Different attacks, different weapons

PurseGunA .22 caliber revolver shared space in my purse with wallet and checkbook in the 1970’s. (In those days I didn’t need a permit to carry it.)

I’d been a crack shot with pistol, rifle and shotgun since my early teens, having been taught by my hunter grandfather Da and uncle Mike.

The lightweight .410 shotgun I used had originally belonged to my grandmother Mimi. Since she seldom fired it, as long as Da gave me proper instruction she was happy to relinquish it to her oldest grandchild, me.

(I must admit, however, I had cried after killing that first bird and refused to go hunting with Da again. See this post about granddaddy and me. https://scfamilymemories.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/spending-time-with-granddaddy/)

In the 70’s we lived way out in the middle of the county. It was thirteen miles from the nearest city limits, I worked ten miles further on than that, and having a gun in the car seemed like a good idea at first. After a while I got uncomfortable having it around with kids in the car, though, so I gave up carrying the pistol in my purse.

A hunting knife might have been a good alternative – I’d learned how to handle and throw one of those from Uncle Mike, too and my aim wasn’t bad. But the thought of getting cut, or cutting somebody else by accident, made me lightheaded. So, no hunting knife in my purse or car, either. I did carry a ladies Swiss Army knife for years, until the airlines banned them. I stashed it away in a dresser drawer.

Army, Navy or Air Force, my military heritage goes back to 1760, years before the Revolutionary War. Weapons for personal protection never made me nervous, as long as I was proficient and wise in their use, maintaining a good sense of legal and illegal, right and wrong. Good common sense, too.

Along the way I began to learn that Christians are targets for an all-too real enemy, a spiritual one. I began to learn about the Holy Spirit, the power of God, and the spiritual weapons available to believers. Some of those weapons are familiar: Prayer. Whole armor. Word of God. Blood of Christ.

But some others that you might not recognize as weapons, actually are. Worship. Forgiveness. Humility. Boldness. Patience. Peace. Authority. Discerning of Spirits. Gift of Faith. Miracles. Healing. Commands. The name of Jesus.

I learned that the enemy doesn’t always come at you overtly, with in-your-face attacks. Some of his attacks are subtle: Worry. Fear. Doubt. Self-pity. Pride. Temper tantrums. Boredom. Bad mood. Criticism. Gossip. Ridicule. Personality conflicts. Resentment. Offense.

Unpleasant or unseemly thoughts may seem to pop into your mind randomly. (Just remember this – “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from making a nest in your hair.”)

And some accidents, actually aren’t. Like tripping over a child’s toy. Stumbling over broken concrete. Falling off a skateboard and breaking your arm. Losing your keys. Getting overdrawn at the bank because someone else’s check bounced. Missing critical appointments because of traffic jams. Becoming stressed out because another guy didn’t show up for work and you have to do their job and your own.

Some of those things aren’t attacks of the enemy, they’re just the way things are in a fallen world. But some of them are. They are designed to hinder you, steal your faith, stunt your growth, and wreck your testimony. They are aimed at keeping you from doing and being what you should. Sometimes they are designed to kill you.

  • On my way to work one morning, I was driving down a straight stretch of county road and about to pass a long driveway leading to a house way off the road. Down that lane another car was speeding towards me. Too late I realized that he wasn’t slowing down, that I couldn’t prevent us from colliding no matter whether I stomped on the brake or the accelerator. My heart was pounding as I braced myself and cried out, Jesus!

Instantly my car was a quarter mile further down the road! Glancing in the rear-view window, I saw the other car just turning onto the pavement behind me.

What had happened?

  • A woman attacked me in my office parking lot one day, shrieking and pounding on the back of my head for all she was worth. Why? Because I had called for a taxi instead of offering to drive her in my own car where she wanted to go. When I jerked around, what I saw in her face didn’t look human. I commanded her to Stop that! and Sit down! She backed up and sat down on the steps to the office building.

Someone called out, What’s going on, and I turned my head to answer them. In a flash she was back up, pounding on my head again. Once again I commanded her to Stop it! Once again she stopped, and this time took off running down the city street, high heels and all. When the taxi arrived I pointed the driver in her direction and he left to try to find her.

What had happened?

  • For several years I served on South Carolina’s State Board of Education, attending two-day meetings in the state capital once a month. Returning home on I-20 late one afternoon, I was traveling in heavy, fairly high-speed traffic when still many miles from home my car began to slow down on its own. I switched over to the slow lane as other drivers honked their horns at me. The car had plenty of fuel, the gas pedal wasn’t stuck, the engine light wasn’t on, and the heat gauge read normal. Trash in the fuel line? I was puzzled, to say the least.

Still slower and slower we went, until 35 miles per hour is the fastest the car would go. With a nervous eye on the traffic, I switched on the flashers and eased the car over into the emergency lane. Where was the nearest interchange, I wondered, and how long will it take me to get there? Will the car keep going till we get there?

Thankfully it was only a couple of miles and there was a service station there. Good, I thought, maybe somebody in there can help me. But while the clerks were all sympathetic, nobody was a mechanic. I phoned home and explained the situation. I would try to drive the car home using the emergency lane on the interstate the whole way.

Pleading the blood of Jesus, thanking the Lord for his protection and visualizing angels surrounding my car, that’s what I did. I sang praise and worship songs every slow mile of the way, arriving very late but safe and sound.

When my own mechanic took a look the next day, he just shook his head in amazement. This car shouldn’t have kept going, he said, it should have stopped dead in its tracks. The catalytic converter was completely clogged up. He traded the faulty part for a brand-new one, the car returned to its normal operating condition, and I gratefully paid his bill.

