After God's Own Heart

It's Time For You To Take After God's Own Heart

The Breast Plates of Righteousness: Armor of God Series


"What is impossible among man [or humankind] is possible with God." –Luke 18:27.

It was a late night when I went to the corner store for a snack. I don't know how it came up, but the clerk brought up faith. He said something along the lines of, "If you like that, then you'd like this." He pointed to a stand of cakes, pies and other sweets. "Look at the top of the pie wrapper and tell me what you see," he said.

"It has a verse. Luke 18:27."

I left the store with my goods. I stopped at Pritchett Field on my way home. I remember feeling broody. I read the short Bible chapter as I walked around the track.

In Ephesians; Paul mentions the breastplates of righteousness as an item of the Armor of God. When we think about the breastplates, we might begin thinking about the chest and the heart that is hidden underneath it. What makes this breastplate, or heart, righteous or justified?

There are about six parables in Luke 18, but we'll only cover three today. The prevailing message of Luke 18 is that one ought to seek and show faith: "Always pray and [do] not give up" (Luke 18:1). Prayer is the outpour of a person's mind and heart. It is the utterance of the soul. For someone to have a righteous heart, they have to honestly seek Christ, as well as be humble, and be vulnerable in prayer.

1. Praying All The Day Long

In the Parable of the Persistent Widow, Christ wants to see one's faith. He tells his disciples to pray all the day long and to never give up.

He then tells a story of a widow seeking justice from an unjust judge: "Grant me justice against my adversary" (Luke 18:3). The judge finally gets to the point where he wants to give in to the widow's request, but for the wrong reasons; he wants her to stop pestering him. He doesn't really care. The parable is supposed to offer a counter to worldly justice, and how sometimes it is not gained.

In just the mention of a corrupt judge and God, the ultimate judge between life and death, there is a foil being set up. God cares about what one's prayers, especially if it is anxiety-inducing to the point that one can't stop asking for help and praying about their concern to be answered day after day after day. The act of casting one's worry and concern onto the Lord is an act of vulnerability, transparency, and honesty. Crying out to God in prayer is the breastplates of righteousness.

Comparatives to the worldly judge, God will give justice. Christ says, "I tell you, He [God] will see that they [the suffering] get justice, and quickly" (Luke 8). Don't you love how the verse says God will come to you QUICKLY. Not tomorrow, not 6 months from now, but immediately. That's not to say He will answer your prayer right on the spot, but it is to say that He will never forsake you.

The parable ends with Christ wondering if anyone will have faith when he returns. Will you have faith that God will be quick to your side to listen and to act in your favor?

2. Humility in Prayer

The second parable is my favorite because it shows how salvation is impossible without God. Here's how it goes: A Pharisee, (high-status believer) and a tax collector (considered a low station in life) both pray at the temple. The parable reveals what sort of spirit one ought to strive to have while praying: humility, honesty, and vulnerability.

Who do you think prays more "righteously?"

The Pharisee comes to the altar with a proud heart. He might thank God, but he forgets that he needs God in his life: "God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evil-doers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector (Luke 18: 11)." The Pharisee even lists off all the amazing things he has done: "I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." It seems the Pharisee doesn't even need God. He has it all worked out. He does religious acts that are kind, such as tithes, but where is his heart?

It might be looking good for the sake of reputation and feeling good.

Meanwhile, there's the lowly tax collector, who, when he prayed, "would not even look up to heaven, but [he] beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." The tax collector was humble enough to admit he wasn't perfect, and that he could never fulfill the law. He could admit that he needed God to make up for what he lacked.

The reason the parable of the tax collector is one of my favorites is that God favored someone society would never favor. And why? Because the tax collector bared his heart to God in honest, vulnerable prayer. This is an example of how prayer can be one's breastplates of righteousness.

Christ ends this parable by mentioning that the tax collector, not the Pharisee, "went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted" (Luke 18:14).

3. Don't Sell Out

Our key verse comes from the Prodigal Son's parable. In this story, Christ mentions a young man who seeks the Good Teacher's advice on how to gain eternal life. The response is not straightforward. Christ, almost seems to brush the young man off by reminding him of the cookie cutter answer to ask oneself: Have you kept the law?

In the Old Testament, you either kept the law or you were a sinner. The catch is, the law is impossible to keep because no one is perfect. This means the question is a test to see how the young man will respond. Will the young man be like the perfect and proud Pharisee or the humble tax collector in the last parable?

The young man's response is this: "All these [laws] I have kept since I was a boy." (Luke 18:21).

Pharisee it is.

Christ's response?

He reads the man's heart and finds that greed is ruling it: "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me (Luke 18: 22)."

The young man was sad because he was wealthy.

The young man's earnest conversation with Christ shows how one can sincerely seek God, only to find that they have to walk away from their old ways (not all at once) and that they still have work to do on themselves before having a heart that is more deeply invested in God.

In the young man's case, it's suggestive that the young man's heart was a slave to greed (the old life) rather than a servant to Christ (the new life). He's an example of how the breastplates of righteousness/praying/talking to Christ can protect oneself.

Once the young man is able to walk away from his old ways, he will be rewarded for it. Christ explains that no one who has sacrificed something for the kingdom of God will fail to reap rewards in the kingdom of heaven (Luke 18: 29). The young man's loss would be a gain.

