I would like to give my readers a break today. Let’s focus on something other than the out of control violence running rampant in our land. After you read this, those concerns will still be there. But may this respite of a read introduce some calmness into those concerns.
I get to live on a farm! I’m 71 years old (next month I’ll turn 72 but that’s irrelevant). Sometimes, I feel guilty about getting to live here. Why? Because I don’t contribute to the maintenance of the farm. But my daddy (Daddy has 4 children, 3 of us live here on the farm. We still, even in our 70’s and 80’s, refer to this man as Daddy. It’s our farm culture. The way we speak.)
But I digress. I live here because it is a gift from my daddy. I didn’t do anything to deserve this acre of land I live on, other than being a child of my father’s.
Wow, does that remind me of something! Isn’t that the way of things in the spiritual world, too? Let’s examine the parallels. As Christians, we are born into God’s kingdom. That spiritual birth entitles us to the abundant life and eternal life that Jesus died for. It’s our birthright as God’s children. We did nothing to deserve this life. It is ours due to our spiritual birth into God’s family and Christ’s sacrifice.
My life here on the family farm was ultimately provided by my Heavenly Father. It was about 26 years ago, that my family of 6 moved onto the homeplace. This was made possible by a gift from my earthly father.
Stepping out onto my front porch while enjoying the welcomed coolness of a late spring morning, I heard the revving of the mower’s engine, signaling the first hay cutting of the season. I won’t go into all the beautiful details of why this is one of my favorite pleasures of living in the corner of a big ole hayfield. Yet my reverie of thoughts was waylaid with the intrusion of thoughts of guilt. I was reminded (and we all know the source) that while my brothers and nephews work hard for this farm, I can make no such claim.
Why, on earth, you may ask would I spoil this picture of drawing in the sweet fragrance of new-mown hay, as I watched the birds perched on electrical lines anticipating the goodies the mower uncovers for them? Well, it’s Satan’s way. Attacking us with negative thoughts, for the purpose of undermining the perspective God sacrificed to give us.
But I know something too. I don’t have to give into such thoughts. (I call them fiery darts) My perceptive daughter in law reminded me (not long ago) that I have what I have because of who I was born to. And when I take on that perspective then I am at peace about enjoying this undeserved gift.
So, Satan be forewarned. Every time you try to plant that fiery dart thought into my head, I will remind you that like the undeserved gift of my salvation, my home here is an undeserved gift as well. I choose to honor both my fathers with a thankful heart for the undeserved gifts that my birth permits me to enjoy.
No, I’m not referring to the battle between the North and the South of 1861-1865. I am referring to the ongoing present-day battle between our fleshly nature (pleasing ourselves) and the spirit of Christ within us. Let’s allow God’s Word to illustrate:
Romans 8:5-8 NIV
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires, but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
As Christians, we must ask ourselves, “What is our mind set on?”
Was our mind set on spending time with God in prayer and His word at anytime this day?
Was our mind set on pleasing God with our words, attitudes, and actions as we proceeded through our day?
Was our mind set on seeking God’s will as we faced the problems of our day?
What is our mind set on when we encounter suffering?
What is our mind set on when others wound or attack us?
What is our mind set on when we are tempted to fear?
What is our mind set on when we are tempted to judge another’s actions?
This is not an all-inclusive list of questions, but enough I hope to prompt an evaluation. How we answer these questions reveals who rules our desires. If our mind is set on pleasing God, then our enemy will make certain to come against us. The war between our flesh and God’s Spirit within us ensues. Our civil war indicates the presence of God’s Spirit actively fighting against our fleshly desires.
But if there is no civil war, then it’s imperative to our eternal existence that we answer this question: Why not?
I had previously posted this live Facebook video on my Fiery Darts Facebook page. In light of the crisis we are contending with worldwide, I felt impressed of God to share this live video here on my Fiery Darts blog.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;…Hosea 4:6 ESV
By learning of the bigger picture within which our personal struggle with the coronavirus is placed, we will gain the knowledge that we lack. Knowledge that will prevent our destruction.
19 However, God has listened; He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer. 20 May God be praised! He has not turned away my prayer or turned His faithful love from me
Psalm 66:19-20 (HCSB)
I write another blog about being the mom of a missionary. It’s hard for mom’s like us to think of our children and grandchildren off in another country (or state) having to contend with this pandemic. The full force of attacks by the enemy to undermine our faith in times like these is all too real. I know first hand what that feels like. Therefore, taking what God has taught me through the years about fiery darts, I’m passing it on to my dear moms whose children and grandchildren are ‘somewhere out there’ in need of prayer!
