Today, we're going to talk about spiritual armor, that which every Christian should equip themselves with in this wicked culture especially, and our guest on this broadcast is Priscilla Shirer. She is a dynamic Bible teacher. You probably already know of her or have heard her, but you're going to hear it again today because she is truly able to bring the word of God to life when she speaks. Priscilla also founded Going Beyond Ministries, which enables women to be spiritually active in their communities. She's authored over a dozen books, including two New York Times bestsellers entitled The Resolution for Women and Fervent.
Priscilla has been married to her husband, Jerry, for 20 years and she's the proud mother of three boys. She is also the daughter of Dr. Tony and Lois Evans. As many of you know, Lois went to be with Jesus at the end of December. We've all been very sad with her passing because she was truly a great lady. The Evans have been dear friends to Shirley and me for years, and we were deeply grieved by her passing and still are. I would ask that you keep this entire family in your prayers during this difficult time.
As we get started today, Priscilla goes to Ephesians 6 and describes the Armor of God as Paul talked about. Let's listen to this insightful presentation given at Hillsong Church of London a few years ago.
Priscilla Shirer: It was the mid 1980s. It occurs to me that many of you were not even born yet. Help me, Jesus. The mid 1980s when a movie came out that sort of spread like wildfire. Everybody wanted to go see it in the 1980s, not only in America where I'm from, but across the world. Wherever you lived at that time, you went to go see The Karate Kid. If you have not seen the original version of that movie, you saw the 2010 version when they did the remake.
And The Karate Kid though, if you've not seen the original, you really got to go see the original because Daniel's got these bullies that are after him and they keep calling him a whole lot problem in his life and so he finds somebody, a sensei, that can help him to learn the art of karate. He goes to Mr. Miyagi and he begs Mr. Miyagi to help him to learn the craft of karate. And so finally, after hesitating a little bit, after resisting just a little bit, Mr. Miyagi gives in and he says, "All right, then I'm going to teach you, Daniel-son," as he called him. "I'm going to teach you karate. Come back tomorrow morning."
Daniel was eager, he could not wait to show up to Mr. Miyagi's house so that he could get the training that he was after. He was ready to work hard and be diligent. He arrived ready to receive some instructions. Instead, Mr. Miyagi handed him two cleaning rags. He took him out to a lot full of cars and he said, "Wax the cars. Wax on... "
Audience: "Wax off."
Priscilla Shirer: Daniel did a few cars here and there. He said, "I'm done, right?" Mr. Miyagi said, "No, no, no. The whole lot of the cars, wax on and wax off." And any time along the way, Daniel started getting sloppy, Mr. Miyagi would show back up, tap him on the shoulder and say, "Mm-mm (negative), don't do it that way. I want you to wax on and wax off." Daniel was irritated and frustrated because this had absolutely nothing to do with learning karate. He did it well into the evening and was so disappointed when he left that evening with no specific instructions regarding what he came for. And so he went to bed that night, eager to come back the next day and finally learn some karate.
He showed up eager and full of anticipation ready to go, except Mr. Miyagi this time handed him some sandpaper, took him out to a patio deck and said, "Sand the floor. Sand the floor. Sand the floor." Anytime Daniel got a little bit sloppy in how he was sanding the floor, Mr. Miyagi would show back up and say, "Uh-uh (negative), do it exactly the way I told you. Sand the floor exactly the way I told you." He sanded the floor well into the evening, getting really disgruntled and upset now. That he is supposed to be learning karate and all he's doing is basically being Mr. Miyagi's house manager. He can't figure out why this is happening.
He goes home frustrated, but comes back the next day, eager, filled with anticipation because surely now he's going to learn some karate. Except this time, he shows up and Mr. Miyagi puts a paint brush in one hand and a bucket of paint in the other and he says, "Paint the fence." You remember? "Paint the fence." And there's a little block of fencing that ends in a tuft of trees and bushes. And so when Daniel gets to that end, he figures that this is all he needed to do. He comes to Mr. Miyagi and he says, "I'm done." And Mr. Miyagi turns around and points at the entire fence line surrounding his property and he says, "Oh, no, I mean the whole fence. Paint the fence. Paint the fence." And anytime he gets sloppy, do you remember Mr. Miyagi would come by and say, "Mm-mm (negative), paint the fence. Paint the fence."
