Sunday, November 15, 2009

Winning the small battles.

Every few months the Men's group at our church's gets together on a Saturday morning. We go around the room and share a bit of what has been happening in our lives, we always have a good breakfast, and we usually finish with a special guest speaker. This past breakfast was special, not only because Roger made ribs for breakfast, which were great, but the guest speaker was one of our own. Darrin Williams is relocating to the Midwest and this was his last men's breakfast with us.

One thing about our church, we are a little 'outside of the box', as the ribs for breakfast would suggest. Darrin started his talk with a short video presentation. Not many church groups would start a devotional time by showing a few minutes of the movie Gladiator, but it was great. Trying to get men to pay attention on Saturday morning is hard enough, but when you start out with Gladiator, it makes it a bit easier. Darrin's message spoke about the way we view our spiritual lives. Not as one epic struggle but as many small battles. We learned how to win those battles, using strength and honor.

Strength and Honor, why are these traits so important in men, and why is it important that you strive for both, not just one or the other. Strength without honor is pride and selfishness. It is using your power to have things your own way. Having honor without strength means you will be honorable, which is good in itself, but you will not be able to make a strong impact. We need both in our lives if we are to become the men we were made to be.

Honor is doing the right thing, but how do we do that?

I know what I should do, what I want myself to do, but many times I fail and end up doing the exact opposite. When I fail in some part of my walk, the next failure seems more certain. I gave in the last time; I will probably give in the next time. It is almost as if you have a spiritual momentum. When you are heading in the right direction, one stumble can lead to two and then three, and soon you are heading in the wrong direction.

Strength or better-stated, spiritual strength comes when you allow God to use His strength in your life.

When I rely on my own strength to run my life, it usually ends up in disaster. Like most men, pride is how this manifests itself in my life. As soon as I start thinking, I am going to do it my way, and I don’t come to God in prayer before a big decision or when I am in a crisis, it ends badly. I have had enough practice doing things the wrong way and paying the price for those decisions, you would think I have learned by now. However, like so many of us, I am a slow learner.

No matter what direction we are heading right now, we can draw upon two things to win the next small battle, strength and honor.

As the saying goes, I can resist everything, except temptation. No matter what area in your life you struggle with, if you can break this big fight into small battles, you can prevail. I am going to win this time. I am going to resist, using God's strength to do what is right, what is honorable, right now. The other part of this strategy is to flee from temptation. There is no shame in running away when it comes to spiritual matters. Many times, I have been in a bad situation that I should have seen coming, that I did see coming, but I did not run away from it. Sometimes not putting yourself in a compromising situation, not showing up to the battle is the best plan.

So how we develop honorable and strong spiritual habits? We draw our strength as Christians through spending time in God's word. If you are not spending time reading the Bible, through a small group study or just on your own, you are losing some of that spiritual strength you need to win the next battle. Fellowship with other Christians is also important. I always feel uplifted after church, or after my small group Bible study, my spiritual batteries are recharged. I seem to make better decisions, more Christ-centered decisions.

To summarize, break up the big fights into small battles, flee from temptation and develop strong spiritual habits through spending time in God's word and fellowship with other believers.

We are going to miss Darrin, his wife Lisa, and their two boys. They have been a blessing to our church and in our lives. Good luck Darrin, strength and honor my friend, strength and honor.

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