Can You Tame Your Tongue?

Can You Tame Your Tongue?

Have you ever had the experience of taming an animal? It could be as simple as training a puppy to do simple commands or habituating a reptile that you have caught in the wild to be accustomed to handling. As someone who works with animals on a regular basis I know that taming animals is all about consistency. You have to do the same things at the same times so that the animal gets used to you and understands that you don’t mean it any harm. It can often be a frustrating process and even be cause for the occasional bite or scratch but the end result is far more rewarding.

teguJames, the half brother of Jesus, talks about the taming of the tongue in the 3rd chapter of his epistle. James 3:7-8 says, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” This doesn’t mean that we have free license to say anything we want but that in our own power we are incapable of taming our tongues. When we become believers in Christ we are made into a new creation and Jesus becomes Lord over our lives.

Jesus is able to tame even the vilest of tongues and use it for his glory. The unrepentant tongue can produce words that are like poison to the hearer. As believers we are called to bring life, not death. Scripture also says that we will be judged for every careless word we speak. We must remember that and be more cognizant of the words we speak. Let us speak life to those around us! Can you tame your tongue?

 

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Can You Defend Your Faith Against A Sasquatch?

Can You Defend Your Faith Against A Sasquatch?

I have been fascinated with the allure of Bigfoot (aka Sasquatch, Yeti, Skunk Ape, etc.) since I was a kid. I mean who hasn’t watched that iconic Patterson film from the 1960’s and wondered if it was in fact not a hoax but a potentially undiscovered large primate. I am the eternal skeptic though and often read stories about Bigfoot only to later see that they have been debunked as a fallacy or just someone’s attempt at their 15 minutes of fame. I do, however, commend the Bigfoot community in their efforts to authenticate their findings and their tireless searching and research on the subject matter.sasquatch

I wish I could say the same thing for the average Christian. Can you defend, or even explain your faith to an unbeliever? This is something Jude, the half-brother of Jesus felt very strongly about in the beginning of his epistle. Jude 1:3 says “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

Jude addresses fellow believers and it seems almost mid-thought he changes course from encouraging them about their shared salvation and begins pleading with them to contend for their faith. The mental imagery he was painting about defending the faith was something very physical, something reminiscent of a Roman gladiator fighting for his life. We are called to preach the word of God and proclaim His truth so we must know the word in order to defend it. I encourage you to pick up your sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, and start defending your faith. Can you defend your faith against a Sasquatch?

 

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Are You Putting Your Head In The Sand?

Are You Putting Your Head In The Sand?

There is a common misconception that ostriches hide their heads in the sand when threatened. This is simply a myth and it can be traced back as far as Pliny the Elder from the 1st century AD, around the same time that Jesus was on the Earth. In keeping with the mental image though, how many times does it appear that the Church seems to be merely putting her head in the sand and not truly engaging the threats or issues that arise? Do you feel that it’s easier to hide out in the Church rather than engaging culture in Jesus name? As a group of Christians are we known more for our love and compassion for our fellow man or are we possibly viewed in the same light as the ostrich with his head in the sand? How can we change that perception?

Ostrich,_mouth_openSince we as believers in Jesus are the physical representation on the Earth of our heavenly Father we could perhaps start following his teachings. In a true reflection of the glory of Christ we could begin with loving our neighbor as ourselves or treating others with love and compassion and gracefully sharing our faith. John 13:35 says By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We have to begin by loving one another in the body of Christ and from that love and unity share our love with the world. We’ve got some work to do but I believe in Jesus name we can accomplish it together. Are you putting your head in the sand?

 

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Elon University Radio Interview

Elon University Radio Interview With Alex Rose

Recently I was contacted by Elon University radio host Alex Rose about my ministry, Catching Creation.  He was intrigued with what I do and made the hour or so drive from Burlington, NC to Winston to come record an interview about Catching Creation.  I think he did a great job with the interview and editing.  Check it out.

Have You Been Redeemed Like A Shelter Pet?

Have You Been Redeemed Like A Shelter Pet?

