Men putting on the Armor of God

This weekend I will be speaking at St. Mark's United Methodist Church for their Men's Day Celebration. I am excited about this because this is the church that I grew up in. My family has been worshiping here for generations. Even though I am not a member there I feel honored to stand there where some of my ancestors have stood. No matter what, I want God to get all the glory. Here are some snippets from what God is preparing for me. Check back for updates.

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Men’s Weekend 2007
Theme: Men putting on the Armor of God
Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-11


“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.”

Power Tip: How you do anything is how you do everything!

Last weekend was my 5 year anniversary and you know where I spent some of it? The mall. So there we were in a department store looking at dresses and suit sets, blouses and pants. As men I’m sure you can relate to my state of mind at that moment. Well Deidre had found some clothes that she wanted to try so I found myself in the husband holding area… Out site the changing room entrance. As I stood there in walks a man that I affectionately call the “Producer”. The producer was an older man who is even more excited about shopping with his wife than I am. He shows me some clothes that he has picked out for his wife and then asks, “You probably hate this as much as me.” I responded by saying, “It is not my favorite thing but I am enjoying her enjoyment.

“How long have you been married?” he asked. I told him with a smile, “5 years today.” After he told me congratulations I asked him the same question. He responded with, “Try 45 years.” He wasn’t smiling. I said, I should be telling you congratulations. Around that time his wife had come out of the changing room and he showed her what he had picked out. She looked at the size of it and said, “It is too big.” His response shocked me. He told her in no uncertain terms that it was the right size…

Now men, let me ask, how many of you, when your wife, girlfriend, mom, or grandma, tells you an outfit is too big, would argue with her? I know I wouldn’t. He then proceeded to call one of the store clerks over to tell his wife that this was her size. The clerk was embarrassed, his wife was embarrassed, and I was embarrassed. He stormed off and put the outfit back. His wife went to try on another outfit and he began chatting with another lady that had come out of the changing area. His tone was completely different. She was asking about his hat which had producer on it. He smiled and talked with her until his wife came out and then they went off to pay for some stuff. Deidre came out and we walked out into the mall together. As we talked I told her about the Producer and how I knew that God had walked right up to me with a wake up call that afternoon. I’ll come back to this later let’s take a look at our scripture.
Finally…. –Eph 6:10
We see at the beginning of this scripture the word "Finally". In the amplified bible it says, "In conclusion". Whenever you see the words "in conclusion" or "finally" in the Bible that means that there was something of importance before it. So let's take a look back at the preceding chapters.

In chapter 4 of Ephesians we see Paul addressing the issue of unity. Paul writes in verse 13:
to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Paul is praying that we would be mature and in order to attain that maturity we have to reach unity between our faith and knowledge of Jesus.

Let me give you a phrase that my wife has told me is my motto. “How you do anything is how you do everything.” I think as people, especially us men, we compartmentalize. This means that we break up our lives around the different roles we play. Then we behave differently depending on which role we happen to be in. Have you ever seen someone who was one way at work and another at church, or home, or at the gym? This happens because they see themselves as someone different depending on where they are. This phrase is my reminder that what I do in the dark I will also do in the light. It is a gentle elbow to remind me that my life is not a series of boxes where I can store things neatly. The same unity that Paul is speaking about in the total body of Believers I believe that God wants us to have in our individual lives.

