Armor of God
If there is a passage that almost every Christian has heard from youth gatherings, to men's retreats, and especially in our own blessed order, it is Ephesians 6:10-18. "The Full Armor of God" is almost as well known as John 3:16.
This passage gives us clear instruction to suit up for spiritual warfare, but little bits of context have slipped our consciousness by virtue of armored combatant knights no longer being in vogue in 2018. These missing bits can quickly become breaks in our armor, and can be just as problematic in our lives. Here are a few things to remember in regards to "The Full Armor of God".
First ...don't forget your armingwear.
Everyone from bikers, hunters, and wrestlers to soldiers and police officers have a base layer. Most knights would wear a gambeson, or a thick padded shirt, under their armor to help deal with the damp and oft cold temps of Europe. The Knights Templar of antiquity were specifically allotted a linen shirt instead of the wool shirt due to the tremendous heat of the Middle East. The lesson to be learned here was to dress for the environment.
In the same way, not every tool is a hammer; not every situation calls for breaking out the leatherbound King James with Words of Christ in Red Letter and the three-piece suit while knocking on the door. Sometimes the battle at hand calls for us to wear jeans and a tee shirt with a leather vest beneath our armor and to use our favorite Bible App with discussion over whatever variety of BBQ your region prefers.
We must always be careful to not treat to every chance to teach, rebuke, or comfort with The Scriptures as the same fight. As Knights we are blessed with opportunities to share our faith and take up the fight for another. Each of these opportunities will require slightly different approaches (not to be confused with changing scripture), and thus will require us to wear different arming wear beneath as the base layer of our full armor.
Second... Always clean your blade after an encounter.
We will absolutely wield The Sword of The Spirit against all manner of spiritual enemies. We will teach and comfort...but at times we will also have to rebuke our brothers and sisters in Christ. However, once the spiritual battle is finished, clean your blade. Do not sit and revel in how expertly you "shut someone down", or how quickly you whipped out the story of Achan (Joshua 7) as to show someone how their being a sinner is wreaking havoc on their faith community.
Unfortunately we will have to have these discussions from time to time, but as any swordsman can attest to, you should never leave blood on the blade. The metal begins to rust and over time will create an inefficient weapon. If we lord over one of our brothers our superior biblical prowess, The Word can lose its efficacy in life, or just as regrettably make us ineffective in ministering to others.
So most definitely fight as hard as the battle requires, but don't linger in that victory only to allow your sword to suffer. Just as our Brother Knights had to always protect the integrity of their swords, armor, and person, we, too, must preserve the integrity of our spiritual armor and the very Word of God when dealing with both the faithful and non Christians alike.
And third, you are always in need of sparing. In their age, The Poor Knights of Christ had many scheduled military training sessions as well as worship services each day. Constant training made them one of the fiercest fighting forces in The Holy Land. The amount of combat training in which they participated is simply impossible, or at minimum impractical, in modernity. Yet as with so many other aspects of this order, we are given a great example to follow in our real lives. As modern knights of Christ, we must always be ready for the battle and never let our skill diminish.
There is a story (possibly apocryphal) attributed to world famous violinist Itzhak Pearlman in which he is asked why, at his skill level and age, he still practices. His response is simply "Because I've almost got it." Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is quoted as saying, "Each day I move toward that which I do not understand. The result is a continuous accidental learning which constantly shapes my life."
There are only so many notes to play, and only so many words within the cover of a Bible, but constant immersion in them can lead to constant growth as a musician, or in our journey of faith. So we put on the full armor of God, but we don't just sit around bedecked in our chainmail and mantle waiting for spiritual warfare to find us. We train for it. We train with Bible study, reading books, having conversations with others of the faithful, listening to the spirit though sermons, or even the quiet moments in prayer. All of these actions can be sparing opportunities to help us brush up on our piety or to develop new skills in the constant battle against spiritual wickedness so that we are able to withstand the day of evil.
So brothers & sisters please do put on the Full Armor of God, but also remember to don your Arming wear, to keep your blade clean, and to keep sparing and training so that we may be left standing at the end of the battle always to the glory of God.
Reporting from Pennsylvania
THE BEST POLITICS IN FAITH, NONE!
What does it mean to be a Christian today?”
This is a
question that I have long struggled with. To be a Christian in the 21st
century usually means that you fall into one of two camps. You’re
either a “liberal, mainstream” Christian or you’re a “conservative,
I find both of those labels to problematic.
The labels assume that everyone fits neatly into one of those
categories. And I dislike how the term “evangelical” has been made into
a political term. All it really means is those who follow the gospel.
