The neighbors, friends, and family members.

You may not have realized it, but there is a champion who stepped in on your behalf to wage a war for you. A rescuer who overthrew the neighborhood bully and claimed you for his own. . Click To Tweet

You may not have realized it, but there is a champion who stepped in on your behalf to wage a war for you. A rescuer who overthrew the neighborhood bully and claimed you for his own. The one who envisioned himself the great conqueror fell in defeat—his plans crumpled at the foot of the cross. Every abusive word, foul gesture, and spirit crushing blow cast aside.

When you and I lived in the land of giants, we believed we were surrounded. Unable to vanquish the enemy. But, in the power of the heavenly Champion we are more than overcomers. We are God’s children set free from the bondage of slavery and delivered to a kingdom of restored hope and promise.

We are God’s children set free from the bondage of slavery and delivered to a kingdom of restored hope and promise.. Click To Tweet

Whether you are at battle with a giant from the past or a hidden enemy like depression or chronic illness, you can trust that the battle has already been won. The foe is vanquished. Victory is certain.

This is the promise of Christ,  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link up with the following:

#Tea and Word Tuesday and…

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Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called ...

I’ve never been a fighter.

I’m the sort of woman who gets shaky when speaking with a disgruntled parent during a parent-teacher conference. The type whose stomach flip-flops uncomfortably when an acquaintance clicks ‘send ‘and fills the in-box with angry words. The sort who can’t turn off the tears when a loved one seems disappointed or disgruntled.

I'm not a fighter, but I'm engaged in a battle.You are, too, if you've professed faith in Jesus. Click To Tweet

I’m not a fighter, but I’m engaged in a battle. You are, too, if you’ve professed faith in Jesus. While scripture instructs us to live at peace with others (Romans 12:18), we’re also instructed to “fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).

Did you notice the strange pairing of two words? Good fight.

We are instructed to fight.And if we are called to fight?Then God will equip us to win. Click To Tweet

Even the most conflict adverse among us are instructed to fight. And if we are called to fight? Then God will equip us to win.

But, what does this battle entail? How are we to know how to live up to this charge? Will we be ensured a victory?

Friend, we are to defend that which is valuable in our lives. To guard against and stand up under the enemy’s assaults.

Fight the good fight for our marriages.Our children.For a faith that makes an eternal impact.  Click To Tweet

Fight…for our marriages. Our children. Our family and friends on the prodigal road.

Fight…for the unborn. The orphaned. The hopeless and hurting.

Fight…for a faith that makes an eternal impact.

During the next few weeks, will you join me as together we prepare for battle with God on our side and our hearts and minds submitted to the word and work of the One who makes us “more than conquerors”? (Romans 8:7)

To launch this series, I’ve linked to several posts that you might find thought-provoking and helpful.

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He will give you strength to endure this moment. This hour. This day.

The elderly man posted mournful adoption ads and flyers in bus stops and places about town.

“Lonely old man in his 80s. Strong-bodied. Can shop, cook and take care of himself. No chronic illness. I retired from a scientific research institute in Tianjin, with a monthly pension of 6,000 RMB (USD1344) a month. I won’t go to a nursing home. My hope is that a kindhearted person or family will adopt me, nourish me through old age and bury my body when I’m dead.”

Struck by the man’s plight, I wondered how many of us can relate to this man and his heart’s cry.

I’m worth something. I’m willing to work for love and acceptance. I’ll give all that I have for just a crumb of kindness. An ounce of approval. Won’t someone love me? Just a little?

 Have you, too, experienced loneliness? Felt isolated?

Most of us recognize the sense of abandonment that invades a needy soul during such times. Once in a while, these are the difficult feelings that remind us of our need for others. The importance of connection rather than Facebook pretension. The value of friendship rather than selfish ambition.

At other times, the Father may lead us to a lonely place where we’ll be reminded of the One who extends beyond the human longing for relationship and leads us toward spiritual fulfillment. Away from loneliness into the arms of a loving Father. Out from under the shadow of rejection into the everlasting promise of holy adoption.

Consider these words from scripture,

I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughter to me, says the Lord Almighty. Click To Tweet

“I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18) Oh, the relief and joy of total acceptance and complete love!

Sometimes, though, instead of clinging to the words of scripture, we settle into our emotions and hide in the shadows. Messages birthed by the Enemy are given shape in our darkest imagination.

You are unwanted. Unworthy. Unlovable.