Well, at the end of that particular day, Daniel has had enough. He walks up to Mr. Miyagi and he says, "You have got to be kidding me. I asked you for karate lessons. You told me you would train me in the art of karate, instead I've been basically your housekeeper. I am frustrated with this." And Mr. Miyagi sees the frustration and the irritation on Daniel-son's face and he starts throwing out these punches and these jabs that Daniel-son instinctively, he immediately knows how to block and deflect every single one. Because in the midst of mundane details, he didn't even know that he was being trained for victory in the fight, because the master knew something that Daniel did not.
It is at least in part that the Apostle Paul writes to believers wanting us to know that we are in a fight and there are some details that he gives us that don't look clear on the onset. You can't figure out what this will have to do with the victory that you need in your marriage or in your finances or in your health or on your job or in your ministry. You can't figure out what this could have to do with anything, but the master know stuff that we can't see. And so he writes to us in the Book of Ephesians for anybody in the room that wants some victory.
Ephesians, by the way, is the cream of the crop of all of Paul's writing. You know the Apostle Paul was a bad boy, right? The Apostle Paul wrote letter after letter to first century believers that turned into, two thirds of the New Testament are basically those letters that he wrote way back then. And of all of his writings, scholars say that literally Ephesians is the cream of the crop. The reason is because the Apostle Paul spends more than the first half of the book, that's over three chapters, just rehearsing who you are as a son or a daughter, grafted into the family of God.
He goes on and on to make sure you know the grace and the mercy that has been given to you by your great God. That even if you've been rejected by your mother, your father, your best friend, your spouse, the people who were supposed to love you the most, Paul goes on and on to make sure that you recognize that you were handpicked, chosen, adopted into the family of God. He wants you to know that you've been forgiven, that you've been lavishly bestowed upon with the riches of the grace and the mercy and the hope of his choosing you.
In fact, Paul works himself up so much that he burst into a prayer and he says, "I'm praying that the eyes of your heart would be open so that you would know what is the hope of his calling in choosing you." He says, "You need to know that there is no pit of sin and rebellion that you have gotten yourself into that the arm of God is not so long that he can't snatch you up out of. He can take you out of darkness and fling you into his marvelous light."
And the Apostle Paul wants to know, "How do I close this letter to make sure that these believers who have been given access to so much will never walk in defeat, that they always will walk in victory. How do I close this letter to make sure that they rise up and not allow the enemy to snatch from them everything that is rightfully theirs? How do I close a powerful letter like this?"
I want you to see the Apostle Paul, who would have been in a Roman prison, probably house arrest when he wrote the book of Ephesians, the letter to the Church at Ephesus. I want you to see him hanging over the parchment paper there on house arrest, Roman guards standing just outside the door. He probably would have been able to have a clear view of the Roman guard that was blocking the doorway there. Sweat bubbling up on his brow, inkwell in hand, parchment paper underneath him as he tries to figure out, "What words do I use to seal the message of victory in their hearts?"
And finally, he writes these words in Ephesians 6, beginning in verse 10 he says, "Finally, you be strong in the Lord and the in the strength of his might." He says, "Put on the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes." Somebody say schemes.
Priscilla Shirer: ... against the schemes of the devil." He says, "For you wrestle not against flesh and blood." In other words, the person you're sitting next to tonight is not your real problem. "You do not wrestle against anything tangible, anything flesh and blood that you can see with the physical eye." He says, "But there are rulers, there are powers, there are world forces of this darkness, there are spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." He says, "So therefore you want to put down all the weapons of this world that haven't been working for you anyway and take up some weapons that actually have some power." He says, "Take up the full armor of God so that you will be able to resist in the evil day." And having done everything to stand firm, he says, "You ought to just stand firm therefore."
