On Law, Grace, Bondage, and Dog Collars


This weekend has been a yard work weekend. After ten weeks of volleyball’s regular season, I took two days to clean up my sorely neglected yard. Fences needed to be cleared, bushes trimmed, grass mowed, beds weeded. There was a LOT of work to do.

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For a bit of background for this story, you need to know that, for months now, my puppies, Scout and Atticus, have been on a wireless fence system to keep them from wandering into the road or the neighbor’s yard. The appearance of their being able to roam free is an excellent home security system. The down side to the system is that, in order to limit their access to the neighbor’s yard, they do not have free reign of my entire yard. Rectangle shaped property and circle shaped wireless fences don’t work well together. So Scout and Atticus have experienced several months of being unable to get to the back half of my yard.

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(Meet Scout and Atticus. They like each other.)

Cue this weekend. It was a stinky week, personally, spiritually, and professionally, but it was a glorious weekend, which meant I needed to be outside. Badly. And the puppies followed me all around the yard; until I moved toward the back of the yard. At that point, the puppies quit hanging out with me. When they got to the border of the wireless fence, their collars would beep and they would back up and lie down, getting as close to me as their collars would allow, but never going beyond that limit.

I decided this afternoon that I would let them wander the whole yard since I was going to be out there, so I took off their red fence collars and put Atticus’ regular collar on him. I couldn’t get Scout to sit still long enough to put hers on, so she went collarless. This is the point at which the teachable moment began.

As I walked to the back of the yard, they both followed me to the point that their red collars would have beeped if they had them on, and they stopped and laid down. It didn’t matter how much I called for them, they weren’t coming. They had spent enough time on those red collars that they knew not to go any further or there would be a consequence.

In an attempt to coax them to the back of the yard so that they could run and play, I walked to Atticus, gently held his collar with two fingers, and led him beside me toward the back yard. He was very tentative– until he got several feet past the “shock zone” that he knew should be there. When he got past that part and I was still with him and nothing bad had happened, he wandered around, smelled things, and generally chilled out.

Scout, on the other hand, stayed in the wireless zone, barking endlessly for us to come back to her. Since she didn’t have a collar on, there was nothing for me to hold on to in order to lead her back therewith us, and she would have none of the idea of simply following me out there.

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As I watched this scene unfold, the picture of how the Law, Grace, and bondage to sin work in our lives unfolded in my mind as well.

These are the Law:

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They tell the dogs just how far they can go, and they punish them if they attempt to overstep their boundaries. But the Law is meant to protect them; before the collars, I once chased Atticus across South Moore Road and about two blocks down the street. Barefoot. In my PJs. With Crazy Hair. At 5:30 am. It was special. The Law, in this case, is good. It taught Scout and Atticus right from wrong.

Then one day, the Law was removed. The punishment was no longer a threat. I’d taken that threat and put it on the table on the back porch. Yet the puppies still respected the boundaries the Law had set in their lives. They were free, but still living by the Law. They knew that boundary was there for a reason, and they kept it.

Until I put a new collar on Atticus and led him away. It reminded me of the opening statements of Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia:

Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

All I had to do was put a different collar on him, and he followed me right past the boundaries set for him and into an unprotected and dangerous world. This new collar represents bondage in the life of a believer. Atticus could have roamed free within the set boundaries, collarless and without fear, but by taking up a new collar, a new form of bondage, he left the boundaries he knew and didn’t quite know what to do with himself. But take note of the bondage that led him astray, for they are what spoke volumes to my own heart:

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One tag is his name. Oh, can’t our name, our reputation, become an idol and a bondage?

One is his rabies tag. Look, he’s a good dog. He’s done all the right things to be considered good. Maybe for us that’s giving time or money to good causes, or going on mission trips, or attending the right church or small group. He’s checked off his legalistic list of things to look good.

The middle one is his microchip tag. He’s even a “member” of a home. Sometimes church can become an idol of bondage. Do you belong to the “right” church? Listen to the “right” super pastors or worship groups? Ascribe to the “right” doctrine of the the day?

None of the tags on his new collar of bondage are bad things. In fact, in the right circumstances, they are very good things. But in this case, they were use to lead him away, and often, it’s the good things in our lives, done for the wrong reasons, that get us into trouble.

Now, back to Scout. Let’s look at the picture again with the imaginary fence line drawn in:

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Scout is sitting, barking her fool head off at Atticus, begging him to come back. But she refuses to cross the line to come get him, and there is no bondage around her neck for me to lead her astray. She is free. Free enough to roam within the boundaries given to her while still knowing her limits, even without the threat of punishment.