Our missionary children are scattered all over the world. Prior to this pandemic, our problems and their problems were uniquely tied to location. However, now we find ourselves facing the common threat of the coronavirus. A worldwide threat that is redefining life as we know it. Should our missionary children come home, or shelter in place right where they are? Oh, it’s a complicated scenario and every family’s response can only be determined by the details of their particular situation. No one plan works for everyone. We are concerned about them and they are concerned about us!
What are we to do?
My fiery darts blog exposes the foremost weapon Satan uses against us in times like this which is referenced in Ephesians 6:16,
“above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” NKJV
Here is how it applies to our present dilemma.
Fear spawned by this Coronavirus threat is a very present reality. Unchecked fear breeds panic, panic breeds irrational thinking, irrational thinking breeds wrong choices. It goes on and on.
How we contend with our fears and all its relatives are the fiery darts of Eph. 6:16. Satan’s intent in this pandemic is to steal, kill, and destroy anything God infuses us with to carry us through this crisis.
God, on the other hand, intends to take the fear and use it to direct us to Himself. In that response, we will be helped and God will be glorified. By responding according to God’s plan as we counsel and pray over our children, we will be instruments of God’s will in how to tackle this crisis.
Keep in mind the following as we pray for our children, wherever they are.
1. Recognize the fear (fiery dart)
2. Reject the fear
3. Replace the fear with God’s Truth thoughts
As I pray over my children and their families in this crisis, one of the first Truth thoughts God gave me was 2 Timothy 1:7. Every time fear approaches, I call forth this Truth.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind
God’s word ASSURES us that He is watching over us and our precious ones. We can wholeheartedly trust that God is definitely paying attention to our prayers. Likewise, may we receive and become the instruments of peace of Philippines 4:6-7:
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
(Especially, when the fiery dart of doubt begins its assault)
My first night in Israel, I woke up around 1:30 am (Israel time) and wasn’t able to go back to sleep. Thoughts were popping into my mind, demanding I pay attention to them. (I had to be considerate of my friend who shared the room with me and not turn on any lights). Finally, there was nothing to do but grab my phone, go to my Word app, and begin recording those thoughts. The following are the words that forced themselves upon my mind that night. At the time, I thought they were a personal word for me. Up to a point they were. But after I returned home following my pilgrimage to Israel right smack in the middle of the Coronavirus fallout, I feel those words were also meant for such a time as this.
Two themes encased my thoughts that early morning–Perspective and Fear. Our perspective is determined by our focus. But before we choose our focus (and it is a choice, by the way) there is a viewpoint to be considered.
we need to view our lives within the context of God’s plan for them. He has given us assignments that are fashioned by that plan. (Jeremiah 29:11)
we need to be aware that Satan also has a plan:
To steal, kill, and destroy God’s plan for us. (from John 10:10a)
Unfortunately, our human nature is too often susceptible to the manipulation and deception of our enemy, Satan. When we succumb to his temptations, we limit ourselves from fulfilling God’s plans for our lives. How does this happen?
Satan’s premiere plan is to keep us ignorant of God’s plan. So how does Satan pull this off?
By distracting us from spending time with God in prayer and His word. Make no mistake about it, that is the foundation stone on which Satan’s destructive tactics are built.
Now, let’s bring this all down to the trial we are facing at present–the Coronavirus.
Do we think for one minute that those thoughts of fear and despair come from anyone other than Satan? Of course not! But we are being tempted to take on a perspective of fear, are we not? Then how can we avoid or resist such temptation?
Consider the following:
A fearful thought will come to our mind. That thought, if allowed to take root, will produce more fear and put us in panic mode. We will begin to behave irrationally. Thoughts of self-preservation at all costs will be entertained.
YET, if we will but recognize that thought as a fiery dart from the enemy, there is a plan to nullify its effect. Here’s how it works:
Recognizethat thought of fear as a fiery dart
Rejectit outright. Don’t allow its deadly poison to take root
thenReplaceit with Truth thoughts.
This is critical. We can’t just reject fear and expect to be done with it. But when it returns it needs to find no room to plant itself. This is where Truth thoughts come into play. The Truth thought found in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”, will quench such a thought. Just as it says in Ephesians 6:16, “above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”
Therefore, the plan we focus upon will determine our perspective in facing the Coronavirus pandemic.
Even Christians are susceptible to his deception and manipulation. By ignoring those tactics, our attitude toward those who reject God and are living in rebellion towards Him can take on a condemning nature. Thereby painting Christians as enemies. The enemy’s temptations can influence us to treat those who live contrary to God’s word in a less than loving way. Our misconception is by showing love towards those who have rejected God and His ways then we are condoning their sin. However, when we fail to exhibit love and forgiveness, we take on the characteristics of the true enemy.
