Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Getting Back To Base

Part Three In The Spiritual Warfare Series

Without a doubt baseball is my all time favorite sport, but a very very close second is wrestling.  I'm not talking about "rasslin'" WWE style, but collegiate style wrestling.  It is high drama: two excellently conditioned athletes going at it mano a mano.  There's no one to pick up your slack, no one to cover your mistakes - just you against your adversary one on one with a whole lot of people screaming at you, telling you what to do!

Base Position
One of my best friends in high school was an excellent wrestler, and my school had a really good team.  As a result, our wrestling matches often had better attendance than our basketball games.

There was a whole series of traditions that surrounded our matches, including the "We Will Rock You" rhythm deafeningly beaten out on the gymnasium bleachers whenever one of our guys put one of theirs on his back.  It was even reported that there was a sign on the ceiling that said, "If you can read this you're pinned."  It was a lot of fun.  For us, anyway.

Wrestling is an ancient sport.  It has been around for thousands of years.  So it is no surprise that wrestling is used in the Bible as a metaphor for spiritual warfare.  Paul wrote, " For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."  That being said, I would like to take a moment and point to a way that wrestling does mirror spiritual warfare.

The bottom wrestler is moving back to his base
There are many techniques that are important to wrestling, but one of the most important is the ability to get back to base.

Base position is a very stable defensive posture where a wrestler's feet, knees, and hands (or elbows) are firmly on the mat with his center of gravity as low as possible.  It puts him in a strong position to frustrate his opponent's attempts to control him and gives him a stable platform from which to escape or take dominant position from the other wrestler.

Every wrestler, regardless of his skill level, will eventually find himself on the bottom.  To be successful, he must learn to defend himself and to move from a defensive posture to an offensive one.

Going for the pin
One of the most frustrating things for a wrestler to experience is to be trapped flat on the mat by a skillful wrestler.  The top wrestler can leisurely have his way with him  while the bottom wrestler gets tireder and tireder and more and more frustrated.  The more he struggles the more he opens himself up to yet one more of his opponent's fiendish methods to keep him right where he wants him.  If a wrestler is not wise when he is in that position he will give his opponent the leverage that he needs to flip him over and pin him.

Because there are so many levers for the top wrestler to use, it is very important for the bottom wrestler to not only get back to his base quickly, but to know how to do it correctly.

One mistake that some wrestlers make is to try to lift their opponent's full weight when coming back to their base.  They rely on their own strength to accomplish the task instead of wisely using the protection and leverage that the mat offers them to get it done.  As a result, they have to expend more physical energy than is necessary and they tire quickly.  They also have to concentrate harder to force their body to accomplish this difficult task.  That means that they lose concentration on their positioning, which can lead them to open themselves up to attack.

 Another mistake is to forget to move.  In wrestling the defender's goal is to create enough space between himself and his opponent to be able to do what he wants to do.  The offensive goal is to take away your opponent's space.  A wise wrestler will recognize the attack that his enemy is employing and will move (keeping his base intact) to counter that attack.  (See the embedded video at the end.)

When we are engaged in spiritual warfare these same principles hold.  In our own ability and strength we quickly find ourselves frustrated by the enemy's skill level.  It often seems that they know where all of our levers are and that they can employ them at will.

The enemy loves to come at us with a flurry of attack that leaves us bewildered and out of touch with what is going on.  He brings strong temptations to us.  He lies to us.  He accuses us.  He deprives us of sleep.  He stirs up strife.  He injures us or makes us sick.  He orchestrates the circumstances around us to create the greatest level of chaos that he can.  It is in these times that everything in our world will seem to fall apart simultaneously.  It is like an ocean wave that catches us off guard and rolls us over and over and over.  We are so overwhelmed that we don't know what is going on and our ability to fight back is greatly compromised.

That is when we MUST get back to our base.

What is our base?  Our base is the Word of God.  This is the truth.  This is our position of strength.  This is our unassailable position.  The devil, just like any good wrestler will do everything that he can to tear down that base. 

The wrestler in red was on the bottom. 
He is executing a switch - a move that will
allow him to take the dominant position behind
his opponent.