Several years ago I visited a local animal shelter with the intention of finding a dog to take home with me.  I had a very specific dog in mind and scoured the Internet to see if any were available on the shelter’s website.  I found the breed I was looking for and decided to go check it out.  When I got to the shelter the dog I came to see was as disinterested in me as an animal could be.  It wasn’t really the dog I had in mind either, and I was looking for something quite specific.  My intention was to find a boxer that was full blooded and that had a white coat.  After I put the disinterested mix-breed dog back into its kennel a friend of mine came around the corner with the perfect dog.  I immediately fell in love with him and have him to this day.  He was the most energetic and loving white boxer I had ever seen and we hit it off immediately.    This animal knew that he had been bought with a price and paid me back in his love and loyalty to me.

Did you know that Jesus Christ bought you with a price?  Isaiah 44:22 says I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.  I don’t know what caused my furry friend to end up in the shelter, but had I not intervened and redeemed him, his future would have certainly ended in his untimely demise.  The same is true for us as followers of Jesus Christ.  Had Jesus not stepped into history and intervened on our behalf redeeming us from our sins, we would most certainly die in our sins.  Jesus purchases us with a price, redeems us and we are required to pay him back with our loyalty, devotion, love and obedience.  Just like with my dog, this isn’t a hard thing when you know your master loves you and chose you specifically.  Have you been redeemed like a shelter pet?

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Burrrr It's Cold In Here!

Have you ever noticed that when everything in your home is working correctly you really don’t think about the little things like say, the heat pump, but when they’re broken you REALLY think about them.  Recently our heat pump decided it no longer wanted to do its job for my house and just quit, can you believe that?  The audacity of that instrument of my comfort, to just quit like that, and it didn’t even give us a 2-week notice!  Times got tough, temps got low and it just quit at the worst possible time. Have you ever felt like quitting on God, or the ministry He has called you to?  If you’re like me you probably have had seasons of doubt, distress and had the overwhelming urge to throw your hands up and just quit, but let me ask you something, who else would be affected if you gave up?

Our heat pump’s decision to stop working and providing the heat that it was designed to provide has not only effect it but everyone that enters this house.  There is a void now that its service has been taken away and the same is true for you.  YOU are the only one God created to be who you are and do what you do.  If you quit it will be felt by many.

Paul says in Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  This verse is a good reminder. If you feel like giving up and want to just stop doing what you were designed to do take a moment to pray, remember the hope Christ has given you, recalibrate and stay patient in the affliction because this too shall pass.

Romans 12:4-5 says For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  We are all one body and each of us has a specific thing to do for the kingdom of God.  My ministry may be drastically different than yours but neither of our specific callings is more important than the other.  We are called to function as a living organism and if you give up your absence will be felt.  Just like the looming cold in my house that is felt stronger now that our heat pump has quit working, your absence will be felt.  So take heart, have hope and let the warmth of your faith heat up a cold world!

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Bats In The Church!

While In Upala, Costa Rica a misguided bat decided to forage for insects in the dim lights of our movie projector, at the end of the movie he was scrambling on the tile floor and we were able to rescue and release him outside. 

Adventure Is Calling! Will You Answer?

From the inception of my Catching Creation blog I’ve had the tagline of “Adventures In All Things Created.”  I guess I’ve never really needed to clarify what exactly that meant before now but the more I think about what it means to be on adventure the more I feel this little phrase of mine will need clarity.  It has always seemed to me that to be completely alive one must always be in the middle of, or in search of, an adventure.  I’ve been thinking about that philosophy for quite some time now.  Lately the adventure seems to be one pitted in the very center of my faith.  Adventures aren’t always easy and certainly in the moment they can often be uncomfortable, but an adventure is only as good as the bruises and scrapes you get along the way.  The hardship and bad weather seem to frame up the best adventures and overcoming some obstacle or adversity makes the stories worth telling. I think when we start looking at our faith journey as an adventure it helps to make those bumps in the road seem all the more worthwhile.  When things don’t work out and we’re left scratching our heads and asking God, sometimes even yelling, “which way do I go” or “what have I done wrong?”  We fail to realize the importance of the adventure at hand.  These are the moments that build faith, or so they tell me.  These are the times that we can look back and say that we were truly refined by hardship and we persevered.  We survived!  We lived to tell the story and wow, what a story it will be someday.  James, the half brother of Jesus, assures us that our trials will sharpen and polish us in his first epistle and if you’re feeling lost in the woods on this great adventure just let the words of James comfort you.

