The Renegade Psychiatrist – Be Strong and Courageous in God’s Armor 

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By Larry Banta 

During the month of February, I was able to travel with my wife and daughter to some remote areas in Kenya and India where we were able to provide encouragement through several projects related to building strong families. Our main theme was “Be Strong and Courageous” based on the book of Joshua. Joshua and Caleb are a couple of my favorite guys in the Old Testament. They had a big job: a physical battle to take over what would become the land of Israel. It was a difficult job, but if they would commit to God, follow His commands, be obedient and faithful, they would win every battle and the land would be theirs. 

In the remote villages we visited, there has been over the years a good bit of persecution. In Kenya a nearby tribe has been terrorizing the area, making it difficult for people to want to leave their homes to get to church. In parts of India many groups are out to destroy the Church and bring people back to their pagan beliefs. Both areas had seen a good bit of violence over the years. There was a true need to be strong and courageous. We may not be facing the problems of these people yet, but we do live in this world and have our share of heartache and difficulty. How can we be strong and courageous and get through our challenges? 

The first thing that Joshua did before they ever started into battle was to draw the people back to God. The Passover was ignored for 40 years in the desert wanderings. Circumcision was also not done. God had commanded these observances as a way to show faith and obedience to Him. Joshua started with getting back to those basics. Our preparation for battle is not quite the same, but we do need to draw near to God. We need to practice intimacy or closeness with Him. When we draw away from God, ignore Him, stop communicating, we lose our strength, our resilience, and our ability to be courageous. Alone I am not a very courageous person, but with God’s strength I can face and have faced many difficult challenges. 

 James 4:8: Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 

Revisiting Kenya where I once lived for two years a long time ago always brings to mind the mighty lion. He wanders about sneaking through the tall grass and looks for easy prey, one who has wandered from the herd. Then he attacks. In I Peter, Satan is described as a lion seeking whom he may devour. 

1 Peter 5:8: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 

He has a plan for you. He wants to sew DOUBT in your mind, begin to DISTRACT you and then DIVERT you so that he can DEPLOY you and once he has used you sufficiently for his purpose, he DESTROYS you. 

So, to be strong and courageous in the battles that are always facing us we need to get suited up in some protective gear. 

Ephesians 6: 13-18: Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. 

We have the belt that is the binding truth of the Word of God. We put on a breastplate of righteousness to protect our heart and emotions. The priests of old wore a breastplate specially designed with precious stones to represent who they were before God and man. Our righteousness comes from the blood of Christ, and thus serves to protect our allegiance to Him. The breastplate covers our heart, our seat of emotions. We then have our shoes which propel us forward with the gospel while protected by the shield of faith which extinguishes the arrows propelled at us by the enemy. Protecting our head, our brain, is the helmet of salvation, that assurance that we are His children and He will guide, protect, defend, and empower us to be triumphant in our battles. We also have a sword, the powerful never-changing Word of God. 

What are the arrows? Maybe temptations, hatred, division, envy, deceit, lies, gossip, inappropriate thoughts, anything designed to draw us away from God. 

Joshua’s top commander was Caleb. He was a man of great faith and determination. He fought valiantly and helped to conquer much of the promised territory. His promise from Moses was that once subduing the enemy he would be offered whatever territory he wanted for his own. He chose the land near Gaza where the Anakim resided. These were giants – many were over 9 feet tall! He told Joshua, though 85 years of age, that he was quite capable of going into battle to defeat this enemy. Not on his own strength, but he was going with God, allowing God to use him to defeat the enemy. 

What giants are you are facing today? Life has its struggles on its own, but the enemy adds to that, making it much worse. If we try to go to battle on our own, we will be defeated. To face the giants we need a plan, a strategy. 

Athletes have to be in top shape to be able to fulfill the roles they have. They need to be in great mental shape as well. They need to know their role, practice the skills and be ready for the competition. Soldiers are also called on to be in good shape, but they also learn about the enemy and devise strategies to defeat him and come out victorious. 

2 Corinthians 10:3-6: For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 

To be ready to face our enemy and our struggles, we must be in spiritual shape. We need to exercise – that is, to have spiritual discipline. Our enemy loves passivity, just letting things go by, not dealing with the challenges. Our God says we are in a battle and need to be ready. 

Joshua took his army back to the basics of faith and obedience, to get them ready to battle. We need the same. We have to get back to the basics, the foundation that is firm and will not change:  the Word of God. We need to be communicating regularly with God in worship, Bible study, prayer, small group and church attendance. Daily connection with God is essential. Then we can be strong and courageous to face our giants! 


Dr. Larry Banta is an author of several books, a retired psychiatrist, and a former missionary. He served in India, Mexico and Kenya. He and his wife, Evelyn, a counselor, travel together to provide consultation and training in various international locations. 

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