Consider how the devil approached Jesus during his time of testing in the desert.  The devil did everything he could to move Jesus from his base.  Yet Jesus' response in each temptation was to counter it with the Word of God.

In the same way we have to come back to our base when the devil attacks us.  That means that we need to be very familiar with the Word of God.  We must become workmen who need not be ashamed because we can accurately handle the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)  That is accomplished by reading, studying, memorizing, meditating upon, and exhorting each other with the Bible. 

Remember that the enemy tried to even use the Bible against Jesus in his temptation.  Because Jesus' hadn't satisfied Himself with a casual knowledge of the scriptures, He knew that the devil was trying to get Him to inappropriately apply the Bible's truth and was able to defeat him.

So, when the enemy comes in like a flood to wash you off your feet; when he tries to bury you under a wave of chaos, temptation, and despair, come back to your base.  Come back to the Word of God and its truth.  Remember that you will fail if you try to wrestle our enemy in your own strength.  Wrestle in the strength of the Lord and with the help of your brothers and sisters.  Counter each lie that the enemy has thrown in your face with God's truth from the Bible. This will stabilize you and help you to go back on the offensive.  Brothers and sisters, watch over each other.  When you see the enemy taking your brother down, remind him to get back to his base.  When your sister is overwhelmed give her the scriptures  that she needs to get her foundation back under her. 

As we continue to frustrate our enemy's attempts to tear us down, our strength will grow, and we will eventually find the opening that we have been looking for to go on the offensive and defeat him.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I Never Dreamed

For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
- Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:35-37)

Jesus Christ said some pretty shocking things during His time on earth. The passage I have quoted above is certainly one of the most disturbing. In it Jesus stated that His coming would bring division between the most intimate family relationships – division so intense that it would make the members of one's own household his enemies. For years I thought – wished perhaps – that Jesus was merely being hyperbolic. I recently discovered that He was not.

Last week, the Lord directed me to study Ezekiel 33. In that passage the Lord told Ezekiel that He was making him a watchman for Israel. God told Ezekiel that if He sent a warning through him and he failed to deliver it to the people then Ezekiel would be responsible for their failure to respond, but if he delivered the message and the people ignored it their calamity was on their own head. I felt that God was giving me the same charge.

A few days later God called me to deliver an important message to someone who is very close to me. They have been openly engaged in sin and effectively asked me to endorse it. I reminded the individual of my position and the reason why I could not approve. I explained the hope of the gospel to them and encouraged them to repent and turn to God. They were offended. I got unfriended (on Facebook). And from what I have heard some less than kind words were spoken about me.

I'll be honest, it makes me sad. I had hoped that the individual would be born again. Unfortunately, it went the other direction. I suppose it could have been a lot worse. I hope it won't be, but the violent reaction I got made me wonder just how this person will respond if they continue down the path they have taken much longer. I love this individual and really hope that one day our relationship can be restored.

As much as I desire that, there are some things that I cannot compromise: I cannot endorse something that the Bible calls sin, and I cannot allow a person to walk in sin without warning them.

I love this person too much to allow them to believe that their sin is OK. I cannot withhold the truth when directly confronted by the deception that they are living under. A person may think that a stick of dynamite is a candle, but if I let them walk around with a lit stick to find their way I am not loving them as I should. If I don't try to stop them their destruction is certain. Thus it is with sin.

The Bible tells that there is coming a time when people will not endure sound doctrine, but will seek teachers that will tell them what they want to hear, leading them away into deception (2 Timothy 4:3-4). As Christians it is our duty to hold the line and not compromise the message of the Bible. That doesn't mean that we have to be hateful. In fact, it would be best if we're not. We are to speak the truth in love. Does it guarantee that we won't still be hated and reviled as ignorant? No. Jesus always spoke the truth in love and they crucified Him. The Bible tells us that we will become a fragrance to all we encounter – to some we'll be the beautiful fragrance of Christ but to others the stench of death. It will all depend on the path they are taking.

We must be willing to stand unblinking before the wrath of the spirits controlling those we love and desire to see born again. We must hold up the mirror of the Word before them so that they know their true condition and recognize their need for the radical change that can only come from the Savior. We must keep loving them even though they think we are the enemy. And we must believe that God will get through to them eventually as we pray and hold the line against their deception. Never quit! He is mighty to save.