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Our adventures can lead us to mountain highs and valley lows but beauty is always in the faithful and sometimes fearful walking with God in the dark nights of our souls.  In the stories of how God came through or how we learned that our compass may have been upside down and we got off course a bit.  Through His grace, God is there, listening to our complaints, laughing at our child like tantrums and all the while loving us through the process.  Where is your adventure leading you?  Have you gotten off course?  Trust Jesus, dust yourself off, and lean into the wind.  You’ve got an amazing journey ahead and one heck of a story to tell!

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Do You Grumble In The Wilderness?

Do You Grumble In The Wilderness?

Have you ever been lost in the woods before?  I mean really lost.  I have to say that I have been lost in the wilderness more times than I would like to admit, especially since I spend most of my waking hours in or near the woods.  One time that is specifically seared into my brain happened on a family outing when I was in elementary school.  My family and I somehow got off the well-marked trail at a well known hiking place near my home and as the sun started to set we stumbled further and further away from the orange blazes that marked our trail.  I distinctly remember vocalizing my complaints, my fears, and my dread that we may die in the woods on this autumn night.  I had a good deal of fear and frustration running through my brain and lips.  What if we never made it home?  We became grumpier and grumpier the longer we were lost, until my brother leaned up against a sign signaling the direction to the parking lot.

Moses seemed to have a similar situation with the people of Israel when the Lord liberated them from the nation of Egypt.  Exodus 16:1-3 says. The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”  The Lord showed the people of Israel patience time and time again by sparing them despite their grumbling and complaining, but not without punishment.  Had the people been obedient to the man of God placed before them and had faith, their 40 year journey could have been completed in less than a year and they could have enjoyed the promise land much sooner.

 How many times do we grumble against God when we should really be praising Him for the provision we do have?  With our limited vision our situation always seems much worse than it is and we could literally be leaning against the sign that signals our deliverance, if only we would stop grumbling long enough to look.  Do you grumble in the wilderness?

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Dude, Where's Your Faith?

For the last few months, maybe even as long as a year or so, I’ve been scrambling.  Just going through the motions trying to put on a good face and keep the faith but to be honest I’m just at a loss for where to go next.  I am trying to find the balance between doing the “will of God” and admitting that maybe I miscalculated a few faith leaps. I’m in a really interesting place right now where insecurity and uncertainty are the kings of the day and anxiety and anger seems to be the emotions of choice.  Before you tell me you’re going to pray for me and sheepishly conclude that I’m in error or somehow am no longer as spiritual as I ought to be, consider Abraham.

I imagine some of the same emotions and “feelings” plagued Abraham on the daily.  Think about it.  God calls Abraham to leave his homeland, family, religion and complete way of life to follow after an invisible God to whom Abraham had no prior knowledge or relationship.  Wow, sounds scarily familiar to my life.  When I try to get upset, impatient or discouraged I have to look at things in the context of reality.  I’ve only been walking in faith as a Christian for around 5 years or so.  I went headlong from a life of atheism into Christian ministry.  I went from disbelief to leading bible studies, from cursing Christians to evangelizing the name of Christ.

I’ve never been a status quo guy.  I’ve been a person after the truth my whole life and if somehow that disagreed with the elite in power then so be it.  The same seems to be true in my walk with Jesus.  I feel like the turmoil I often feel isn’t generated from God but more of an American commercialism version of Christianity.  My main qualms typically seem to surround the fact that despite my best efforts financially I can’t seem to consistently “provide” for my wife and I.  But the fact of the matter is, we aren’t in poverty, we have a house that we are able to pay for and our bills are paid and most of the time they’re on time.  So if I’m living by faith, like I am, and the Lord is my provider, like He is; then what’s the big deal?

My real quandary lately is why, despite my best efforts to faithfully do what I feel called to do, is everything seeming to “dry up.”  My ministry did fairly well and I stayed booked most of the year but it seems that I decided to jump into full time evangelistic ministry at the exact wrong time in our countries history.  Post economic bust America when churches aren’t as focused anymore, sadly, on evangelistic programs as much as they are about tickling the ears of the faithful few that are currently keeping the lights on and doors open to their cathedrals built to American opulence.  So in this environment how can I survive?

I understand that without faith it’s impossible to please God and before you lecture me on prayer, fasting and Bible reading let me interject that I understand the Christian “formula for success” and it just seems like I may be missing a piece of the equation.  My heart is to love God and his people but the bigger picture is that if something doesn’t change soon my ministry will just be another statistic of Christian ventures closing their doors.