 Rather than guiding us toward hope, the taunts of the Deceiver grow ever larger—filling the space once occupied by living. Laughter. Love. And we begin to despair as depression assumes headship.

Like the pounding of a hammer against a nail, the thought rings loud, “Isn’t there more than this hurt? This grief? This aching, incessant pain?” And we scoff at the familiar Sunday school song, ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’, doubting happiness even exists.

 If you are hiding in the shadows, Friend, convinced that life is purposeless and that pain is your lot, please know:

You are loved. (Psalm 86:5)

You are seen. (Genesis 16:7-12)

You are heard. (1 Peter 3:12)

 

You are chosen. (Col. 3:12)

You are treasured. (Duet. 7:6)

You are a delight to God. (Zeph. 3:17)

Loneliness has a cruel habit of cloaking truth while depression obscures hope.  Click To Tweet

Loneliness has a cruel habit of cloaking truth while depression obscures hope. This is the position in which the Liar of old wants us to reside. Unlike our Eternal Hope, he comes to “kill, steal, and destroy”.

Raise your hands to heaven, dear one, and cry out to the God who bends low to hear even unuttered prayers. He will give you strength to endure this moment. This hour. This day.

Loneliness is a silent soul killer and depression crouches next door. If you struggle with depression and its neighbor, I encourage you to take the If You're (Not) Happy and You Know It Challenge.  Click To Tweet

 

If You’re (Not) Happy and You Know It Challenge-Day 4                                          Loneliness is a silent soul killer and depression crouches next door. If you struggle with depression and its neighbor, I encourage you to take the If You’re (Not) Happy and You Know It Challenge.

  1. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, pastor or counselor. Clinical depression requires a network of people who will provide support and prayer.
  2. Schedule one or two proactive, depression busting activities each day. For example, set and hold to a regular sleep schedule, exercise regimen, or healthy eating cycle. Add one more positive habit to your “to-do” list every few days to aid in eliminating unhealthy choices (i.e. not eating enough, eating too much, spending hours in front of the screen, avoiding interaction with others).
  3. Volunteer Offering to help others boosts the feel-good centers in our brains and boosts our ability to meaningfully connect with others.
  4. Seek medical assistance. If you’re consumed with thoughts of self-harm or have a plan to hurt yourself, call the suicide hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255. Give yourself the opportunity to rediscover happiness. You are worth it!

Download or share my gift to you, an ebook (also available on Kindle), Moving From Pain to Peace–A Journey Toward Hope.

Moving from Pain to Peace-A Journey toward Hope1From Pain to Peace-Journey Toward Hope

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

 

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Enclosed in an empty, bleached environment I stood alone. Suddenly, a large rasping snake lifted its fierce head next to mine and whispered threateningly, “You’ve just lost.”

Unusually bold, I glared at the creature and responded, “No. I. Haven’t.” Then, I awakened.

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The dream had been terrifyingly real and for the better part of the day I struggled to rid myself of the frightening image. Maybe I had a bad case of indigestion from the previous night’s pizza or my writer’s impractical creativity provided fodder for fantastic imaginings, but I was reminded that a Christian is at battle against an invisible foe—a spiritual war waged outside of human time and space.

This is the stuff that sometimes seems too Hollywood to believe, but scripture exhorts us—

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. (Eph. 6:18 MSG)

 Alright. It’s plain that you and I, Christian, have an enemy who is more powerful, smarter, and craftier than we. But, we are not left defenseless. In fact, the Heavenly Commander presents us with all of the tools needed for warfare—God-issued, spiritual weaponry grounded in prayer and Bible-soaked-living.

Defensive in nature, these weapons are designed to help us to know the enemy, understand his tactics, and recognize his ploys. These same tools of warfare teach us to align our personal, spiritual compass with the One in charge of angel armies and to remember that the war has already been won.

Today’s battles are merely insurgent attacks by an enemy who knows the end of his earthly rule is in sight. And one day soon, we’ll celebrate the victory of eternal life in the presence of the King of all Kings—Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

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“The great battle of our spiritual lives is ‘Will you believe?’  It is not, ‘Will you try harder?’ or ‘Can you make yourself Worthy?’  It is squarely a matter of believing that God will do what only he can do.”

-Jim Cymbala

I’ve read about Chrissy.  Raised as a pastor’s daughter in a loving home, she deserted her faith and family.  For two years, Chrissy’s parents lived a nightmare–unsure their beloved child was safe or warm–and wondering  if she would ever return home.

