Sunday, September 29, 2013

Faces of War

by David
Danielle and I want to share our lives with people and express the variety of ways God is teaching us. Sometimes I am stubborn and a slow learner.  Yes, sometimes stubborn, not all the time hehe Smile.  It has been clear to me an issue that keeps arising throughout my time in Portugal is Spiritual warfare.  I am not writing about casting demons out of a person, or something that involves that clear a manifestation of a believer’s war with darkness. However, I have never been challenged in such a variety of ways as I have been over the past 9 months.
Paul said in the book of Ephesians, “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” 
In the states, I did not notice this truth reveal itself strongly.  But after living in Portugal, I now realize how subtle spiritual war can be.  The effects can be frustrating, prolonged, and if not addressed… devastating to a Christian’s witness. So, here are some different faces of Spiritual battles.
AngerSteaming mad – I am one of those types of people that will simmer on a thought.  If I feel cheated in any form, I replay the perceived injustice through my mind (I don’t believe continued thinking on negative things is biblical by the way, I should control my thoughts better).  Since I have been in Portugal, I have noticed that I do not avert my thoughts to a different subject after I become angry.  I simmer for hours.  The anger can influence my schedule and how I interact with people. Does it seem peculiar to anybody that these incidents occur when I am going to talk to people about Jesus?   Here is a prime example.  This past season in football, when I was about to go to a game or even practice and interact with players, trying to show Christ to them, Danielle and I would argue.  The argument would put me in a negative mood.  Danielle and I started to notice this pattern after a while.  We realized that these arguments could be spiritual warfare.  The realization allowed us to focus on the problem.
       A side note:  Anger affects relationships with teammates and friends.  It causes me to isolate myself so I can ignore situations.  It creates so many problems. It is a mighty tool for the Devil, and I am just now realizing how difficult the battle presents.
Distractions – I am a worker.  Now that is.  When I was younger, I would lazily allow my brother to rake the leaves and do the outside yard work, hehe = strategy.  So, I enjoy having things to do.  I enjoy going to cafes and talking to people about Christ, or studying on particular subjects.  However, I notice that things I have never enjoyed before have become more intriguing to me, for some odd reason… T.V., Internet, etc. I am checking my Facebook way too much (oh the irony of this blog being posted on FB). I love football, but when I start to watch a meaningless game of teams I have never even heard of existing, I realize I am allowing distractions take me away from my mission in life.
Past problems –  Before I was reborn, I lived like a sinner, shocker! The problem with my former lifestyle, is I don’t think the Devil’s workers have forgotten about my past DevilAnnoyed.  My former lifestyle was focused on women in all the wrong ways. Now that Christ has made me a new creation, I have a wonderful wife and can enjoy that blessing.  The fact remains, as James says we stumble in many ways, I am in a constant Spiritual battle with lust.  I hate it.  Absolutely hate it.  But, I sowed these seeds early in my life, now I have to struggle with the fruit I produce from that lifestyle.  This spiritual battle is not going away.  It is a daily battle that has to be won… I realize that everyone does not struggle with the same thing.  Whatever your battle is, you probably know that the Devil has not forgotten your difficulties.  Keep battling my friend. Keep battling.  
Emotions –  I feel like I am on an emotional roller coaster, all the time!  And I don’t like heights.  The more I feel compelled to share Christ, the more I notice my mood is tested.  Anger has already been discussed, but shame from failure in any area, a feeling of being overwhelmed and helplessness, sadness from certain situations, thoughts of insignificance, and many other negative emotions Sick smile are constantly having to be battled.  Funny, but these emotions can be complete contradictions of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  It’s crazy to me how simple our emotions seem, but I would not be shocked if many times it is Spiritual warfare.  Spiritual warfare trying to inhibit our witness, our joy, or focus. 
I asked for prayer to combat this warfare.  Jesus has already won the war on sin, but battles remain until He returns.  Pray for me to  be constantly outfitted in the armor of God:  Truth, Righteousness, Readiness of the gospel of peace, Faith, Salvation, God’s Word (Ephesians 6:10-20).  As Paul asked, I ask, “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel… Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.”

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Barker Family Adds One

This sounds like the title to a children’s book. One that you think will be cute and funny and have a good moral and a happy ending. But it really is an announcement!

If you have not heard the news: We’re pregnant! (Ok, my Portuguese friends. I am pregnant. David, technically, cannot be pregnant.) So let me restate: We are going to have another baby!

We are extremely excited about our new addition. And, yes, this baby was “planned”, or as “planned” as a baby can get (all babies are planned by God, but that is a subject for another day.) Actually, in my mind, I should have been seven or eight months pregnant by now. But, God had other plans. And His timing is perfect, as always. 

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16)

I almost titled this blog, “God, what were You thinking?” Because even though I admit that His timing is perfect, now, I am afraid that I have missed so many opportunities because I worry and obsess over my desires instead of focusing on what is before me. Now that I am pregnant, I wonder how much I have missed being thankful for the child that I do have, instead of being sad over the child He had not given me, yet. How much play time or book reading time or smiles did I miss out on because I was thinking of my selfish desires?

Or even more convicting: How many people did I not share Jesus with because I was thinking of what God had not given me instead of thinking of what God has given me? Have I been walking around mad at God? If I have, how can I share His love with others?

Now, I have not been mad at God, really. I just question His timing. On many things. After my blog last month, why does He choose now to give me a child? When He knows that I struggle so much with the job I have, why does He choose to bless me with another? I am so very happy that He has chosen to bless us in this way. He tells us that children are a blessing, and we want a LOT of children.

Even though waiting was a little difficult, I know it was well worth it. I did not have to worry about morning sickness while in language class. I did not have to worry about strange smells bothering me in the supermarket (now they are not so strange smells bothering me in the supermarket.) I have already seen my doctor, and she was able to direct me to her colleague who speaks English. I was able to enjoy a nice summer without being as big as a whale.

Now that I have shared the news, and admitted that occasionally I have questioned God’s timing and wondered what He was doing, there are some things that I need to pray about and would ask that you be in prayer over them, also.

Pray that I would allow this new situation to cultivate new relationships in order to share the Gospel.
Pray that I would not neglect any relationship in order that the Gospel will be shared.
Pray that I would continue learning the language in order to speak to the Portuguese people in Portuguese.
Pray that I would have an increase in energy and a decrease in the “yucky” pregnancy feeling of the first trimester. (Only a month to go before it should be gone!)
Pray that I can continue to be the wife and mother my family needs me to be during this time.
And, lastly, pray that I will not be too homesick during this pregnancy. I know it will be hard to be away from my parents and all of our family during this pregnancy and when we have the baby.

That is our big news! Do you have anything that we can be in prayer for you???