I know what you’re thinking, “why is this guy complaining, he should just go out and get a ‘real’ job.”  I couldn’t agree more!  But here is the problem, you see despite the fact that I’m college educated, Army trained and look decent on paper I can’t seem to find a job that’s hiring.  I’ve spent the last couple months sending out resumes and applications and every time I doubt my calling, ministry and faith I resort to this.  I’m not above working.  I would love to find a job that would allow me to provide a stable income for my family and give us a sense of security that we have yet to have in our short marriage.  The problem is deeper maybe.  Perhaps I’m supposed to get over some residual pride I have from working for everything I’ve ever had, perhaps God is teaching me to truly trust him in this season of uncertainty.  Maybe He is calling me to a place where dependency on him is my only option, and honestly that’s where I am.  I just have a bad attitude about it right now.

How can we live in this land of in between and maintain our faith, sanity and composure even when all systems aren’t go.  How can we have faith when the reality of the situation seems to dictate more distress than faithfulness?  Here I stand at a crossroads of faith, do I stand firm and dig in deeper for one last hurrah in hopes that finally I can be successful?  Do I throw in the towel and relegate myself back to the “normal” workforce and pray to have a positive Christian impact where I go, do I do both?  Lord the simple prayer of “I need direction” is a wild understatement but that’s where I’m at.  So what would YOU do?

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Gold, Bats and Bigfoot

In this episode we explore old Gold Mines, find bats, frogs, turtles and one elusive primate some call Bigfoot.  This is the first completed episode for the new Catching Creation Volume 3 DVD.  What did you think? 

 

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Drip Drop Rainy Faith

Sometimes when it rains it pours and it’s hard to keep on being positive.  It’s easy to see our outward situations and lack the faith necessary to keep our heads up.  The good news is that faith, by the very definition, is holding on to what we can’t see.  Scripture says that we walk by faith, not by sight, so even though things may look dreary, cold and rainy we know that better days are coming and can have faith that our heavenly father wants the best for us.  Hebrews 11:1-2  "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for."  2 Corinthians 5:7  "For we walk by faith, not by sight." 

 

 

Would You Like To Help Catching Creation?

As the chill of winter begins to loosen it's grip I am getting more and more excited about this coming season of filming with Catching Creation.  God has some big things in store and I want to invite YOU to participate with Catching Creation.  As many of you know I operate as a traveling minister and get to preach God's word all over the Southeast with my animal buddies.  I love my "job" and am truly excited about seeing the lights come on in people's heads when I give a Gospel presentation in a way they may have never heard it.  I rely on the kindness of love offerings and honorariums to keep this ministry going.  I am in need of your prayers in this season of our ministry.  I believe Catching Creation is called to do BIG things and I am excited to announce that the Lord is beginning to build a really solid team of volunteers to help me film my new DVD this year.  As many of you know my DVDs encompass aspects of evangelism, ministry, wildlife conservation and all around fun for the whole family.  The DVDs (and Youtube show) are a way for me to minister long after I leave a community as well as a way to weekly teach those subscribers and other viewers on my site. I believe this is a valid form of ministry and lives are truly being changed through Catching Creation.  I have had people tell me that the Catching Creation videos helped restore their relationship with Jesus and others have said it has brought their family closer together.  That's exactly my heart for this ministry, to promote family and deeper relationships with Jesus.  There are several things we still need going into this new season of filming.  Catching Creation really needs a legitimate primary camera to film with.  If you feel inclined to help support Catching Creation in that regard I have attached a link to an Amazon wish list with a few items that we will need for this upcoming filming season.  There will also be opportunities to help us along the journey this season as well.  We would like to film in new locations that require us to travel outside of NC.  Our first scheduled film shoot is in the Blacksburg, SC area and we will be talking about salamanders and being good stewards of God's creation.  We also are praying and planning to visit South Florida to film invasive and exotic wildlife, there are  also opportunities to work with missionaries in Costa Rica, Cambodia, and the Philippines this year.  So with all of that said we need your prayers and support!  Thank you for being on this journey with us and I pray that people are brought into a real relationship with Jesus through this ministry.

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Are You Stuck In A Cave?

Are You Stuck In A Cave? 

 

Call me weird but I have always been excited about the mystery of caves, mines, and other large holes in the Earth.  There is just a certain level of the unknown that draws me in to explore every time.  You just never know what to expect in that sort of environment.  There is danger and intrigue at every turn and so long as you have faith in the life of your flashlight batteries things will go well.  Even though you can’t see without your headlamp in most cases you rely on the equipment and preparation to get you to the surface.

