Girls With Swords, Final Week

This week, we’re discussing Chapter 9, Sword of Harvest, of Girls With Swords.  The contents of the pages honestly alarmed me: author Bevere compared Christianity, and the Word of God, to a machete, which is a sword known to be versatile and effective, yet easy to carry and wield. I was alarmed because, at the very beginning of the book, I was lead to believe we would have sympathy throughout our study, for those stuck in situations like human trafficking, sexual abuse, violence, and domestic abuse, and so I found the sword/faith comparison this time a little disturbing, a bit frightening.

To compare our power as Christians to that of a machete, in modern days, is harsh and uncouth. This type of sword may have originally been a North American invention (as author Bevere states), and it may be used for numerous things such as cutting vines, gathering crops, and altering territory, but right now, it is only seen as a tool for murder, at least in the news. I extend a bit of grace to the author for the fact the book’s copyright dates back to 2013, so perhaps she wrote it without modern news in mind. But even that’s not an excuse. Here’s a story from 2008, about churchgoers in Kenya being literally slaughtered by a violent mob who held machetes (click here to read it), which was a story that came before she copyrighted the book. She writes her book for an international audience; then she must write for a broader view than her own!

To strengthen my argument, I took a quick moment on Google to search the term “machete”. At first you can see stores that sell them, the movie from IMDB titled “Machete”, among an assortment of things. But go to “News”, and all you see is violence, killing, and attempts to chase, threaten, and harm one another with the sword. I understand reading the Bible can even be harsh sometimes, and there are times when addressing war and weapons are acceptable, but considering the audience she boasts about having at the beginning of the book, I would think she’d consider their lives, stories, and traumatic experiences. I read a story, about a year ago, in a newsletter I get, where a woman talked about raiders who were Muslim came to her Christian village and horrifically slayed the villagers with the weapon, and she couldn’t get the image out of her mind, the image of her attacker holding the machete. How would she feel after reading Chapter 9? I don’t know, but I thought the book was meant to heal people like these, not remind them of their horrors, even making them feel like they need to hold the sword and wield it, like some sort of revenge or surrender.

Therefore, the uncouthness of the book leads me to say, I can no longer study the book, seeing as I feel betrayed for the sake of the audience (I thought) we both want to reach out to. I started with hope that insight would come; instead, as the book progresses, it gets repetitive (same message about good vs. evil repeated chapter after chapter), it gets shallow and gimmicky, which she herself condemns. Bevere also does interpret the Word and doesn’t teach it deeply; she simply uses it to further her message, which can be misleading.

After all, I’ll even confess. A hint of remorse is in my heart now, when I think of my earlier video activities, where I compared our lives to that of the samurai, or the musketeer, and others – yes, I taught it that way to be excited and zealous for the journey, and help others understand a good message, but I ask myself now, when can comparisons go too far? Can they be used to enshroud the truth, rather than reveal it? I feel that’s true in Chapter 9, that she cannot be straightforward and won’t tell us in more detail what we need to know, for right living, and for being God’s girls.

So after 9 weeks, I am frustrated and disappointed at Girls With Swords. Kat backed me up by saying, “Face it, it’s not the book I thought it would be.” Our study has not been worthless, but I would like to move on to something else now and conclude the study. Thank you so much for being interested, and let me know if you have questions or requests.

A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Proverbs 17:22

 

Girls with Swords, Week 8

(All of the following Scripture is taken from the New International Version Holy Bible.)

God is love.

“Do not those who plot evil go astray?  But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness.” (Proverbs 14:22) ~ “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3) ~ “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:12) ~ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) ~ “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21) ~

God Loves you.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so,  but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:1-8) ~ “Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (James 2:5) ~ “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12) ~

Love all people.

