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Put on a full suit of armor

(Peter and Toni DePaoli are the leaders of Rushing Wind Fellowship, which meets Saturdays at 6 p.m. at Tigard Covenant Church. For more information, call 503-356-1647.)

Years ago, when my children were small, I took them on an outing to Washington Square. We walked up to the cutlery shop where, outside, stood a full suit of armor. I asked the manager if the kids could touch it.

After giving his assent, the kids ooh'ed and aahhh'ed their way around the armor. On the backside, where the buns are, there is no armor . . . just a velvet cloth covering. My curious child gently pulled back this 'curtain' to look inside, only to find a little card that said, 'Shame on you!'

After having a good laugh, God gently nudged my shoulder with His quiet and gentle Spirit and said, 'Shame on you!' Shame on me? Why? Because I had on the helmet of salvation and no other part of the armor! I was a Christian Streaker!

Ephesians 6:11 tells Christians to put on the whole armor of God. It's His armor that we are to don, not our own. I wasn't in the Word on a regular basis. I rarely got a quiet time of prayer alone with the Lord . . . I mean, I prayed as I did dishes and drove the car but I didn't give God an opportunity to have my full attention. Oh, let me tell you, I wanted His full attention, but He rarely had mine!

I was living my life according to my own pre-prescribed notions of what I thought a good person was instead of learning what a righteous person was as instructed in God's Word. They are two very different things. I believed that God was a savior. That was a good thing, wasn't it? I was religious. The Lord showed me that religion was simply our attempt to reach up to God through a set of man-made dictates. By selecting certain parts of scripture that I liked and either ignoring or overlooking the parts that were less likable, I had created a god (with a little 'g' . . . an idol) of my own making. I wanted God to revolve around my universe. I came to Him on my terms in my way.

That day at the mall, He showed me that I needed to recognize God as my Savior and Lord. I had to have both. Yes, He saved me from the penalty of eternal death because of my sins. He was my savior.

I also had to commit to making Him my Lord, CEO, Boss. Whatever He said, I had to do to. In place of 'having religion,' I needed a relationship. I was to do what I did out of love for my Lord, not out of obligation to a faith or denomination. Everything I did was to please Him. Period. I needed to come to Him on His terms in His way.

That many of us choose to be Christian streakers instead of wearing God's armor is one of the reasons that many feel that our churches are full of hypocrites. Because we are moving in our own power, by our own set of morals, instead of moving according to God's prescribed plan in scripture, we tend to hurt and devour each other.

Luke 10:27 says that we are to love the Lord our God with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength. The word for strength in the Greek means to the best of our ability, which means that my walk is going to look a bit different than your walk. The good news is that as we mold into His armor, together, we will each be walking in the same direction, following the same leader, in the light of His Wisdom and Love.