What had happened?

  • Although blind, my husband Tim Cox had graduated from Francis Marion University with a degree in business administration. He was president of our company and quite good at what he did, serving as salesman, P.R. rep and sometime trouble-shooter. But being blind did cause a problem when one friendly, plausible sales rep persuaded Tim to purchase at much-reduced rates a quantity of goods for our company. When I met the man and looked in his eyes, I immediately recognized a “wrong spirit.” But Tim didn’t. He thought the guy was fine and the deal would be beneficial to both parties, so he had our bookkeeper cut the check.

There were no goods forthcoming, however. The fellow was a con man. At first Tim thought we should just write off the financial loss, chalk it up to a hard lesson learned: discerning of spirits is absolutely necessary for a Christian running a business. But after we prayed about it, Tim began the lengthy process of filing a legal complaint, for the authorities to find and arrest the man, and for us to recover the money.

Eventually that did happen. That’s when we discovered the con man had defrauded many others in our area. Most were women, some of whom were embarrassed or humiliated to have been deceived and cheated like this. One had spent her savings to have a new roof put on her house; the workers never arrived.

Another was a widow who paid for the beautiful diamond ring her husband had ordered before his death (so the fellow told her). Of course, the ring never arrived either. Without Tim’s follow-through with the legal system, they would never have recovered their goods either.

If you’re a believer, you’re a target. You’re also an overcomer! That’s not automatic, though. It takes learning about the spiritual war we’re in, how to recognize the enemy’s devices, and how to make use of the efficient, unfailing weapons at our disposal.

Here are a few reminders:

  • Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44 NASB)
  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
  • So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (II Cor. 2:11)
  • And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (II Cor. 11:14)
  • For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. (II Cor. 10:4)
  • Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:17)
  • Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (Eph. 6:11-13) … and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:17)
  • But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Heb. 5:14)
  • Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (I Peter 5:8)
  • Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
  • Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4 KJV)
  • And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. (Rev. 12:11)
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Armored, front and back

x-default“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
— Joseph Heller, Catch-22

I’ve been thinking about armor lately. The apostle Paul told the Ephesians, “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.” (Eph. 6:13)

You don’t wear armor to play tennis. Or golf. Or lay around on the beach. Or just to work in an office, or push a vacuum, or cook dinner.

Ordinary people doing ordinary jobs don’t even own armor. A hunting rifle, maybe, a utility knife, maybe. But surely not armor.

It got me to thinking. Who does wear armor? Who even owns armor? Hmm. Soldiers. People who are trained to fight, who know what armor is for and how to use it. People who know there’s going to be a fight – not just a scuffle, but a serious fight. Up close and personal, with somebody out to hurt you. To kill you.

If you read through Paul’s epistles, you’ll see that he didn’t write the same things to everybody. He wrote to the Ephesians things that he didn’t tell anyone else. So, then, they don’t apply to anyone else, right?

Well, that would be nice, if it wasn’t for the fact that the devil doesn’t hate Ephesians only. In this fight, we all need this particular armor, whether on the tennis court, the golf course, in the office and in the kitchen. Every place can be and often is a battlefield in the spirit.

  • John 10:10 – Jesus: the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy; Jesus comes to give abundant life
  • I Cor. 10:4 – Paul: we have powerful weapons and a war to fight; they are spiritual, not physical
  • Eph. 4:27 – Paul: give no place to the devil
  • I Pet. 5:8 – Peter: the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone
  • James 4:7 – James: submit first to God, then resist the devil and he will flee

Here’s that whole passage from Ephesians:

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.

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.

RomanBattleArmorStand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

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. (Eph. 6:10-18 NIV)

Paul, a Roman citizen, is describing a Roman soldier’s armor – notice, every piece is worn in a place where Jesus shed his blood, from head to hand to foot. Some sandals even had metal spikes in the soles.

RomanArmorBreastplateBackParticularly notice, the back of the breastplate was also armored.

Some people claim the armor is only on your front, so you’re supposed to only advance. That’s not true. Isaiah 58:8 says that the glory of the Lord will be our rear guard (rereward, rear-ward in KJV).

If sometimes it seems like the enemy comes at you from all sides, the Lord has provided protection from all sides.

An offensive weapon, a sword presupposes offensive actions by a soldier trained in wielding it. The fully equipped Roman soldier had two swords, a short one and a long one. The short sword was used for hand-to-hand fighting – this is the word used in most of the New Testament. A long sword or javelin was worn over the soldier’s right shoulder – this is the word used for Jesus’s two-edged sword in Revelation.

“Having done all to stand, stand…” it says in the King James Version. Done all… all what?

Having acknowledged the need for this armor, having acquired it, clothed yourself with it and trained in its use, stand up strong in it. That sounds like we’re defending something, doesn’t it? And we are.

Stand firm in the faith, Paul says in his letters. Faith is the devil’s most valuable target. If he can’t kill you outright, he’ll steal your health. If he can’t steal your health, he’ll destroy your reputation. Whatever he can do to nullify your faith, he’ll do.

Standing firm in your own faith is not all we do, of course. Spreading faith, advancing the kingdom of God is the Christian’s primary business. But if you’re so busy fighting off attacks in the mind, emotions, health, family, job, reputation, etc., you won’t share your testimony much. You won’t advance the kingdom much.

Reading the news from around the world, I realize just how much of a war is going on. How violent, how hate-filled, how horribly cruel – how evil – the attacks on Christians are. How much we need God’s full armor! Too many believers in this country assume it will never happen here.