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39) ~ “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is a fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10) ~ “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48) ~ “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all that I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) ~

 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.” (James 2:8)

 

Lisa Bevere’s workbook, the Fencing Manual, made the statement: “For far too long the Word has been interpreted rather than proclaimed.” Then it asked the question: “What is the difference?” Lacy’s written reply was,
“Interpreting Scripture is when someone tries to grasp its meaning, with bias that overcomes willingness, and so the Scripture is read with the bias as absolute truth, rather than God’s word and meaning.  Contrastingly, proclaiming is when Scripture is read in context, read cover to cover, and shared.” -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

“The language of God is LOVE.  That needs no words at all.  Wouldn’t it be something if the church just… stopped talking for a change and just… ACTED on love, instead of speaking?” -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

Girls With Swords, Week 7

“Then Eleazar the priest said to the soldiers who had gone into battle, ‘This is the requirement of the law that the LORD gave Moses: Gold, silver, bronze, iron, tin, lead and anything else that can withstand fire must be put through fire, and then it will be clean. But it must also be purified with the water of cleansing.  And whatever cannot withstand fire must be put through that water.” Numbers 31:21-24, NIV

The Israelites had just gained victory over the Midianites, and they brought back the spoils of battle.   Since the Israelites were God’s holy people, they were required to follow strict rules to not defile themselves or the rest of their camp.  To protect themselves from defilement, God gave them this command: purify all the spoils with water and fire.

The Bible uses the example of the refinement of gold and silver many times in the Bible.  Job used the idea first, in Job 23:10.  “…he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

This act of refinement is compared to God’s testing of our hearts.  Daniel received a vision in which he was told of the testing: “Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.” (Daniel 11:33-35. NIV)

Some of the wise will stumble so that they may be refined… God allows his people to make mistakes so that they can grow in character and learn from the mistakes.

“For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off.  See, I have refined you, though not as silver. I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.” (Isaiah 48:9-10, NIV)

We are tested in the furnace of affliction.  To refine gold and silver, a smithy melts it down it a very hot fire, and the fire burns away any impurities in it.  This causes the precious metal to become more pure.

But according to Isaiah, God tests us in the furnace of affliction.  We are made pure by passing through the fires, surviving the trials that God tests us with.

“Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?  Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks with deceit, with his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets a trap for him. Should I not punish them for this?’ declares the LORD. ‘Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?’” (Jeremiah 9:7-9, NIV)

God must refine and test His people to reveal their intentions.  If they are true to Him and striving to be good, then they will become pure from the affliction; but if they are with evil plans, then God will surely punish them like He did with Israel once Israel and Judah split into 2 nations, and Israel grew corrupt.

“Son of man, the house of Israel had become dross to me; all of them are the copper, tin, iron, and lead left inside a furnace. They are but the dross of silver. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you have all become dross, I will gather you into Jerusalem. As men gather silver, copper, iron, lead and tin into a furnace to melt it with a fiery blast, so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath, and put you inside the city and melt you. I will gather you and I will blow on you with my fiery wrath, and you will be melted inside her. As silver is melted in a furnace, so you will be melted inside her, and you will know that I the Lord have poured out my wrath upon you.” (Ezekiel 22:18-22, NIV)

“Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:8-12 (NIV)

God judged his people in the old testament, but where do we fit in?  We, God’s chosen people, can read some wonderful news in the book of Malachi.  (2:17-3:5) “You have wearied the Lord with your words. “How have we wearied him?” You ask.  By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them,” or “Where is the God of justice?”  “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple: the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years. So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerer, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.”

Jesus is the Master Refiner.  We are made pure through Him!  1 Peter 1:3-9 explains it like this: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed at the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of  your souls.”

As all impurities are burned away from gold in the refinement process, our imperfect deeds will be burned away to reveal our pure intentions.  I Corinthians 3:11-18 says “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.  Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”

When we do our works according to God’s wishes and dedicate our lives for Him, then we will surely receive the inheritance which Jesus is preparing for us.