I never dreamed that Jesus' words in Matthew 10 would be true for me. But I was wrong.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Life is Interesting

Things have been busy lately. As if that were news!

Last weekend my girlfriend scored tickets to the Martina McBride concert in Greensboro. It was a pretty good concert. Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan opened for her. I think the most impressive thing she did though was ride a crescent moon prop across the coliseum while singing the whole time. She ended up on a little mini stage at the back of the coliseum where she sang a couple songs, and then WALKED singing through the crowd back to the stage shaking hands, hugging necks, and waving to the crowd. Impressive.

Saturday I planted the rest of my corn, another row of lima beans, some more basil, and some sage. I also planted a hill of cantaloupe. I worked on some of the irrigation too.

Saturday night we had a celebration for my mom's birthday. My brother made some tasty turkey burgers with spinach and feta cheese. My sister made a really tasty angel food cake trifle with pineapple and vanilla pudding. And I contributed a veggie slaw (that doesn't use any sugar or mayonnaise) South Beach mashed cauliflower, and a wilted spinach dish with portabella mushrooms, asparagus, and cashews. It was a tasty repast!

Sunday I got to play bass at church. It was fun. I haven't gotten to play bass in ages, so I was a little rusty, but I still had a good time.

At work this week I have been trying to get used to some new software. We bought an upgrade to our database program. It is definitely an improvement, but the learning curve has been a little steep. It has slowed down a lot of my administrative duties as I have been trying to figure out where everything goes in the program. It isn't extremely intuitive. A lot of the functionality is hidden until you know where to look for it - which really isn't any different than the last version of the program. I wish they had done a widespread beta. I would have liked to make some suggestions that I think would have made it better. The program is called MarketsharpM, and if you are involved in any type of building industry, I would recommend it. They have a good team of people supporting it and the program is affordable and powerful.

I hope that you all voted yesterday. This primary came up on me pretty quickly. I really didn't have the time to prepare like I would have liked to, but I did feel pretty good about the choices that I made. I was disappointed that James Taylor didn't upset Howard Coble, but I can still put my support behind Howard. I like the way Coble votes, but I just think it is time for him to move on, and I like the way James is thinking.

My band has moved to two a week practices now. We only have 26 days until we will be playing at our church's outreach called "Fields Of Grace." Fields of Grace will be a series of outdoor events beginning the last Sunday night in May. My band will be playing the first Sunday night in June, and there will be concerts the next two Sunday nights. We're just trying to get the salt out of the shaker a little bit.

This weekend will be tricky. I want to get up to visit my Grandmother for Mother's Day (that's this Sunday, by the way) but I still have some gardening that needs to be done. I need to plant my last row of lima beans and want to plant another hill of watermelon and cantaloupe. I may also have some sweet potatoes to plant, and they will need water so I'll have to get my irrigation sorted out better than it is right now. It is always something. I have already spent as much on this garden as I really want to. Oh well.

So that is the latest. I hope all is going well for you! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Garden Update

Well, things have been going pretty well in the garden so far. Two weeks ago I planted half of my tomatoes and some lima beans. Last week I planted just about everything else. I hope to get the rest of it planted Saturday.

When I went out yesterday to check things I saw that most of my first row of lima beans have come up. I was very pleased to see that. If I can get my irrigation out I'm sure it won't be long until the others follow suit.

So far we have about 50 tomato plants, a dozen squash plants, half a dozen zucchini, a long row of blackeye peas, a long row of purple hull peas, a long row of green beans, 2 long rows of lima beans, a hill of watermelons, a dozen jalapeno peppers, 3 red bell peppers, 3 poblano peppers, 3 yellow bell peppers, 3 green bell peppers, 3 purple bell peppers, 3 mild banana peppers, 2 dill plants, one basil plant, and one cabbage plant (that belongs to my niece.) Oh yeah, and three short rows of corn.

Still to be planted are two rows of lima beans (one will get planted next week) three or 4 rows of corn, cucumbers, and several hills of cantaloupes, water melons, and maybe even a hill of honeydew if I can find it. I also have some sweet potatoes to see if I can sprout. I may do some of them too.