The world doesn’t understand how a person can be accepted, while their sin can be rejected. Christians understand by acknowledging and forsaking our sin and receiving Christ’s forgiveness, we are accepted.
The true enemy of our souls shoots lies towards us with the intention of destroying us. Why? He hates God. Therefore he will steal, kill, and destroy every aspect of God in our lives.
The enemy is exposed by the light of God’s word. But if we haven’t given our lives to Christ, we will remain blind to this fact. Apart from God’s truth, we won’t recognize thoughts, feelings, or actions that are being influenced by our enemy. We won’t recognize when our faith is being compromised to believe things contrary to God’s Truth.
My eyes watch as delicate snowflakes accomplish the task of blanketing the landscape outside my window. Winter birds flit and flutter around the birdfeeders grasping for the sunflower seeds, now that food is in short supply. A lone little squirrel scampers to and fro searching for hidden acorns. From within, the fireplace offers an accent of crackling burning wood.
Such a scene has the power to call forth a variety of emotions. Positive flavored emotions of peace, calmness, serenity, thankfulness, or a sense of well-being may settle upon us. On the other hand, such a scene can bring forth negative flavored emotions of unrest, sadness, loneliness, or a sense of despondency.
If the recent circumstances of our days have been troubling, don’t be surprised if our emotions default to the negative. If that’s the case, it’s not an easy matter to suppress such emotions. Satan, remember, comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Therefore, he will design fiery darts meant to manipulate and deceive how we perceive our world.
Something our enemy doesn’t want us to realize is that we can choose to embrace a positive perspective or a negative one. Yep, we don’t have to be victimized by fiery darts. It may take a lot of meditation on God’s Truths to send Satan packing, but it can be done. We don’t have to allow him to spoil our perspective.
I’m so sorry about all the disunity among Your children right now. Humility, gentleness, patience, accepting one another in love (Your gifts) are in short supply.
The enemy has really done a number on us. I suppose he is working overtime because he is running out of time to steal, kill, and destroy the life You have planned for us.
We can’t see beyond all the hatred, bitterness, and personal attacks on each other to be able to recognize how Satan has duped us. He is our enemy, not each other.
Those who reject You don’t understand that it is their own disbelief that condemns them. But Satan conceals that from them too. I am so sorry that Your children don’t show more of Your love towards those who have rejected You. Satan blinds the world to the fact that Your love leads to peace and sets them free from their bondage of disbelief.
Perhaps we could start by asking for Your help to trust You more, especially during these dark days. Help us to trust You like Mary and Joseph did when they faced the dilemma of Mary’s untimely pregnancy. Help us to quieten down, let go of the negativity all around us, and trust that You ARE in control (for we act as if You are not)!
Ephesians 4:2-3, “with all humility and gentleness with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with peace that binds us.”
Some subtle alterations take place when churches fail to grasp the balance that needs to be maintained concerning conversion and discipleship. Consider these:
Churches over-focus on evangelism while the role of discipleship fades away into confusion. Evangelism must be followed by discipleship if the church is to be filled with Christians who are growing and maturing in their faith.
Satan doesn’t shutter in fear when we become believers in Christ. It’s our being discipled that sends shivers up his spine!
New converts are often left to fend for themselves as they face the world and encounter life’s challenges. Without the counsel of a discipler, we fail to learn that God’s plan is to take what Satan means for bad and turn it into good. Romans 8:28
Consider what often happens to new adult converts. Too often they are given responsibilities within the church by virtue of their physical age, not spiritual maturity. In the physical world, no one would expect an infant to teach a class of adults! No wonder many face burn out and/or disillusionment. They need to be a learner; not a teacher. Many leave the church because they were put in just such a position.
Without discipleship, our churches are likely to be filled with immature Christians. These baby Christians, simply put, are suffering fromfailure to thrive.Due to their immaturity, they are easily deceived and manipulated by Satan. They haven’t been taught how to recognize the truth from a lie. Which is why fiery darts can be so deadly in these cases.
Fiery darts of Confusion dull our understanding of these terms
Conversion births us into God’s kingdom. Discipleship means to allow God to form our lives, our real, everyday, actual practices, choices, and beliefs – to look more and more like Christ.
Conversion and Discipleship are the two parts of the whole. Conversion is all about the birth and Discipleship is all about growth after the birth.
Disciples making disciples go out into the world impacting for Christ the systems we create and participate in. (and that makes for a better world for all.)