In these few verses of scripture, the Apostle Paul introduces to us almost for the first time in the pages of scripture, the principle of spiritual warfare. The Apostle Paul comes right out and says something that we can infer from stories in the Old Testament and other writings in the New Testament, but this is the first time a writer comes right out directly and says to God's people, "You have an enemy and your enemy is not flesh and blood." Anything or anyone that you can relate to with the five physical senses, anything you can see or touch or taste or smell or hear is not your real enemy. There is an enemy who is invisible and he wants you to think that just because he's invisible. He's also fictional. He wants you to chalk him to just a caricature, just a little myth that's good for kids' story tales, but is not real and influencing much of what traumatizes our life.
But this enemy you all, he is a master illusionist. This enemy is clever. He will disguise himself behind life's most pressing problems because he knows that if he can shine a spotlight stage left, and if we forget that he's there, we'll direct all the wrong weapons at the wrong culprit. We'll think it's our spouse that's the problem. Somebody needs to know your husband is not the real problem. Somebody needs to know today, it's not your wife that's the real problem. It's not your teenager. It's not your toddler. It's not your boss. It's not the coworker. You know that one that if he says one more thing to you, you gonna knock him out, that one? He's not the real problem. It's not your mom, it's not your dad that is the real problem. There is an enemy. And if you see the fingerprints of the enemy, lack of peace and chaos and strife and division and jealousy and envy and pride. If you see the fingerprints of the enemy, that means back there behind the scenes there is an enemy that is at work in the circumstances of your life.
Jude, my youngest son is sitting here on the front row. He's the one I told you about. The very first time I came, I think I was just newly pregnant with Jude. And Jude and I and his brothers will often go to a harvest festival. It is a small church that's around the corner from our house. They will often have a harvest festival. It's around the Halloween timeframe. It's their answer to Halloween. It's sort of a carnival that they do. And at this church, what they will do is an old-fashioned kind of American church tradition. Which a lot of churches don't do anymore, but it's an old-fashioned one. It's called a Trunk or Treat.
Let me explain to you what a trunk or treat is. Members of the congregation will volunteer to bring their cars into the parking lot. On the harvest festival night, they will open up the trunks of their cars and in each trunk, the person that owns that car will create some sort of fair game or carnival game out of the trunk of their car. Kids will line up, one car after the other, and they'll play whatever the game is in that trunk of the car. And then most of the time, whether they win or lose, the person that owns that game will give them a whole bunch of candy and send them home with a whole lot of sugar. We're always so grateful for that.
So here we are standing in line one year, and I remember Jude and I were holding hands, he was about four. We were in the longest line of the night. That line stayed long all night and it wasn't behind a car. This particular line was behind the bed of a truck. So there was one truck in the parking lot and this is where the longest line was. It was very clever. The people that own this truck had put a step ladder right at the bed of the truck so that you could climb into the bed of the truck. Kids climb up into the bed of the truck and they would give the kid a huge plastic hammer.
Beside the bed of the truck, they had attached a tabletop. The tabletop was about the same size as the bed of the truck itself, cut holes in the top of it, put fabric drapes over it and out from those holes, every few seconds a puppet would pop through. The job of the kid was to run up and down the bed of the truck and to try to smack the puppets on the top of the head. It was a homemade whack-a-mole game is what it was. So the kid would run up and down and try to pop the puppet on the head.
Jude and I, along with everybody else, are waiting in line. And as we're waiting, we are dying laughing because behind us there was another kid about the same age as Jude, about four or five years old at the time, and he's frustrated by this whole experience and he's telling his mother all about it. He was frustrated first because, "Mom, didn't I come to the carnival to have fun, and standing in line isn't fun. This is a really long line, Mom. I have an idea, Mom, how about you stand in line and hold my spot. I'll go over here and play these games and then when you get up to the front I'll come back and join you?"
This kid was not only frustrated about the length of the line, the kid was also frustrated because, "Mom, I don't even understand this game. What is the point of running up and down the bed of the truck to pop the puppets on the head? If I hit the puppet on the head and the puppet disappears just to come back a few seconds later, what's the point of the game?" The kid worked himself up into such a frenzy that before any of us could think or see straight a four year old flashed by our peripheral vision as he ran forward, grabbed the fabric and pulled it off of the top of the table. Underneath there were three adults with puppets on each hand.
