Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Intentional: Living as a force for good

It’s that time of year here in the Midwest. It comes every November.

No, not the time of family gatherings, stuffed turkeys, and thankful thoughts. It’s the time of camouflage coverings, early mornings, and deer stand hangouts.

I’m not a deer hunter. I’ve never tried it, have no desire to try it, and probably never will. But I’ve been happily married to a deer hunter for two decades. Over those years, I’ve come to appreciate his hobby, the happiness it brings him, and the food it provides for our family.

However, a group of us deer widows was talking at church the other day. And well, here’s the story…

We came across these verses while studying the actions of evil in Psalm 37, “Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the man who carries out evil plans. … The wicked person schemes against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him.” (Psalm 37:7, 12).

We started discussing the two actions of evil listed in these verses.

  • Men carry out evil plans.
  • The wicked scheme against the righteous.

They plan and scheme against us who follow Jesus. The forces of evil plan how to bring down the righteous. They actually take the time to think about it and come up with ways to plot evil intent. Evil is highly intentional about causing destruction in our lives (Hebrew: zamam).

My husband is a good man – a true, dedicated, and devoted follower of Christ. But I’m going to compare him to the forces of evil for just a minute. Sorry, honey.

Because here’s the deal that the other deer widows and I started to discuss…

My husband has been planning his deer hunt for weeks. He scouts early in the season for scrapes from the deer antlers. He hangs a motion sensor camera in the woods so he can find when and where the deer are traveling. He applies the deer scent stuff that I think stinks but I guess smells alluring to a buck. He layers on the camo clothing so nothing will see him perched in the tree. He practices making the right noises so he sounds like a deer grunting or antlers rattling. He invests money in a tag, ammunition, gadgetry, and specialized clothing. This year, he even downloaded an app that utilizes Google satellite images of the region where he hunts. On the image, he marked where his tree is, the trees of the men with whom he hunts, any deer markings they found while scouting, and probably more stuff I don’t know about. The app even tells him the direction and speed of the wind.

Alright…you get the point. He’s very INTENTIONAL about his deer hunt. He doesn’t wake up some morning, decide to grab his rifle, and hike off into the woods. He plans, schemes, and invests to make his hunt successful. He covers his body, his scent, and his noise in order to DECEIVE all the senses the deer uses in self-protection.

Based on Psalm 37:7, 12, Satan and the forces of evil are doing the same thing to us. Psalm 83:3-5 says it this way, “They devise clever schemes against Your people; they conspire against Your treasured ones. They say, ‘Come, let us wipe them out as a nation so that Israel’s name will no longer be remembered.’ For they have conspired with one mind; they form an alliance against You.”

Satan is out to get you, friend and fellow follower of Christ. He’s planning and scheming to bring you down. He doesn’t decide on a whim to kind of trip you up a little bit. He is investing in every tool, opportunity, and gadget at his disposal to make his hunt successful.

What are we going to do?

We have to be just as intentional. We can’t wake up one morning and decide, “Oh, I think I’ll do something good today. Maybe I’ll go to church or read a Bible chapter.”

I’m not knocking church attendance or scripture reading, but we’re going to have to be more intentional than that.

Bible reading

The Word of God is the power to transform your life. The Word reveals truth in a world that is so messed up we have Muslims worshiping in a Christian cathedral, schools raising children instead of parents, and babies that aren’t safe in their own mother’s wombs.

Casually perusing a verse or two a day won’t do much for you though – kind of like eating a bite or two of food in a day won’t do much to sustain you. Intentional Bible reading studies it, learns what it says, and applies it to life. Intentional Bible reading figures out the hard parts – not skims over them.


You can talk to God – right here, right now. The One who created the universe waits to hear what’s on your mind. The Savior of all mankind wants to know what’s bothering you. Yahweh who knows everything wants to know how your day went.

But He’s not an overpaid psychiatrist or a priest in confessional who can’t really do too much in response to your pleas. He can summon the angels and dispel the demons. He can provide from infinite riches and protect beyond imagination.

Intentional prayer goes beyond meal time thankfulness or casual conversations during mundane tasks. Those are good times to pray but intentional prayer takes it up a notch. It carves out part of the day and declares it as time to prayerfully enter God’s holy presence for a time of praise, thanksgiving, and intercession. Intentional prayer makes that time regular and frequent.

Invest in others

I know you’re hurting right now – so is the person next to you at work, at church, or in the grocery store line. It’s easy to invest in your best friend, spouse, or children but can we invest in those who think differently than us? Or look different? Intentional investment steps outside what’s convenient and easy. Intentional investment extends a word of encouragement, offers some help, or serves another when it’s hard to do so and maybe even dangerous.

That’s all I got – maybe you can think of more ways we can live intentionally as a force for good. If so, please share in the comments.

The forces of evil intentionally fight to bring you down – to destroy your story. We must counterattack with intentional living for Christ as a force for good. Remember, “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

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