Many people assume that “liberal, mainstream” Christians just go along
with whatever society deems right and good. Likewise, “conservative,
evangelical” Christians are caricatured as people who are stuck in
Biblical times and who would like nothing more than to live in a
The reality is that Christians hold many
different views about many different topics. There are Christians who
belong to “mainstream” churches who hold conservative views and there
are Christians who belong to “evangelical” churches who hold liberal
I would say about myself that I am a Christian who
believes deeply that faith in Jesus changes us. Christian is not a
label that we slap on and continue living our lives as if nothing
happened. Being a Christian means that we live our lives differently.
To be a Christian is to take the teachings of Jesus seriously. It means
that we can’t be afraid to stand up and speak the truth in love.
used to be afraid of standing up and speaking about Jesus because I
didn’t want to be one of “those” Christians; the ones who stand and
street corners and scream about the end of the world and demand to know
if you are “saved.” But then I had a realization. I can talk about
Jesus in my everyday life and it doesn’t have to be in an accusatory or
But perhaps the most powerful way I can “talk” about Jesus
is through my actions. Whether it’s praying quietly in public before a
meal, treating others with kindness and respect, wishing someone a
blessed day, or stopping to help or listen to someone in trouble; my
faith in Jesus moves me to part of God’s plan in caring for others and
We should never be afraid to witness to the gospel. I have discovered a greater hunger for the good news of Jesus than I ever imagined. The words of Jesus are as true today as when he spoke them to the disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest (Matthew 9:37-38).”
Staff Writer / Tomorrows Voice
Pennsylvania Commandery of the Trinity
THE AWARENESS OF CHRIST
The realization hit me a few years ago; I was on my way home from a conference of pastors and had a long drive across the state of Michigan. It was time for some dinner.
Seeing an Arbys, I pulled into a parking space and walked inside. I was wearing my clerical collar that day, a simple black button down shirt with a white tab tucked in at the front of my neck.
I went up to order my meal, and the young lady at the register looked up and and asked “Are you, like a priest?” Smiling, I held up my left hand to show my wedding ring and said, “Nope, I’m a pastor.”
That was my first mistake; I made the assumption that everyone knew most priests were not allowed to get married and pastors were.
The conversation continued with a long awkward pause as she looked at my finger then at me, then back at my finger, trying to figure out what cryptic message I was trying to relay to her.
Finally I realized what I was doing wrong, and I said “Roman Catholic priests aren’t allowed to get married.” And her response was “oh… well what religion are you then?” And I responded, “Im a Lutheran.” Another long awkward pause…. Followed by her question that I will never forget “So do you guys believe in those baptism things?”
After spending a few minutes speaking over her head about baptism before I realized that I was not connecting whatsoever, I went out to my car to retrieve a book that contained many basics to the Christian faith designed for children and gave it to her to keep.
This was the day that I realized that the church is and has been doing it wrong. For the last several decades, we have been acting under the understanding that everyone knows something about Christianity, that everyone at least knows the fundamentals of faith, whether they are Christians or not.
I was reminded of this experience last year when I sat down with my bishop at a meeting to determine how grant funds were going to be distributed to outreach and evangelism projects in my synod. Several applications were sent in, including a few from my own congregation. The bishop asked the room full of pastors this question: “So how are we sharing the name of Jesus in these projects?”
You see, after looking through a pile of cleverly worded applications requesting funds to support food pantries and coats for kids, and a variety of other outreach projects, the bishop realized that our churches are very good at sharing food, and clothes, and toiletries… but not the name of Jesus. It was the first time in my life that I heard a room full of pastors completely silent.
He went on to share one of those great teaching moments. He said to us, “For too long we have been operating under the premise of the old song that includes the lyrics ‘and they will know us by our love.’ but we can’t do that anymore. We need to share Jesus’ name in everything that we do. We can no longer assume people know who he is.”
This has been my challenge, but it should be the challenge of all Christians, to find ways to serve in Jesus’ name, to find ways to differentiate ourselves from other service organizations, to remember that we, indeed, have something to offer. What we offer is the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected.
Perhaps, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and a few more great teaching moments, we can all get to that place where people not only know us by our love, but by Jesus’ love, as we continue serving in his name.
Pastor Matthew Carpenter
Staff Writer / Tomorrows Voice
Pennsylvania Commandery of the Trinity
THE TECHNOLOGY EDUCATED CHRISTIAN
In today’s ever changing technological world, it is almost imperative to keep up with the new and hottest trends that are sweeping today’s lifestyle.
Kids, teens, and even young adults seem to fit in and adapt to these technologies as if it’s instinctive from the very beginnings of their upbringings while some of us are a little behind on the learning curve.
In order to turn some of these devices on, you would think that you would need a PhD in rocket science just to make a phone call.
I am one that have been fortunate to be able to evolve with the ever rapidly changing world that such technologies as Facebook, YouTube, and other social medias tend to play in such a huge part of our everyday life.