It still sounds like a lot, but not so much really. I will probably plant the rest of the corn, one row of lima beans, and one hill of cantaloupe on Saturday. If I can find it I'll probably do a hill of honeydew too.

This year I selected 4 main varieties of tomato. I have a dozen Better Boy plants, because that has been my family's favorite for years. I have also planted a dozen Roma tomatoes for canning and salsa. There is also dozen Celebrity for eating, canning and salsa. Finally, I got a dozen Cherokee Purple for juice. I also added a grape tomato and another "tommytoe" variety. And my friend Terry gave me another variety that I have divided into three plants. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of that one.

Saturday's work in the garden will also be spent getting my irrigation sorted - or at least planned. Every year you have to chase leaks, and I'll have to take some time to find out what hoses are working, which ones can be repaired, and which ones need to be trashed. Then I can figure out what else I need. I also need to put down some lime and fertilizer. It probably wouldn't hurt to get the tomato stakes in the ground too.

So far the weeds haven't shown up yet, but when they do, I have a handy new pointy hoe to take care of them, thanks to my girlfriend's mom! As much work as gardening is, for some reason I really enjoy it.

Well, that's all for the farm report tonight! I'll try to get you caught up this weekend.


Hello, friends. It has been difficult finding the time to write here. I have started several posts at different times, but finishing one has been a major challenge. It would seem that my time management skills need some improvement. I am always amazed by the folks that are able to get massive amounts of stuff done with their days. I have that from time to time, but by and large I find that my time is stolen from me by little annoying things more than not.

OK, enough whining - about that anyway. If any of you out there were like me, but found a method that helped you to consistently manage your time well, I'd love to hear about it.

To get more to the point of my title, I am quite frustrated by what I see happening to my country. Every day (literally) I read another headline that points to the greatly decayed state of the union. Every day it is a new revelation of corruption - every day some new abomination laden bill sneaking its way through congress or being ram-rodded through it. And each report brings with it the certainty that my freedoms and rights are being eroded at an alarming rate. I have honestly never been so angry.

As an aside, something else that really pisses me off is the gall of progressives to call themselves that. What a load of crap! Progressive insinuates a moving toward something better, but the path that they would lead us down is anything but better. The progressive path is one headed 180° away from God and his Law. They steal but justify it by claiming that they are doing it to help the poor (which they never manage to actually do). They murder but call it choice. They slander but call it freedom of speech. They lie and call it truth. A perfect example is Al Gore, who was reported to have purchased an $8 million ocean front home this week. Guess he's not too worried about rising ocean levels after all. No, progressive does not match what they are. They are bad, old-fashioned liberals.

And then I begin to wonder, what can I do? Protesting obviously does no good, and violence does no good. Neither do phone calls or emails or written letters. I am losing confidence in the republic. The only hope that I have right now is in prayer and in my vote this November.

Truly, I can't wait for November to get here. God grant that the right heads roll. I would be shocked if there are more than a dozen each in the House and Senate that deserve to be there. I hope that when the dust settles that they are the only ones left. Change is clearly needed - but not of the variety that the current administration has brought. I only hope that God will favor us with a majority of leaders who love what America has historically stood for, are fiscally responsible, are willing to call a spade a spade, can't be bought, are willing to make tough choices for the sake of our country, and who don't give a rat's left hind tit if they get re-elected or not. I'd vote for someone like that any day.

Interesting Music

I discovered these guys through a friend's post on Facebook and really like their creativity and energy. They are called Pomplamoose. They remind me of my friends, the Dicksons. I hope you enjoy them too! This is one of my favorites, but they have a very diverse repertoire!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mission From God

So, me and the guys are putting the band back together. We've been trying to get practices going again because we're supposed to play a gig at our church on June 6th.

This time we are planning to incorporate some "secular" songs in the mix. We did some work on U2's Pride (In The Name Of Love) last week and it went well. This week I am thinking about bringing this song:

I like the key Sara is doing it in. Great song. I also like Edwin McCain's version. I could hear Chris Daughtry singing it too.

