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Action Plan: Put on the Armor

take actionChurch is a big part of my life. I lead a life group for young (and youngish) adults. I go to church every week. I am on the media team. I hear sermons. I ask questions. I answer questions. Every week I am challenged with one or two things that I realize I need to work on personally. I leave these times of spiritual encouragement refreshed and determined to do better.

But I rarely make any actual changes to my life, mindset, or faith before the next Sunday.

I’m not down on myself or confessing some deep secret, that’s just the way it is. That’s the way it always has been and I’m guessing that’s the way it is for most Christians. I know the truth and I care enough about it to learn more; I’m just not really great doing anything about it. This is not an issue of “hearing and not doing” it’s more of a settling for where I am without striving to get better.

When my wife and I started hosting a Bible study in our home for our life group every week, one of my goals was to do something that would cause ME to want to improve my spiritual walk every week. With the help of the D6 Curriculum from Randall House (that’s a shameless plug because I really believe in what they’re doing), I am now attempting to make a specific action plan each week for myself while presenting the opportunity for others to do so as well. It is usually as simple as making sure I notice when I am tempted to do certain negative actions and having a specific, pre-planned response. Some week it involves setting a specific time to engage in some positive action or thought process. Sometimes my plan has to be more involved because the topic, like this week’s theme of putting on the armor of God, is such a core part of the Christian life that I needed to outline 11 individual actions to accomplish six specific goals:


Action plan to “put on the armor of God”

Purpose: Our spiritual protection against evil doesn’t just happen, it must be intentionally worn so that I can resist and stand firm.

1. Belt of Truth

God’s eternal, absolute truth is the centerpiece of my armor. Every other defense is held together by his unchanging Word.

Suiting Up: I will start each day this week by considering God’s plan for humanity and my life:

  • God created me in His image
  • I chose to sin and separate myself from God
  • Jesus died to restore that relationship
  • If I seek first His will and righteousness, He will take care of everything else
  • I must view my actions through the lens of God’s holiness

2. Breastplate of Righteousness

Doing what is right in God’s eyes protects me from my own sinful desire to choose self-gratification rather than what pleases Him.

Suiting Up: I will seek to eliminate specific sins from my life.

  • I will ask God to convict me of wrongdoing.
  • I will confess failures to God and others who see my sins as soon as I am convicted.
  • I will attempt to recognize situations and events that could lead to unrighteousness before they occur and avoid them if possible or resist if necessary.

3. Shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace

Understanding that I have accepted a place in God’s salvation plan gives me peace that provides a strong footing for all of my other activities.

Suiting Up: Spend time each day praising and thanking God for His salvation.

  • I will actively listen to music that is specifically about salvation each morning as I get ready for work instead of ESPN Radio.
  • I will intentionally think about and thank God for salvation each time I pray…even at meals.

4. Shield of Faith

Faith is my act of believing the truth that God has already established. Being intentionally full of faith will help me to defend against misinformation that could threaten my spiritual life.

Suiting Up: While mentally rehearsing God’s truth, I will explore areas of doubt that might indicate a weakness in my faith.

  • Do I really believe that my sin is my fault?
  • Do I really desire to seek God’s righteousness first?

5. Helmet of Salvation

Understanding and accepting God’s redemption plan is the ultimate defense against Spiritual attack.

Suiting Up: I will actively remember and re-live my salvation experience.

  • While listening to music about salvation, I will attempt to apply the lyrics to my specific circumstances.
  • I will be specific in my prayers of thanks for my salvation.
  • I will re-affirm my commitment to God each day.

6. Sword of the Spirit- the Word of God

I cannot fight a spiritual battle on my own. My weapon must be from a Spirit source and more powerful than I.

Suiting Up: I will actively read and meditate on the Word of God each day.

  • I will read God’s Word each morning before I begin my morning routine of getting ready for work.
  • I will choose a single theme of the passage I read to meditate upon throughout the day and I will set a reminder on my phone to force me to recall that theme at some point in the day.

I plan to be fully armored for one week beginning on Thursday, October 23, 2014.

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30 Days of Thanks #25- My Wife

Throughout the month of November I am writing about the first thing for which I am consciously thankful each day. I am doing this simply as a way to be more intentionally grateful. For more on this project, check out the first one or even last year’s 30 Days of Thanks.

