Resting in God Our Rock When Our Enemies Attack

quote on staying close to God

In 2006, my husband stepped into an ugly power struggle that nearly cost him his job. In the span of a year, he’d changed employment three times, landing, precariously, at the company he’d started with, but in a different location and with a pay cut and demotion. The organization he initially quit, with zero notice. Therefore, though my husband’s former boss, through God’s grace, invited him back, Steve’s position felt shaky at best. Like he was one mistake away from unemployment.

Adding to this mess of uncertainty was the fact that my husband was coming in both equal and under the current shop director. A man accustomed to little oversight, and whom we soon discovered was behaving unethically in countless ways. He was allowing employees to “steal” time, was misreporting injuries, misusing his company credit card in outlandish and grievous ways, and gave those with influence special privileges. Worse, he pressured my husband to comply with his dishonest tactics.

Though anxious, my husband refused, knowing, however his boss responded, whatever occurred, his allegiance was to Christ and Christ alone. He made the right hard choice. The result: the truth eventually came out, his boss and numerous managers were fired and walked off the property, while my husband was promoted.

We rejoiced at God’s goodness and grace, celebrating the fact that righteousness and justice had prevailed. Soon, however, our praise turned to desperate prayers for God’s intervention and protection as evil, power-hungry men used to getting their way slandered and attacked him.

One man in particular, the union rep, determined to make it his mission to get my husband fired. Every day, he bombarded my husband with accusations and demands in an attempt to wear him down. When this didn’t work, he turned to the Chief Executive Officer telling him how “terrible” my husband was. Once sent, he printed and prominently displayed the letter he wrote, in which he’d twisted everything my husband had or hadn’t done in an effort to make him look bad.

While walking down the hallway one morning, my husband happened to see this letter, tacked on one of the union bulletin boards. He felt attacked and deeply fatigued. Not only had his continual decision to make the right hard choice not produced positive results, but it’d landed him in a mess. One that felt never-ending and in fact appeared to be gaining momentum.

With every interaction, my anxiety climbed. What if this man succeeded and Steve’s company let him go? Where would he work? How would we pay our bills? Our mortgage? What if we lost our home?

Initially, our world felt out of control. Our security only as steady, as sure, as my husband’s next paycheck. But then we remembered our sure foundation, the immovable rock upon which we stood.

Psalm 18:1-2 says, “I love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliver.”quote pulled from post

This was written by ancient Israel’s second king, a mighty warrior who’d once defeated a tyrannical giant without displaying a hint of fear. But this warrior found strength not in himself and his military prowess, but instead in His sovereign, all-powerful, ever-present God. He recognized how insufficient, how vulnerable, he was apart from God, but more so, how protected, untouchable, he was when raised upon the crags of God’s love.

Towering rocks or bluffs dotted the landscape of ancient Palestine, providing places of refuge, of protection, for all who scampered upon them. These elevated geological edifices were difficult to reach and offered shelter within their caverns. Therefore, they became places of safety in times of danger.

Fortresses offered similar protection. The people built heavily-fortified cities high upon a cliff, where they could see enemies approach for miles. Then, they erected stone towers at the highest point in the city.

Can you sense the layers of protection revealed in the Psalm 18 passage? In Christ, we stand high upon an immovable rock of power and grace, further hidden within the clefts of His love. His strength is greater than anything or anyone that comes against us. We are triply protected within His steadfast embrace. He is our sure and constant deliverer, the rock beneath our feet, and the fortress surrounding us.

In 2006, as attacks continued to barrage my husband and our family, we hid ourselves deeply in God. When anxiety arose, we reminded ourselves of where our true security lay, and all we knew to be true about God. He was faithful, loving and attentive—unconquerable. He was our ever-present provider, the only One with the power to sustain us.

That year, He proved Himself to be all those things and more. I’m confident He’ll do the same for you. Whatever you’re facing, whatever is coming against you, rest in this: God’s got you. He’s standing beside you, within you, and is camped around you. He is your refuge, your rock, and your strong, fortified tower.

You don’t have to be strong or know all the answers—that secret that will somehow whisk you to safety—because in Christ, you’re already safe.

Let’s talk about this! When has God proven Himself to be your rock and your fortress? How might remembering this time help you when future problems hit?

