The Right Tools by Randy Rowley 9/20/13 ©


On the last Saturday in August, I worked an FCS booth at a sportsmen’s expo held at a church in Liberty Hill.  As dove season was fast-approaching, I tried to engage those who stopped by asking questions about their dove hunting plans.

A man who stopped by told me about a dove hunt at the Balcones Canyonlands Federal Wildlife Refuge near Liberty Hill, where he worked as the deputy director.  The hunt was held each September the 1st through the 4th.  He said a four-day permit was only $15.00, and the hunting was great on the first day, good on the second, fair on the third, and poor on the fourth.  Burl Fulenwider and I decided we’d give it a try.

I checked them out online when I got home.  Being a federal wildlife refuge, I knew there would be rules.  Sure enough, there were several.  Most were benign, such as “park in the designated areas.”  But one caused me concern – “Hunters must use non-lead shot.”  I knew steel shot wasn’t as effective as lead on ducks and feared it would be similarly iffy on dove.

Nevertheless, I put together an FCS dove hunt, and five of us headed there on September the 2nd, the second day of the season.  I brought three boxes of Federal Game loads in 7 steel shot.  Unfortunately, we only saw a few dove that day.  I only fired eight shots, which meant I had almost two ¾ boxes left.

I decided I’d shoot as much of my remaining steel shot dove loads as I could at the FCS blast and cast (dove hunt and bass fishing trip) on Joel Kirby’s A-OK Ranch near Lometa the following Saturday.  However, I brought an insurance box of Remington Heavy Dove Loads in 7 1/2 lead shot.

During the first hour, I shot 19 steel shotshells and only had two dove in my bag to show for it – a one dove for every 9.5 shots ratio!  I usually do better than one dove for every three shots, so I was downright depressed that I didn’t have at least half a dozen already.  I was hitting them – several of them left considerable quantities of feathers behind, but they weren’t falling.  The steel shot loads were the wrong tools.  (Steel shot lacks the penetrating power of lead, especially in smaller shot sizes.)

I decided it was time to switch to the lead shot.  I fetched it from my truck and dumped the steel shot.  A few minutes later, I was back in the game – this time with the right tools.  Within another hour, I bagged ten dove, completing my limit, and shot 24 lead shotshells – a one dove for every 2.4 shots ratio.  The shots I was presented with weren’t different than my earlier shot opportunities.  The difference was the tools I used – using the right tools resulted in good results.  If I hadn’t switched to the lead shot, I probably would have gone home with less than a handful of dove.

Hunting, fishing, and shooting tend to be that way.  Sometimes when we bring the wrong tools, we can succeed by using other tools not designed for the job.  But other times, we fail.

The Bible tells us about tools God gave to every Christian – tools he meant to be used in battle.

Ephesians 6:10 – 17 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  (The “gospel” is the good news of redemption of sin through Christ.)

In a nutshell, Paul said there was a war raging against a powerful adversary, and there were no bystanders – all must fight in this war.  And to be victorious, we must first be strong through God’s power and then use all the tools God gave us.

Strength and using those tools go hand and hand.  Place the best armor on a weak soldier, and he’ll still be easily defeated because he lacks the might to use it.  So our gearing up for Christian combat must begin with being strong through God’s power.

This strength doesn’t come from feeling strong or making ourselves strong enough to control our problems.  It comes from our willingness to surrender control over every situation to God – trusting him no matter what and in every circumstance, regardless of whether we perceive them as good or bad.  His strength works through us as we rely on it and step out in faith to do his work.

Paul provided an example of this strength in action.  Romans 8:28 NLT says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  We demonstrate being strong through God’s power by allowing him to be in control of our lives, and then he will cause everything to work together for our good.

Paul was in prison when he wrote to the Ephesians.  A Roman soldier was probably chained to him 24/7, so he was very familiar with what they wore.  The tools Paul wrote about had particular jobs and they worked when they were applied correctly.  But if one tool was omitted or incorrectly used, it weakened all of a soldier’s protection.  Imagine a soldier trying to protect his head with a belt – he probably wouldn’t be very successful!

The belt of truth is our foundation.  It’s our understanding of and confidence in the fundamental doctrines of the faith.  Just as a Roman soldier couldn’t fight well without a belt to gather together his undergarments, we can’t fight without our foundation firmly in place.

The breastplate of righteousness protects our vital organs.  We can no sooner battle Satan without this tool than a soldier can effectively defend himself without his breastplate.  This tool is not a feeling of being righteous or what we perceive to be our own earned righteousness.  Instead, it’s the confidence we have when we’re aware of our position as heirs due to our relationship with Christ.

Just as nail-studded sandals gave Roman soldiers superior footing, the good news of redemption through Christ provides Christians with a firm foundation in everything we do.  However strong the rest of our armor is, we’re ineffective if our feet are incapacitated.  Jungle rot (skin diseases, often to the feet, developed from prolonged exposure to wetness due to monsoon rains) was the number two cause of hospitalizations of American soldiers during the Vietnam War, right behind Malaria.  We must always have the goal of sharing the redemption of sin through Christ to the lost foremost in our minds.

The shield of faith protects us from lies, our stray thoughts, fears, feelings, and our imaginations – all of which Satan can hurl at us as fiery darts.  Just as a Roman soldier’s shield could extinguish flaming arrows, our faith can extinguish Satan’s flaming arrows (temptations, lies, causing doubt, creating conflicts, etc.).

Just as a soldier’s helmet protected his head from instant death, the helmet of salvation protects our minds from Satan plaguing us with doubts of our salvation.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:8b, Paul introduced “…protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”  Satan knows a Christian  doubting his salvation cannot fight him or serve God and others effectively.  We defend ourselves from Satan’s doubts by frequently remembering our salvation experience and knowing no one will snatch us out of God’s hand.  Whenever Satan attacks me with doubt, I remember I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord on September 26, 1977, and there’s nothing he can do to change that.  And Jesus said in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Even if we have the best defense, we won’t win battles without weapons, and our only weapons are God’s word (the Bible) and applying it.  When Satan tempted Jesus three times in the wilderness after Jesus’s 40-day fast, Jesus’s response was to quote God’s word, and Satan left him.  But Satan knows God’s word just as well as Jesus does, so, knowing it isn’t enough – we must apply it to make Satan leave.  James 1:22 (NLT) says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word.  You must do what it says.  Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”

Just as using the right tools is essential for success as sportsmen, using the tools God gave us correctly is essential for victory in our constant battle against Satan.


Categories : Devotionals

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Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.