“In the whole land,” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people,” and they will say, “The Lord is our God.”  (Zechariah 13:8-9, NIV)

(Example of a time you “traveled through flames”) “Not literally, but that time Kathryn got sick with the [ovarian] cyst and had surgery, I was pretty afraid for her. I didn’t eat for days and lost 20 pounds during that time. I thought death was around the corner…” -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

(Example of a time you “traveled through water”) “We had just gone to Germany. I was still new. We had barely been there a week.  That Sunday (our first Sunday at GK) all the youth were going to camp. I was in new territory. I only knew Kristina from letter writing once or twice.  And yet, I was swept up to join the youth group, to go to Camp Gemunden.  I didn’t want to go to camp [because I was a shy girl], but it was good for me. It was fun, and it strengthened my friendships while I was in Germany.” -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

Girls with Swords, Week 3

For my birthday earlier this month, Lacy bought me a book that I’ve been wanting: The Art of War.  It’s said to be a great book, used by successful entrepreneurs  to improve their skill.  But as I read it during this time while I’m also studying Girls with Swords, I find we can apply it to Christian living, too.

“To all nations war is a great matter.  Upon the army death or life depend: it is the means of the existence or destruction of the State.” Sun Tzu in The Art of War

The existence of God’s Holy nation – Christians from every part of the world – depends on how well each of us prepares for our spiritual battle.   If we stand ready to fight against the spiritual enemies who wage war against us, we will be able to persevere and protect our people from the enemy’s attacks; but if we stay ignorant and in denial of the war around us, Satan will easily overpower us and cause the people of God to stumble and fall away.  War is a great matter, whether we stand in the offense or in the defense; we have to be ready for the battles ahead.

If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, A servant is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.” John 15:18-21  (ASV)

This week, the Girls with Swords chapter focused on how we might be heroes just like the men and women spoken of in Hebrews 11.  Through faith, we can face the enemy and stand bravely for Christ.  With God as our power, we can be superhuman.

It sounds unbelievable; but don’t be fooled by Satan’s lies against this concept- you really are the hero of your own story.  The moment you chose to be baptized, you became an enemy of Satan, and all the angels in heaven rejoiced (Luke 15:3-10).  If you haven’t chosen baptism yet, then Satan’s legion of demons fight every day to keep you from making the decision of accepting salvation through Christ’s resurrection.  While God wants no man to perish but all to have eternal life through Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:1-6, 2 Peter 3:9), Satan wants quite the opposite. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16), but Satan wishes that all people shall perish and none have eternal life.

Once you accept your role as hero, whether you perform amazing miracles like the hero Captain Sullinberger of the US Airways flight 1549 or you’re just a forgotten survivor, victim of life’s worst events the way that Chuck Noland was in the movie Castaway, you are a hero in your own story and Satan is trying to bring you – as a Christian – to ruin.

“Reacting does not equal choosing. Fear will drive you to react, but as you become more skillful with the sword, you will choose your response with the intent of honoring your Father – rather than protecting yourself.” -Lisa Bevere, from the Girls with Swords Fencing Manual

The best way to choose your response with an intent of honoring God instead of fearing the enemy is to prepare for the attack and be ready for whatever will happen.  To be ready, we must put on the proper armor so that we will have the protection that God provides us.

“He who does not know the evils of war will not reap advantage thereby. He who is skillful in war does not make a second levy, does not load his supply wagon thrice.”  Sun Tzu, The Art of War

If you don’t spend your time preparing, then the enemy will have an advantage over you and you won’t have enough “supply” -strength, knowledge, and will- to fight back.  On the other hand, if you prepare for war and grow skillful with the provisions that God gives you through Scriptures, then the enemy cannot surprise you with an attack that you didn’t expect.

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us six articles of protection that we should wear in our fights against Satan.  We should never be found without them, unprepared.  Our enemy is always on the prowl (1 Peter 5:8), and will pounce the moment we set our armor aside for a moment of rest.

Heroes may feel afraid of something, but they trust in their power, whether its the power of their sword, or their own [superhuman] abilities, or something else. In [Christians’] case, God is our power.  -quote from Kat’s fencing manual

God is permitted to do what he wants with me, because I have no idea who I am anymore. I mean, if my ideas have to “be scrapped” before God can place me in his own, then let it be so, because my plans are void almost like a money check when it’s VOID. So Lord, I permit you. -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

 

Girls With Swords, Week 1

Let’s be sparring partners! Do say, will a friendly duel work for you?

