My high school has won ten Illinois State Football Championships, making it the second most successful program in our states history. The primary reason for their success is in their ability to recruit top talent throughout the city of Chicago. As a freshman I decided I would attempt to “walk-on” the team along with thirty other hopeful young men. At our first practice we discovered that the scholarship recipients had already been practicing for over a month and were dressed in full gear. We were allowed to run laps and exercise with the team but were excluded from contact drills due to the fact that we did not have protective equipment. So for about two hours each evening the thirty of us would watch the team practice and were told that we could join them once we “earned” our gear. This was somewhat of a “Catch 22” because it was impossible to earn our pads without first having them. Day by day guys became discouraged and quit. One week before the teams first game there were only five of us left. Throughout the course of that final week four of us also hung it up. Only a guy named Mike from my neighborhood stuck it out. Mike was among the worst players from my grade school team. He showed up for the game in street clothes and the coaches rewarded his tenacity by granting him his equipment. Mike went on to letter all four years and even played college ball (Proving Pastor John’s theory that persistence overcomes resistance).

The Apostle Paul likens our lives in Christ to that of athletic competition. He wrote that we are in a race and we should run as to win the prize. In Ephesians chapter 6 he wrote that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers in heavenly places. He went on to say that it is imperative that we wear the proper gear (What he calls armor).

Unlike the coaches at my high school, God does not make it difficult for the believer to acquire his/her gear. Yet many walk out onto the spiritual battlefield everyday unprepared for battle. They go out to fight without the breastplate of righteousness, without the shield of faith and without the sword of the Spirit (Which the Bible identifies as the Word of God).

I would encourage you to study Ephesians 6:10-18 and learn how to gird yourself for battle where the field is far more dangerous than that of a football field and the stakes much higher. It’s time to gear up!

Barry Hinkle, Senior Associate Pastor

Barry focuses on guiding and supporting Life Groups and coaching and developing their leaders. He also serves on the Executive Board. (Read More)