I did some checking for tabs for this song and got wildly different versions - all of them wrong. The good news is that I was able to piece most of it together from the different versions that I found. I still have one chord that I can't figure out. There is a passing chord at the end of the chorus that I can't quite figure out. I have something that works, but it isn't what they are doing in Sara's version. If only Justin and Sara (from the Stillwaters Jazz Band) were right up the street I would bug them and get some help!

We're also looking at doing Daughtry's "Home." I have found a really good acoustic version online, but haven't been able to quite figure out what this fellow is doing. I think that he is using an alternative tuning because I can't make the chords that it looks like he is playing work in the tuning that I use.

Of course then we have to find someone who can pull off the song vocally. I'm praying that the Lord will help me to do justice to these songs or that He'll provide someone who can!

Another song that I like comes from a somewhat surprising source. I've really been drawn to Nickleback's song "If Today Were Your Last Day."

Good song. The "official" video is pretty good too, but there is something about the image of the black doctor working on the injured Klansman in this one that is really powerful.

Well, it is getting late so I'll wrap this up. Happy listening!


It has been an interesting season.

Boy, if those aren't loaded words. Terry Pratchett wrote a book called Interesting Times. I haven't read it yet, but if I understand correctly one of the greatest curses that you can invoke on a person on Discworld (the Yoknapatawpha County of Pratchett's imagination) was that they would live in interesting times - which are always a bit more interesting in retrospect than they are when being lived out. Ask Frodo if his times were interesting, and he would have most likely responded, "No, they were bloody awful." Yet for the Hobbit urchins gathered around him listening to the stories of his adventures they were fraught with intrigue and fascination.

I love the way John Eldredge put it,

Twenty clear days a year - that sounds about like my life. I think I see what's really going on about that often. The rest of the time, it feels like a fog, like the bathroom mirror after a hot shower. You know what I mean. What exactly are you perfectly clear on these days? How about your life? Why have things gone the way they have? Where was God in all that? And do you know what you ought to do next, with a deep, settled confidence that it will work out? Neither do I. Oh, I'd love to wake each morning knowing exactly who I am and where God is taking me. Zeroed in on all my relationships, undaunted in my calling. It's awesome when I do see. But for most of us, life seems more like driving along with a dirty windshield and then turning into the sun. I can sort of make out the shapes ahead, and I think the light is green.
- Waking The Dead p. 5

Yeah, that pretty well sums it up.

Lately I have asked the Lord - at the encouragement of my significant other - what the future might look like for me. Not some sort of crystal ball inquiry, but a real frank discussion with Him about direction and destiny. I was surprised to have some answers and to see some really disparate puzzle pieces put into context with each other. It was really nice to see how these vastly different interests could possibly work together. It was encouraging to see that even pieces that I received years ago were not "misses" but are still a part of the plan.

I won't say that I have the road map, but at least I have a good general lay of the land now. That is comforting. I hope I can remember that when journeying through Mirkwood. All journeys seem destined to pass through its depths, don't they?

I have friends plumbing some of the same depths that I have over the past 20 years. It is hard to see them struggling. I hurt for them, but I am also encouraged by their struggle, for it shows me that the Lord has taken notice of them, and He is in the process of disciplining them to make them more like Himself and to help them love Him better.

So often we look at discipline (at least in the United States) as something that is for those who have done something bad. Yet God's discipline is not like that. See, those whom He loves He disciplines. It is kind of hard to understand until you experience it. Often what God is after isn't some great sin pattern in our lives. The thing that often brings His discipline is wrong thinking and wrong heart attitudes that keep us from knowing Him and loving Him correctly. These are almost never our fault, but are the result of woundings that we receive throughout the course of our life.

It is nice to have a little perspective. It makes the discipline a lot more bearable.

So, to my friends who are hopelessly lost in Mirkwood's haunts (now or in the future) my prayer is that you will quickly discover that you are not alone, that God is right there with you, and that God is GOOD. You aren't as lost as you seem. God knows right where you are, and none of this surprises Him. He's got you right where you need to be. Rest in these truths.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Garden Time Again

Today was the official beginning of gardening season for me this year. I got to disk the garden, which was pretty fun. But then it is always pretty fun to get to drive the tractor.

