The unseen war

Even as a child I became aware there is a spiritual war raging all around us.  Earth is a battleground, and the children of men are the ones being fought over.  The soul is the command seat of the person.  That’s where Hell attacks.  The good news is there is a King who restores souls and leads us to the right road.

Chapter 3 The Breastplate of Righteousness

Breastplate of Righteousness

The second piece of armour is the Breastplate of Righteousness, which covers the heart.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of  righteousness in place, Ephesians 614

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Silver-tongue controlled the Princess through refusal. “You have no reason to expect anything of me” he said, as he quoted the Gestalt prayer by Frederick S Perls;

“I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful.” 

His smooth words were as beautiful as they were hateful, and her resentment and anger grew. She lived for his approval and wanted to make him happy, but that was gradually changing, for her eyes were now upon the King.

As the Princess walked beside the King she felt haggard and deathly tired. They surveyed the ground that she had gained from the dragon. It was devastated and barren. Nothing had been able to grow there. The King asked her to look at him. She looked into his wise eyes, eyes that contained the wisdom of the ages. In his presence she could feel his power and authority, and with Him she was safe from the dragon.

The King said “I know you are tired of fighting, but you are going to have to go back into battle again.” She was weary. “Lord, I’m tired. I have no strength for my sword or shield. The dragon was your enemy long before I came here.  He only hates me because I’m yours. You go kill it, Lord.”   The King replied “You must fight. This is your ground. You have to make a stand or you will never know any peace.”

The next day she prepared for battle. “Lord, I cannot see you, where are you?” she cried out, again and again, trying to shoulder into her breastplate, which had grown too heavy and tight to put on.   At last, the Lord appeared. “I cannot help you. You need to put on your armour first.” “I know that, Lord, and I am trying!” she sobbed.

“Why does it not fit?” she asked in despair. “The breastplate of my righteousness cannot fit over resentment. You can only wear one or the other” the King replied sternly. “Then Lord, help me get the resentment off” she begged. “No, I cannot. Only the one who put it on you can take it off. You must go and ask Silver-tongue” he replied.

“If your brother sins against you, go to him and show him his fault. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If he listens to you, you have won your brother back.” Matthew 18:15

The dragon laughed at her mockingly, for he knew she would not be listened to. Her eyes narrowed as she remembered her crook. “What is that in my cottage by the fireplace, you dragon scum? Who gave me that! Don’t you know that the King gifted that to me with words, and his promise that His house will be my home for as long as I live! Do you know the authority that I have over you in my King’s name! I am a child of the King, and I now KNOW that He hears me, you liar. I know my birthright and I will not be cheated out of it. I will be heard!”

He backed off quickly as she resisted him, using words would bring the King into his dark realm. Later she smiled up at the King through her tears. “Lord, I can live with you, but not Silver-tongue. You want me to deal with my resentment. You want me to show him his fault. How can I when he thinks he is perfect?” The Lord said “Don’t run ahead. I will use your relationship with Silver-tongue because he draws out your enemies.”

Rock and hard placeShe went to walk away. “Where are you going?” the King asked. Her reply was bitter as she said “Forgive me. The resentment is at times too much to bear, and in your presence I remembered it. I know that you will not lift it off, but neither will Silver-tongue, for it seems he does not care about me. I know that I cannot wear the armour of righteousness and faith over resentment, so I went to go to the land between the rock and the hard place”.

The King made the Princess look at him saying “Child, seek my face.” She replied “When you said, come seek my face, my heart said, your face, Lord, will I seek. Psalm 27:8

“Why do you head for this hard place where you know you will find no comfort, when all you have to do is seek my advice?” He asked. “Lord, I have no right to seek you in this matter between Silver-tongue and I.” The King asked “Who determined this right?” She paused.

“Uncertainty did, Lord” she finally answered. “Remember what princess Eve said?  You must come to me with certainty” the King replied. She nodded, and then bowed at the King’s feet. “I have no right to ask for your help, for I know I am not righteous.” The King replied “No man is. All have sinned and fallen short of my law.”

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:22-24

You are in right standing before my Father not from keeping the law, but through faith in the me, and this righteousness comes by faith.”

