Gear Up: GOD’s WORD

Carol DunfeeFaith, Prayer & Fasting0 Comments

Misconceptions are funny things. You don’t know you have them until they are corrected. I really thought that the armor of God was put on by saying a few words in prayer each day. Now I understand that this armor is a lifestyle of becoming more aligned with Christ’s character. It is a result of constant prayer, repentance, humility, and most importantly, of seeking the face of Jesus. The final part of our armor is unique it is the only part that is offensive. All other parts are for protection and defense, while this one is meant to attack, take ground, and cut down the forces of evil. I have always wondered why God didn’t arm us with catapults, tanks, and missiles! After all, Satan and his cohorts are relentless in their attack. Wouldn’t a few spiritual atomic bombs be more effective? What I have learned about this simple sword has convinced me otherwise… As a student, I attended schools where English grammar was a big deal. From first grade on, I remember diagramming sentences. Even in high school and college English, we had to reassemble our sentences on those lines that look like scaffolding and rocket ships. I didn’t … Read More

Gear Up: SALVATION

Carol DunfeeFaith, Prayer & Fasting0 Comments

When you grow up in church, you can develop an odd vocabulary compared to the rest of the world. A pew, a vestibule, and a sanctuary mean completely different things to a church goer. We might think of a sanctuary as an auditorium dedicated to worship, while a non-church-goer might picture a wild bird refuge instead. And what on earth is a vestibule anyways? Can’t we just call it a lobby? Kidding aside, “salvation” is one of those words that gets an odd meaning in church circles. We think of salvation as a person receiving God’s forgiveness from their sins. This is truly one of its meanings, but not its original meaning. To understand the next part of our armor, we need to understand the meaning of this word. The Greek word for salvation, soterios, is based on the root word, soteria, which means: defender, defense; saving, bringing salvation; hope of future salvation. To gain a broader perspective of “the helmet of salvation”, let’s look at another passage talking about helmets and salvation. So what is this salvation? What are we saved from? According to this passage, we are saved from the wrath of God upon unrepentant sinners. Jesus is our defender … Read More

Gear Up: RIGHTEOUSNESS

Carol DunfeeFaith, Prayer & Fasting0 Comments

When I hear the word righteousness, I picture a severe, mirthless character standing on a mountain-top looking down upon a valley of wretched sinners. Or a silver-haired, sour-faced reverend dishing out long lists of rules. Or a stuffy church lady in her fancy Sunday hat criticizing unruly teenagers. You, too? Boy, are we wrong. These caricatures are waaaaaay off the mark. In fact, each one represents pride rather than righteousness. So what IS righteousness? And why does it matter? Last week’s blog suggested that we might be putting our spiritual armor like a toddler puts on his clothes…inside out and backwards! We examine how truth is a protecter, how it is absolute, and how God’s Word IS our source of truth. We were challenged to say more than a trite prayer to really wear the first part in our armor, which is the belt of truth. The next part of our gear is the body armour, or breastplate, of righteousness. If righteousness is not the proud picture of piety described in the first paragraph, then what is it? The American Heritage Dictionary defines righteousness as “meeting the standards of what is right and just”.* Righteousness is the breastplate that protects our … Read More

Gear Up: TRUTH

Carol DunfeeBible Study, Faith, Prayer & Fasting0 Comments

Have you ever watched a toddler dress himself? Socks go on backwards. Underwear ends up on his head. Pants are inside out. It’s really quite entertaining, until you have to leave the house! His clothing would function much better if he could only put it on properly. What if we are putting on our spiritual armor inside out and backwards? Have you ever wondered if we are wearing our gospel-shoes on the wrong feet? What if we have the wrong grip on our swords? I can imagine that God often chuckles at my own fumbling attempts to wear my spiritual armor. He must shake his head as I try to wrap my brain around these strange concepts. Many Bible teachers focus on the items themselves: the sword, the shield, the helmet, etc. This summer I became curious about what I would learn if I studied the armor from a different perspective. What if I focused on what each of those pieces represents rather than the word picture? What if I ask how truth affects spiritual warfare rather than focusing on the belt? Maybe it would only be a minor difference, but I felt like I needed to find out. According … Read More

Stand Firm: Guard Your Heart

Jen CudmoreFaith0 Comments

“You change your life by changing your heart.” – Max Lucado Over the past several Tuesdays, we’ve been studying what it means to stand firm in our faith. We reviewed the armor of God, reinforced the power of prayer, encouraged total surrender to God, and discussed maintaining proper focus. The Bible warns us to guard our hearts because the springs of life start there (Prov 4:23). The Bible also warns that our hearts are deceitful and wicked – only God can truly understand them (Jer 17:9-10) To guard our hearts is to set boundaries for ourselves. When we’re out of balance, we’re more easily led astray. Our faith slackens to a lukewarm temperature. We sink into apathy and complacency, or worse, total turning away from our faith. Setting limits is imperative if we’re going to stand firm. We need to set: Boundaries on our flesh. We’re born with a sinful nature, which means we tend to think about ourselves and what feels good in the moment. These impulses toward instant gratification can be anything from eating too much food (or the wrong kinds of foods) to spending above our financial means to staying up too late at night (or sleeping … Read More

