Many years ago, the Lord gave me a rather personal word of encouragement, “When the smoke of battle clears, may you be seen as still standing!”
There is gathering globally a serious climate of anti-Christian sentiment that has not been seen in my lifetime. Not only is faith being villainized, but also the foundation of social stability built of Judeo-Christian values is being flagrantly ridiculed and eroded. My deepest burden is to help prepare you, us, and as many of God’s people as possible for the conflict that is already upon us.
I personally believe it is folly to bury our heads in the eschatological sand and hope for Jesus to suddenly snatch us away in the nick of time. In 2 Cor. 1:8, Mirror translation, Paul says: “We want you to know that we were not exaggerating the extreme contradictions and sufferings we faced in Asia.” Faithfulness to His calling requires that we continue to swim upstream.
Here at Lifechangers, we have been looking at 2023 as a year to engage Life (Zoe). More bible studies will not ultimately prepare us for engaging life in a spiritual and cultural atmosphere that is becoming more pressured. Our nation has historically protected us from severe social and military conflict, economic chaos, and corrupt political disruption. But our institutional safety nets are unraveling. The judicial integrity, personal rights, privacy, and freedom of choice we have presumed upon are eroding. We have entered a climate that demands Father’s family to begin grow up. To “be standing when the smoke of battle clears,” we must begin to disengage from a “bless me” adolescence and learn to “reign in life.”
During my Navy training we learned to march in sub-zero weather. A sailor ahead of me continually confused right and left, which disrupted the rest of the formation. The frustrated drill instructor finally stormed up to the sailor and stomped hard on his left foot. It was most painful in the bitter cold. “In case you forget,” he bellowed, “the one that hurts is your left!” He never confused right and left again.
When life “stomps on your left foot,” we are biblically required to refuse to become offended, discouraged, or double-minded. Father’s mysterious ability to use life circumstances allows us the opportunity to mature in confidence, perseverance, and faith, transcending the “painful left foot.”
Fatherhood, both spiritual and natural, is being repudiated with alarming momentum. In Malachi 3:6, fatherhood is described as “despised.” Why? Fathers (good ones) do not allow us to go our own way. A father corrects, adjusts, and prepares his son or daughter to engage in life with courage, confidence, and wisdom.
Father was Jesus’ solitary focus. I would like to offer five suggestions that will help you move toward becoming “Father-centered.” These five suggestions, if embraced, are intended to position you before the Father, allowing Him to bring forth a maturity that will prove essential in the immediate future:
- Ask God the Father to reveal to your true identity. If we know our identity, we cease trying to create our own! Jesus gave us that identity. It is foundational.
- Ask God the Father to tutor you in how to die to self. If we become selfless, we cease trying to save our own lives. We can embrace Father’s ultimate intentions with joy and freedom.
- Ask God the Father to reveal your reactions to a “painful left foot.” How do you react and what does it look like?
- Ask God the Father to keep you centered in His Kingdom. It is the only
- Ask God the Father to make you a uios. This is Greek for an authentic son or daughter, one that is pleasing to Father. This request yields security, identity, and belonging. These three things are most scarce and proven valuable in the created universe.
I’ll be watching for you when the smoke of battle clears!