This was redemption. Looking up in gratitude, she replied “You have taken my sin, my wrong-doing in exchange for the great gift of your righteousness.  How can I thank you?” She stood, and the King helped her shoulder into the breastplate of righteousness. As she put it into place He promised “I will lead you along the right paths,  for my name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3

Following Him, she replied “Please show me the right path, for I am in no man’s land, and have lost my way.”   The King led her through a gate onto a narrow path, and said “Your path is here, at the beginning of wisdom. It is the path that leads to life. We will walk on this path together. At times you may slip, but if you trust me, I will direct the steps that you are to take. You will gain wisdom and understanding.”

The King stopped her at the first step on the path, looked at her sternly and said “I am not happy that you were again giving in to the demands of the man you call Silver-Tongue. Now turn around and instead ask him for what you want.” Fear of man whispered to her.

She replied “I am afraid of the refusal. Lord, I don’t know how to ask for what I want. I used to wait for what I wanted, and then I would prompt with clues, and wait again. My needs would be ignored. When I finally asked, in beggar’s clothes and resentment, Silver-tongue would say “I hadn’t asked in the prescribed manner.”

He has found so many ways to refuse me; “I have used the wrong language”, or “it was a demand”. I have stopped asking, and have ended up expecting nothing for myself.  In so doing, my trust and hope have died. Yet his demands are constant, and he expects to get what he wants. He does not like the word ‘no’.”

The King replied “You must overcome your fear enough to ask. In this you will learn what manner of man Silver-tongue is.

“Love is not ill-mannered or selfish” 1 Corinthians 13:5

She walked with the King on the road he had brought her back to, and marvelled at his wisdom. She learned that the road He called ‘the everlasting way’ would grow brighter and brighter the further she travelled on it, like the sunrise. Picking up her lamp, she smiled at the King and started following Him on the long journey towards the brightening horizon.

The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. Proverbs 4:18

The Shield of Faith

Of the six pieces of armour the believer is given, the shield has substance.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

When I first used the shield, I was in a battle for the mind. I didn’t know what it was or what I was doing. I just followed the King’s advice, and in a mixture of desperation and blind faith did what He said.

The shield is designed to stop burning arrows fired at us by the evil one.

At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. Ephesians 6:16

Burning arrows can be thoughts. We think they’re our own thoughts, and we entertain them.

I’d developed a severe worry habit, which I was trying overcome in different ways. I tried meditating on the word of God, which worked great over time, but its not a quick fix.

Norman Vincent Peale suggested in his book “The Power of Positive Thinking” that immediately I got a negative thought, drop it from my mind and voice a positive thought.  No, that didn’t work.

I hollowed out a tissue box, wrote ‘God’ on it, wrote out my thoughts on bits of paper and ‘posted’ them in the slot. The ‘God Box’ also worked great, over time. My 5 and 6 year old kids saw me doing it, copied me, and prayers got answered!  But again, it wasn’t a quick fix.

The trouble was I felt like I was in a war. I was desperate and in need of immediate emotional and mental relief.  I didn’t want pills as I wanted to fix the problem, not mask it.

Words have power, and the narcissist I was in an abusive relationship with seemed to know it. He said horrible things to get control of me. I’d just lost my father the month before and the abuser didn’t intend to let up or give me space to grieve. My mind was running constant re-runs of the narcissist’s words and actions, without letup. I couldn’t stop it and it only got worse. It seemed like a sick and twisted rendition of a soap opera called “Daze of my life”, with characters I hated.  The devil set the scene, wrote the script, then joined the gossips in the audience to laugh at me maliciously.

The only thing keeping me sane was my desire to be there for my young children who loved me and needed me.

The King taught me how to shield my mind by handing all the evil thoughts to him. Its called “taking every thought captive”.

… we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 

After 3 days of handing over every bad thought to the Lord, I met Jesus in a dream. I tell you, He is very much alive, He’s just in a different room from us right now. He healed me, getting rid of a cough I’d had for 10 months, and He gave me peace of mind that goes beyond all understanding.  Chapter 2 of the Kingdom tells the story.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

May His peace guard your heart and your mind.

The Sword of the Spirit

During the period I call “the depression years” my best friend suggested I meditate.  After that first contact with the King in January 1994 where I learned He loved me and I could hear Him, I asked Him how I should meditate.

A useful book called “The power of Positive Thinking” was loaned to me by my Aunt, the one who read me Bible stories as a child.  She didn’t know I’d asked the Lord how to meditate.

As I drove home through the lonely North Island roads with the book beside me, the radio announced news that the author, Norman Vincent Peale had died at the age of 95.  Noting the strange timing, I took it as confirmation I should read the book.

