As Anton Ego put it in the movie Ratatouille, "... you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
Thursday, August 1, 2013
iPray eVotionals exhorts those who pray. It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn for the runners who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.
(Approximate reading time: 10 Minutes without clicking on Bill Cosby's comedy bit)
iGet Dressed...for an occasion, for a purpose
It's common to get dressed according to the occasion. As I write this I'm sitting in a hotel room in Hawaii with pajamas that have pictures of sea shells on them. Why did I choose to wear these? Because I'm in Hawaii, famous for it's beaches, how could I not wear pajamas with sea shells all over them?
Sitting on the beach I observed a surf lesson on the sand. The students wore the same bright green swim shirts with matching surf boards while the instructor had one with large letters on his back that read Surf Instructor. They were dressed for a purpose. Not only did the swim shirts protect their bodies from rubbing against the surf board, but for the instructor the uniformed-students were easier to spot in the water. I also watched how the instructor walked them through the different positions they would be making on the surf boards to safely paddle, attempt to surf and flip the board back into position. Every student wore what they needed for a safe surf lesson.
At the hotel swimming pool I noticed that everyone showed up in their swim wear. Some with bikinis and speedos that would give them the most sun exposure and the least amount of suntan line possible. Others prepare for the occasion with long-sleeve swim jackets, shorts and leggings, putting on 50 sun block on the only skin left showing, their hands and feet...avoiding any suntan line as well as any slight possibility of sun damage. No matter which extreme it is, they are dressed for the occasion.
What about at a luau? You will never see so many people wearing bold flower patterns on their shirts and dresses than you will at a Hawaiian Luau. The Hawaiian Hula Dancers dress for the show with bra-like coconuts and grass skirts. The men performers dance with grass around their calves and shark teeth around their necks. The fire-juggling performer on the other hand was not wearing any dry flammable grass, but instead the traditional flowered cloth secured around his waist. It's the only place you will ever catch my husband sporting a lei and my daughter wearing braided coconut leaves on her head. Everyone gets dressed for a purpose, knowing they are attending a luau.
The bays are dressed with coral, the snorkelers in their snorkel gear and me, in my shell covered pajamas. Each of us according to an occasion and according to a purpose. It's easy to slip on the right thing when we know what the occasion is and what our purpose for that occasion might be.
iGet Dressed...to be ready
"Go get ready for bed. Get your pajamas on, brush your teeth and when you're in bed I'll come tuck you in."
It's a simple direction but for some reason the familiarity of it can work against following it. I believe my kids have every intension to follow these directions as they walk up the stairs each night. I can see the "I know how to get ready for bed" look on their face as they take off before I finish telling them what to do.
Sometimes I make them stop and listen carefully. "To get ready for bed, what do you have to put on?" I break it down to make sure they really put on their pajamas and not end up naked on the floor playing with some action figure that just had to save the world. At one point I have used a check list for my son so that he would not get distracted by the Hot Wheels in his car bin, the Help Me Be Good books sitting on his shelf or his sister calling for him to come look at her latest lego creation.
"Are your pajamas on?" I often call over my shoulder as I finish with the dishes. With a scurry of feet above my head I can tell I just got them back on track.
I always thought Bill Cosby's bit about his kids getting ready for bed was hilarious but never "got it" until I had kids of my own. The only disclaimer I'll make is that I don't think my kids are "brain damaged" and we do not have "beatings" in my home... but this 8 minute comedy bit is really funny!
I had 3 women who are serving with me on a leadership team for Moms in Prayer over to be prayed for and anointed as our fiscal year began. God had placed it on my heart to invite one of His faithful servants, Cheryl Crone, to come pray, anoint and charge.
As she began with her charge she read from Ephesians 6:10-18.
I started to go before her in my head, "Oh I know how to get spiritually dressed." I almost ran up the stairs to get started, spiritually speaking, when her words stopped me.
"I get up every morning and visualize putting on these clothes..." It was like Cheryl just asked me what it was I had to put on to be ready for what God needs me to do. I stopped, focused in and absorbed every word.
"We can't afford to not be properly dressed!" She continued. "I have little ones watching me, that count on me. Every single day I literally recite 'The Whole Armour' each morning either prior to my feet touching the floor, or throughout the day."
Her words reminded me that stepping into this year without being properly dressed leaves me exposed, naked on the floor playing with my prayer ministry toys. Getting dressed is about getting ready for something. Everyday we wake up we are given an occasion and a purpose by God himself. Do we know how to get dressed for it?
On that day Cheryl read every word right out of God's book.
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.
Stand 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. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
The directions, there they were. Did I hear every part of it? Will I get distracted by the things in my bin, on my shelf and the people calling out for me to walk out of my room and into theirs? I noticed that I was to "put on the full armor" before I was ready to "pray in the Spirit on all occasions." I also realized that I need others to call over their shoulder to make sure I'm putting on my spiritual clothes. What am I getting dressed for? To be ready as "an ambassador" for Christ.
iGet Dressed...to escape
As my family explored the Island of O'ahu we stopped for some shaved ice and met a man who grew up in Hawaii, lives in Arizona now and was back with his grown sons and their families for a visit. He talked about his military years where he and his family had lived and visited places all over the world.
