Mandatory Practice

I was driving past the high school on Tuesday and off to my left I noticed the football team was having practice on the south side of the tennis courts. In the short time I watched them; it looked like they were practicing some running plays. I also noticed it must have been a no- contact drill because none of the players had any pads on; the only protective gear they were wearing was their helmets.
As I continued on my way I began thinking about Paul’s instructions to the Ephesians in chapter six concerning the full armor of God. He writes, “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
When I read this passage, I am reminded that the spiritual battle is real, and that Satan’s goal is to destroy me. I’m going to need more than just the helmet of salvation (saying the sinner’s prayer) if I’m going survive the schemes of the enemy. I must learn how to put on the armor and how each piece of the gear protects me. I must practice how to use the sword of the Spirit (the Bible).
As I continued to reflect on the boys practicing for the footfall season, I realized that’s what much of our discipleship journey is about—it’s about learning and understanding and practicing how to engage the enemy for our short time on earth.
One last thing I noticed as I drove by; it appeared that there were forty to fifty boys out on the practice field. I’ll bet that if you sign up to be a part of the Cardinal football team, practice is not an option; I would guess EVERY player was at practice.
And so it should be for the follower of Jesus. Practice should never be an option; every adult should be engaged in some form of transformational learning experience. Moms and dads, we trust you have been doing your part in helping prepare your children for the spiritual battle. The Education Team has also been working hard this summer in order to put together a game plan that will support your efforts and so we highly encourage you to help your young people to make it a priority to attend practice.
This fall we will have multiple opportunities and options for everyone to get battle ready. May there be a marked difference in the lives of those who attend American Reformed Church because we took our discipleship seriously.
Growing in truth and grace, Mike

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