That is the freedom we have in Christ! He said Himself that He came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. Scout is a picture of a believer free of bondage, trusting the one who knows and loves her. I removed the collar of the Law, yet she continued to trust that those boundaries were still what were best for her. And because she did not allow herself to be put into any other bondage, she could not be led astray. She was even in the position to call for her little brother to please get back in line and come back to the right side of the boundary. Which is exactly what he did.

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For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Be free, friends.

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A More Excellent Way

A More Excellent Way


I care deeply for a very diverse group of people. They are teachers, doctors, lawyers, sales reps, caregivers, homemakers, service professionals, counselors, artists, pastors, pastors’ wives; heterosexuals, homosexuals, transsexuals, former homosexuals, still-haven’t-figured-it-out-sexuals; agnostics, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, liberal theologians, Reformed theologians; Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and a few who have never voted; former child molesters and abusers, and those who are healing from the effects of molestation and abuse; drug addicts, and those who, by the world’s standards, have never made a wrong decision in their lives.

And I love them all.

One of the reasons that I love them all is one common trait they all possess: loving respect for all of humanity, even those who are very different from them.

The last few months have seen some of the people who I love dearly caricatured and stereotyped, then brutally attacked with both the written and spoken word, either directly and individually, or because of a particular group with whom they identify.

And in case you missed it, sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can permanently damage.

While I was doing yard work this evening, a phrase continually rolled through my head: “A more excellent way.”

You see, friends, there is a more excellent way than the way humanity is treating one another in this season of time. We have drawn sides, demonized all who disagree with us, and agree only on the fact that all issues fall under a “Take No Prisoners” rule of engagement.

So Christians attack Muslims. And vice versa. And heterosexuals attack homosexuals. And vice versa. Republicans attack Democrats. And vice versa. Creationists attack Evolutionists. And vice versa.

But there is a more excellent way, shared with us by the Apostle Paul. Regardless of how you may feel about the Bible, or about Paul, or his theology, or his sexuality, or his missions strategy, we can all agree that his way is, indeed, more excellent.

24b …But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,
25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it… 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
1 If I speak in the tongues[fn] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[fn] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 12-13

Simply put, let’s grow up and love one another.

Boasting in the Gospel Alone


From Jenny Salt:

From where do we get our bearings for life? If we gain them from the world, we will be against the bearings of the world.

2 Corinthians has a lot to say about boasting. The world says, “Boast in yourself, tell the world the good stuff about yourself.”

But the Gospel says, “Do the opposite.”

How does the Gospel lens shape our boasting?

“I’ve learned to kiss the wave that pushes me against the rock of ages.” Charles Spurgeon

Get the full notes here: http://is.gd/6gJU2j

Unswerving Hope


19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10

When I taught the Middle School girls Sunday school class at Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, my girls committed to memorizing Scripture together. To help with the endeavor, my assistant teacher Katie made each of us a ring of note cards with the verses we were to memorize. They were each a different color with a different font and there was a matching 8.5×11 version of the card hanging in our classroom. This ring of verses became my lifeline of encouragement because they were all verses of hope and confidence, reasons to cling to faith in tough times. They had been selected to embolden teenage girls in the one of the hardest times of life– middle school– but they did as much for me as I’m sure they did for them.

I found my lifeline ring tonight, and Hebrews 10:23 was the first verse I read when I picked it up. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Like the living and active Word that it is, this verse spoke to me as if it were the first time I had ever seen it. The Holy Spirit gently prompted my heart, saying, “See? Just hold on and watch. I’m the One who is faithful.”

What is the hope we profess? Paul says in Colossians 1:27 it is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ is our hope. Christ is the one who promises. Christ is the one who is faithful. I am beginning to see the pattern emerge here.

So often I want to hold onto the planner. I want to call the shots, see the future, solve the problems, save the world and still have time to make an amazingly tasty and healthy dinner, grade papers, write lectures, and play with my niece. I’m my favorite idol. I want to be messiah. I want to hold onto myself.

But have you ever seen someone hugging themselves? You just look funny. It’s not natural to hold unswervingly to yourself. We need to hold unswervingly to the Faithful One in whom we trust. We hang on to Him for dear life because he is holding on to us. We are told every promise in Him is “Yes.” He never fails. And Jesus was clear in His promises to us. He promises to never leave nor forsake us. He promises that nothing will separate us from His love. He promises nothing can snatch us from His hand. He promises that He does not change like the shifting shadows. He is not altered by the light; He IS the Light.