The author suggested memorizing Bible Verses to train the mind to think positively.  I took it on board, and after putting into practice what he wrote and memorising verses it led me to start thinking differently.  I soon found myself knocked off my feet in a spiritual battle.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

I needed to make a stand, but how and with what do you fight an invisible foe?

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
2 Corinthians 10:4

Sword of the Spirit

The King taught me about the weapons I could use in the ensuing fight against His enemy. 

“Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

The first weapon that came to hand was the sword of truth, the Word of God.

The sword of the Spirit is one of the six items or armour given to the believer in their fight against evil.  Out of the six pieces of armour, it is the only weapon.

The Bible is the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.  Ephesians 6:10-17

 The Word of God

This is no ordinary book.  It is made up of 66 books by 40 authors, inspired by God.  I have heard a very good acronym to describe it;

Basic
Instruction
Before
Leaving
Earth.

God-breathed

The Bible is God-breathed, the inspired word of God.  The greatest mind in the universe is behind this book.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Tim 3:16

For all that it is God-breathed, it is sealed.  Without the Holy Spirit, it is cold and enigmatic.  The word only comes alive with the aid of the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor the King promised He would send.

Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. John 16:7

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. John 16:13.

Our spirit and unconscious mind can normally only be accessed through dreams.  The Bible is designed to speak to the three-fold part of ourselves.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Unchanged

The Bible has not been changed.  An ancient Bible called the Codex Sinaiticus, handwritten well over 1600 years ago (around 350AD), contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. It is the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity.  It was preserved in the dry desert air of St Katherine’s monastery at Mt Sinai, said to be the oldest monastery in the world. The Greek words are the same as our English translations.

Jesus said “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Matthew 5:18

Chapter 1 Silver-tongue and the Dragon

Sword of SpiritIn finding the Kingdom, the Princess did not yet believe she was the daughter of a King, or the worth that came from that.  All she had known was belittlement and abuse. Even though she did not trust the King, or obey Him, and even though she needed Him more than she loved Him, the King did not leave her.

Determined to rescue the Princess, He worked hard at gaining her trust so she would follow Him.  Knowing she needed to learn His ways, He began by teaching her from His sacred book.

At first, she did not seek the Kingdom, preferring to deal with her reality.

Silver-tongue alternately scorned and wooed her, sometimes on the same day. She suffered unending mind games. He would smirk and laugh in her face, until she cried or flew into a rage.  She was always trying to defend herself, and it played into his hands.  He always spoke quietly, and she could not keep from yelling.  She felt bad so about herself. Nothing seemed to please him.

When she tried to please him, he hit her with a devastating club of disapproval.  He put her down so often, that she believed him when he showed her why she was not worthy of love.  Her anger built behind a dam of tears.

Silver-tongue continued to stay at his house and used her cottage to sleep at. He joined her only when the moon appeared, and disappeared when the sun rose.  He would not even share the food from her table. The charm turned to nastiness when she confronted him about turning up late at night, or questioned his behaviour.

They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city.  Psalm 59:6

The Mighty Counsellor

The King wanted to help.  He told the Princess one of the His names was “Mighty Counsellor”.

The Princess no longer trusted counsellors, but she had begun to trust the King. She appeared before Him. “Lord, the counsellors have failed me. No help can be found after they listen to Silver-tongue.  No help, only harm. The counsellors are useless, without any discernment. I know you are not like that, and you see what is going on. You are named ‘Mighty Counsellor’, can you help me? Please counsel me in the way I should go.”

The King had been waiting for her to ask. Silver-tongue would not be able to turn Him against her.

She found herself back in the Kingdom, in the armour room of a castle.  Looking out the window she saw a flag flying that bore a huge lion upon it.

The King dropped a load of armour at her feet and explained how her anger was being exploited.  The dragon used rage, and to get rid of it she had to overcome it, fight it and gain control. One of the pieces of armour was a mighty sword.  He handed it to her and said “Go smote the dragon, not the man you regard as a prince.”

In the outside world the sword was the Bible, a much maligned book that was misquoted, dismissed and ignored as myth and fairy tales – a book that sat unused on many a dusty bookshelf.  She grinned at the King and shook her head in puzzlement asking “Seriously, how can this be a sword?”  He smiled and said, “Read my word.  Remember it, and repeat it when I tell you to.  Watch what happens!”

