LIONS! TIGERS! AND BEARS! OH MY!

“Lions! Tigers! And bears! Oh my!” That is no longer just a line out of “The Wizard of Oz.” It was the headline news out of Zanesville, OH this week. See link: Lions. Tigers. Bears. Ohio. Warnings were issued to residents to stay inside their homes. Phones were ringing off the hook at the 911 center as drivers reported sightings of bears, wolves and lions along the expressway. Not your average news day. The apostle Peter issued a similar warning to the early church – and to believers today: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8 ESV). Most people would heed an order by the authorities to stay indoors if an escaped lion was prowling the neighborhood, but how many of us – as believers – take Peter’s words of warning seriously? As a new believer in 1972, I needed no convincing that Satan existed. In my former Hippie lifestyle, the occult was all around me; I embraced a fascination and flirtation with various aspects of it. I knew there was a dark side to this life before my eyes were opened to the reality of Jesus Christ. Today, I purpose to stay aware of the reality of Satan and his tactics. In the jacket of his book Waking the Dead, John Eldredge urges us to consider “three eternal truths: “Things are not what they seem. This is a world at war. Each of us has a crucial role to play.” He says the battle we fight is “a battle for your heart.” He goes on to say that “the hour is desperate and you are needed.” The apostle Paul understood the battle; he wrote, “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 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 (Ephesians 6:10-12 NIV). As Christians, we do not have to hide in our houses and lock the doors because the devil is a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. But we also should not hide our heads in the sand – in any war, it is important to know your enemy. Satan is the enemy of our souls and looks to destroy our hearts, our homes and our families. We have spiritual weapons – the full armor of God – to fight this spiritual battle: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17). Let us put them on daily. And let us remember to pray. William Cowper wrote, “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees.” Satan will get a lot of tongue-in-cheek treatment during this week of Halloween as little devils, ghosts and goblins take to the streets, but we should never forget that he is real. (Disclaimer: This is NOT an indictment against celebrating Halloween!) Like Martin Luther in the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” let us acknowledge that still “our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe.” Although there are still battles to be fought, let’s remember Jesus Christ has already secured the victory to this spiritual warfare. We do not have to live in fear of things that roar or go bump in the night. There is a roaring lion in the streets tonight, but don’t run for a high-powered rifle. Luther tells us that “One little word shall fell him.” What word? Actually, it is a name: Jesus. God gave Him “the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11). Jesus. Run to Him. Call on Him. Rest in Him. Live for...

ALL IN THE NAME OF JESUS

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 I was held captive for hours on end, chained to the rocking chair. Forgive the drama, but that is exactly how I felt when my newborn daughter developed colic.  I spent much of my day in the rocking chair nursing her. I nursed her, rocked her, walked her, burped her, patted her and propped her…and still she screamed. Occasionally she would sleep a three hour stretch, but she seemed to prefer fifteen minute “baby naps.” I was sleep deprived and struggling with “baby blues” Before my baby was born, I considered myself a fairly able-minded and efficient wife, homemaker, and employee. I left my social worker job to be a stay-at-home mom. However, my dream job of motherhood was nothing like I envisioned. There where times I thought, “No one told me it would be like this.” One day, while feeling sorry for myself, I thought, “I used to be able to do such great things for God. Now I’m lucky if I can take a shower and make dinner on the same day.” Before my baby was born I had a regular “quiet time” established of Scripture reading and prayer. That went out the window when we came home from the hospital. I enjoyed being active in our church’s Youth Ministry. I spent hours listening to friends pour out their heartaches. I was always willing to bring a meal, provide transportation, or give comfort to someone in need. Now, here I sat. A Northern Michigan winter confined me to our apartment and only added to my isolation. The unrealistic expectations of maternal bliss I imposed on myself kept me from picking up the phone and asking for the help I needed.  To make matters worse, I felt ashamed that I wasn’t enjoying my baby more. I am grateful to words of wisdom from Edith Schaeffer in her book What is a Family? She described a family as a spiritual relay race where the baton of faith is handed off from one generation to the next.  Unfortunately, that baton was dropped somewhere in my husband’s and my families. We both came to Christ in our early 20’s. We were determined to pass our faith to our children. Schaeffer helped me to catch the vision for God’s purpose in entrusting us with this new life…a soul. I realized that my children would be my greatest mission field, and raising them to know and love God would probably be my highest calling in life. I accepted the challenge found in Colossians 3:17. I determined to do everything in the name of Jesus – including emptying the diaper bucket – even when I wasn’t in the limelight, getting praise for all my good deeds. I learned humility and servant-hood doing the most mundane tasks of parenting, even when I didn’t feel like it. (What parent “feels like it” at 3 AM?) I memorized Colossians 3:23, 24: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” My daughters are now grown. They both know and love God. They, in turn, are running the race, passing the baton to the next generation. Mission accomplished! If you are a young mom or are soon to be one, know that motherhood is a high calling. Cover it with prayer. Do it with all of your heart and in the name of Jesus. Whether you work outside the home or not, know that nothing else you do in life will have as much of an impact or leave a greater legacy than your job as a mom. If your children are grown, look for ways to encourage moms – and dads – of small children. Pray for them. Volunteer in your church’s nursery so they can sit in the service and receive the spiritual food they so desperately need. The race is on. Let’s do all we can to pass the spiritual baton to the next generation. God bless moms!  ...