We can hold to our hope in Him unswervingly because He himself is unswerving. With a promise like that, why would we ever want to let go?

I know I usually let go when I forget to remember those promises, which is why I call my ring my Lifeline Ring. In those times when it’s easier to believe the lies in your head than the Truth in God’s Word, it’s good to have that Lifeline ready. Psalm 25:5 says, “guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

It’s impossible to trust something you don’t know. The more you allow the Lord to guide you in truth through learning the Word, the more you learn what He promises. The more you know His promises, the more opportunity you have to trust those promises. The more you trust, the more He proves He is faithful, and the more you can trust. It’s a beautiful cycle of redemption and sanctification. And it all begins with knowing His Word and knowing His promises.

So if you’re ready to stop a cycle of self-destruction and self-hope, get yourself connected to the only sure Lifeline of unswerving hope. Learn and live in the promises of Jesus. He will prove Himself faithful every single time.

Now and Not Yet


“…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Some days, the clear vision of the “not yet” is blurred by the glaring reality of the “now”. Like the majesty of a distant mountain range blocked from view by your own hand, it can be difficult to maintain an eternal perspective when the temporal is so large in our view.

The Christian life is a walk, a way of life. Much like a journey through the woods, our walk is full of ups and downs, beautiful scenery and arduous treks. There are times, in the middle of those uphill climbs, that it’s hard to remember the end goal and it’s easier to stop the journey and just head back down the hill.

That’s why Paul reminds us in that phrase in 2 Corinthians that we walk based upon what we believe, not what we see. Sometimes all we can see is the here and now, the circumstances that are crowding around us, the situation that never seems to change, the pressure or pain from which we feel we will never get relief.

As believers, we know that there is hope beyond the here and now, but how do we move past the feelings to the faith? What do you do when the circumstances of life blur your vision so that you can’t see the eternal perspective? How do you remind yourself to walk by faith when you can’t trust what you see?

Can Do vs. Called To Do


 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

I have recently been battling my inner Wonder Woman. This happens when I let my sinful self-sufficiency sneak up on me. And what is so amazing about the whole thing is that I have twisted Scripture to justify my sin. After all, “I can do all things…”

Lead a Bible study? Write a book? Sponsor a club? Coach a team? Mentor a teen? Support a starving child in Africa? Teach a Sunday school class? Coordinate volunteers? Raise funds? Adopt a child? Keep a home? Go on mission trips? Visit the elderly? Learn to knit? Be the perfect wife? Win the Mom of the Year Award? Clip Coupons? Save the world?

Of course I can help you! I can do all things! After all, isn’t that what the Proverbs 31 woman did? I’m just doing what Scripture tells me to do!

What I quickly forget is that my terrible interpretation of that verse is just that—terrible. Paul is not claiming to be a spiritual Superman. Paul is saying that Jesus grants us the strength to do the things He sets before us. While I can do all things through Christ, He never meant for any of us to do all things at once. He alone is the one who holds all things together, and for me to think that I am needed for any bit of His work to succeed, I have deceived myself severely.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3

And there’s my problem; I think of myself much more highly than I ought. After all, if I don’t do it, someone else is just going to mess it up. The only way it will be done right is for me to do it myself. So I end up trying to do it all, and instead of doing a few things well, I do a lot of things half way. Anyone else find themselves here? So what do we do to remedy this cycle?

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong… 1 Corinthians 1:26-27

First, I must consider my calling. This has been the question on the Post-It note on my computer screen at work the last few weeks: Can Do vs. Called To Do? What things in my life has God genuinely led me to do in His strength, power, and calling, and what things am I doing simply because I am able? He has been convicting me greatly of the fact that just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should be doing it. I am convinced that there have been blessings I have missed in life simply because I spend time bowing to my idols and pride and busyness.

Second, I must remember that God chooses, not me. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. Sometimes He calls us to do the things we wouldn’t naturally choose for ourselves simply to remind us that it is His work and His calling and His equipping that are successful in furthering His kingdom. He doesn’t need me or my abilities to accomplish His will, but He chooses to use us when we submit to Him and His will. And when we begin to take matters into our own hands, things fall apart. Fast. If life is spinning out of control around you, it may be because you are just trying to do more than He has for you to do. What are you doing out of self-imposed expectations? Are those self-imposed expectations godly? I find that normally, they are not.