Two Edged SwordThe Sword of the Spirit

Her first attempt with the sword came when Silver-tongue arrived.  As he started lashing her with his tongue, the King’s word came to mind.  She picked it up and used it.  “You curse, but the Lord will bless” she parried.  Silver-tongue was left speechless.  His words always found their mark, usually leaving her an abused and snivelling wreck.  He expected her to cry and attempt to defend herself.  Suddenly he glimpsed a self-confident woman who would not need his approval, and both he and the dragon backed off.

In the Kingdom, the Princess held the King’s steady gaze as she studied the sword.  It was double edged and shone with light.  It was the only offensive weapon the King gave her.  The King said it would cut right through to where the soul and spirit met, but could not be used to attack people.

 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

The Princess smiled but knew Silver-tongue or the dragon would be back for a counter attack.  He knew if she got angry enough, he would gain control.  The sword impressed her with its power, but she worried about getting the words in time.

She told the King that she just wasn’t strong enough to pick up the mighty sword, and the dragon often took the appearance of the man she regarded as a prince. She asked the Lord, “Which one would I strike?” He told her to learn from His sacred book.  She would be given ability to see the dragon, strength to wield the sword, and wisdom in how to use it.

The time came for rage again.  Silver-tongue had asked her to make his lunches.  “What a cheek. Why are you even asking for that again?  I did that for months until I asked for the money for YOUR corn-beef, which you refused to give me.”  He replied I wanted to treat you like a wife.”

Looking at his beautifully pressed business shirt, she asked him who had ironed it.  His wife had.  “What is getting her to iron your shirts treating HER like then?”   Not having a ready answer, he attacked her house keeping skills saying “You are too erratic.  I want things done in a more structured way!”   The sword was forgotten in the heat of her anger.  Furious, she told him to get out and threw his stuff after him, which unfortunately only amounted to one soup packet.

He left, she smarted, the dragon smirked, and the King sighed.  “Do not give in. You know the response the dragon wants.  You must give the opposite response.”

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32

The next time she was wronged she said with an icy smile and ground teeth; “I know you have done me wrong, but I am not going to get mad, I am leaving this for the King to judge.”  She was able to do it through growing love and trust in her King, and to take the control away from Silver-tongue.   The battle continued.

Silver-tongue wasn’t the only one who angered and wounded her.  The dragon, when he found the Princess resisting him, attempted an attack through her mother.  Every few months, her happy, kind and sunny natured mother would undergo a transformation.  The Princess and her sisters had a name for what emerged from the darkness; “the Bull.”  At those times she was hostile, mean, aggressive and not safe to be around.

The Bull would spread gossip and slander about her.  Afterwards, eyes glittering with mania, and enjoying her sweet high, her “mother” would come around or phone, uninvited and unwelcome, to feed off all the abuse and misery she’d caused.  This had been happening all of her life, and she’d had enough.

Her bipolar mother was one of the biggest reasons she wanted to remain in Sydney, where she was safe.  This was a sick Jekyll and Hyde relationship she did not want.  She wished she did not have a mother, and when her mother was manic, she cursed her as she said so.  Her mother had been abandoned by her own mother as a toddler, and now it was affecting the next generation.  She vowed she would never abandon her own children, and shielded them as best as she could. Despite that, her young son had already noticed, even at the tender age of four.  He said to her mother “You say bad words about us.”

In the Kingdom, she held the sword with her anger and gritted her teeth.  It was way too heavy.  She chose to keep the sword and drop the anger.  “I have heard what you said about me.  Why do you do it?  I am not going to get angry this time.  I want to talk to you about your words!”

Her mother hung up, and the dragon fled! Her sisters heard about it from their mother, and were agog.  “Good God!  What happened?  What have you done to Mum?  She is back in her own mind and wants to apologise to you.  No bull!”  They were astonished because their mother would remain manic for months, and had never apologised, ever.

The Princess had won a major victory against the dragon.  She laughed.  He could not go back there to wound her.  If he tried, she would be waiting, and she would now go for him rather than her mother.  For the first time in her life, she felt like she had some control.

“So then, submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you. Come near to God, and he will come near to you.”  James 4:7

The King used this to teach her how the dragon attacked.  She was learning how to discern where He was, stand her ground and fight.

“Put on all the armour that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks.

For we are not fighting against human beings, but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age.

So put on God’s armour now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground.”  Ephesians 6:11-13