Girls With Swords, Week 6

“Good men must not obey the laws too well.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this week’s study, we were given this quote and asked to explain what we thought it meant.  I really had no clue what to imagine the quote meant, but finally came up with this answer to the challenge:

“It needs context. I went and tried to read a little bit of the essay that the quote is from, and it’s generally about government.  In more entirety, the quote actually says ‘Every actual State is corrupt. Good men must not obey the laws too well.’ The essay also argues the ‘government’ between Laban and Jacob; how Laban and Isaac are the keepers of the land, [and are in charge of making decisions on matters concerning their land, and though Jacob lives there too, he must simply earn his keep.  He has no power over what happens to the land.]  So from the little that I read, maybe it means that there is no HUMAN state that is flawless.  Only God’s state is really Good.” 

Later, my dad shared a new thought with us, a sermon that he had heard spoken, and it cleared my understanding of Mr. Emerson’s quote. It dealt with the story in John 5:1-18. In the story, Jesus was healing a man who couldn’t walk.

When Jesus saw the man and knew that he had been sick for such a long time, Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered, “Sir, there is no one to help me get into the pool when the water starts moving. While I am coming to the water, someone else always gets in before me.” Then Jesus said, “Stand up. Pick up your mat and walk.” And immediately the man was well; he picked up his mat and began to walk.” (verses 6-9, NCV)

According to the laws of love, Jesus did a wonderful thing.  He healed a man who had been trying to reach an angel’s healing touch for 38 years.  Who could have possibly been against such a good act of kindness?

“Because Jesus was doing this on the Sabbath day, some evil people began to persecute him.” (Verse 16, NCV)

As wonderful as was the kindness that Jesus showed to the cripple, the Jews weren’t happy with his work because it was on the Sabbath, which was their holy day of rest.  According to the Jewish laws, no one was allowed to work on the Sabbath.  Jesus, however, never allowed the laws of the Sabbath to stop Him from doing a good deed.

“But Jesus said to them, “My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too.” This made them try still harder to kill him. They said, “First Jesus was breaking the law about the Sabbath day. Now he says that God is his own Father, making himself equal with God!” (verses 17-18, NCV)

There are many stories where Jesus healed people on the Sabbath (Mark 1:21-31, 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17, 14:1-6; John 9:1-16).  Jesus was hated for His work.

“Every actual State is corrupt.  Good men must not obey the laws too well.”  Jesus matched the quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson perfectly in this story: He is a good man, the only good man on earth, but He didn’t follow the Jewish laws perfectly.  Instead He followed God’s flawless law: love and mercy.

 “Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.” Mark 10:18 (NCV)

Amen, Lord Jesus!

“Our Warrior-King is beautiful. His very image is beyond compare. The wondrous span of creation captures a mere fragment of his beauty. The mighty ocean, soaring skies, and majestic mountains declare the powerful, immeasurable, enduring beauty of his strength.  Each and every living thing-from plants to animals- is an irresistible revelation of the fact that our God is gorgeous! He lovingly formed his sons and daughters to carry more of his majesty, glory, and beauty than any other creation.  We are his masterpiece.” –Quote from Lisa Bevere, Girls with Swords

“Being kind to people who see no kindness, or little of it anyway, [moves me].  Also being reliable. I am moved by quality, whether it’s quality of life, writing, behavior- perhaps I have high expectations, but…”    -quote from Lacy’s fencing manual

“Read the Psalms.  All over the place, [the scriptures can bring you perspective when you’re anxious or afraid], it calls God “a fortress”, “a shield”, “my strength”.  I never really understood the concept of the Psalms until we came up with Belaedria, and Escaping the Lair.  Taliesan [our fictional character] is always impressed by the Psalms.  He convinced me that God really is our shield!” -quote from Kat’s fencing manual  

Girls With Swords, Week 2

Imagine yourself with a sword newly polished, ready to be brandished in battle, zealous to fight against the demonic enemy.  Your blade fits your skill, compliments your strength and body structure, and is never too weak or causes you weariness. When the enemy sees you coming, he sinks back in dread, because with your quality as a warrior, you stand victor in every campaign. He doesn’t stand a chance.