At one point the family escorted a Hawaiian performing group right into the communist territory of East Berlin in the 1980's. The directions the group were given were so strict that it seemed like if anything was not followed their life would be in danger. At check points men came on the train dressed in large thick black trench coats with guns pointed at everyone.
When they went into East Berlin they received an exclusive tour and were told not to speak to any civilians for any reason. As they looked around it seemed as though they had time warped into the 1950's as the roads where dressed with old cars and structures. Nothing current. It seemed like a black and white movie as all the buildings were grey and every person wore grey. They heard someone say, "Americans have colorful clothes."
At some point a civilian walked up and addressed their father who was dressed as an ambassador for America; dressed in his military uniform.
"Can I talk to you about something...where are you from?"
Trying not to be rude their father simply answered, "Hawaii."
"Oh I like Hawaii, it's nice, I'd like to go some day." The civilian quickly got to his point, "Could you get me to the other side of the wall?"
Without a way to help he turned to his family and said, "Come on kids we have to move on." It broke their heart to see these grey-clothed civilians doing everything they could to escape their grey-colored world.
We all know what it feels like to have to put on something we would rather not wear, like a school or work uniform. Few of us though, really know about the bondage of living under this type of oppression. At the same time, all of us tend to get dressed like we are trapped, like we have no choice but to put on the exact things we want to escape from. Thank God no matter what uncomfortable and unattractive uniform we may wear, inwardly we are free to put on new spiritual clothes that protects us and makes us ready to fight against every type of spiritual oppression! We do not need to live in the time warped clothes of our old selves and our old ways. We have freedom through Christ! God wants to do a new thing in and through us! Why is it then, that so many of us never get dressed for it?
iGet Dressed...for real
It's easy to listen to a charge that seems simple. How much easier is it for me to get distracted; falling for the trap of putting on the same grey clothes that I want so badly to replace? Reading through Ephesians 6:10-18 is not enough. Continually, it needs to be broken down.
The belt of truth around our waist
If our physical outfit is not complete without a belt that holds up our pants then our spiritual outfit is not complete without truth that holds up ministry. God cannot trust a liar with His truth. His truth is not subjective, like what sort of syrup is best in a shaved ice treat. His truth does not change to fit lifestyle or society. His truth is constant (Hebrews 6:17-19) and His word is reliable (Matthew 24:35), helping us distinguish truth from error. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He tells us in John 4:24 that "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth."
The breastplate of righteousness in place
When our undergarments along with the proper over garments are in place we do not have to worry about indecent exposure as we move around, lift our arms to get something off a shelf and bend over to pick up something that fell. The breastplate protects what we allow into our hearts. When righteousness is in place we don't have to worry about exposing any indecency as we move around, lifting our arms to give God the credit and bending over to lift someone up. Psalm 5:12 says, "For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield."
Feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
If we put on our shoes without socks then our feet are smelly after a long day. If we put on readiness without the gospel of peace then we may be leaving an order behind each of our conversations. Hebrews 12:14 tells us to "Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." Matthew 5:9 makes it clear as well, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." It's not just any peace, it's being ready to "practice these things" with God's peace. Philippians 4:9 says "What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
The shield of faith, extinguish flaming arrows of the evil one
If we hold an umbrella we are shielded from either raindrops or sun rays. As we wear sunglasses and suntan lotion we are protected from the sun...something I should have done more of during this Hawaiian vacation (Ouch!). If we hold the shield of faith, then the evil one's flaming arrows are extinguished. Notice that the arrows don't stop coming, but they are extinguished. 2nd Corinthians 11:14 tells us that "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light" so I can understand why we forget to put on our faith. This item should never be left at home though! John 8:44 makes Satan's character very clear, "He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Our attitude of faith shields our lives, pleases God and brings Him glory.
The helmet of salvation
For 28 years people risked their lives to get over the Berlin Wall before communism saw it's end in East Berlin in 1989. They searched for any way possible to be saved! Today many people around the world still seek to live in a country where there is freedom and opportunity, being a citizen saves from deportation. Wearing the helmet of salvation is our citizenship! We need to put it on to keep thoughts, motives and our very soul safe from acting like an orphan who lets sin reign in our mortal bodies. We are one of God's children! Romans 6 reminds us that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ! Romans 10:9-10 tells us how to keep that helmet on tight, "If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved. For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved."
The sword of the spirit, the word of God
Have you ever noticed that when someone wants to drive their point home they might quote an expert in the field they are talking about? Knowledge does not come out of thin air. My husband has made many trips to the activity desk while we have been in Hawaii. When I said I would like to parasail we picked up the right flyer, called the right number and made the right reservation. When we say that we would like God's spirit to be our guide so we can be effective for God's kingdom we need to pick up the right book; the Word of God and follow it in the right way. We study it so that we can know His will for our lives. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
A warrior does not get dressed to look pretty and get compliments. The armor is in place for our victory. At the same time, when we get dressed this way people will say, "Christians wear colorful clothes!" Why? Dressed this way we become a reflection of God's beauty.
iPray that you will get properly dressed every day for the occasion and for your purpose.
iPray that the familiarity of putting on your spiritual clothes does not cause you to run off without really listening to what you need to do.
iPray that you will turn from your grey clothes and put on your spiritual clothes.
iPray that you will get dressed, not to look pretty but to be ready.
iPray that in getting dressed you will reflect God's beauty in every ministry, in every way.