Hebrews 11:1-2 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”  When we walk with Jesus sometimes it feels as if we are truly walking in a dark tunnel or cave.  We know he has led us and he will not leave nor forsake us but sometimes it just feels dark.  Thankfully in these moments we can rely on the faith that we have to get us through.  We are sure of the hope we have in Christ because we believe that Jesus won’t just leave us in the dark.  Sometimes we just need to take that step of faith and truly trust and believe Jesus even if it feels like we are in the depths of a dark cave.  Jesus requires our devotion and our trust and he will see us to the other side of eternity.  I can put faith in Him for that.  Are you stuck in a cave?

 

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Frogs & Faith

I went looking for Chorus Frogs again and found myself in the middle of a patch of thorns and then I had this thought...

 Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

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Are you living on an antiquated faith?

Are you living on an antiquated faith? Aside from animals, I have a growing passion for antique books.  I don’t really ever do much more than flip through them but I’m somewhat of a book nerd.  I love the way the look, smell and feel.  I just love old books.  I really like old religion or science books as you can probably imagine.  My wife and I stopped into an old used bookstore somewhere in Virginia on our way to visit friends in Virginia Beach a few years ago.

Amid the acrid smelling volumes of books seemingly strewn any which way, we discovered a small biology text book from the 1930’s.  I was even more excited to see that the price tag on the book was somewhere in the $2 range.  Definitely in my budget!  So as we were walking through the historic district of this small town I decided to flip through my “Dynamic Biology” textbook from almost 100 years ago and marveled at the beautifully drawn sketches and worn pages.  When we got home I put it on display on my bookshelf and didn’t think much of it until tonight when I got home.

I began to think about how if we don’t update our faith, if we don’t live from glory to glory as it says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 then we are only reflecting antiquated information to the world.  See the information in the old textbook I found is great but it’s not current.  If you were to look in the back of the book you will notice a glaring deficiency somewhere in the D section of its glossary.  There is no mention of DNA.  This volume of “Dynamic Biology” predates the discovery of the double helix structure by Watson and Crick and is thus antiquated for effective use.  How often are we merely living in the past and not updating our faith?  Are you living on an antiquated faith?

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Mobilize Your Faith and Put Flesh on Your Dry Bones.

Mobilize Your Faith and Put Flesh on Your Dry Bones.

 

Introduction: 

When I was in the Army National Guard several years ago (2005) we were alerted that our unit was getting mobilized for combat in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  This wasn’t a shock considering our country had been at war with Iraq for several years at the time but it did elicit feelings of dread and anxiety in most of us.  The term “mobilize” can be defined as “to assemble, to prepare, or put into operation for or as for war.”

So if we are thinking about this in terms of spirituality we must realize that Christ has mobilized us for combat and our assembly is for a greater purpose than to just gather for our well-being.  Christ has mobilized us for combat, assembled us for war and calls us to faith.  Since our battle isn’t exactly in the realm of things we can see we must rely exclusively on our faith which is defined in Hebrews 11:1 as “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  We need to learn that we are a vast army in God’s service, we have been equipped and prepared for battle and we must defend our faith.

We are a vast army:

              Christ has called us to community as believers to help destroy the army of darkness and if we look to the old testament for an example of this we can see in Ezekiel 37:1-15 that we are in fact a vast army.

The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

Before Christ calls us and really fills us with his spirit, with his breath of life, we are essentially just dry clamoring bones.  We make a lot of noise and look kind of scary to the rest of the world but we are essentially useless in our approach to advancing the kingdom of God.  Without the breath of God, the living Holy Spirit within us that we receive at our regeneration from death to life, we are dead.  This valley of dry bones is a perfect illustration of the state of the American Church today.  We are a vast army, perfectly capable of advancing the kingdom of God but we are incapable of living to our potential because of our dryness.  There is hope for us though, even in our driest skeletal churches Jesus’ living water can renew our strength so that we are fully capable of marching in a cadence fitting to our king.  John 7:38 says “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

We are prepared for Battle:

                        Jesus doesn’t just call us to action without first giving us provision and proper equipment to do the task at hand.  We have been prepared for battle and equipped with the full armor of God as it is laid out in Ephesians 6:10-18.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our 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. 13 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. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

