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The battle is real

May 2, 2017 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

Posted in: Leadership

“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12)

This past Sunday, I preached on Romans 13:8-14, and noted how in verse 12, Paul tells his listeners to get up and put on their armor. It’s a curious and striking exhortation, given that most people don’t get up in the morning and change out of their pajamas into a suit of armor! But Paul’s words reinforce what he says more directly in Ephesians 6:11-12, where he tells his listeners to “put on the full armor of God,” because our fight is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil. The Christian life is not a walk in the park, but is rather a fight against a tenacious and terrible opposition, led by the devil himself.

At our annual meeting this past Sunday, we voted in two new elders, John Campbell and Brian Montanari. In addition, we said thank you to an outgoing elder, Gino Marozzi. I have been the pastor of NewLife for over ten years now, and in some form of pastoral ministry for almost twenty years. I don’t know what it’s like in the pews, but I can say with confidence that it is a battle being on the front lines. The challenges of being in church leadership are not necessarily harder than the challenges of other professions, but they are unique, especially given the reality of the spiritual battle. Satan and his fallen angels are crafty; as Peter puts it, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). In the 25 years our church has been in existence, the devil has certainly tried hard to devour us.

My point in drawing your attention to this reality is not to gain your sympathy; after all, I signed up for this and love serving the Lord in this way. Rather, my point is to honor Gino, John, Brian, and everyone else who has stepped up to lead at our church, along with their families. Stepping up to spiritual leadership means agreeing not to spend the day in your pajamas (metaphorically speaking, of course), but to be willing to put on the armor of God every morning and go to battle for the kingdom of God. It means putting yourself – and your family – in harm’s way, being willing to be wounded in order to protect the sheep and take back territory from the enemy. And for those of you who have stepped up to spiritual leadership, it means doing it not for money or worldly fame, but because you are willing to take up your cross and follow Jesus, your Lord and Savior, wherever He might lead you.

In 1 Timothy 5:17 , Paul writes “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” I encourage you to take a moment this week to honor those who have stepped up to spiritual leadership, whether as elders, ministry leaders, missionaries, or to serve the Lord in some other capacity. And pray for those who battle on the front lines, that God might protect them and fight for them, so that they might not grow weary and lose heart along the way, but might see victory instead.

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