That’s how you are, when you’ve got the Holy Spirit equipped.

Your warrior quality, your preparedness for battle, is explained more deeply through the Bible. In Matthew 3, we read about John the Baptist, a prophet who was also the cousin of Jesus Christ, put on earth to declare Christ’s entrance into the world; John speaks words of judgment to a group of alleged holy men, priests, saying,

“Even now the ax is on the root of the trees. Every tree that does not give good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. For sure, I baptize with water those who are sorry for their sins and turn from them. The One Who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is greater than I. I am not good enough to take off His shoes. He comes ready to clean the grain. He will gather the grain in and clean it all. The clean grain He will put into a building. He will burn that which is no good with a fire that cannot be put out.” —–Matthew 3:10-12 (NLV, boldness added)

These priests that came to be baptized by John the Baptist came because it was a phenomenal trend to witness and be part of the prophet’s iconic show, but their hearts were not ready for the Messiah’s coming. Some of these priests may have even aided in the murder of Jesus – I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute. So John warned them judgment was coming. Blade would separate and fire would destroy.

The “One Who comes after me” is Jesus Christ, and Christ has vested us, Christians, with the sacred power of the Holy Spirit, to have, hold, brandish, clash, conquer, defend, rescue, and unite with, in truth.

The truth is given to us by many authors of the Bible. (We use the Bible as our authority because, even after academic study and countless critiques, it has proven to be without error. History backs it up, it backs itself up with eye-witnessing accounts, and no account contradicts the other one.) Jesus gave his disciples the understanding that when the Holy Spirit came, which happened on the Day of Pentecost written about in Acts 2,  the Spirit would teach them, tell them about Jesus, and give them a full understanding of the events that took place in their lives, both past, present, and future. Before the Holy Spirit came to them, they were all very confused and lacking in motivation, but after He came, their lives were transformed. In John 14:15-17, Jesus says,

“If you love me, obey my commands.  I will ask the Father. And he will give you another friend to help you and to be with you forever. That friend is the Spirit of truth. The world can’t accept him. That’s because the world does not see him or know him. But you know him. He lives with you, and he will be in you.” (NIRV)

When one of his apostles asked how he got to be so lucky, Jesus clarified that a person receives the Spirit by loving Jesus, obeying his teachings, and living for him. If he or she does that, the Spirit will come and dwell therein, giving that person wisdom and insight to help prepare for battle, which ultimately, is a battle leading us to eternal life.

Jesus left his followers with one mission, which we (21st century Christians) see from present day they prevailed in doing:

“Go and make followers of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” —- Matthew 28:19 (NLV)

If we believe, are baptized, and follow Jesus Christ, we can experience the same Spirit of Truth the 1st century disciples had. Sure, we can’t tell others we were eyewitnesses of his life, wounds, death, and resurrection like the apostles did, but you can tell others how he changed your life.

And if you feel he has not changed your life, maybe you were baptized in the wrong name, like those innocent believers in Acts 19. There were a few disciples living in Ephesus (modern day Turkey) who heard John the Baptist’s teachings and got baptized because of him, and later Paul arrived and asked them if they had the Holy Spirit. Their response was like “Huh? What are you talking about?” and he inquired,

 “Then what beliefs did you acknowledge at your baptism?”

They answered,

“What John the Baptist taught.”

Oh! That answers the problem, Paul might’ve thought. He helped them realize John’s baptism was only temporary; it was meant to lead them to Jesus Christ, the one who had the ability to give us the Holy Spirit, the Life Sword. So they were baptized again, this time in the name of Jesus Christ, and received the gift of the Spirit.

My prayer for you is that you receive the Holy Spirit and obey Jesus Christ, being able to understand his plan for your life and why you were placed here at this time and place, to serve him in power and truth, delegated to fulfill your piece in salvation’s puzzle.

Since this is ultimately part of the Girls With Swords study, I have continued my video evaluation, and my video activity, which I will share with you here in case you are studying with me. I outline Lisa Bevere’s 3 points from Chapter 2, A Sword is Born.