Now this ability is not all bad. Being able to break things up into pieces is one of the assets that God gave us men. It enables us to focus; to really put ourselves into the task or role that we have chosen. The danger comes when we create the box labeled God. God cannot be put in a box. He will not allow Himself to be put on the shelf next to our other accomplishments. He is a jealous God and will make Himself known! In the book of 1Samuel chapter 5 we see this illustrated perfectly.
After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon's temple and set it beside Dagon.
The Philistines had won a victory over the rebellious Israelites and the ark was captured. The Philistines felt that since their god, Dagon, had given them victory over the children of Israel the ark should be put at the feet of Dagon. But a surprising thing was found the next morning in the house of Dagon.
When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place.
Men… When God gives you a gentle nudge you really should listen. He will not be mocked or put side by side with the other images that you lift up in our lives.
But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained.
This is exactly what God will do in your life when you don’t put Him first. Now before we get too far away from our scripture let’s go back to Ephesians. The remainder of Chapter 4 details how to live as Children of Light. Once you have allowed God’s Essence to permeate all the boxes in your life. You’ll begin to notice that there really is no division in your life. How you do anything really is how you do everything. God’s love is displayed in how we treat our spouses, how we treat our children, how we treat our co-workers, even how we deal with strangers and enemies. God is desperately seeking a relationship with all of His children. So you should do the same. Have meaningful relationships with everyone. Don’t just plug yourself to fall into your own world. Plug into someone else’s.

Now that we see the need for integrated lives Paul jumps right in to illustrate what that looks like. He starts with what our lives should not include.

We’ve got to really examine our lives and ask God to shine His light into the areas that we have tried to hide. Our growth will be stay small until we acknowledge, repent for, and allow God to remove the divisions we have placed in our lives. The easiest way to do this is to follow what Paul writes in verse 1 and 2:
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God
When we start to see our lives as an offering to God we can begin to hear His voice. This leads us back to why I was so convicted after my encounter with the Producer. This leads me back to Deidre and me at the mall. At first I thought I was doing a good thing. Then as I cam face to face with what I was really going on. There I was counting the moments, hoping to get this over with so we could get on to some stuff I wanted to do. It was an eye opening experience. This lead me to look inward. I thought to myself, “Am I really loving my wife right now? Is this how Jesus would feel about spending time with Deidre? Is this how I would want God to feel about spending time with me?” Now I was open to what Paul wrote in chapter 5 verse 21:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
You see I had already read, as many husbands have, Chapter 5 verses 22-24:
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
It was totally within my “rights” to tell my wife that I did not want to be in the mall on a Saturday, let alone my anniversary. I could have “put my foot down but I remembered the next verse:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy… and blameless.
When I think on how the love of Jesus fell into my dark life and lifted me up it changes how I do everything in relation to her. He did not get frustrated with me when I was wandering in search of truth. I was never abandoned while I turned my back on Him as a teenager. He was always there seeking a greater relationship with me. That’s why I’ve always asked my wife to, tell me what you want. I know that if I love her as Christ loved me than when I have to say no it will be accepted. Her submission is because she sees God working through me as I love her not because of some legal requirement. I have instituted the same thing with my daughter because I want her to understand how her husband should treat her. <…Now understand this is not an exercise in works….>
Then Paul begins chapter 6 telling children how to treat their parents (obey) then he gives an interesting message to Fathers.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
It is our job to train our kids about God, men. Don’t hand this off as Mom’s thing. Your children will be weaker for it. However, moms, if your husbands ignore this command you should do it. Do not drive them to frustration either Dads.

Paul has painted a picture of how precious our lives would be if we would just let the essence of God fill every aspect. Think of how awesome our lives would be if we flowed in God’s love everyday and every person we met did the same.

Now that we have the picture of whom we can be we can read verse 10:
Finally be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.
Here Paul is telling us how we can achieve the life he has described. Finally he says be strong in the Lord and in His mighty, inexhaustible, explosive, creative, harness able power. Your confidence comes from the fact that the author of the universe is our Daddy. And He is not some far away, distant Father either. He is walking beside us giving us direction everyday. He loves us enough to even let us run off, run ahead, and run away from Him. He never refuses to take us back. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? God has assured us victory but we have got to get our relationship right with Him. God can not lead us if we will not follow.
Now that we know how to do anything, Paul tells us how to do everything.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
Everyday when you get up you better remember one thing. You have an adversary who is roaming about seeking whom he will devour. So always be armored with what God has given you. This way the enemy cannot get inside your life and take what you’ve learned. The devil wants us to do things his way instead of God’s way. The message translation explains what we need to do very well
Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. Eph 6:13-18
How you do anything is how you do everything. Learn to respond like God in any situation and you’ll thrive in every situation.

-God's Man

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