Stand Firm: Maintain Proper Focus

Jen CudmoreFaith1 Comment

“In our world, where hundreds of things distract us from God, we have to intentionally and consistently remind ourselves of Him.” Francis Chan, Crazy Love In our series on Standing Firm, we’ve covered the armor of God, the power of prayer, and surrendering to the Lord. Another way to stand firm is to stay positive and keep focused on God’s truth. Too often we’re sidetracked by how we feel, both physically and mentally. If we live life based on how we feel, then we won’t succeed at much of anything. And our selfish hearts keep our focus on our own needs and wants. The Bible says to capture our thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.  I’ve heard it said this way: we must think about what we’re thinking about. The battle truly is in the mind. We need to learn to sort though our thoughts, clear out the junk, and grab onto what we know to be good, true and healthy. (Phil 4:8) Most of the time we’ll discover that our minds are focused on ourselves. To stand firm, we must intentionally direct our thoughts to other things. Count your blessings (focus on goodness). Unfortunately this task has become … Read More

Stand Firm: Total Surrender

Jen CudmoreFaith1 Comment

“If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It’s a silly saying, and yet very true. When a woman doesn’t get her way, she often makes herself and those around her miserable. Yet the trouble is, we forget that life isn’t about having everything fall perfectly into place. Life is messy. Complicated. Hard. So far in our series on standing firm against the enemy and the pressures of this world, we’ve talked about the armor of God and power in prayer. Today, the challenge is all about complete submission to our Lord and Savior. Our emotions, insecurities, and selfish hearts get us into trouble when we let them take over. Which is why, in order to stand firm in our faith and remain steady in a crazy world, we need to surrender each day, each moment, to God and let Him take care of everything. We need to be okay, when life is not okay. We can’t let ourselves get uptight, stressed out, and tossed about when there is chaos all around us. 3 Ways to Surrender: 1. Accept God’s sovereignty. He created the universe – He gets to decide how He runs it. He sits on a Heavenly throne, and … Read More

Stand Firm: Pray Without Ceasing

Jen CudmoreFaith, Prayer & Fasting1 Comment

“Christ actually meant prayer to be the great power by which His church should do its work…” Andrew Murray We’ve begun a series on How to Stand Firm. First, we discussed briefly why we can’t allow ourselves to be moved when the enemy attacks. Last week we reviewed the armor of God and why that is so significant in our lives. Today, we’ll discuss a tool that is seriously (and sadly) under-utilized in our world today: prayer. Previously I shared 4 ways to resist the enemy based on the scripture from James 4:7 stating if we resist, he will flee. Another way to resist is to never stop praying (1 Thes 5:16). Satan hates when believers pray. He knows that when we humble ourselves before God, the Holy Spirit and God’s glory are released on earth. The Bible tells us to ask and it will be given to us (Matthew 7), that if we remain in Him then whatever we wish will be done (John 15:7). Prayer is essential if we want to see God move. Simply put, talking with God changes things. The early church in Acts grew immensely because of the believers’ devotion to prayer. Major revivals throughout … Read More

Stand Firm: The Armor of God

Jen CudmoreFaith0 Comments

“To be a Christian is to be a warrior.” CH Spurgeon Last week we introduced a new series on How to Stand Firm. We discussed that by following Christ and committing to serve Him, we make ourselves a target. Our adversary is cunning and we need to be prepared for trouble. For years I heard people mention that we must ‘put on’ the armor of God each morning. For the longest time, I thought it was merely a prayer people said each day. But it’s much more than that. The Armor of God is a series of daily choices regarding truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Bible. In Ephesians 6,  Paul explains each item in terms the people of his day could understand based on the typical armor of a roman soldier prepping for battle. This explanation emphasized how vital each concept is to the life of a believer. Belt/Girdle of Truth: The enemy is a deceiver, so to defeat him we must know the truth, which is God’s standard. We get this truth from scripture, and it has the power to set us free. The more truth we obtain through Bible study and teachings from church, the better … Read More

How to Stand Firm

Jen CudmoreFaith5 Comments

They warned me. They said the more I help at church and the more I get involved in ministry, the more complicated life would get. I wasn’t about to let that scare me away. They said to be ready. They said the journey would be difficult. They said the enemy would rise against us. And they were right. God gives us dreams and passions so we can pursue His purposes. The end goal is to make disciples and bring Him glory. Yet by heeding the call, we make ourselves a target, and while some people prefer to believe Satan isn’t real, the Bible is clear that he is active on this earth. Jesus warned that there would be trouble in this world (John 16:33), yet we know that God is greater than Satan (1 John 4:4), and He give us the power to defeat the enemy (Luke 10:19). We can’t ignore our calling just because we may have hardships or setbacks. We can’t live in fear of the enemy and what he might do. We must be strong and courageous, like the Bible tells us. And we must be obedient. So how does a person prepare for these attacks? When … Read More

Curious About Biblical Fasting?

