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


On the last Saturday in August, I worked an FCS booth at the Outdoor Sportsmen’s Expo at Fellowship Church in Liberty Hill. As dove season was just around the corner, I would try to engage those who stopped by my booth by asking them how they thought the season would go, where they were going to hunt, etc.

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 that a four-day permit was only $15.00. He also said that 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 on the spot that we would give them a try.

I checked them out online when I got home. As it was a federal wildlife refuge, I knew that 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 that steel shot wasn’t as effective as lead on ducks and feared that it would be similarly iffy on dove.

Nevertheless, I put together an FCS 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 steel 7 shot. Unfortunately, we only saw a few dove that day. I only fired eight shots, which meant that I had almost 2 ¾ boxes left.

On a whim, I decided that I’d use up as much of my remaining steel shot dove loads as I could at the upcoming September the 14th blast and cast (dove hunt and bass fishing trip) on Joel Kirby’s A-OK Ranch near Lometa. However, I brought along a backup box of Remington Heavy Dove Loads in 7 1/2 lead shot.

I fired 19 shots of the steel shot and only had two dove in my bag to show for it – a ratio of one dove for every 9.5 shots! 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 limit 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 to switch to the lead shot and went to my truck to get it. A few minutes later, I was back in the game – this time with the right tools. I ended up using 24 shells out of that box of 25 and bagged ten dove before they stopped flying – a one dove for every 2.4 shots ratio. The shots that I was presented with weren’t any different than my earlier shot opportunities.  The difference was the tools that I used – using the right tools resulted in good results.  If I hadn’t switched to that box of lead shot, I probably would have gone home almost empty-handed.

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

The Bible tells us about tools that God gave to every Christian – tools that he meant for us to use in battle.

Ephesians 6:10 – 17 states, “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.”

Paul essentially told these believers that there was a war going on against a powerful adversary; there were no bystanders – all must fight in this war.  And to be victorious, they must first be strong in the Lord through God’s power and then use all of the tools God gave them.

Strength and using these tools go hand and hand.  Place the best armor on a weak soldier, and he will still be ineffective because he lacks the might to use the tools.  His opponent will easily defeat him.  So gearing up for Christian combat must begin with being strong in the Lord.

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 any situation to God – trusting him no matter what and in every circumstance, regardless of whether we perceive them as good or bad.  His might works through us as we rely on it and step out to do his work.

Paul provided an example of this strength in action.  Romans 8:28 NLT states, “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 in the Lord by allowing him to be in control, and then he will cause everything to work together for our good.

Paul was in prison when he wrote the book of Ephesians.  A Roman soldier was probably chained to him 24/7, so he was very familiar with what they wore. The tools that Paul wrote about had particular jobs.  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 breastplate.  He probably wouldn’t be very successful.

The belt of truth is our foundation. It is 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 cannot 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 is the confidence that we have when we are aware of our position as heirs due to our relationship with Christ.

Just as nail-studded sandals gave Roman soldiers superior footing, the gospel provides Christians with a firm foundation in everything that we do. However strong the rest of our armor is, we are 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 for American soldiers in the Vietnam War, right behind Malaria. We must always have the goal of spreading the gospel foremost in our minds.

The shield of faith protects us from lies and our stray thoughts, fears, feelings, and 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 the lies from the father of lies.

Just as a soldier’s helmet protected his head, our assurance of salvation and ultimate victory protects our minds from discouragement, growing weary in doing good (see Galatians 6:9-10), and the desire to give up.  Satan knows that a discouraged and tired Christian is not able to fight effectively.  The way that I counter that is whenever Satan tries to discourage me, I reply with, “I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior on September 26, 1977, and there is nothing that you can do to change that” or something similar.

We can have the best defense in the world, but we won’t win many battles without a good offense.  Our only weapon is the word of God.  Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  When Satan tempted Jesus three times in the wilderness, Jesus’s response was to quote the word of God.  So too must we respond when Satan tempts us.

Just as using the right tools is essential for our success as hunters, fishermen, and shooters, using the right tools that God gave us is also crucial in our constant battle with the prince of darkness.

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Categories : Devotionals

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Bible verse of the day

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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