Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Putting on God’s Armor

2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Ephesians 6:10-18
2 Peter 1:3

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church of Ephesus from a Roman prison while soldiers guarding the penal complex walked about in armor. Being guided by God, Paul cleverly compared the word and promises of God to the armor worn by those guarding him. It is a wonderful analogy that can be translated into your daily Christian lives and your paddling activities.

This analogy is shaped by kayakers bound for the river but can also apply to lake paddlers and canoeists with a little tweaking for each piece of gear. For experienced paddlers, the thought of getting on the water or going to the river being compared with going to battle might seem humorous. For veteran canoeists and kayakers, the activity is more like a dance, where you are moving and working with the water rather than battling against it. Certainly there are times when things feel out of control because you have moved out of your “comfort zone” or have stepped up your game on the river. It is those times when you will be most grateful to be clothed in a full set of “armor.” The experts may even add elbow pads and a full-faced helmet for extreme vertical challenges. For mere mortal paddlers, there are five necessary items kayakers need for the river: a boat, paddle, PFD (lifejacket), sprayskirt and helmet. In addition, proper river shoes provide needed protection against injury and provide better footing on a sometimes slippery trail.

Serving as your river models are the members of the Laniak family who enjoyed a day of big boomin’ fun together in kayaks. Click on the photo to visit Tim’s website which serves as a marvelous resource for any leader that serves in the way of the caring shepherd.

In case you aren’t clear about the required river apparel necessary for a good day on the river, they have been labeled above. For additional comfort, some of our river models are sporting the latest in paddle jacket fashion. For simplicity’s sake, I have only provided additional information concerning the necessary items, but you can get creative with the other gear you take to the river.


This kayaking accessory is more than a fashion statement, it is critical to keeping your boat from filling up with water making you lose control which can cause you to be overwhelmed by the chaos of the river. The sprayskirt/belt of truth analogy also emphasizes the importance of good instruction to be successful on the water and in our Christian lives. (Although a sprayskirt is only used in kayaks, the Belt of Truth is a must have accessory for Christians. Consider using a fanny pack filled with snacks which could represent the food of God or other creative alternatives.)

Belt of Truth Eph 6:14
The importance of sound teaching and good understanding of God’s truth serves as the antidote for spiritual deceit: Col 2:8; 2Ti 1:13-14; 1Pe 1:13

Action Item: Speak and live truthfully and with integrity as you live out God’s love in the world with your neighbors.

Fun Fact: The leather belt was tied around a wool tunic of Roman soldiers. Connected bronze plates hung from the belt to protect the soldier’s groin area and provided a place to hang a sword or dagger.


The Personal Flotation Device can be a lifesaver in troubled waters. It keeps our head above water and gives us the freedom and confidence to enjoy ourselves on lakes, rivers and oceans. For strong swimmers, a PFD may not seem necessary but after time, even the strong can become worn out and sink below the surface without a PFD’s life giving floatation.

Breastplate of Righteousness – Eph 6:14
Assurance that believers are righteous in God’s sight will counter Satan’s accusations: Pr 4:23; 13:6; Isa 61:10; Zec 3:1-4

Action Item: Live in obedience to God's will and word and springs of life should flow from you reflecting God’s grace and love for others.

Fun Fact: The breastplate of armor worn by Roman soldiers protected vital organs such as the heart and lungs (especially relevant for paddlers).

Water Shoes

This often neglected and ignored item of protection (more injuries occur on shore than in the water) provides safe footing for times of rapid scouting, jumping out to help someone or stopping for a snack on shore. With proper, secure footwear, we can not only have peace and confidence in our abilities but are more able to help others when needed.

Shoes of Readiness – Eph 6:15
The peace of God reassures and gives confidence in times of trouble: Jn 14:27; 16:33; Php 4:6-7

Action Item: Be ready and willing to share the joy and peace that comes from the Gospel message with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Fun Fact: The specially made shoes of the soldier gave added traction and protection for marching and fighting giving them the confidence to perform at their best.


Having a good boat helps you master the river. A boat not only floats you on the water but protects you and shields you from unseen obstacles and obstructions. If you have ever floated downstream on your back, going over rocks in river, you will understand the importance of a good shield against hard things in life.

Shield of Faith – Eph 6:16
Exercising faith draws strength from God, guards against deception and helps overcome temptation: Ps 68:35; Ro 1:17; Hab 2:4; 1Pe 5:9; 1Jn 5:4

Action Item: Draw on God’s strength and protection to give you the confidence to live out the Gospel message boldly. River leaders can join up with a timid and/or inexperienced boater providing a more stable foundation to help the weaker boater advance through an intimidating rapid.

Fun Fact: Soldiers often overlapped their shields allowing them to advance together with more protection and confidence in battle.


This one is a no-brainer for river paddlers. Your head is especially vulnerable to underwater rocks and hard obstacles and if the two come together for an impromptu meeting, a good helmet is your only hope for survival. (Optional for many boats and flatwater applications. Consider how a hat protects you from the sun and rain.)

Helmet of Salvation – Eph 6:17
The expectation of future glory encourages the Christian soldier and helps overcome despair: 1Th 5:8-9; Tit 2:11-14; 1Jn 3:3

Action Item: Live out the Gospel message boldly through a constant reminder that the penalty and power of sin has been broken in your life through the love of God and redeeming power of Christ. River leaders can join up with a timid and/or inexperienced boater providing a more stable foundation to help the weaker boater advance through an intimidating rapid.

Fun Fact: The Roman soldier’s helmet not only provided adequate protection for the most important part of the body, it offered a way to differentiate the soldiers through crests of dyed horsehair on top. Some groups enjoy decorating their helmets on the river to differentiate them from paddlers in other groups. (Word to the wise: don’t get too carried away and add something that might be hanging off a helmet and could get hung-up creating a dangerous situation in the water.)


The paddle is what sets us on our way and keeps us moving forward. It is how we maneuver around obstacles and back away from danger. Without a paddle (even hand paddles) we are at the mercy of the elements and don’t have a chance of going where we want to go and staying safe.

Sword of the Spirit – Eph 6:17
The Scriptures give readiness and confidence in battle and a sure defense against the evil one: Ps 119:11; 2Ti 3:16-17; Heb 4:12

Action Item: Know God’s word which will give you the strong foundation needed to keep you stable and moving forward during chaotic times in your life.

Fun Fact: The most powerful offensive weapon of the Roman soldier was the sword which could be waved around signaling a warning to the enemy or other communications to his friends and fellow soldiers.

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