The news of another violent tragedy consumes the airwaves, again.
X dead. Y wounded.
Slowly the details begin to emerge. We learn the names of the victims and their stories. We learn about the gunman and his motivations.
And we lament over all the missed warning signs. In a desperate attempt to make sense of the senseless we analyze everything, we hope to find an answer somewhere.
As the confusion of the moment fades, we realize we've lost something. The sense of security we once had now seems elusive. With each new detail, we realize that it easily could have been us, our spouse, our child, our parent.
When the cold, hard truth of our vulnerability finally sets in, fear turns to anger. Something must be done!
How can we protect our loved ones from the evil that exists? Some advocate eliminating guns from society. Others try to solve the problem by arming themselves.
As a husband and father, I know that it is my responsibility to protect my family. When there is a bump in the night, it is my job to investigate. Whether armed with a weapon or my bare hands, I must be prepared to defend my wife and kids in any way that I can, even if it means giving up my life to save theirs.
I looked up Mark 3:27, which says, "… no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house." Reading this passage made me wonder, what kind of protector am I? Could I really protect my family from a home invasion? How easy would it be to "bind" me?
And then, as I considered that question, I realized that evil was not only attacking my house, but I had actually let it in.
Genesis 3:6 records the very first time that a man failed to protect his wife:
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Every time I read this story, I want to scream. God told Adam earlier that the tree was forbidden, yet he stood by in silence as Satan told Eve lies. He watched as she stepped up to the tree, examined its fruit, and took her first bite.
Where was Adam's instinct to defend? Why didn't he grab a garden hoe and chop the snake's head off? History may have turned out differently had he done that, but instead, he stood by and did nothing. To make matters worse, he followed her lead, when he knew better.
As much as I like to fault Adam, I have to admit that I've done the same thing.
Our family recently moved over 1,200 miles away from everyone we ever knew. When we did, my wife lost more than her career, friends, and family … she slowly began to lose her identity.
I thought it was something that would pass with time, so I did what many guys do. I let her have her space. Basically, I did nothing.
It wasn't until I reread this passage that I realized what my passivity had done. Satan had been invading my home since we moved. With each passing day, he whispered new lies into my wife's ears. I watched in silence as her joy slipped away and her bitterness over the move grew.
I had failed to defend my wife when she needed it most.
Ephesians 6:12 tells us, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." When I finally realized what she needed, I walked into my arsenal and pulled out the biggest gun that I could find.
I grabbed my wife's hand, and audibly rebuked Satan in Jesus's name. I commanded that he leave my wife alone and I began to cover her in prayer each morning.
After over 18 months of allowing Satan to have victories in my house, he finally began to retreat. Within a few weeks, my wife's joy began to return and our new house began to feel like home.
Lack of support
If you are going to engage in spiritual warfare on behalf of your family, you must prepare yourself. I let my wife fight her battle alone for so long because I was spiritually weak.
The community of godly men that I once had around me, urging me forward, was over 1,200 miles away. The new church that we had been visiting was filled with strangers. To make matters worse, I let myself fall out of the habit of regularly reading my Bible and praying. My spiritual life became stagnant. I was empty myself and had little to give.
I needed to start training my spiritual muscles for the battle ahead.
One of the blessings of living in the South is that there are plenty of churches to choose from. One of the curses of being in the South is that there are plenty of churches to choose from. We wasted too much time bouncing around from church to church in search of the perfect fit. One problem was that I kept trying to find a church that would make my wife happy.
Unfortunately she was too homesick to be able to appreciate any church. The more we looked, the more Sunday morning became a depressing reminder of all we had lost. It became all about us and not about God. It was exhausting.
I knew I couldn't properly lead my family unless my relationship with God was growing. This led me to make what felt like an incredibly selfish choice. I put a stake in the ground and picked the church that offered me the best chance at spiritual growth.
Initially, my decision was met with grumbling. I was tempted to give in, but I knew that I could not properly lead my family as a church-hopping nomad.
Surprisingly, within about a week the complaining stopped. With the burden of making a choice lifted, the family could finally begin to settle down.
Going it alone
It's easy to listen to an amazing sermon on Sunday morning, and completely forget it by Monday. I knew that if I was going to train for the battle ahead, that I'd need a group of buddies to train with me. As Proverbs 27:17 says, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another."
I made the choice to walk into a crowded men's group meeting on a Wednesday night, pick a table, and introduce myself. It was terrifying. I wanted to run, but for the sake of my family, I overcame my doubts and committed to getting to know the guys at my table.
I was honest with these men from the start. I didn't have time to play games. I laid out my issues and I gave the men permission to get in my face and ask me the tough questions.
Sometimes, just knowing that I'd have to give them an update was enough to keep me moving forward.
My own sin
Proverbs 25:28 says, "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls."
Sometimes we're not just standing around as the devil breaks into our house, we're actually the ones who open the door.
When we first moved, I complained about everything. It was too hot, the yard wasn't flat, the neighbor's dog barks every Saturday morning at 7 a.m. My constant complaining opened the door for Satan to walk in and make himself at home. My sinful attitude helped a spirit of bitterness take root in my wife and children. They were following my example.
Whether we realize it or not, what we choose to complain about, the language we use, the shows we allow on our TVs, the friends we invite over … it all matters.
As the head of the house, it is my responsibility to keep evil out. This means I first need to keep it as far away from myself as I can.
The first line of defense
There is evil in the world. Sometimes it shows itself in overt displays of violence and shocks us to our core. Sometimes the attacks are more subtle and can go unnoticed for years. First Peter 5:8 warns us to "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
As husbands, it is our responsibility to be the first line of defense for our families. While many are well prepared to handle a home invasion or prowling mass murderer, our vision of defense can't stop with the physical.
The reality is that members of your family are likely under spiritual attack right now.
The question is, how far are you willing to go to protect them?
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