For the past 20 years, I have been the CEO of a Christian record company where we produce Christian hip hop music and music videos in order to deliver a positive and spiritual message to the kids of today. I have found that, with the help of peer-to-peer sites like YouTube, it’s easy to disseminate our message across a huge part of the world.
No longer are we stuck to only spreading our music locally through human contact and handouts, but we are able to literally have every single person who has access to the Internet, a chance to hear what we have to say and with the help of videos, more and more likely to watch something that is positively influential to them.
How can we use this information to not only help our Order, but, to exponentially help spread the message of Christ? With so many young adults getting more and more degrees in media arts and digital media studies, we should look into revolutionizing the way we recruit and perform charitable deeds with a new outlook into using such mediums.
Imagine sitting down at a computer and you happen to see a small, professional video of you and your priory doing God’s work, feeding the less fortunate, caring for the weak, or just spreading the love of God, with original music, Oscar winning effects, and voice over.
Not only would that be a tool you could be proud of, but it would encourage us to be even more involved with our Priories and Order. I am one that will try to use my gifts and talents to help this order to not only do the will of God, but to help bring others to Christ.
Music and video imagery are very captivating in today’s generation and once we figure out how to talk and listen to them, we will have a better chance of having them actually listen and understand us. We are living in a new world where we can find anything we want with just a quick tap of a button.
Let’s make what we stand for, just as easy to be found and just as entertaining as anything else that is out there. We need this. We can do this. Let’s do it! Until next time, Be Blessed and in God’s Kingdom, we give praise and thanks!
Staff Writer / Tomorrows Voice
Give us this day our daily battles, and forgive us our trespasses
Life for a young person in our day and age is hard enough. Between School, work, and just getting by, its enough of a battle to just make it to tomorrow without getting into legal trouble, never mind trying to remain virtuous.
The temptation to give into the whiles of the world, its easy to just let loose once. I mean come on! It’s been a long day, you deserve a break and something special! Its just one cigarette after a long day, or just one quick drink after a long spree of shifts at work. While yes a reward for yourself can do you some good, It can help with the stress and boost moral.
But it is all to easy easy for ‘one drink’ or ‘one cigarette’ can quickly become ‘two’ or ‘three’, and then it becomes the whole pack, or bottle. This can usually end in various short and long term health issues.
While Temperance is a virtue, and can be really helpful in scenarios like this, not just with little vices but life as a whole. But even in all of the noise, It can be all to easy to forget our true relief, He who can not only refresh the body, but also the mind and the soul.
In the stressful daily life of our modern world, It can be easy for us to loose sight of Jesus and our moral duty as Christians. It can be easy to give into the vices of the world for what ever reasons.
For most young people, it can be in the form of having a smoke or drink after work, but again! You’ve had a long couple of days, or lots of homework that you had to finish! So whats the real harm in it all!. Or it can be in the form of spending a night at the club to kick off the weekend.
Again, You got a lot done this week and have the entire weekend off, so why not ‘let your hair down’ and ‘go with it’ Perhaps it can be simply from a desire to fit in. Which is understandable, we humans have a natural desire to want to fit in and be social with our peers.
But peer pressure can also take you to a dark place, both morally and legally. Even with the stress of life, its easy to slip up. It has been said that the Devil preys the best when you’re busy. Think about it though, you are busy and distracted, so its really easy to do things without thinking about it. Good, Bad, or Indifferent. We slip up and loose sight of who we really need to ‘fit in’ with and who’s standards we need to conform to.
This world is finite and temporary, even science says that some day the earth and all that exists will die and cease to exist as it does.
As Christians ‘You are this world, for I have chosen you out of the world’ as Jesus himself said, so we need not worry of the world and its shifting tides and sands it is built upon.
Being virtuous and against the world is looked down upon and often reacted against very negatively, to quote Jesus again ‘If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first’.
So yeah, the world hated Jesus and will hate us again for being on his side in the great moral conflict of our current existence, ‘But fear not, because I have over come the world!’. So our victory is assured! In the end of it all, everything else does not matter.
While yes we will have our struggles everyday, this is how virtue is built and builds our own personal character. At times we feel like we will fail, its easy to loose hope and fall into despair. Even despite how dark things will always look, we will always have Jesus looking out for us.
He will always be there for us to help us from our darkest passions and to forgive us when we fail. He will always be there for us, even when the world will turn its back on us for stepping out of line, Jesus will never betray us or abandon us. He will never give us up, or let us down.
At the end of the day, our victory in Jesus is assured! He will always be there for us, having our battles and struggles to help us build ourselves up. Give us this day our daily battles, and forgive us our trespasses!
Staff Writer / Tomorrows Voice
Priory of St. Mark