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Archive for the tag “Deception”

What is truth?

This past week, I have been studying the Belt of Truth in Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God. This is the first part of the armor that Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on. For armor, the belt or girdle was essential for a Roman soldier. The soldier carried about 60 pounds of armor. After the girdle was in place, then the soldier could take up the other pieces of armor while the girdle bore some of the weight.

This week’s first day of the study, Priscilla said the belt of truth is like our core strength. In order for our body to stay strong as we grow older, we have to strengthen our core – our abdominal muscles. These muscles help us keep us stable; helps with balance; keeps our stamina over time and helps us to resist injury (pg 40). Resistance. Balance. Stability. Stamina. This is the essence of truth. It is resistant to the devil’s schemes. It gives us clarity; unification; balance; as the Body of Christ is held together with the same truth. It provides stability; we are no longer tossed about like waves on the ocean driven by the winds of change. God’s truth gives us stamina for the long haul. It gives us perseverance.

What is truth? This is the question that Pilate asked Jesus (John 18:38). But Pilate walked away before he heard Jesus’ answer. When I think of truth, the first thing that jumps into my head is this: “You can’t handle the truth.” You remember that line from A Few Good Men? Can we really handle the truth? Experts say in order to know real currency is to study the real thing. When you study real currency in all its details, you will know a counterfeit when you see it. Just as with Jesus, when you study His life – His actions and what He said – we will know the truth. Jesus says that when we know the truth, it will set us free (John 8:32).

I have a book by Andy Andrews called How do you kill 11 million people? Why the truth matters more than you think. This little book is a must read for every person in this nation – Christian or not. Spoiler alert: The answer to the question was this: You lie to them. Everybody hears what they want to hear and believes it. The book centers on the Holocaust. The people didn’t question the establishment because it really didn’t affect them until it did. Everybody had a badge who was not of the “pure” race or who was not in line with Hitler’s ideology. It has been reported the Jews got the yellow badge. But did you know that Christians had a purple badge? Or that brown badges were for ones with Roman descent? Pink were for the sexual “immoral” (homosexuals, rapists, pedophiles, etc). There were many more badges handed out. Hitler was “cleaning up” the Aryan people. One day, it all mattered; but it was too late to do anything about it. The trainings were already rolling down the tracks.

That’s pretty scary when you really think about it. The truth is fundamental in discerning a leader’s heart. Andy wrote it isn’t what a person says; it’s about their character. It’s the pattern of their behavior – past and present that will lead to their future behavior unless something or someone intervenes to change their behavior. Andy Stanley called this the Principle of the Path. Andy Andrews stated from another one of his books (The Final Summit), a conversation with Abraham Lincoln. “Power corrupts. Trust me on this. And because power corrupts, humanity’s need for those in power to be of high character increases as the importance of the position of leadership increases.” (pg 65 from How to Kill.)

This isn’t a political statement. This is a life statement. We need to be in pursuit of truth. We cannot discern lies if we do not know the truth. This week, I listened to a teacher from Dallas Theological Seminary. His taught from Genesis and mentioned Jacob and his deceptive practices. Jacob practiced deception when he received the blessing from Isaac. When Jacob was in pursuit of a wife, Laban deceived Jacob by giving his first daughter instead of the promised second daughter. You would think Jacob would have spotted the lie, but Jacob was thoroughly deceived. The teacher gave this profound statement: “When you live your life by scheming and cheating, you lose the ability to recognize a lie.”

We need the essential foundation of our faith – truth – to be at the very essence of our being. Without it, we will surely be bound in deception and ultimately be led down the wrong path because we couldn’t judge between truth and lies. Like discerning the real thing from a counterfeit, we have to study truth. God’s truth is the foundation for our lives. It will keep us on the right path for us as individuals and for our nation. Can you handle the truth?

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13

Sources:
Shirer, Priscilla. Armor of God Bible Study. Nashville: LifeWay Church Resources, 2015.
Andrews, Andy. How do you kill 11 Million People? Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
Allman, Dr. James. Dallas Theological Seminary. Study of Genesis, 2007.

A Good Whack

For the summer months, I decided to take a break from my small group time and review one or two of the book studies I had already done. Most of the time, I rush through the studies to get it done in the allotted time for small group and fail to take away anything of significance for my spiritual growth. So in June, I started with Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God book study (Lifeway Church Resources, Nashville, TN, 2015).

The first week is all about sizing up the enemy. You know who the enemy is, right? It’s not the spouse; the problematic children; the hard-to-work-with co-worker; it’s the one behind all the problems we face. It’s the master of deception who keeps us “distracted, discouraged and divides us from others” – its Satan and his demons. Maybe you don’t believe in Satan. That’s okay. But be assured, he has no problems with you not believing he is real; makes his job so much easier.