If you’re facing a difficult, uncertain period, how might it help to shift your thoughts off your ever-changing circumstances and onto your immovable Savior?

If you currently feel under attack, make sure to keep an eye out for my upcoming Faith Over Fear podcast, releasing at the endLogo image for Faith Over Fear of this month by Salem Web Communications, my upcoming Faith Over Fear Bible reading plan, and join the Faith Over Fear challenge launching on social media on February 6th. You can find the Faith Over Fear Facebook group HERE and watch a short clip on unexpected anxiety HERE. Read the passage I reference in the video HERE.

Connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

The Danger of Words

It’s interesting how vehemently the Christian community come against some sins while others are tolerated. Almost expected. Entertained even.

When we lived in Southern California, our church went through an ugly split. I wasn’t sure why, but I knew people were hurt. I could hear it in our pastor’s voice, when he spoke to the congregation. I could see it on his wife’s face, when her tears flowed during worship.

Though I was ignorant to the issue, I could feel the toxic tension every Sunday.

I wonder if this was what Timothy felt whenever he stepped up to speak. Did he sense the tension that arose from the false teachers who, though small in number, had such influence over the congregation? And what was going on with the women who appeared to be jockeying for position and fighting for prestige. (1 Tim. 2:9-10)

What did their conversations look like?

You’ve probably encountered women like them—ladies who are so consumed with pride, in impressing others and gaining power, they don’t care who they hurt. Under the guise of venting, they gossip and slander, creating an infectious mess that hinders the work of Christ.

When you read 1 Timothy 3, you may notice, verse 11 is directed specifically to women. Why do you think that is?

Perhaps because we tend to sin with our tongues?

Paul tells Timothy the women “must be respected and must not slander others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do” (NLT).

The Greek word translated as slander (or slanderer) here means an accuser or one who makes charges that bring others down.

John MacArthur says, “It’s a title frequently given to Satan.” (Matt. 4:5, 8, 11, 13:39; Luke 4:3, 5, 6, 13; 8:12 …)

That doesn’t surprise me. Satan is a destroyer bent on thwarting God’s plans, causing confusion and disunity, and shattering the most sacred of all relationships.

In Southern California I had a friend with a child my daughter’s age. We’d meet on occasion, at the park, her house, or mine. Most of the time, our conversations remained surface level, until one day she started to “vent.”

She’d gotten herself swept up with whatever was going on in the church and “verbally processed” her feelings and conclusions to me., much of which involved not facts but her opinion of our pastor.

I left confused and concerned. I still didn’t know the full situation—only this one woman’s perceptions. And even though I didn’t want to be involved, even though I had no business being involved, I began to question.

Was our pastor really like she said? As I was driving home processing all this, a thought emerged: This is how Satan works. This is how he destroys churches and relationships.

That ended my “musings” immediately.

Granted, there are things we should investigate and get concerned about. We must protect truth. We should lovingly confront sin. But not through “venting,” or gossip or trying to pull everyone else into the mess. Jesus laid out clear instructions for how we should handle conflict in Matthew 18:15-19, and if you’ll read them, you’ll notice, never once does He tell us to stir the pot or spew our feelings to whoever will listen or even to our besties. We’re to go directly to the individual.

Our tongues can speak life or death, can foster unity or disunity, can create healing and reconciliation or hurt and destruction. If we want to verbally process, may we go to God. He’s the only One who knows the full situation—and solution—anyway. And in everything we do say, may we follow Paul’s commands in Ephesians 4:29:

“No foul (unwholesome, useless, rotten, or of poor quality) words come from [our mouths], but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.”

Can you sense God’s call to love in that verse? Not self-love that focuses on our feelings, the offense done to us, or our need to verbally unload, but rather what is good for the body of Christ and God’s kingdom. Rooted in a love that is other’s focused—a love that comes from “a pure heart, a clear conscience, and a genuine faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

What are some things can you do when your in a conversation where a person or the group begins to gossip or slanderous things?

A Venemous Tongue

Before I get too far, I’m going to send you over to  A Woman’s Voice where a dear friend posted one of my articles on marriage. I don’t remember when I originally wrote it. I took it down fairly quickly after Dolores sent me a request to use it on her site, but it was likely an expansion on the wonderful article Kevin Adams wrote for me on Reflections, A Christ-centered Marriage: A Priceless Original.