One evening, Pastor Cymbala asked his congregation to intercede on Chrissy’s behalf.  And those gathered at church that night lifted their voices to heaven beseeching the heavenly Father to rescue one who had been stolen.  Two days later, the lost daughter knocked on her father’s door.  She was finally home.

This story is an incredible encouragement to me.  It gives me hope for my own prodigal.

While he wasn’t born into a pastor’s family, our prodigal’s story began in a Christian home.  We prayed over our child, dedicated him to the Lord, and read scripture together.  His gentle spirit responded to God’s and this precious blonde haired, blue eyed child invited Jesus to be his savior when he was almost five years old.

Our shy little boy told other children about Jesus…raced to the car in his red AWANA vest eager to go to church…and began growing in his own faith.  Several years later, one life altering moment shattered everything in Benjamin’s life.  Unaware of the his pain, my husband and I were confused by the sudden change in Ben’s personality and choices.

This was the moment that opened the door and allowed the enemy access.  He stole one who rightfully belongs to God.

Since then, I have battled on myknees.  I have begged God to loose the chains…to “replace the heart of stone”…to return our prodigal to us.  Still, the enemy holds fast–reluctant to give up the child we claimed for Christ before he was ever born.  But I am convinced there is more to this story…that God has a better plan for Ben…that one day God will replace the deadness in my boy’s eyes with the light of joy and that words of praise will flow from the lips of the son who now utters words that deny His power.

As my brothers and sisters in Christ, can I be vulnerable with you?  After not having seen Benjamin for several weeks, yesterday we stopped by the apartment where he is staying.  We stood awkwardly in the doorway…invited him to dinner…asked about his plans.

Giving each of us a hug he quietly asked, “Can you please leave?”

Reluctantly walking down the rickety iron steps, I imagined our unspoken conversation.

Why are you here?  Don’t you realize I’ve cut you out of my life?                                                                                                     

Yes, son, but we love you just as God does–without condition.

I feel so alone in this life.  teddy-828506_640                                                                                                                                                           

You don’t need to walk this road alone.  We are here–and there is one whose loving presence is ever-constant. Call out to Him, my son.  He will never leave you or forsake you!  

But the words were never spoken and my son sleeps on the floor of a one room apartment.  What does he eat?  Is he safe?  And I wake during the sleeping hours to pray.

And today I follow Jim Cymbala’s example.  Friends–in all humility can I lay my heartache before you?  Would you please pray for Benjamin?  I believe he is at a critical juncture and I am pleading with God that in his mercy He will do a work in Ben’s life..that he will set the prisoner free…that he will rescue that which has been lost.

If we share in the same journey, would you also gift me with the opportunity to pray for your prodigal?  Let’s pray our prodigals home!

Scripture for Reflection

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear to dull to hear.  (Isaiah 59:1)

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isaiah 40:30-31)

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. (Isaiah 42:3)

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.  (Zephaniah 3:17)

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God shapes the world by prayer.  Prayers are deathless.  The lips that uttered them may be closed in death, the heart that that felt them may have ceased to beat, but the prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them.  Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them; outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world.  –E.M. Bounds

If you have a share in a story like mine, you understand the pain of loving a prodigal.  Your prodigal might be a spouse, a parent–or, like so many, a treasured and precious child. I know my experience is far from singular.

The Christian speaker’s adult child has turned from God to alcohol….the Sunday School teacher’s son glares at the clock as the passing of each day reminds him the iron bars are a visual representation of  choices that have bound him to more than this place…the adopted child raised “in the fear and admonition of The Lord” lives for the next high…and, for at least the last four years my own son has walked a painful path–his soul searching for fulfillment in a lifestyle devoid of the God he trusted as an innocent boy.

And that painful path?  He may not realize it….or may even resent it–but, my heart has been with him the entire time.  Like Mary, I feel “as if a sword had pierced my own soul”.  But, I refuse to give up the fight for this is “not a battle against flesh and blood…but against the powers of this dark world”.

Above all, I know that neither your prodigal nor mine wanders alone.  In the dead of the night…when the lion of this world prowls about seeking to satisfy his gluttonous hunger, the Lion of Judah stands strong and vigilant–the eternal victor who “will contend with those contend with you, and your children I will save”.

Be encouraged, Friend, and continue to pray on behalf of those who refuse to pray for themselves.  If you do not have a prodigal in your life, then pray–without judging–for someone who does.

Scripture for Reflection

Ephesians 1:18-19

John 16:33

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