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Learning How To Fight

March 13, 2019

At 34-years-old, I’m learning how to fight.

Growing up, fighting was something I avoided. And some of the fights that I did get into, I lost … big time.

I was a pretty healthy kid apart from bad allergies. While writing this, I’m laughing to myself as I realize that. So, being healthy enough, I could’ve fought. I simply did not know how too and the many times I did end up in a fight for some reason or another, I would end up getting hurt.

The pain was not only physical but emotional and I vowed to never, ever fight again. It was an agreement from boyhood that I didn’t realize would have a substantial affect on my life.

I made that agreement out of fear of getting hurt, and out of fear of the worst that could come out of it. But, what I would find out, is that fear of fighting, and fear period, would mutate into a toxic mindset that was neither Godly or healthy, an idea that life should be easier and without struggle or conflict.

So, I avoided at all costs. And oh did it cost!

During my adult years, I have yet to raise a fist for a physical fight. Hopefully nothing in my life comes to that. But, I do see the Lord trying to teach me how to fight spiritually, a fight that is required of all of us, a fight that I’m no longer going to be allowed to avoid.

In order to learn to fight, I had to deal with the issue of fear, the fear that drove social anxiety, the fear that guided how I would treat myself and others, the fear that said that I would live a certain way in order to keep from what I considered stressful situations:

2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”

I did in fact repent of the time I let fear lead. Now, I’m learning to trust the Lord with anything and everything that brings about concerns and anxiety.

There’s simply no room for fear or timidity.

My wife also suggested that I invite the Lord into what is going on — work, bills, creative endeavors, even our marriage. That has actually made a HUGE difference in our lives.

Paul in his letter to Timothy encouraged him to fight the good fight of faith.

1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV)

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

In the pretext just before you get to 1 Timothy 6:12, we’re warned of “the love of money” being the root of all evil. We’re also told that those desiring to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and it leads them into “foolish and harmful lusts,” which drown men into destruction and perdition (to be ruined, loss).

As believers, a lot of our fighting is not only an involvement to stay connected to the Lord and His Word, but, to also fight against ourselves and our selfishness and desires that are not of God.

More and more, I realize now that to fight is to remain in God through prayer and through the reading of His Word. And, daily, I fight that it all remains not about me but about Christ and the life He’s called me too.

And thereby trusting God even in the daily battles — the battle to pick up the phone and take care of bill collectors and school loan debtors, the battle to keep and save marriage, the battle to say no to the next shiny new device and yes to godliness with contentment (1 Timothy 6:6), the battle against self-preservation and self-comfort but for self-control and to saying yes to dying to self daily.

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Perfection!

December 13, 2018

My life is not perfect. But, I am where God wants me to be. Whenever I get doubtful of that, I am immediately reminded through His Word and through past experiences that God knows what He’s doing with me. 

But, I’ll be honest, if it were up to me, it would be easier. Things would be almost “perfect.” 

It’s that endless search to be “whole” in some kind of way … and we quickly look to things, possessions, opportunities and things of the like to do so. 

I would have the abs I want. I would have the muscles I want. I would have the clothes I want. I would have the phone I want. I would have the computer I want, the car, the house, and so forth and so on. 

But, that’s not perfect. That’s just stuff. I would stay on the topic of material possessions, but that’s a whole other discussion in of itself. 

I’ll admit, the places and plans that we have for our own lives sound “perfect,” but I am beginning to see that those thoughts come when we seek to have a life that’s without challenges and trouble. I’ve been guilty of this more than not. 

In so many ways, it’s like God has been keeping me from trying to have it so “perfect” down here on earth and in my own definition in an effort to keep me from missing the experience of relationship and life with Him and Christ Jesus both here and in heaven.

And, then there’s the irony around this desire. We simply cannot and will not be able to experience the “perfect” life by way of material possessions or life circumstances that are consistently in our favor. 

1 Peter 5:10  (NKJV)

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect,establish, strengthen, and settle you.

