I’ve been trying to figure out how to begin this teaching and I think the Lord gave me a great idea! But in light of all that has transpired for our family in the last week…my father in law James Lee Crismon (94) went to be with the Lord on November 29th at 7:27am and then my grandmother, Clara Marie Hentschke Shutz (96) had her Home-going on November 30th at 12:07pm…
There have been lots of tears, but oh so much joy in KNOWING where they are. They are with the Lord and their loved ones who’ve gone before them.
As for this blog…here we go…
Let’s first think about what a playground is a what a battlefield is.
That sounds quite elementary (pun intended)…but follow me.
On a playground here’s a few things we have:
- Safe equipment
- A playground supervisor
- Soft flooring in case of falls
- Friends to play with
- Games to invent
- Encouraged to use our imagination
On a battlefield, it’s quite different:
- Unsafe environment
- A Superior to take orders from
- Dirt, rocks, buildings laid waste, etc.
- Fellow soldiers to fight with and against
- Rules of engagement to follow
- The grit of reality
Both my father (Robert) and my father in law (Jim) served in the US Navy. But even then, their “Battlefields” were different due to their ages and time of history they served. But both proudly served as they were needed.
My father in law was a 30+ year veteran who served in World War II, Korea, and VietNam. He was a young 19-year-old medic corp-man on the beaches at Normandy. He remembered with clarity the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. Once in Korea he thought he and his entire crew were going to be shot to death as they rounded a corner on a frozen winter day during the war; only to realize that the men who had been poised to fire upon them had literally frozen to death because of inadequate attire.
Although we have heard his stories a million times, what we wouldn’t do to hear again how he was stuck on the island of Fiji for 4 months while the Navy and Marine corp tried to figure out where all the orders and personal information had ended up for his troop. He said the best part of being there was learning to open and eat a mango. Because there weren’t any mangoes where he grew up in the early 1900’s in Pocahontas, Arkansas.
But here’s the other thing about his time in Fiji….Just because he wasn’t in the midst of fighting, didn’t mean he’d stopped training. He knew the time was coming to go back to the battlefield. He listened to his superior officer and followed instructions to the best of his ability so that he would survive the battle. As a medic, he came to the aid of his fellow soldiers and offered them as much help as he could under dire circumstances.
He knew that when he was called to serve his country, he was in it until the battle was over…no questions asked. Although he survived three wars, parts of those battles always stayed with him in the nightmares he had on a regular basis for the rest of his life.
But his final battle is over and he came out victorious! Hallelujah!!
My father on the other hand, served during the Cold War in the Navy on a nuclear submarine. And if you don’t know what the Cold War is…I’m so sorry your history teachers didn’t tell you…it’s very important too! For many decades though, although he had proudly answered the call to serve in the midst of being employed as a Los Angeles City Fireman, he and others like him were scoffed at by older Navy veterans. They were told that they didn’t know what it meant to be in battle because they “had it easy.” My father never really talked about his time in the Navy because he felt like it didn’t matter after all. When his naval service was complete, he went back to the fire department, met my mom and built a family…no nightmares from a war; but plenty from his days as a fireman.
Until the day he found a group of Navy Cold War vets, online, and they were going to start having a yearly reunion for those who served on the U.S. Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Marshall. At the first reunion, there were actually men there who were now U.S. Citizens, but at the time, they had served in the Russian Navy.
There’s a special pin that the guys on the nuclear subs wore, and it was a design of two dolphins, to signify “Submarine warfare.” One of the former Russian naval captains came over to my dad, who was wearing his pin, and said, “Aha…It’s because of you. You must be one who served on the US Nuclear Subs. It’s because of you that Russia never attacked the US. We could never find you because you were so good at staying out of our radar. You and your friends are the reason we didn’t attack the United States.”
My dad is a humble man, but when he came home and told that story, I saw a man who was proud again to have served his country and helped to keep it safe.
Now to regain my composure here.yes…I totally sit and cry when I write!
Let’s bring in the spiritual aspect of our title today…getting off the playground and into the battlefield.
Plain and simple, and I’m guilty of it all the time, we are too comfortable as Christians to make a stand in the spiritual battlefield of this world we live in. It truly is no different from the days of the disciples of Jesus and apostles that followed.
When you stand up to the enemy, you are committing to what you believe in so much that you are prepared to give your life up.