I had thought to go ahead and till tomorrow, but I think I am going to hold off. I don't really want to plant anything for the next couple weeks until I am reasonably sure that the danger of frost is past. I'm not planning to do any colder weather crops this year.

As I have been thinking about things, I am reasonably sure that I will do tomatoes, green beans, corn, cantaloupes, watermelons, peppers, squash, cucumbers, basil, and fordhook lima beans. I am also probably going to do black-eyed peas as well.

I plan to do a lot of tomatoes - at least 4 dozen plants. I want to do a dozen Cherokee Purple plants for juice, a dozen Better Boys and a dozen Celebrity for just plain eating, and a dozen Romas for canning and salsa. I'll probably also throw in some grape/cherry tomato plants too. I had good results from the Goliath hybrids last year too. They produced longer than the others did. I may do a few of them too. I'd like to do at least 2 Ox Hearts too. That's a lot of tomatoes.

I am going to try something different with my lima beans this year. I am planning to wait until most of the beans on the bushes are just beginning to turn a little yellow and then pull up the plants. In the past two years I have only gotten 1-2 good pickings off of the plants and the first was always bigger than the second. I think that I will have better results by planting pulling and re-planting than by doing what I have done before. Time will tell. Gardening is a great place to experiment!

Well, that is all for now. I'll keep you updated!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Where Does The Time Go?

I'm just sitting down here to start writing and looking at the clock, thinking, "how the heck did it get to be a quarter to nine?" Where did the time go? Germany?

I turned the computer on about 4 hours ago. Of course, I probably spent more than two hours watching partial clips on the Fox News website about this damnable healthcare bill that the President is trying to push on us without the benefit of a kiss. I am praying so hard for this thing to finally die the death that it should have died in committee.

I love the way they are trying to "help" us. According to all the accounts that I have heard about this bill, it would force all Americans to be covered by some sort of health insurance. That sounds great, right? Well, just how great does it sound? I was talking to a friend of mine who works for the state of North Carolina. Do you know how much he has to pay to cover his 30ish-year-old wife? Over $600 a month. Now let's consider someone who is working for minimum wage. I think that rate is $7.25/hour.

Let's assume a 3,000 hour work year. For normal people it would be 2,000, but someone on minimum wage would have to work two jobs at least best case scenario. That would amount to an annual wage of $21,750 prior to taxes - $1,812.50 a month BEFORE taxes.

Based on the percentages that I found for a typical US household approximately $600 would be spent on housing, $230 on food, $275 on transportation. At least another $300 would be spent on utilities. That tallies to $1,405, leaving only $407.50 for taxes and all other expenses. This scenario would be difficult for a single person. It would only be exacerbated for a single income family.

Check my math, but how would someone in that income bracket afford a $600 monthly insurance bill? Yet the government is going to tell that person that he must choose between, food, clothing, heat, or transportation and health insurance or face a fine - a fine that could eventually land the individual in jail if not paid. A fine that would end up causing the individual to incur legal expenses in addition to their other normal expenses. No thanks. I don't want help like that.

So, it would appear that the government is coming down on the side of insurance. I mean, if everyone has to have some sort of health coverage and there isn't going to be a public option then that means insurers will be the ones still making the money. And I am sure that there will be minimum coverage requirements. This is going to prevent any real change from taking place. If everyone is having to cough up the big bucks that the insurers will charge or face a fine then you are creating a situation that will introduce a moral risk.

It is a lot like people who go to a buffet. They may satisfied after the first plate, but because they have paid a higher fee for "all you can eat" then the inclination is to make sure that they got their money's worth even if they have to make themselves miserable to do it.

The same thing will happen with health care. Because you will have people who are having to sacrifice to make their monthly insurance payments, you can rest assured that they are going to go to the doctor for every little thing. This will put further pressure on the insurance companies to maintain the hefty profits that they are accustomed to resulting in rate increases and compensation decreases to medical providers. It will also increase demand on medical resources.

These pressures will create another "HEALTHCARECRISIS!!!!!!" That will give the government an excuse to create a one-payer system - a system with a dismal success rate historically. The only joy I would get from that is watching Michael Moore's fat butt getting turned away from a government run health clinic because he used up his quota of medicine.

I pray to God that this mess can be undone.