I use to love Saturday morning cartoons as a little girl. I loved Garfield with all his sarcasm. I loved Tiny Toons. I loved Tom and Jerry. But one of my favorite Saturday cartoons was always the iconic Bugs Bunny. I loved watching Bugs outsmart Elmer Fudd and I loved Foghorn Leghorn trying to teach the chicken hawk boy about hunting chickens. One of my favorite characters was Wiley E Coyote. Usually he was up against the Roadrunner, but occasionally he was after sheep in the pasture. There was a sheep dog watching the sheep. Sometimes the coyote would dress up as a sheep and try to blend in, but the sheep dog always caught him. How did the sheep dog always know it was the coyote and not a sheep? No matter what the coyote was wearing on the outside, he was still the same coyote on the inside. The same coyote "talk" and sounds, the same coyote smells, the same coyote habits and appetites.
Psalm 58:1-2 "Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth."
Sometimes coyotes come in the church and try to look like sheep, but sooner or later, their coyote "talk" and habits and appetites show themselves. God cannot be fooled even for a second, but sometimes the sheep are fooled for a little while.
One thing I never remember seeing on the cartoon, though. I don't think there was an episode that I watched where the sheep dressed up like coyotes. Sadly, in our churches today the sheep slip into coyote costumes, and it makes you wonder if they are sheep. We cannot see the hearts of men, but when their actions and words scream "coyote" it is best for sheep to keep a close eye on them. They may not be sheep at all, and they may be sheep who are still trying to act like coyotes. They have forgotten they are new creatures in Christ. Or maybe it is you who has forgotten?
2 Corinthian 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
If you are saved, you are a sheep. Your conversation (lifestyle) should look like a sheep. In Psalm 58, David speaks to the congregation. They are speaking righteousness, but their hearts and their actions declare coyote. It should concern you that others can see your coyote costume, but it should make you fear knowing that God sees your heart.
God rewards those who are sheep and act like sheep. He knows who is only dressed up like a sheep.
Psalm 58:11 "So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth."
The storm is raging.
The wind is howling.
The enemy is encompassing...
Yet my heart is fixed.
My eyes are overwhelmed.
My ears are bombarded.
My hands are trembling...
Yet my heart is fixed.
My feet are stumbling.
My knees are knocking.
My legs are weakening...
Yet my heart is fixed.
Fear wants to grip me.
Panic wants to take me.
Darkness tries to break me...
But my heart is fixed.
Under His wings I will hide,
Staying close by His side.
Unto Him will I cry...
Because my heart is fixed.
My foundation is firm,
My step is sure,
My path is clear...
Oh, my heart is fixed!
Peace in the fight,
Songs in the night,
Giving praise is my delight...
Yes, my heart is fixed.
This is my victory.
I did not faint in adversity.
He rescued me and now I sing...
My heart was fixed!
Fixed: fastened upon, focused
Psalm 57:7 "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise."
Are you facing a battle? Fix your heart (your affections, desires, delights) upon Him. Fasten your heart to Him. Praise Him. Adore Him. Get your eyes off the battle and onto your dearest Love. He will carry you through.
We love bicycling. Our family enjoys rocky downhills, windy uphills, and fast roads. My daughter and oldest son enjoy trail riding. My youngest son loves speeding down smooth roads and jumping over bumps. Sometimes we pass other people on bikes. We smile at them and they smile back. It's like we are part of a team... part of a family. Then there are some people we pass on bikes and we immediately know they are what we call "Weekend Warriors."
Weekend Warrior: Someone who doesn't practice their skill or sport frequently (often only on weekends), and therefore does not improve quickly in fitness and endurance.
They are pretty easy to spot. Often they have on the wrong gear or they have the wrong bikes for the task. The easiest way to spot the Weekend Warrior, though, is they are pushing their bikes instead of riding them up simple, short inclines. We are certainly happy these Weekend Warriors are getting out there at all, but it is easy to see that the lack of repetition and practice holds them back from progress.
Psalm 56:1-2 "Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me. Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High... Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil."
Do you know how frequently the enemy gets out there practicing his sport? Daily! Every day our enemy is practicing his skill. Every day he is actively seeking whom he may devour. He is no Weekend Warrior. He is a lion who never stops.