Games on the playground of capture the flag or even dodgeball, well, you don’t have to give your life…maybe your social life, but nothing dire. Kids will do just about anything to not be picked last. On a playground you want to have fun and enjoy yourself. You want to be with the cool people and you want other people to know that you’re hanging with the “cool kids”.
So let me ask you, how do you see Christians today as if they are hanging out on the playground?
- Modern buildings
- Cool music
- Hipster-dressed pastors
- Special lighting and effects at every service
Don’t get me wrong…NONE of those things are bad or inappropriate. But if those are the things that we are drawn to and never have the opportunity to grow beyond the esthetics of a Sunday morning, that is the danger.
What about the “playground” aspect of Christianity IS definitely a deterrent to the life Christ has asked us to lead?
- Not standing up for the truth of the Bible
- Wanting everyone to feel accepted without responsibility. “Because after all, God is love, right?”
- The attitude of “my sin isn’t as bad as theirs”
There are quite a few more examples of course, because we see it all over every avenue of social media, etc.
So how do we get back on the battlefield?
I’m sure the first thing we think about is the passage in Ephesians where we read the teaching of “putting on the full armor of God.”
Ephesians 6:10-13 AMP, 10 In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. 11 Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. 13Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious].”
And what is the spiritual armor of God?
Below are the verses from Ephesians 6:14- 17 from the Amplified version of the Bible. I love the descriptive language, as it helps me to visualize a bit of what the Holy Spirit wants us to see in scripture. I mean, if we are created in the image of God, and God had the infinite and incredible capacity to imagine a whole world, let’s use the gift of imagination to bring the Bible to life in front of our eyes!
Ephesians 6: 14-17 says, “So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), 15 and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the 14 enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. 16 Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
We are each to be equipped like this…
Just like a soldier in a war, we are not to run out unprepared and expect to borrow someone else’s armor. That would be unheard of in battle. If you go into battle and you are not prepared appropriately, not only will you bring harm to yourself, but to those around you who have to work harder to try and protect themselves and protect you…you are putting these fellow soldiers at undue risk. Everyone has their part in battle. And everyone is expected to show up and fully participate.
Yes, we all have our individually gifting’s. But we are all expected by the Lord to be fully equipped for battle. And for that, we have to train. Just like the examples I shared about my dad and father in law…. they both went through the same boot camp, but then according to their gifting’s continued their training in order to be a reliable and fully functioning part of the squad. Talk about “squad goals”.
Going further in the end of Ephesians 6, we see a glimpse of what we can do in order to be prepared and equipped to be in the battle. Verses 18-20 are as follows, 18 “With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people. 19 And pray for me, that words may be given to me when I open my mouth, to proclaim boldly the mystery of the good news [of salvation], 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. And pray that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly and courageously, as I should.”
One of the most important directives we received from our commander in chief Jesus is this…
We are to pray.
We are to pray to the Lord for direction and alertness in all situations.
But we are also to pray for our fellow Christians. Prayer opens wide the spiritual conduit between the earth and the throne of God. How wonderful that God created prayer in order to be able to communicate with us.
The last few verses of Ephesians chapter 6 read as this, 21 Now, so that you may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will tell you everything. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are, and that he may comfort and encourage and strengthen your hearts.23 Peace be to the brothers and sisters, and love joined with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying and incorruptible love.”
We are not alone in this spiritual battle. Just like soldiers in war. They do not send one man to fight a battle and expect him to win.
They send a multitude of troops…as they say, there are strength in numbers.
The only man to have ever entered battle on His own was Jesus when He died on the cross. He was still part of the Trinity, but in the moment of His death, He was alone. He prayed every step of the way. And in His resurrection, He had strength in numbers to defeat the enemy once and for all.
Psalm 140:7 Amplified Bible (AMP) “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.”
Psalm 18:39 Amplified Bible (AMP) “For You have encircled me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.”
Real quick, back to the examples of the wars my dad and father in law fought in….
Sometimes, we are on the front lines. We see the horror of battle. We have the scars to prove it. People know what battles we have fought.
Sometimes, we are fighting quietly. We are entering the depths of spiritual battle to intercede on the behalf of those we want to keep safe from the enemy. We may not be known, but nonetheless are so very important.
Whatever battle it is that God is asking you to fight ~ you have all the equipment that you need.
Find your “captain” that you can be trained by.
Find your troop that you can fight with.
Find your strength in the numbers of spiritual warriors that have gone before you…and step onto the battlefield and fight!!