I say that because I bought this book, Girls With Swords by Lisa Bevere, and I’ve read only Chapter 1, but already it’s very effective, with its contemporary perspective of the ancient battle we Christians face, both in our daily lives and on a global spectrum. I want to study with you for the next 14 weeks, because there are 14 chapters in the book, and we will take 1 chapter a week. Of course, I’ll recommend you buy and study it alongside me, with a hard copy of your own, and especially buy its counterpart, Fencing Manual, if you like to write your thoughts down in a journal and learn more about yourself. You can discover your personal vulnerabilities, what areas you need improvement in, and how you should train harder.

I share my evaluation of Chapter 1 in a video. It’s a bit long, but I go over 3 points made by Ms. Bevere, in case you can’t buy the book, I lay it all out for you.

My second video is meant to be shared on social media. It’s engaging in a bit of sword-talk: which type of sword would you wield in battle? Describing five types of swords, I spur you on to think characterization! What kind of warrior will you be for God?

The 3 main points Lisa Bevere makes in Chapter 1, You Are a Target, is:

1. Satan is trying to distract you from who God has made you to be.

2. You need to equip yourself to withstand his hostile schemes.

3. Universal gendercide causes a startling death rate among 21st century women, primarily because of the imbalance brought on by mass abortions (boys are favored therefore the number of girls are decreasing) but also because women are dying in many tragic ways: kidnapping, mistreatment, and human trafficking to name some.

“This is God’s battle. I’m one of His prayer warriors. I’m ready to go where He needs me, pray for who needs Him, and take whatever action He created me for. I stand ready to work for God.” -quote from Kat’s Fencing Manual

“…I would be words, poignant and true; I’d be actions, loving and empathetic; I’d be a thrust forward  when the enemy is open for conviction, and a defensive block when the enemy strikes, so God’s plan is made complete.” -quote from Lacy’s Fencing Manual

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” Ephesians 4:25 (ESV)

Can you feel the Holy Spirit?

I received, as a Christmas gift, a series of devotional books by author Robert Strand titled Nine Fruits of the Spirit. Nine books in all, each one is a small 5.75″ x 5.75″ book, hardback, being a little more than 50 pages in length. In order for me to appreciate my gift to the fullest, I’ll be writing about the fruits of the Spirit for the next 9 weeks, allowing one blog post for each fruit: love (Greek: agape), joy (chara), peace (eirene), patience (makrothumia) kindness (chrestotes), goodness (agathos), faithfulness (pistos), gentleness (praotes), and self-control (enkrateia).

It’s in Galatians 5 that Paul explains to us about the fruits, that there is no law against them, and he contrasts them to a list of (as I call it) rotten fruits of the flesh. Here are the rotten fruits:

  “…sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV)

But with the fruits of the Spirit, there is no law:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Galatians 5:22-26 (NIV)

How, then, should we go throughout life without discussing these important characteristics in length? If there is no law against them, which there’s not, that means we can talk about them and talk more about them, and dwell on them, and never get in trouble doing so! Not just that, but we should dwell on them, so that we can prevent ourselves from acting on the rotten fruits. It’s so easy to fall victim to the lies of sin and think they’re our “blankets” when in reality they are nothing but a lead to nowhere, except death and vanity, because the fruits of God are forever, while sin is temporary and decaying.

“Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
    in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
    their righteousness endures forever;
    their horn will be lifted high in honor.

The wicked will see and be vexed,
    they will gnash their teeth and waste away;
    the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.”

Psalm 112:6-10 (NIV)

Before we begin the studies, I made a trivia quiz on Playbuzz to give your skills a test. How well can you feel the Holy Spirit? Do you know how to act according to God and what He wants so deeply for your life? Take the quiz to find out how you “rank” in spiritual quality. (It’s just for fun.)

If you get answers wrong on the test, however, remember not to worry, because God does not require from us perfection. We have Jesus to cover our sins and make us perfect in His blood, and we are all different and perceive the fruits uniquely, but the Bible is clear on what we need to do to be godly. Always get counsel from the Word for wisdom and understanding.

Footnote: Feature image is not owned by Autumn Angel Art. It was found on Public Domain Pictures.