I love old 80’s and 90’s cartoons. I love the over-the-top action, the color (oh man that color pallet!), and the laser guns. Like for real, every bad guy was armed with a laser gun (Fun fact from Joshua’s film knowledge, it was a law that you could not have real guns on children TV shows. Oh, how far we’ve gone). The best part of these cartoons were the public service announcements. G.I. Joe, Transformers, and X-men would all warn children of the dangers of not wearing seatbelts or talking with strangers; always ending with the phrase, “knowing is half the battle.” I love these commercials, not only because it’s good to not go anywhere near that spooky stranger, but it tells us a lot about how we should prepare in a spiritual battle we face. I’ve been talking each week this month about having spiritual victory, which means, knowing our enemy is half the battle. Satan is the king of lies, which we talked about last week, and often in our lives when we are caught off our guard, we can take challenges and lies as being things of God. We ask God why you would do this, the truth is, he didn’t. God created our world to be perfect and everything in it to be good, but we rebelled because off the trickery from Satan.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Everything we do; our actions, our words, our attitudes towards others all flow out of our heart. This month I’ve been going through b-movie tropes to help teach life lessons that I have learned from God’s word. Today I want to continue but with no direct example, because there is a trap that we all fall into and it is a serious one. In movies we see people make dumb choices, they go into the graveyard/basement/abandoned circus and get themselves into big trouble. In movies we yell at the screen and laugh as a poorly acted character gets into the trap that we all saw coming. The truth is, we are often that character. We walk into obvious traps and lies from our enemy, and it costs us a great deal. Maybe you went into a relationship that everyone said was a bad idea, or maybe those friends you have that don’t really change the way you act (riiiight), or maybe it was the under-the-table dealings in your job that no one would find out about. We walk right into these traps, and they stare us right in the face. We can easily blame God for not warning us, but the real issue is us. When we don’t have our hearts set on what really matters, we will fall into the traps of the enemy.
In 80’s and 90’s cartoons, the phrase “knowing is half the battle,” was a well-known psa ranging from G.I. Joe to Transformers. It taught kids the dangers of things like not wearing a seatbelt or talking to strangers and would always end in saying, “and knowing is half the battle.” In life this is also true, we have dangers that can come at any moment, and yes wearing a seatbelt is important, but that’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is our enemy, yup that guy, the devil. Contrary to popular Halloween costumes and cartoons, our enemy doesn’t run around with horns and a little red pitchfork, he is much worse than that. He is actively working against you to stop you from reaching your potential, and the rules of war don’t apply to him. Our mutual enemy will stop at nothing to bring us down. How do I know this? Well John 10:10 says, “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” This is Jesus speaking and he uses “thief” to describe our enemy, because a thief takes without caring. Thankfully, Jesus ends that verse by saying he came to help us live life to our fullest potential, but that won’t prevent you from being attacked again and again by the thief.
So, you may be asking, “What should I do to protect myself?” This is something I have been asking myself for the past year. You see, the past year has felt like an unrelenting attack against myself and my family. I have seen friends walk away, friends pass away, and have to see my brother struggle with heavy oppression from the thief. My family has been hit with a barrage from the thief, trying to do anything to bring us down. Now, this isn’t me fishing to get compliments or asking for special help. This is just me showing you that you’re not the only one, I have never liked feeling alone and isolated, and when the enemy attacks, it can feel like we are the only one. I want to sit here and tell you it’s going to be alright, because we know how the enemy will come at us, and knowing is half the battle.
Over the next few paragraphs, I will break down each of the three steps the thief will try and stop you, and show you how God equips us with all that we need and more.
The thief wants to steal your innocence.
This is such a small step that can hurt us so deeply. This is the first lie that we are told, even from the start of our childhood. You can spot this fairly easily once we start looking for it, the thought of, “it’s not that bad.” I can’t tell you how many times this lie has gone into my head to justify what I’m doing. We live in a fallen world and it can be hard not to be exposed to things we wish we couldn’t have seen or heard, and it starts happening earlier and earlier in age. A banner add on a website pops up with a scantily clad woman advertising some silly game, television gets more comfortable with using adult language and themes, video games meant for older people get played by seven year olds. Now before you think I’m some snob who hates anything not rainbows and gummy bears, on the contrary. I think the internet is incredible for information and communication, television can convey themes and emotions like nothing else, and video games are a beautiful art form. What I’m saying is, the things in this world can turn so quickly if we live with the idea of it’s not that bad. When we see things like this, we get adblockers and accountability software on our computers, we turn the tv off when that show comes on or when that Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on, and we become responsible adults and look at the ratings before we buy games for our kids. We need to guard our minds so the enemy can’t steal our innocence. We do this by filling our minds with things that are good and pleasing. Guard your mind.
The thief wants to kill you.
That’s kind of intense, and yes it is, we have an enemy that doesn’t have your best interest in mind. This is when the thief tries to hurt the things around you. A friend dies, you lose your job, and you feel as if you can’t get anything right. In this moment you have a choice, do you run towards or away from God? This is all on you, this decision I have faced and I have seen friends in the same situation. I have chosen to run away, how an all-powerful God could let this happen is beyond me. I think you have done this as well, all too often, just like me. Nothing good has ever come from this decision. We feel lost, we lose the joys that life once gave, and we feel utterly alone. Don’t choose this, because I have begun to choose the second option, run towards him. It seems foolish, but this is the wisest decision anyone could ever make. You begin to step into your purpose, using your story as a testimony. You gain more joy than you could ever imagine, even when it hurts. You feel surrounded by friends and those you call family. You have chosen to guard your heart. In times when it feels like you are walking through hell and your heart aches, guard it by choosing to run into the Father’s embrace. Guard your heart.
The thief wants to destroy you.
This is the final attack, not only does he want your mind and kill your heart, he wants to utterly destroy you and everything around you. The word destroy means to leave things in rubble. This is the one that hurts me the most. I have seen friends lose their mind and heart, and once they had nothing left, they took their life. This brings me to tears, even now in this coffee shop, because this is the biggest lie of all. Even in your brokenness, God has designed you for a beautiful purpose. Never give up. No matter what happens to you or to those you love, God wants to bring you out of the pit and make you a king and queen, you are royalty. The enemy only wants to decimate you and those around you, but he has no control over you. You make the final choice, so guard your life by choosing it. In Christ we find love and protection over all opposition because he has already won, he beat death so we could have life. Guard your life.
My prayer this year has been that God would take me on an adventure, to face the odds and find the treasure that is held in life. This has definitely been filled and then some. The enemy has tried to steal from me, kill me and destroy me; but God has not left me. He gave me the wisdom to know how the enemy will come at me, and knowing is half the battle. The final half is choosing to guard my mind, heart, and life with everything in me. I urge you, when life throws pain at you and when the enemy tries to decimate all that you are, place your eyes towards heaven and run towards the one who gives you life. We are all on the adventure, we all face harsh weather and mountains to climb, but we are never alone and we are never unprepared. My heart is to help the next generation see that they are valued and to help everyone see that they can do all things through Christ. So guard your mind, guard your heart, and guard your life; because Jesus came that we may have life, and life to the full.
Live life to the fullest.