“We buy our swords when we prepare for war, and that’s why Jesus got his disciples ready. Get the sword ready, ‘cuz we will literally face life and death. I disagree [with Ms. Bevere] that the sword of truth isn’t seen in a duel of death… for some it is [especially in the Middle East, North Korea, and Africa], and Jesus said lose your life and follow me. ‘Take up the cross’.” -quote from Lacy’s Fencing Manual

“Not everyone can be privileged to stand out and do something big enough to make history; I don’t think we’re all called to do something great. Some of us are just meant to be stepping stones, paving the way to someone else’s greatness. But in God’s book, the first shall be last, and the Master washes the feet of his disciples, so it’s ok to just pave the way.” —quote from Kat’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)

Trust in God, He is Good

“Lord, listen to me and answer me. I am poor and helpless. Protect me, because I worship you. My God, save me, your servant who trusts in you.” Psalm 86:1-2, NCV

As Christians, we say “God is good.” But when we struggle in life, we ask ourselves, “How can a God who is good allow this to happen to me?”

We need to remember: God is not a dictator.  He doesn’t force His will on us. He doesn’t make us want what He wants.  Actually, He wants us to rejoice and to joyfully choose His plan over ours. He wants us to trust that His will is better than our own desires. “This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours! For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts than yours.” God says in Isaiah 55:8-9; or Jeremiah 29:11 shows what God’s plan for us is like: For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

More often than not, we feel what David expresses in Psalm 86:4, “Give happiness to me, your servant, because I give my life to you, Lord.” (NCV) We need to realize what David exclaims in the very next verse, “Lord, you are kind and forgiving, and have great love for those who call to you.” God loves us, whether good things happen to us or not.  And God will forgive us, even when we doubt His love for us.

God allows us to make our own choices in life.  He will work with whatever we decide. When things happen, maybe its our own choices that cause it, or another person’s.  Instead of asking “How can a God who is good allow this to happen?” we should ask ourselves “Can God see any good coming out of this?” Rest assured the answer is ‘Yes!’ because if the answer was ‘no’, then God would not have let it happen. He would have stopped it.  Romans 8:28 tells us that “…we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (MSG)  So live according to Psalm 86:7 and take courage in God’s mercy: I call to you in times of trouble, because you will answer me.” (NCV)

Courage is not received by having great knowledge of the Bible, but by trusting in God to help you. In fact, God hides His truths from the wise and reveals them to babes. Spiritual truths are known only by those who accept the Father and the Son in their life. (Matthew 11:25-27) Jesus explains it in Matthew 11: 28-30. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

Paul tells us more in Galatians 5: 16-24:

“I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires. A person’s selfish desires are set against the Spirit, and the Spirit is set against one’s selfish desires. They are opposed to each other, so you shouldn’t do whatever you want to do.

“But if you are being led by the Spirit, you aren’t under the Law. The actions that are produced by selfish motives are obvious, since they include sexual immorality, moral corruption, doing whatever feels good, idolatry, drug use and casting spells, hate, fighting, obsession, losing your temper, competitive opposition, conflict, selfishness, group rivalry, jealousy, drunkenness, partying and other things like that. I warn you as I have already warned you, that those who do these kinds of things won’t inherit God’s kingdom.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the self with it’s passions and its desires.” Galatians 5:16-24 (CEB)

The bottom line: Trust in God and imitate Jesus. Follow the Spirit. Live the prayer in Psalm 86:11, “Lord, teach me what you want me to do, and I will live by your truth. Teach me to respect you completely.” (NCV)

The Lord Will Find a Way for Me

(American folk hymn)

I know the Lord will find a way for me. If I walk in heaven’s light, shun the wrong and do the right, I know the Lord will find a way for me.

 

The Lord has said to preach the word to all the world. If I walk in heaven’s light, shun the wrong and do the right., I know the Lord will find a way for me.

 

Won’t it be grand to hear him say, “Well done!” If I walk in heaven’s light, shun the wrong and do the right, won’t it be grand to hear him say, “Well done!”

 

“The moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.  If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:23-28 (MSG)