Is Your Skirt Flapping in the Breeze?

11 06 2013

The battle was fierce, and I was losing ground.

Correction, I had no “ground” anymore, and was getting my butt royally kicked by the enemy!

The fight, to the outsider, seems to be a silly one. I hesitate to reveal it for that reason. However, it’s not over and I’ve discovered that the best way to fight is in the light of confession, not the darkness of my mind, so here goes!

Since infancy, I have loved music. It’s what inspires, encourages, and comforts me. I am never more alive than when singing with our worship team as we exalt our Lord on Sundays.

As a young child, play often involved music. My bed became a jeep, the records being played on my phonograph the score for the “musical” in which I was the star. Elvis and The Monkeys were often co-stars in my mini-productions!

My mom had an apparatus for hanging freshly-ironed clothes. It became my microphone stand. I would push one handle of my jump rope onto its top, and use the other handle as my microphone. We had one of the big console TVs that also had a radio in the top on one side, and a phonograph on the other. The record player became my “band” and I would sing along with Chubby Checkers, the Beatles, and a host of others.

In fifth grade, I joined the school choir. The songs I recall from that year were “Both Sides Now” and “Obla Dee Obla Dah.” We learned parts, and I loved it!

In sixth grade, my mom bought me a clarinet so I could join the school band. I quickly removed it from the case, assembled it, and in no time was playing songs on it (before my first lesson!).

By eighth grade I was “first chair first clarinet.” I had conquered the instrument and eager to learn something new.

My brother received a guitar for Christmas, but really had no interest in learning to play. My teacher played guitar for a weekly sing-along, so I asked if he would teach me. He kindly gave me one of the lyric packets we sang from, along with chord diagrams. Within six months I could play them all.

On and on it went. By the end of High School, I was playing clarinet, guitar, piano, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, baritone, drums, glockenspiel, and flute. I took private singing lessons as well, and sang with the school choir and the small choral group called “Der Menga Singers.” I’d also written several songs.

Did I mention that I love music? I “knew” it was what God created me to do.

However, very few saw this in me.

My parents were tolerant of my musical pursuits. They had purchased my clarinet, and we later acquired a piano (free). Any of the other instruments I learned to play I got myself, and paid for my voice lessons too.

Mostly they would tell me to quit playing around and do something useful with my life. To follow my dreams was a colossal waste of time and effort, and I was sure to end up living in a cardboard box, they assured me. I had to produce something that people actually needed if I was going to have value to society.

My dad was especially critical of my musical talent. (This is a long story, and one I’ll save for another day.) Suffice it to say that at every opportunity, he tore me down, and ripped my musical heart to shreds in the process.

By the time I was twenty, I began to see the “truth” of their counsel. Add to that one preacher’s well-meant, but theologically inaccurate message about killing the thing we loved the most to prove our love to God. (You can read the story here: I Offered the Wrong Sacrifice) I quit playing instruments, quit singing, and quit writing songs.

Thirty plus years later, I was recording a CD for my nurse friends in Nicaragua. Between takes, I would break down and cry, sure that something “bad” was going to happen if I continued. This went on for three weeks.

During the recording of my last song, I began crying out to the Lord, asking Him for help. What came next took me by surprise.

In a stern voice I heard Him say, “Get up!” 

“What?” I asked, stunned.

“I said, ‘Get up!’ I have given you Armor to wear. Do you have it on?”

“Yes, Sir.” I rattled off the various pieces so He’d know that I had them.

“Okay, you have all the components. Then what are you doing hunkered down on the ground?”

“Lord, despite your armor, I’m getting my butt kicked by the enemy. I don’t understand.”

At that moment, a mental picture showed on the screen of my mind. There I was in all my armor, on my knees with my face to the ground…

…my skirt flapping in the breeze…

…with the enemy behind me, kicking for all he was worth!

“I didn’t give you armor for that part of your anatomy. Stand up!”

A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. When I saw this one, the problem became instantly clear.

Standing to my feet, my shield before me, I raised the Sword of the Spirit…the Word of God…and fought this enemy in the power of God’s might.

He fled. What else could he do?

Like me, are you engaged in a battle? Have you put on the armor God provided for our protection? Having done so, are you standing firm…

…or is your skirt flapping in the breeze?

Want more on the importance of our armor? Don’t miss Lions Eat Christians? What?

We are in a War

9 04 2013

You and I live in a war zone every day of our lives. The fight is for our minds. Whoever controls our mind, controls our life. It is for this reason that we are told in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to take every thought captive. We’re also told in Romans 12:2 to be transformed. How does that happen?

By the renewing of our minds.

What does it mean to “renew our mind,” though? Well, it’s a fancy way of saying

“Change what you believe and what you think about.”

Before I even wake up in the morning, all sorts of negative thoughts begin to crop up. I know because when I am awakened, they’re already in full swing…usually aimed toward my husband.

Did I go to bed angry with him? No.

Has he done anything in those early moments to tick me off? No.

Yet, there they are.

If I’m not careful, I can bite his head off before he’s had a chance to say, “Good morning.” That’s just wrong.

During the day I have to watch my thoughts as well. In a heartbeat, I can be off down one memory lane or other and mentally “duking it out” with someone I haven’t seen in years.

A couple of years ago, we went to the ocean. There’s a beach in Crescent City that we like to visit. It’s loaded with shells. I’d been sitting on the sand, picking up tiny shells for about an hour when I sensed the Lord ask me what I’d been thinking about.

His question caught me off guard.

I was surprised to realize how I’d spent my time.

I reviewed all the people that had been on my mind – this one with their problems, that one who’d said something hurtful. In all, I realized that I’d spent a lot of time mulling over dozens of folks. I said as much to Jesus.

“Hmm. How are you feeling? Are you rested and joyful?” He asked.

“To be honest with You, I’m tired and want to take a nap!”

He pointed out that it takes a lot of mental energy to allow my mind to wander aimlessly in this way.

He was right.

Too often I expend excessive amounts of energy on thoughts that are not helpful.

After all, once I get someone’s problems “all figured out” – what’s changed?

Not a blessed thing. It wasn’t my issue to sort out in the first place. I don’t have all the information necessary to straighten out a situation in the second place. (Not to mention the fact that he or she wasn’t even there to hear my brilliant solutions!)

What a worthless use of my time – and my mind.

It drags down a cheery disposition; robs me of peace and joy as well.

Philippians 4:7.8 gives a list of things to focus on – whatever is good, pure, right, just, lovely, virtuous, etc. When I turn my mind from what’s wrong with the world to one of these topics, my countenance changes. I feel light, free, and enjoy life again.

This works, I’ve learned from experience. As soon as I switch from thinking negative thoughts to thinking about Jesus and the blessings I have been given, the storm clouds of gloom, depression, and anger lift and the sun shines brightly all around.

Yes, we are in a battle – and it’s a war for our minds. We have an enemy whose desire is to rob, steal, and destroy our lives. He will, if we let him.

Jesus gave the authority we need to take charge in Luke 10:19 – the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions (and He’s not talking about reptiles and bugs here!), and over all the power of the enemy.

He’s given us the armor,

He’s given us the authority.

He’s won the victory,

and given us the honor of reclaiming territory.

We must guard our minds!