Jen CudmorePrayer & Fasting4 Comments

Last week I asked what you would be willing to sacrifice because you love Jesus. All too often, we prefer to fulfill our fleshly desires more than we desire God himself. I issued a challenge to consider if there was something God might want you to give up. These behaviors could be anything from addictions (sugar, alcohol, pornography, etc.) to something as simple as habitual complaining, procrastination, or impulse shopping. Maybe it’s not even a habit. Maybe sometimes we skip a church service, let loose a cuss word or watch a provocative program on TV. We justify these momentary pleasures and tell ourselves it’s ‘not that bad’.  The problem comes when all these little things we label ‘not that bad’ add up and pull us away from our first love. God has shown me over the past few years that what feels good in the moment, such as lashing out when angry or overeating when stressed, actually hinders my future and my faith. While we will always struggle with our sinful nature, we don’t have to allow it to control us. What we stop feeding will eventually starve and die. One way to weaken the grip of our flesh is … Read More

A Battle and A Blessing

Jewel ZymurgyFaith0 Comments

One aspect of the beauty of the people that God has blessed me with in my life is that they are so incredibly loving and so very willing to press into the thorny issues in my life that help me to grow. The amazing thing is that as they pursue me into those tough places-they journey with me through them-what an exceptional gift. This last week I was talking to one of those beautifully challenging, oh-so-unbelievably loving friends and she touched on one of those areas that was tainted by the wounding in my past. She noticed my verbal flinch at the topic and because God made her observant and has healed her so much in her journey that she is willing to walk in the uncomfortable-she pressed into that tender topic. So, I whispered “God help me” and opened my mouth to share a pain-filled memory that was in that “do not disturb” area in my mind and memories. As I spoke I remembered and felt all the emotions that was tied to that situation and realized as I finished sharing the incident-I recognized in my own mind, the beauty of the woman who sat so near to me-I … Read More

How Do We Fight Our Adversary?

Jen CudmoreFaith, Trials0 Comments

Have you ever wanted to be a hero? Most little girls dream of being a princess who lives happily ever after. We dream of our white knight rescuing us from the evil dragon and whisking us away to utopia. But sometimes, we dream of being the hero. Beating the odds. Saving the day. And ladies, God is giving us that opportunity. We can be a hero for His Kingdom! We can break chains and free captives. We can go and make disciples. We can pursue unity and forgiveness in our relationships. We can love, unconditionally and with abandon. Yet, we have enemies. As mentioned in a previous post about fearing opposition, we have to be wary of the world, our flesh, and the devil. Which means we are opposed, and we must stand strong if we want to be a hero. To be a hero, it’s essential that we fight to keep satan from infiltrating our space, the territory God has given to us as wives, moms, teachers, employees – all of it. He will try to meddle anywhere he can. He initiates division in relationships. He appeals to our flesh. He targets weaknesses and tempts us. He convinces us … Read More

Be Alert!

Heather GillisFaith, Prayer & Fasting0 Comments

I will never forget the day I went hiking on a popular Alaskan trail this summer with a friend and all of our kids. It was a beautiful day. We came prepared wearing our hiking gear, brought our bear spray, filled our camelbacks with water and brought snacks for the kids. We were the first hikers of the day to set off on the trail. As we approached the pseudo summit, we had stopped to take a water and snack break. As we were looking around at the beautiful mountain, I had spotted something across the field about 500 ft. from us. I could see something pacing back and forth. At first I thought it was a dog, but then soon realized it was a wolf! Right next to the pacing wolf was another wolf!We immediately put our dogs back on their leashes and instructed the kids to get together in a huddle around us, stay together to go back down the mountain. As we were walking off the mountain we were praying for God to please keep us safe and protect us from the attack of the wolf pack! I am happy to report we made it safely off the … Read More

When the Dragon Fights Back

Carol DunfeeFaith, Trials0 Comments

This particular sin-dragon is stubborn. It doesn’t want to die. Maybe part of me is holding on to it, feeding it in the shadows of my heart. Maybe it’s bigger and stronger than the others. Just when I think this dragon is nearly dead, it opens its yellow eyes and gives yet another fiery blast. In shame, I look upon the damage I have caused. I am embarrassed that it happened…again. Why won’t the victory come quickly? Why does it have to be so drawn out? Some sin-dragons die quickly when we lay them down in repentance at Jesus’ feet. Sometimes we get complete and instantaneous victory. Other times it’s a long series of battles…over and over and over. The bad news: The battle is exhausting. It can take every ounce of our strength. The good news: The battle has already been won. Jesus has already conquered sin and death. We just might have to wait awhile to see it with our own eyes. The Apostle Paul had these same struggles… “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in … Read More