Church 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.
Ever notice that everything you buy comes with a ridiculously large instruction manual? A couple of weeks ago I couldn’t remember how to change a certain setting on my office phone so I pulled out the 164 page manual and started thumbing through. About 30 seconds into this, I realized that I could probably find a searchable version online and started looking for it. I found the manual on the NEC website, but also found something they called the “Quick Reference Guide” which is a six-page brochure complete with diagrams of buttons and descriptions of the most used features. Now that piece of literature is valuable.
Q What is the goal for my family?
A Obey God
D6 2fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life.
Q When should I teach these things to my children?
A All the time
D6 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Q How can I teach them to my children?
A By putting God’s commands in front of them constantly
D6 8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Q What do we do when everything is going right?
A Remember how God helped during the struggles
D6 12then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Q Is it ok to offer other religious options to my children?
A Absolutely not
D6 14You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God— lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.
Q What if my children ask why we live differently than other people?
A Use this as an opportunity to share your faith
D6 20 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ 21then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. 25And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’