Priscilla likened the enemy to a whack-a-mole child’s game. Have you seen the game? The game is several holes on a board with a mole popping out indiscriminately. A child takes a mallet and tries to hit the mole on the head whenever he pops out of a hole. The child anticipates the next move the mole makes and tries to be there when it comes out. A good whack will end the game.

Satan uses our circumstance like the mole popping out of the hole. We are so focused on where the mole will come out next that we forget there is a force behind the scenes. We forget that just beyond our sight, behind the curtain, someone is pulling the strings in the game to make the mole move about and enter the holes. His job is to make sure the mole keeps us entertained while the real important stuff goes without notice. We get worn out trying to chase the mole. It’s never ending until we finally just give up, and the mole wins the game.

On Day 3, Priscilla wrote: (pg25): “You’re exactly where the enemy wants you – where you no longer want to fight for peace and passion in your marriage, where you no longer believe your child can be restored, where you no longer hope for healing in your body,… where you just don’t see the purpose in praying anymore… so you don’t.” You get worn out by the mole and just give up.

Priscilla issued a wake-up call for us who call ourselves Christians. “Satan and the demons of darkness are hoping you’ll be disengaged and disinterested instead of alert, aware and active. Lazy, lethargic Christianity can no longer be an option.” Times will be getting worse. We need to be focused on the things that matter most, not the holes and the mole.

We already have what we need to defeat the enemy. We have the mallet that will whack the mole for good! For those who are followers of Jesus, we have one who is stronger than the enemy. We have protection, provision and the full armor of God at our disposal to use in thwarting Satan’s attempts to hijack our lives.

Satan already knows what will work in his favor. He has been studying us since our first breath. But rest assured. We too know his tricks. Priscilla reminds us (pg29) “Satan is tricky, but he isn’t original or particularly creative.” We just need to be aware of his schemes. We can thwart his plans if we see it coming. The Bible gives us plenty of information about Satan’s plans.

Prayer is the “divinely authorized method that activates your spiritual armor and makes it effective” (pg34). Priscilla says prayer is Satan’s kryptonite (pg34)! Nice! That’s the mallet! Bam! In this last day of study, Priscilla tells her readers “prayer is the linchpin that holds our armor together” (pg35). We have access to a loving God who wants to hear His children call His name. Like any good Father, He wants to be there with us and for us. It starts with specific prayer. No willy nilly praying here. Be bold and direct. Ask, seek, knock.

The thing about armor is that it is used in a battle. And that’s what we’re in – each and every day. This is not for the faint of heart. Satan is out to destroy us – family, community and by any means necessary. The battle is not seen by the naked eye. It is a spiritual battle fought in the heavenly realm. Prayer is our access to God who is our protector. So the battle isn’t against the one in your circle of discomfort. Satan is just using that person to his ends. Don’t get sidetracked by his schemes. Call out to the One who has already defeated him, and remind Satan his days are numbered! Bam! Game over!

Cast all your anxiety on him (God) because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:7-9

Hindrance #1

As my usual practice, I sat down to a nice lunch and my internet tuned to one of my favorite pastors. What I thought was going to be a new word about Esther was really an old word on pride. I have been asking God during my devotional time to reveal to me where my heart is deceiving me. It was to my surprise that pride is such an issue currently in my life. I guess the surprise was the surprise. I knew I had many times in the past dealt with pride, but I thought it was in the past. That should have been my first clue. My heart was truly deceiving me. I recognize pride in others – it’s all around me. I see it in the way others boast about their accomplishments. I even have laughed about the fact when it is confronted in others. But really, do I still have issues with it? Oh yeah. One thing the pastor (Mark Driscoll) spoke about was that pride is masked in fear of failure. We lack the effort to try because of our pride issues and not wanting to look bad when we fail. Oh yeah, that’s me.

In the Word, God speaks about how He hates pride. Pride gives glory to me and not to God – hmmm, sounds a lot like idolatry. God says pride is an abomination to Him (Proverbs 16:5 ESV). He also states pride will go before a fall (Proverbs 16:18 ESV). God states that we should be clothed in humility. Humility means we know our place in this world. I am so much more aware of my status in this world after completing my latest book based on my life story. I am nothing without God. I am so blessed to have been taken out of my pit and set upon the Rock of Salvation. God could have left me in that pit of despair. But He didn’t. God looks at my heart and sees the darkness. But God being full of grace and mercy didn’t leave me in my darkness. He brought me out. He bandaged my wounds; healed my heart. He led me away from destruction into His light for His glory, not mine. He is the reason I should have no pride in my heart. I should be clothed in humility.

God is in the process of pruning and purifying me. There’s still so much more work to be done. But I submit to His shears. He has the best in mind for me. God wants us to be submitted to Him, but I have to intentional in my submitting. This isn’t a half-hearted attempt. I’m either all in or all out. It’s up to me to draw near. Here I am Lord!

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:7-10 (ESV)

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