Third, I must be weak to show Him to be strong. It is not my responsibility to save the day; He’s already done that. I am not the Messiah; but I am called to reflect the Messiah to a lost and dying world. If, at the end of the day, all anyone notices is how much work I do, then I have failed miserably. We are not called to fix it; we are called to point others to the One who has already fixed it.

Sometimes being obedient means dying to self and saying no, because I am not Wonder Woman. As a woman, that is a hard truth to swallow sometimes. God created us to be helpers and multi-taskers, but our sinful nature can so easily twist that God-given desire to help into a sinful, self-focused desire to save the day.

What things in your life do you do simply because you can do the job and not because He has called you to it? Do you live with this thought in the back of your tired and stressed out mind: “Well if I don’t do it, it might not get done.”

How different would the lives of Christian women be if we began focusing on the few things He calls us to and releasing the rest to His control? I am learning that His ability to get it all done is much better than mine, and resting in that truth is freeing indeed.

Encouragement for the Battle


This week it seems as though the enemy has been working overtime on the body of Christ. So many I have talked with have seen and experienced his attacks, especially in the areas of thought life and identity. It’s hard to keep fighting the good fight when your mind is exhausted from battling the seemingly endless condemnation and confusion occurring in your own head. Some days it seems easier to change your behavior– don’t go here, stop doing that, change that action– than it is to change your thoughts. Many times, changing our hearts, transforming our identity and renewing our minds, can seem like a nearly impossible task. 

I was reading this morning from Ephesians 6, because I needed a reminder concerning spiritual warfare and the enemy’s quest to control our identities and our minds to keep us from being victorious in Christ. Sometimes when we feel defeated, we begin to forget that Christ has already given us the victory. When we believe we’re defeated, we live like we’re defeated, but as the children of God, we’ve been promised that we are more than conqueors because we are in Christ Jesus!

 Here’s what Paul says about the battle we all face in our our minds and some things I’ve learned over the years concerning what he’s teaching us in this passage:

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

That be strong is written in a continual, imparative tense in Greek– we are commanded to be strong all of the time, but we are told we can only do that when we rely on HIS MIGHT and not our own. It’s not our strength that sees us through, it’s his strength.

11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Again, “put on” is a command, not a suggestion. God tells us exactly what to do in order to have victory– He doesn’t leave us to figure it out on our own! He tells us what to do and then provides the instructions and the power to accomplish the task.

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Our battle is not against our body or our genetic makeup or our personalities or brains or other people; our battle for victory is a spiritual battle– the truth vs. the lie (Romans 1).

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

The WHOLE armor, not just the parts we find comfortable or convenient. In order to be protected and to be able to fight, we must use everything God gives us. And I love how Paul says that here–“having done all, to stand firm.” When we’ve done all we can do, when we are at the end of our proverbial rope, Paul says we are to continue standing firm. Not in our might, not in our strength, but in His. When we rely on His strength, we will never fall.

14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

Belt of truth— what we think. Where do we find truth? How do we apply it to our lives? Breastplate of righteousness— what we do. These things go together. We can’t successfully do right until we learn to think right. Actions are an overflow of our thoughts.

15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

The Gospel brings peace, not just for salvation, but for daily living. To rest in his peace, preach the Gospel to yourself daily– remind yourself of his grace, mercy and forgiveness and how it applies to every sin and every struggle every day of your life. When Roman soldiers dug in to prepare for battle, the spikes on their shoes prevented them from retreating. They dug in and stood firm with the help of their shoes. We too can stand firm when we dig in and rely on the truth of the Gospel to bring us peace.

16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

It is our faith that keeps the thoughts of the enemy from piercing us. When we believe the truth, we are shielded from the lies that condemn us. Notice that the enemy keeps firing at us—we will be tempted, we will have condemning thoughts—but our faith protects us from them. This is why it is so important to know the truth and believe it! It is our belief in the truth that keeps us from being damaged by the attack of the enemy. He will continue to attack, but we do not have to be injured.

17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

The helmet of salvation—I love this part! Sometimes we feel like our minds are controlled by something other than ourselves. We know the thoughts we are having are ungodly, so sometimes in the heat of battle we even question our own salvation. You have thoughts that you know you don’t want and you know God doesn’t want you to have, so you wonder if you are even saved. You think, “There’s no way I can be saved and also desire the things I desire right now.” You are not alone in thinking that! But this promises us that our salvation protects our mind! Once you are saved, there’s no losing that salvation! Jesus told his followers that His disciples are in His hand and He is in the hand of the Father and NOTHING can snatch us away from them (John 10).

