This post is taken directly from my notes at church on Sunday. The message was very profound and encouraging. I hope you’ll find it the same. (My brother’s the pastor, I don’t think he’ll mind that I borrowed his words.)
As he began his message, the pastor brought a honeydew melon, a bunch of 16 penny nails, a Sharpie pen and a razor-sharp box cutter up to the front.
Placing them all carefully on a stool to his right, he announced they would be the visual aids for his sermon.
The passage this week is from the 6th chapter of the book of Ephesians, one of the Apostle Paul’s letters, speaking to the church about spiritual warfare and putting on the ‘armor of God.’
This morning we would hear, as the message progressed, that our battles are NOT against demons and monsters and more obvious, horrible enemies.
That Paul was not using a war metaphor to get us to focus on aggression and violence and REALLY trying hard.
No, he said, the battles we fight are always in our mind first.
Battles with the Enemy of our soul who is, as Scripture says, ‘the Father of lies’. (John 8:44).
Our armor–shield, breastplate, helmet, sword and so on (vv. 13-17) is a symbolic one–encouraging us to be covered over, protected by, surrounded with, standing strong in The Word of God.
The way to fight lies is with the truth. But how?
The pastor challenged us to memorize God’s word. To search the Scripture for answers to whatever we’re facing and to meditate on that word for however long it takes to have the victory we need.
What kinds of lies do we hear? (a fiery ‘dart’ to the brain, a nail goes into the melon)
Lies of fear, that we’ll fail, that God can’t be trusted.
Another nail goes into the melon.
We worry about the future, we fuss about our children, we struggle with our dreams….
And another, and another… “I’m not smart, I’ll always be poor, I will never be happy.”
But there’s something amazing about beginning to tell yourself the truth, instead of lies, he continued. It’s not a matter of making stuff up, but the right kind of self talk.
Telling yourself the truth.
Brain research shows that as the synapses between neurons in our brains make connections, thousands each minute, that they ‘light up’, like little lights.
He picked up the Sharpie, marking dots on the melon, connecting them as he spoke.
“Look at these lines. Researchers have found that repeated thoughts actually carve little pathways, ruts if you will, into your brain. And when those thoughts continue, the ruts become deeper.
What happens if you’re living with lies of inferiority, fear, insecurity?
The ruts get deeper.”
“But what if you begin to speak the truth to yourself because you’re dwelling in God’s word?”
Out comes the box cutter. ( I cringe.)
He begins to etch a pathway between the points on the melon (and we all pray he finds his mark without slicing a finger). As the cuts become deeper, a curved edge shape comes clear and a slice of honeydew falls out.
“The pathways--those truth words–can become carved canyons. Every time those darts come, they’ll just fall right into a canyon of God’s truth.”
Instead of focusing on the weight of the armor, the heft of the weapons, look at what they represent:
- a belt of TRUTH
- a breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS
- it’s feet shod with GOOD NEWS
- it’s a shield of FAITH
- a helmet of SALVATION
- a sword which is GOD’S WORD
As he finished speaking and we began to pray, I trembled a bit with excitement at the confirmation in my own heart–we cannot live without daily dwelling in the Word of God.
All it takes to start is one verse–one word from God for me–for now–for a week or two or however long until it becomes my truth.
My truth? “Jesus loves me, this I know.”
I’m going to start there. I may be meditating on that for a loooonnnng time.
How about you?