That night, we got an incredibly good laugh, but we also got a good lesson that there is always something you cannot see influencing what you can. If you spend, if I spend all of my time and my energy and my effort and my own logic and my money and my connections and my success, if I try to use everything earthly to hit at everything that keeps popping up in my life, at best, I'm going to find a temporary solution.
The Apostle Paul says, "Today's the day to pull back the curtain and let the enemy know we got our eyes on you." That we recognize you, that we're not going to exhaust ourselves anymore just dealing with all the stuff that's on the surface of our lives. We're going to use some strategy that actually has some power. The Apostle Paul wants you to know that the tactics of the enemy are the real deal. He wants you to get, me to get, and grasp the reality of the enemy's warfare. He uses a specific word to describe it. He says, "the enemy schemes." Somebody say scheme.
Priscilla Shirer: Now, let me tell you something about myself. I think that people that do know me would agree, I think. I'm a pretty easygoing personality. Meaning if somebody offends me or if they do something against me or do me wrong in any sort of way, it just sort of rolls off me. I'm not easily offended. I don't harbor grudges against people. If somebody asks me for forgiveness, it's just easy for me to forgive them and move on.
But if I find out that someone has been planning to do me wrong... I mean, don't get it twisted. Well, now that's a whole different story. If I find out that you have been watching me to try to figure out when I come and when I go so that you can determine the best timing to take advantage of me... If I find out that you've been studying me to try to find out what my weaknesses are, what my inabilities are, what the tendencies of my flesh are so that you can try to find vulnerable places to take advantage of... If I figure out that not only have you been watching me in my present state, but you've been looking into my history so that you can figure out what past abuses I may have suffered that have left tender places in my heart that you can take advantage of today...
And if I find out that not only have you been studying me, but you've been studying this man that the Lord has given me to be married to for the past 20 years, you've been watching him to try to figure out what his weaknesses are so that you can figure out how to dangle the right carrot, in the right way, on the right day to lead him astray... And if I find out that you've been looking into his history so that you can try to figure out what is in his history and my history so that you can make it combust, so that we cannot have peace in our home...
And if I find out that not only have you had the nerve to study me and study my spouse, but you have had the nerve to have your eyes on these three boys that the Lord has given us to rear into warrior men for Christ... If I find out you've been trying to figure out what their insecurities are, what their fears are, so that you can already be planning a way to trip them up before they realize the destiny to which they have been called... If I find out you've been scheming against me, well now if it's a war you want, it's a war you are going to get.
Roger Marsh: Whoa. Wow. What a powerful and passionate reminder from insightful Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer. I am Roger Marsh, and this has been a special and profound edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. With Christ's help, we can stand against any of the attacks of the devil and have victory in our lives. I encourage you to go to today's broadcast page at drjamesdobson.org for more empowering content from Priscilla Shirer. That's drjamesdobson.org and then go to the broadcast page.
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Well, that's all the time we have for today. Be sure to tune in again tomorrow for the conclusion of this fervent presentation from Priscilla Shirer. She'll highlight the importance of prayer and our call to live holy lives. Don't miss this empowering message on the next edition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh. Hope you'll join us then.
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Dr. Dobson: As strange as it may sound, every household has a personality. You can usually detect within a few minutes if a home is lighthearted and winsome, strict and rigid or depressed and pessimistic.
Roger Marsh: Dr. James Dobson for Family Talk.
Dr. Dobson: Every family member contributes to a home's overall temperament and style of functioning, but it's primarily the parents who determine the tone and character of home life, and that household personality greatly influences the child's behavior and his outlook on life. In his book Stress and Your Child, Dr. Arch Hart cites a study of more than 200 German children and how they were affected by family patterns. The researchers found that children exhibited high levels of anxiety and stress when their home atmosphere was characterized by restriction and over control, where they were granted little freedom to express themselves or act silly; and the same was true of children whose parents were inconsistent, unreliable, and unpredictable. As you might expect in homes where freedom and self-expression were encouraged, the children were more optimistic about the future and had a greater ability to cope with stress.
Is your household feeling tense or fragmented these days? Remember as parents, the tone you set in the home can make all the difference in your child's personality development and outlook on life.
Roger Marsh: To find out how you can partner with Family Talk, go to drjamesdobson.org.