Being in the heat of battle doesn’t mean you aren’t saved—it confirms that you are saved! Satan doesn’t fight those who don’t belong to his enemy. If Satan is fighting for control of your mind, your mind is owned by God, and there’s nothing the enemy can do to change that. He can put thoughts in your mind, but he cannot own/control your mind. Your mind is God’s and you can choose to think thoughts that are godly to crush the tempting thoughts of the enemy.

The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God—the Bible is our only offensive weapon. There is nothing we can do to battle the temptation of the enemy except to respond with the truth of God’s Word. Look to Jesus as your example. When He was tempted in the wilderness, he didn’t argue with Satan. He didn’t try to convince Satan that He was right and Satan was wrong. He simply responded with Scripture and the debate was done.

We must be the same way. When we face condemning thoughts, when we find ourselves wanting to do what we really don’t want to do, when we wonder if we are strong enough to be obedient, we must call it a lie and replace it with truth from the Bible (2Corinthians 10:2-7). No pondering the thought, no considering the possibility, no doubting your ability to fight it. Just replacing it with truth and believing it!

18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Verses 10-17 are teaching from Paul. Now he gives some practical “how-to” advice so we know what spiritual warfare should look like in our lives. He says that we should be praying at all times in the Spirit. That means that we need to live in a constant state of communication with God. There are times when we have to be deliberate with our prayer time—close the door, be alone, get on our face before the Father. But we also need to be constantly living in a conversation with Him. Keep Him at the front of your mind and run everything through the filter of the Holy Spirit—before you do anything, say anything, think anything, go anywhere, stop and ask Him, “What do you want me to do?” Would you be comfortable taking Jesus where you are going? If the answer is no, don’t go! Would you be embarrassed to share the thought you’re having with the people around you? If the answer is yes, don’t entertain that thought anymore! Would you be ashamed if someone caught you doing what you’re doing? Then don’t do it. Replace the thought or action with the truth of Scripture. Easier said than done sometimes, I know, but recognizing sin patterns is the first step to breaking the control they have on your life. Live your life close to Christ and you will find that temptations lose their power over you.

Supplication means to make requests. God wants us to ask for his help! He wants us to stay alert so we don’t end up wondering, “What am I doing and how did I end up here?” Persevering means we keep going even when we’re tired and think we can’t go on. Paul says that in our weakness, we are made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). When we come to the end of ourselves and our strength, yet we still manage to not fall to temptation, THAT is when we learn that God is faithful to keep us from temptation. We learn about Him, learn to trust Him more when we persevere beyond what we think we can do.

He also tells us to make supplication for the saints. When you are focused on yourself and your sin and your battle, it often makes the battle so big it’s overwhelming. When you begin to be overwhelmed by the fight, take your focus off of your battle and pray for others. Have a list of people you pray for. Carry it with you. When you begin to be too focused on yourself, spend time praying for others. Thinking about yourself less makes the battle bearable. And think, if you are praying for others and their battles, people are praying for you and your battle as well. Learn to bear the burdens of others and your burdens aren’t so heavy.

19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,

We should boldly proclaim the Gospel to those around us. Not just speaking the Gospel on street corners to those who may need salvation, but sharing with people the impact the Gospel is having in your life, sharing on a daily basis what the Lord is doing in your life, through both your successes and your failures. When you are talking about the Lord’s work, you are more likely to continue to see His work in your life. Keeping it in the front of your mind is another way to fight the battle. It’s hard to forget what God has done for you if you are always talking about it.

20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. 

We need to remember that sometimes our boldness and faithfulness place us in chains, both literally and figuratively. People will reject the Gospel, they will reject you. Old friends will fall away as you make changes that reflect the light of Christ, but Paul says that even when we are persecuted for the truth, we are to continue to stand firm and continue to declare it boldly. 

I needed this reminder today because sometimes the battle seems overwhelming. I need to be reminded that if I try to fight the battle in my own strength, I will be overwhelmed and I will eventually fall. If, however, I remember to follow His instructions and lean on His strength, if I learn to fight with the truth of the Word, He will keep me standing fast against the enemy. Know that in whatever battle you are facing, He is faithful to see you through to victory– He will not leave you in defeat! And know that you are loved and prayed for.