Hopefully all you subscribers aren’t getting bogged down with daily posts. Tomorrow, your email box will be Slattery free…I hope. (As long as the sermon doesn’t inspire another post. hahaha)

Yesterday I received an email that bothered me, for numerous reasons. It was one of those “as told to”, so there really isn’t anything I can do to address the problem, except pray, which is likely the best course of action anyway. But my dissapointment came down to two things I thought worth addressing:

1) The content in the email failed to acknowledge or understand the body of Christ.

2) It failed to protect the body of Christ.

Perhaps we are a bit too comfortable here in the US. No one’s hunting us down, ready to burn us at the stake for our faith. Our greatest persecution? Probably an email, or a negative fb post, or article. Occassionally someone may make a snide comment or two. So we really don’t need each other, right? Which means we can speak negatively of our brothers and sisters in Christ whenever we want. Oh, yeah, we’re a body. A family. But have you seen the way those believers down at Trinity United act? And what about our last prayer meeting? Only a handful of people showed. You know, I’ve been to many of our church members’ houses. Most of them have five televisions. I bet they spent the afternoon glued to the tv screen.

Yep, we’re a body of believers, united in Christ.

One thing I learned, or decided, early on in marriage: I would never, ever, put my husband down in public. Or to our daughter. Why? I protect him, which means protecting his image–defending his character, being his chearleader. You can’t be a chearleader and speak negatively about someone. It’s like talking out of both sides of your mouth.

I also do not speak negatively of our daughter. She gets concerned at times with all the “proud Momma” posts I write, and says people will think she’s an angel, which she’s not. (Well, she is in my eyes. grin) But do you really need to hear of her mistakes? That is between her and I.

Do we honor the body of Christ to the same extent, or are those just words we say on Sunday morning?

I think I am blessed that I have had to rely on the body on numerous occasions. I have been housed by fellow believers, prayed for, encouraged–loved, often by people I had never met previously. Numerous times throughout my life, through countless moves and difficulties, the body of Christ stepped up. They became my family, sealed by the blood of Christ. Which means, the same rules that apply to my nuclear family apply to them. I will defend them. I will protect their reputation and I will look for the best in them.

I will also recognize their unique position and gifting in the body. Each day I get numerous requests from fb friends and other ministries, for donations, to pray, to spread the word about their ministry. And they are all very good, very important, very Christ-centered ministries. But I cannot support them all and although I try to be diligent with my prayers, I cannot pray for them all. Nor can I go to every church function that is scheduled. Does that mean I am selfish? That I do not care about those ministries? Not at all, and likely most will never see or know many of the things our family does–which is as it should be. Which is where trust comes in–not in us, but in God, who forms the body as He wills, stirring each member to do their part.

Why do I say that? Not to defend the Slattery family, because we were not the ones under attack. My dear brothers and sisters in Christ were under attack, and because they did not participate in a ministry that one body member was very passionate about, they were judged as callus. And they were slandered.

And we are the body of Christ.

So here’s my admonition. Be very, very careful what you say about a fellow servant. Negative, judgemental comments divide the body and defame the name. It hurts more than our brothers and sisters. It hurts our witness. You cannot in one breath talk about Christ’s transforming power and in the next, slander another believer. The two statements contradict each other.

Be alert, and supportive, of our God-designed differences and do not expect God to place your passion in everyone else’s heart. Yes, your passion is important. If it weren’t, God woudln’t have given it to you. But there is a big, wide world out there with numerous people needing help. There are shelters needing food and food servers, churches needing ministers to train the food servers, sex-trafficking victims needing protectors, new believers needing disciplers, children needing caretakes, elderly needing comforters, the sick needing nurturers and healers.

Be slow to judge, as it says in Romans 14:4 “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

Who makes him stand? Who holds the body together? Who raises up ministries and trains workers for the harvest? The Lord. So my admonition to us all is that we would spend less time judging what we think is wrong and more time working toward what is right. Every time you are tempted to dishonor another member through words or actions, flip it, and find a way to bless them instead. Then, sit back and watch how God blesses your obedience. And never forget, there is power in unity.