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

 

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Bookworm’s Tragedy

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

The first thing I do when I handle a new book is open it up and take a whiff of the smell.  I love the smell of ink on paper,  along with the binding and glue of the book… Some will smell better than others, but the breath of a nose stuck in a book is never a breath wasted.

I was lucky to grow up in a house with a library.  A very large one.  We had so many books, it was a genuine collection; one that I loved to contribute to. I would always buy a book or two along with a cute kitten poster from the school book fairs; my parents would let me order a whole slew of books from the scholastic book clubs; and while others wanted to shop in the music and electronics shops or the sports section, I would choose the small bookstore (called the “Bookmark”) any time I had money to spare. What’s an allowance for, if not to spend on my next book to read?

I remember the beloved “book it” program at my elementary school.  Read a book and then illustrate what was read. After earning a set amount of stars, the reader would win a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.  I would read a book a week.  Every Friday I would turn in my illustration, and I would receive a star sticker on my book it button.  That’s…. no doubt what trained me to read so many books.

In school, I would spend my recesses or bus rides reading.  My reading habits weren’t appreciated by my best friend, who threatened to steal my book and keep it for the rest of the day if I didn’t put it away and hang out with him instead.

As a teenager, I had a calendar that I recorded all the names of the books that I read.  My calendar was filled with book titles, sometimes months holding 10 or 12 titles, one right after another where I read the book in a span of 2 day’s time.

Unfortunately, growing up hasn’t been good to my bookworm tendencies. And now I miss the times when I could read 13 books a month.  My time is spent hard, running my own business and managing my life.  It seems to me that I don’t really have the chance to read anymore.  I have a rather large lineup of books, piled on my nightstand or tucked under my pillow or hidden in a spot to remind me to read… sometimes I even catch myself carrying a book around, partially out of habit and partially wishful thinking.

If it were just my lack of time then I’d fix the problem easily. I could fit a few moments before bed to read a page or two. But it seems more complicated than that. My diagnosis is much more severe.

I open a book to read it, flip to the first page, and my eyes skim the first line, the second, the third and fourth. Upon stopping to process the first lines of the book, I realize that my brain is completely blank, void of the information that it failed to retain.

I try again, and a third time. I even smell the pages to try to entice my thoughts into a frame of mind for the book, but to no avail. My brain no longer focuses on reading a book.  I would try to listen to an audio book, but if my brain isn’t actively involved in the story, either by problem-solving or inventing or reasoning out a solution or searching for answers to something, then I cannot focus on the story at hand.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot focus on reading my book.