We have all the tools we need to fight the good fight of faith.  When I was deployed to Iraq we were given certain pieces of equipment that had to be worn before we could go into battle and if we neglected to wear any part of this uniform we would not only be disciplined but we would also be a danger to ourselves and a burden on others.  If we look at these verses in the context of modern warfare we can see that things like the helmet of salvation being compared to a soldiers Kevlar helmet that was solely for protecting the brain from small arms fire.  The breastplate of righteousness could be compared to a modern IBA vest (interceptor body armor), which was designed to stop bullets, blades, and shrapnel.  The belt of truth could be compared to the gas mask that we had to carry around our waist.  If the belt of truth helps us discern what is right then the gas mask helps us filter out what is toxic and impure so that we do not choke.  Our feet were fitted with boots that are well constructed so that we can carry the peace  of the Gospel or in the case of the military so that we can get from point A to point B without worrying about faulty footwear.

The shield of faith could be compared to the up armoring placed on vehicles that so many soldiers in combat ride inside of.  My mission was to perform convoy operations and convoy security.  Our vehicles were designed with armor to help protect and shield us from outside attacks.  The biggest threat to our safety was Improvised Explosive Devises, also called IED’s or roadside bombs.  These ghastly devises were well hidden, sometimes even in plain view, they were angled to create what’s called a shape charge.  This placement of the explosives allowed them to create the maximum amount of damage.  Spiritually our shield of faith can operate the same way as the armor on a military vehicle in that when we are attacked by our spiritual IED’s from Satan we will have a much better chance of survival when we rely on our shield of faith than when we just try to do it in our own strength. Our sword of the spirit in conjunction to modern warfare would essentially be like a well-maintained M-16 or M-4 rifle.  The word of God is our weapon but just like a rifle that isn’t maintained, if we aren’t constantly taking care of our weapon it will misfire, if we don’t read the word we can’t effectively use it as a weapon, it will jam in combat if it isn’t maintained.

Lastly we must always stay alert.  The number 1 killer of soldiers is complacency.  When we get complacent we drop our guard.  Complacency Kills was a motto that we repeated to ourselves and saw written all over the place to remind us of this fact.  We must always be aware that there is an enemy out to kill steal and destroy and we have to stay on guard.

We Have To Defend Our Faith:

What does defending the faith even mean? Jude 1:3 says:  “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”  Jude starts this verse with an address to friends alluding to the fact that he is in fact speaking to believers.  This message is intended for the Church.  His interest shifted from being excited about Jesus and the salvation we as believers have received to an urgency to motivate the church to fight for the faith.  The usage of the word “contend” in this verse is taken from the Greek word epagonizomai, which literally means to fight or to wrestle in reference to athletic contests.  Jude used a terminology that was strong enough and relevant enough to his audience that they understood the urgency of his message.  Jude (also called Judas) was worried about the sinfulness that crept into the body of believers and essentially used salvation as a cover for their disgusting lifestyles.

So many times we just believe that as long as we personally have faith we can just hold out until Jesus comes back but this is not what Christ intended for us.  He wants us to fight for our faith.  We have to give an account of the hope we have.  We need to make every effort to contend for our faith.  Matthew 11:12 says “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it.”  Let’s make this personal, we have to fight for our friends and family and forcefully lay hold of God’s kingdom by fighting for our faith.  Jesus doesn’t want us to just sit in complacency he has called us to active duty.

Conclusion:

            Jesus has given us all the tools we need to advance his kingdom and he has given us our marching orders and he gives us specific instructions in Matthew 28:18-20 as far as what we are to do as a mobilized army.  Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Jesus has all of the authority, we are under his command and he gives us our marching orders to mobilize us into action.  We follow our lord into battle and we are covered by His authority.  He goes on to sayTherefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, so We must be spreading the gospel, we are all called to be ambassadors of Christ (2 cor 5:20), he calls us to make disciples, we can start where we are, right in our backyard, in our own homes.and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Jesus wants disciples, he wants warriors of the faith to rise up and not only bear his name but also his likeness.  We are called to go out and make disciples, not just converts and we are required to do this to spread the kingdom with force like it says in Matthew 11:12(From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.)

You were not called to occupy a pew on Sunday, you were called to make war on the kingdom of darkness and occupy enemy territory in Jesus name.  You are under a heavenly command and Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth, so what are you waiting for and what are you afraid of?  Mobilize your faith!

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