My wife set up our Christmas tree on Thursday, November 15. For those of you too lazy to look at a calendar or so disinterested that you won’t even hit your iPhone’s home button twice and ask Siri, I’ll tell you that November 15 is 40 days before Christmas. Although I love Christmas (hear that, AFA? You can stop sending me the annoying emails!), I have been annoyed at how much earlier it gets every year.

When I saw Janet dragging in the tree on that Thursday evening all I did was raise my eyebrows and she started defending herself. I’ve got to admit that her reasoning is sound. Every year she takes a Saturday to decorate her grandma’s house for Christmas. That was last Saturday. Every year she takes a week to decorate the church for Christmas. That will be this week. After she’s done with those two projects, the last thing she wants to do is more Christmas decorating, so she decided to do our house first. Her words- “I want to invest some real energy in my own family’s Christmas this year.”

This morning our 2gether Bible study talked about the Proverbs 31 woman and a few interesting points stood out to me:

  • This passage was not written to women, but to men in order that they might seek out the right kind of woman and appreciate the ones they have found.
  • The ideal woman is described as “virtuous”- seeking excellence and right.
  • She uses what she has for the benefit of her family.
  • She works hard until the job is done.
  • She gives to others as well.
  • Her family, especially her husband, praises (boasts about) her.

In verse10, Solomon implied that this woman is rare, and when you read that list it is pretty obvious why: The Proverbs 31 woman, along with her husband, must be completely selfless. I have one of those wives who will work for her family as well as others and makes us look better than we actually are. Maybe I have finally located my heart or whatever gland it is that is supposed to make you feel emotion, but like the proverbial husband, I want to praise her for being the wife I need.

Today, November 25,.I am thankful for a selfless wife.

 

30 Days of Thanks #4- A Starting Point for Wisdom

Throughout the month of November I am writing about the first thing for which I am consciously thankful each day. I am doing this simply as a way to be more intentionally grateful. For more on this project, check out the first one or even last year’s 30 Days of Thanks.

This morning, like most Sundays, I will be leading the 2gether Bible study at our church. It is definitely my favorite hour of the week. The group is awesome and welcoming and we spend as much time laughing as anything else. We usually learn something, too. I’m sure I’ll get back to talking about that group sometime later this month.

Using the D6 curriculum from Randall House, we are about two-thirds of the way into a six-year journey through the Bible. This morning we will be introducing the book of Proverbs, and this statement from the Fusion Teaching Guide has changed the way I am looking at it: “The goal of the book of Proverbs is to know wisdom in an intimate way and weave it into the fabric of your life so it cannot be separated from you.”

You can check out our online Bible study notes on YouVersion Live, but the main gist of the lesson is that wisdom comes from a proper understanding and reverence for God. That takes a lot of the pressure off. If I focus on the foundation and make sure my thought processes are grounded in a relationship with God, wise decisions and actions will follow. And if I get stuck there’s a whole book full of wise statements waiting for me.

Today, November 4, I am thankful for the practical wisdom in God’s Word.

Defining 20somethings

When @webby778 and I started our 20somethings Bible study class two years ago, we were asked numerous times why we needed a specific ministry for young adults. We were convinced that by focusing on our specific audience each week, we could spark some excitement within our age group, so we started trying to define our age group. Here are some of the thoughts that we came up with. Please add your own in the comments or disagree vehemently if you want. After all…

  1. …we like to give our opinions. Don’t tell me what you think without letting me tell you what I think. I may be way off base here. (see what I did there)
  2. We have no problem jumping from one topic to the next. Even if a conclusion has not been reached, we can abandon a discussion and move on with the knowledge that we at least talked about it.
  3. We think we are multitaskers and, therefore, are not generally offended if others divide their attention while we are conversing. Usually we are not as good at this as we think though.
  4. Fun is the most important factor determining whether we will recommend something to our friends. Even if we recognize something as valuable, we probably won’t endorse it if it’s not fun.
  5. We like spontaneity. This isn’t to say we don’t like structure, but “off the cuff” doesn’t bother us.
  6. We prefer the easiest form of communication available even if it is not the most efficient. We won’t visit if we can call, won’t call if we can email, won’t email if we can text.
  7. We like the idea of making a difference, but often don’t care enough to be personally involved to the point of changing the way we live.
  8. We think we understand more about people than we really do and often express this by making generic lists and summing up diverse groups of people in a few simple points.

While typing this out, I realized that a few of these items could use some explanation and it would be great to discuss how a young adult’s ministry can capitalize on these characteristics. I’ll work on that pretty soon.