Overall, the breastplates of righteousness are a metaphor for seeking God, maintaining faith, and protecting one's heart through prayer. As one prays, they might give the concerns they have to God, to find that He is quickly by their side and ready to show favor and to offer justice to them. When one prays with humility, they ought to be humble like the tax collector.

And, even when one is proud and in denial about not being perfect like the prodigal son, Christ will guide them, so that they might be closer to Him. When we pray with a humble, transparent heart, we are called justified by God. We are offered a new life. While redemption may seem impossible, it is, with God. All it takes is a sincere heart.

Thank you for reading the last segment of the Armor of God Series.

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What Easter Is Like As A Wiccan

For the majority of people, Easter is the celebration of Christ rising from the dead. But for witches, it's about something very different.

One thing that can be quite irksome about being a part of the American school/college system is the fact that, for the most part, we are only given time off for holidays recognized by one religion, that being Christianity. I'm not saying these holidays are bad or that Christianity is overrated; far from it. But when you think about the holidays celebrated by Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or, in this case, Pagans, it makes you wonder how everyone else chooses to celebrate their own holidays in the midst of the all-mighty Hallmark-centric holidays.

Before I converted to Wicca, I never quite understood why the majority of Americans chose to celebrate the gory death and alleged resurrection of someone during the spring, much like how we choose to celebrate Christmas in December even though many historians believe Jesus Christ was born around June. Although anyone can celebrate their own holidays for their own reasons, I think its also important to understand where these holidays may have really come from and how other religious holidays can be represented during this Easter weekend.

Instead of celebrating Easter, myself and millions of other people who identify as Pagans celebrate the holiday Ostara. This holiday is mostly celebrated around March 21, but fell on March 20 this year. During this time, Pagans celebrate the Spring Equinox, when winter ends and the bright colors of spring are allowed to come forward for the year -- when "Night and day stand equal, The Sun grows in power and the land begins to bloom and the powers of the gathering year are equal to the darkness of winter and death."

Ostara is one of the eight Pagan Sabbats marked by the Wheel of the Year. Each Sabbat marks a new season, equinox or solstice, which are used to signify the cycle of life, love, death and rebirth between the Mother Goddess (Gaia) and the Father God (also known as the Horned God). With Ostara in particular, it represents a new age of fertility, as the cycle of life and death of the Horned God starts up again.

There are many ways witches and warlocks from the multiple branches of Paganism choose to celebrate Ostara, but the majority of them choose to celebrate the Sabbat of rebirth by basking in the fresh spring flowers. For many, they can choose to have a ritual in their hard garden or simply enjoy the world around them.

You may be wondering, well what does some holiday about spring have to do with Easter? I'm glad you asked! As it turns out, like many other pagan traditions, the Christian religion got a few inspirations from the Pagans, one of them being the beloved Easter Egg.

What the rabbit represents for Ostara is fertility, magic and sexual energy, seeing as the main theme in the Spring Equinox is fertility and sowing seeds. Many believe that both of the holidays' names come from the goddess Eostre, who is sometimes associated with fertility and is loosely connected to both eggs and rabbits. There are also many sources, such as Jacob Grimm (one half of the Brothers Grimm), who believe that the egg is one of the symbols of early Paganism.

So how exactly do Pagans celebrate Easter, considering it's usually a week after Ostara? Well, for many, they just use the holiday to reconnect with family and celebrate some much-needed time off. For me, I just celebrate with food.

Lots and lots of food.

Happy Easter and Merry Ostara everyone!

Cover Image Credit: Lucid Source

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The Notre Dame Cathedral–Such A Loss Of History And Beauty, But What A Gift It Was To Experience It

Reid shares her story as she is saddened for Paris and the church.


After the massive fire that devastated large parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, the 850-year-old cathedral's spire fell. French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation to share in the nation's sorrow but gave hope for the future. This includes the rebuilding of the cathedral together and making it more beautiful than ever. "The fire of Notre Dame reminds us that our story never ends. And that we will always have challenges to overcome. What we believe to be indestructible can also be touched," Macron said.

Tyler Reid

Among many others, Tyler Reid is saddened for Paris and the church. Although, she counts herself blessed to have seen it such a short time before it was destroyed. Reid, who was lucky enough to visit the amazing structure this past spring break, remarked:

My trip was filled with so many wonderful sites. Although, because Notre Dame carries the title of most-visited monument in Europe, my expectations were high. When I first walked up, there isn't one specific feeling I got; instead, it was more of a million thoughts running though my head. Once inside, looking at the massive stained glass windows combined with all the details in every crevice, it was hard for me to imagine people actually building this without the technology we have today. This hand crafted masterpiece really is so influential considering people still went there to worship, even after so much time has past and so many other cathedrals had been built. This proves how special the Notre Dame Cathedral really is. Due to my experience here, hearing about the fire hurt my heart, especially thinking about how some of the irreplaceable artworks and all of this history may be gone. This place truly influenced people, including me, and for it to be gone is a true tragedy.

Like Macron, Reid shares in the sorrow; although, for her, it was just from one visit. This proves the amazing impact the Notre Dame Cathedral had and hopefully will continue to have even after this devastation.

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