Interestingly enough, I have found out over the years that I have learned to walk out my faith in Christ, that “perfection” requires a bit of suffering. 

I acknowledge that I don’t know what kind of suffering you’ll experience. The New Bible Dictionary defines “suffering” as “conflict, pain, corruption, drudgery and death.” 

But, we have God’s Grace (God’s unmerited favor) on our lives to get us through those periods of suffering. 

2 Corinthians 12:9  (NKJV)

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities,that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God will “perfect,” or make us whole, suitable, adapted for something! Our understanding of why we are still here, being the best we can be, living the life we’re supposed to have, starts with God in Christ Jesus! 

He’s the only one whose able to “perfect” our hearts and our minds so we can keep from running to “stuff” to help us perfect something to our own adaptation. 

Along with perfecting us, God will establish, strengthen and settle us, meaning that he will make us strong and make us rooted and grounded in Him as we focus on Him rather than the circumstances. 

Detective_Conan_Characters

For the past few days, I have been watching one of my favorite anime’s, “Case Closed,” which is also known as “Detective Conan.”

“Case Closed” is about a high school student, Jimmy Kudo, whom after being drugged by a crime syndicate and left to die, turned into an 8-year-old boy. Adopting the alias, Conan Edogawa, the famous young detective now has to solve crimes as a little kid while using his close friends’ father, whose a detective, as a cover and a way to find the men who poisoned him.

Humility

A gifted detective, masterful in deductions and all things mystery, Jimmy Kudo lived in the spotlight of popularity. Girls loved him. Men were jealous of him. People were amazed at his work at such a young age.

But, Jimmy Kudo, now known as 8-year-old Conan, was not humble at all. Kudo was so into his own world, his own interest and his own desires and the attention he was getting, he was missing out on the fact that ONE person really cared for him deeply, Rachel Moore, a girl he’s known since childhood. But, his focus was on the thrill of doing what he loved to do and the fame that came with it.

Then…everything changed. He was not careful enough. After being ambushed, he was knocked out and poisoned. He should’ve died, but the poison caused a side effect that turned Jimmy into who we now know as Conan. And to make matters more interesting, he’s forced to stay undercover under his new name at Rachel Moore’s house, where her father, Richard Moore, was a detective whose work was not all that great.

While watching the series, two things I noticed immediately. Both Jimmy Kudo (Conan) and Richard Moore had the same problem: humility. Jimmy lacked humility while he was brilliant in the art of detective work. Richard Moore lacks the intense skill that Jimmy has but genuinely believes he’s the best and is incredibly prideful.

Second, throughout the series, Conan is helping Richard solve every single one of his cases without him really knowing it. Throughout the series, this makes Richard Moore become the famous detective whom many will later know. Conan was the greatest. Now, Richard is the greatest.

Conan was literally humbled into a position that would require him to serve someone else in order for himself to be served. Conan understood that he wasn’t going to get to where he needed to go in life unless he helped Richard Moore go from mediocre to great!

Servant Leadership

I could only imagine the kind of heart and mind change it took for Jimmy Kudo, now Conan, to go from being a great detective who was admired by all to being a little kid.

At first, solving cases was just for personal interest. Now, it was a matter of life and death. It was a mission. There was a purpose behind it.

It was more than just for a rush and admiration. It was now all about determination and getting his real life back. But, he couldn’t become great again…until he became a child again.

What we can take from the series and from the main character is that to be the greatest is to be a servant.

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Being Like A Child

In Matthew 18:1-5, the disciples were discussing who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Much like Jimmy Kudo, the disciples saw the Kingdom of Heaven as a big prize here on earth, not something of higher, eternal value.

Jesus calls a little child to Him and set the child in the midst of them. He explains to them this:

Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.

The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 18:3–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Much like Jesus makes the point of being converted, which here literally means, “to change.” The Message Bible, as I paraphrase it here, says that unless you go to square one and start over like children.

Greatness comes from serving. Humbling yourself as a child is a part of the Kingdom of Heaven living style.