What about us? Are we Weekend Warriors? Do we only get in God's Word and under the preaching of the Bible on weekends? Do we only study once a week? Do we neglect Bible time throughout the week? It's no wonder we would find ourselves struggling when we are in an uphill battle! We have no endurance and we are ill prepared! If our enemy is daily practicing his trade, shouldn't we practice our skills in God's Word just as frequently?
The steep uphill climbs and battles will come, but if we have been exercising in the Word, we will be ready!
Just as we see bikers walking and pushing their bikes uphill, and can tell they are Weekend Warriors, there is no hiding your Weekend Warrior status when you are struggling over simple inclines. More experienced and prepared "bikers" will still cheer you on and encourage you, but they will also tell you that getting in the Word daily will help you be better prepared for those hills.
Are you a Weekend Warrior?
We live in a country where persecution is real. Spiritual oppression is constant and the battle is exhausting. We have become accustomed to being vigilant and watching for the enemy. He is tricky and relentless. He desires to sift us. He battles for our minds. He battles for our testimonies. He battles for our time and our desires. We do our best not to let our guard down.
There are people in this country who are against us even being here. They try to trap Christians in their words, seek to have foreigners deported, and desire to cause trouble for the church in any way they can. Those are the enemies that surround us. They do not surprise us. We know they are against us.
But then their is another enemy. This enemy seems to catch us off guard. This enemy comes from a direction that is unexpected. This enemy has buttery smooth words. This enemy eats at our table. This enemy laughs with us and we counsel them and cry with them. They sit beside us in church or maybe even in our own home. This enemy is slithers in under the cloak of friendship, and we never see the attack coming. We give our trust and our affection to them, and then they strike. It leaves us reeling. David knew this kind of enemy.
Psalm 55:12-13 "For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance."
If it were the enemy, David said he could have handled it. He would have expected it. He was prepared for it. But this attack came a direction he didn't expect. This enemy's attack hurts more and cuts deeper. It leaves wounds and sometimes scars. David left his heart unguarded and gave his friendship and affection freely. He was rewarded with deception and injury.
What do we do when that happens? Do we guard our hearts from injury by refusing to trust people? Do we withhold affection and friendship? Do we learn to be cold and distant?
David has a different solution.
Psalm 55:22 "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."
When it hurts, cast the pain to the Lord. When it cuts, cast it to the Father. He will sustain you. He will heal the hurt. He will strengthen you. Keep loving and reaching out. It will leave you vulnerable sometimes, but God is there to heal your heart.
Have you ever seen those escape rooms? I really want to do one of those! They do not have them here, but maybe when we visit the States again we can try one. They are rooms filled with puzzles and gadgets that you and a team have to solve in order to unlock the door and get out of the room. That just sounds like so much fun!
Last year I hosted a July Fourth party at our house. I set up three mini escape rooms for three teams. They had to solve the puzzles in order to unlock a door. I had almost as much fun setting that up as I would have if I were a participant.
Here's the thing about escape rooms: you have to solve the puzzles before you can escape.
Psalm 55:6-8 "And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. Selah. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest."
David had a huge problem. This problem sent him into emotional turmoil. He was struggling! He spoke of his heart being "sore pained", of terrors of death, fearfulness, and trembling. He just wanted to escape! He wanted the wings of a dove and he wanted to just fly out away from his problems.
We do the same thing. We often default to escape plans rather than dealing with our problems in a Godly and Biblical way. We use mechanisms to unplug and distract us from the issue at hand. Whether it be jumping on social media for hours, watching television, reading a book, shopping, getting together with friends... These can all be escape tools. They are escapes from reality. Some of these things may not be bad things themselves, but when we use them to avoid dealing with or thinking about our problems they become destructive behaviors. When these things are used to mask and to relieve painful emotions so that we do not have to deal with them, they are not healthy choices.
In order to escape the escape room, we must deal with the problems. We must face the problems and seek the Lord for help.
Psalm 55:1 "Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication."
The solution is to go to the Problem Solver and His precious Word.
Psalm 55:16-17 "As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice."