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“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:14-15).

Ever find a pair of kicks you couldn’t live without? If you love to indulge your tootsies, you’re not alone. Americans spend more than twenty billion dollars on footwear each year.  More astounding are worldwide athletic sales surpassing fourteen billion. And that’s just Nike products.

We buy specific shoes to enhance health, express personality, or elevate our stature. Shoes fit themselves into our psyche soon after we’re born. No recent obsession, since childhood tales of glass slippers, elvish cobblers, and ruby slippers resonate across the centuries. It’s no wonder we cherish our soles. Shoes inhabit our youthful dreams and grown-up wishes. We search for those ideal shoes, convinced their magic will take us places.

Instead of aspiring to take men places, ancient Roman military boots were designed to stay put. First century soldiers wore sandal-boots, with little attention to the visible parts of the feet and calves. Leather laced over the top of the foot and strapped around the lower leg. Reinforcements focused on the soles. Several layers protected the warrior from the earth. Cobblers drove hobnails into the outer soles to hold the boots together and offer traction.

Centurions knew the battle priorities didn’t lie in decorating ankles or comforting piddies. Modern combat trainers echo their philosophy. Digging in and holding the battle stance makes all the difference during a fight. A warrior must not be knocked off balance, or worse, to the ground. A downed opponent gives advantage to the enemy.

Scripture advises us to fit our feet with warrior boots. Divine soles ignore appearances, status, and comfort. We won’t acquire these powerful kicks from elvish tales or Famous Footwear. Boots that ready us for spiritual triumph come from the gospel of peace. Christ’s perfect footwear has nails driven through it. Jesus has already won the war, you see.  That’s the greatest story of all time. We don’t have to defeat the enemy all over again. We just have to stand firm on Jesus’ victory. What a relief! No need to go on the offensive and rout the devil. It’s done. And we can rest secure in the peace of Christ’s triumph. We win.

Trade in your footwear wishes. Trade up from glass and rubies. A slipper doesn’t prepare soldiers for war. Strap on the peace of Christ. Secure the laces, ensuring against a slipping heel or twisting ankle. Don’t let the snarls and temptations throw you off balance, no matter how close the circumstances seem to your face. Don’t slip on lies meant to grip us with fear.  No need to let the enemy knock you off that stance of peace. Dig those cleats into your triumphant position. Stand. Firm. And you’ll rock those readiness boots!

 

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth . . .”

As we prepare to face evil himself, the first element revealed for our defense is truth. And it’s a belt. Ho hum. Belts live in a neglected rack at the back of the department store–a fashion afterthought at best. Shouldn’t we have started with a magnificent sword and something like faith or salvation? Perhaps one of Paul’s editors should have reminded him to start his message with an attention grabber.

A little further investigation into the soldier’s outfit suggests more significance in the ancient article than our modern hip huggers. Not only did the centurion’s belt secure the rest of his uniform in place, but it also carried his food rations, coins, and weapons.The placement of this wide strap could also serve as an extra layer to cover vital organs. The warrior’s sustenance, livelihood, and survival rested in the leather girding his waist. His life depended on reaching for these vital items with confidence in the unchanged position of each one. A soldier must keep his eyes on the battle at hand, and cannot afford to search for his weapons.

In our battle with the ultimate deceiver, we Christian soldiers cannot begin to wonder where the truth lies. If we begin darting our eyes to the right and left, the enemy takes advantage of our vulnerable state. Thankfully, the Lord can teach us how to reach for His Truth with confidence. It never shifts position. We must buckle this essential tool in place as the nourishment and defense of our souls hang upon it. We also cannot understand true worth or experience prosperity in the absence of Truth.

Without the belt, nothing else can stay put. Armor shifts and tangles us into a stumbling knot. We must have truth to maintain unhindered motivation to combat evil. Paul listed Truth first to help us get a grip on the divine reality. Awareness of the Who clarifies our view of every other what. Such a vision transforms flesh into armored warrior core.

Let’s thank the King for our magnificent armor, and remain mindful of what truly holds us together.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me'” (John 14:6).

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32).

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13).

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:17-18).

“For you are great and do wondrous things;
    you alone are God.
 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm 86:10-11).

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever” (Psalm 119:160).

“For you are great and do wondrous things;
    you alone are God.
 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name” (Psalm 86:10-11).

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm 145:17-19).

Start in the center, right? I’ve got strong cords for God’s calling, my work, family, and others branching out to hold my structure. Sounds good so far. Weave my efforts from calling through the next section of family and around others…keep going…to a few inches’ start. As long as I can keep focused and go slowly, the pattern looks great. No missed spines or rows. But, I can’t spend all of eternity weaving this basket. At the plod of perfectionism, it’ll take two lifetimes to finish this. A literal deadline looms ahead. I have to weave faster. Just as I’m getting the hang of weaving faster, the shape expands. I have to cover more area in the same amount of time? I got a rhythm on the calling part, but missed a payment. That could set my column out of shape a bit. Can’t miss it again. I didn’t get the house cleaning done. Time for laundry, and then work. Record keeping needs attention there, or it’ll get distorted. Oh, and extended family will be in town. I have three days to my event. Must weave faster, better steps. Missed sleep. Trying to fix it with relaxation, but now I’m behind on my deadline…

What kind of funky looking basket am I gonna end up with here, anyway? I’ve been trying to do all these things at once, and it doesn’t look like I accomplished anything. Is there anyone who did this right? Somebody who can help me out here?

Well, it just so happens, I do know a Guy.

The Master has been waiting for me to ask for help on this project. He said I could sit closer to Him so that I can hear Him call out the step-by-step instructions.

“Master, what about the top of the basket? How do you create the finished look in the end?”

He told me we’d get to the end when it’s time. I just have to listen for His voice and follow His guidance. He’ll tell me when to weave time over my calling and when to attend to the other details. I can get His help with a weekly pattern, so I don’t miss payments or stress out during visits with family. 

Well, that sounds less overwhelming already. And, even if I can’t envision how this basket will look when it’s done, I look forward to weaving it at my Master’s side. Thanks be to God!

I cherish my prayer walks. As I stroll, autumn sunlight glints through the oak branches overhead. The Lord holds my hand, as He often does. I snuggle against His arm and lean my heart onto His Spirit. He listens to me in a way no one else ever will. I love these intimate evenings. After I’ve open my soul, all my musings poured out onto His shoulder, sometimes I hear Him, too.

On one such dusky sojourn, an epiphany bubbled within me. Profound truths and life purpose have seeded into my spirit on prayer walks in the past. This was not an isolated incident. I believe this new philosophy has a contagious element. It will resonate with others and inspire new perspective.

Here it goes:

Every food is merely a medium for enjoying buttercream frosting and chocolate. 

See? Does that not captivate the heart?

Think about the culinary options surrounding us. Bread, cake, cookies, cheese, fruit, nuts, meat…all enhanced by frosting, chocolate, or both. I realize you might have missed the chocolate asparagus dish, but it’s worth a try. Any food that doesn’t compliment frosting or chocolate has no purpose. I’m certain smoothies and juices will benefit from a double portion of frosting.

In case you’re wondering about my favorite dish, I’ll specify. Dark chocolate AND buttercream frosting. Prepared as a lasagna, tossed as a salad, or as a roulade. Call me a purist, but I prefer the best ingredients as a centerpiece rather than an afterthought.

I can’t imagine a more spiritual philosophy. No sarcasm intended. I’m not speaking as a foodie. Eating doesn’t move my soul. The sweetest buzz endures longer than frosting and elates the spirit far beyond chocolate. I crave it several times each day. No other delight satisfies my pangs. Anything that fails to compliment my ultimate diet of Christ lacks value.

 “How sweet are your words to my taste,
    sweeter than honey to my mouth!” – Psalm 119:103

I’ll continue to enjoy them on prayer walks, as an entree unto themselves. Beyond those intimate strolls, all life’s encounters remain condiments and pie shells meant to be stirred with a an abundant filling of God’s love and grace. Christ deserves the central part of life, not the side dish, topping, or dessert course. We only add the extras if room remains. Our Main Dish nourishes us longer than a feast and offers a more uplifting satisfaction than the finest delicacy.

I challenge you to “Taste and see that the Lord is Good” (Psalm34:8). Once you’ve filled yourself with buttercream frosted chocolate, no other taste can compare. Perhaps you, too, will crave Him daily.

Mmm. Welcome to the sweet life, my friends.Image

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