Spiritual Warfare

Bible and Sword

God is making your obedience known to all – far more people than you realize.

They see the work He is doing in your life.

And those who hunger for God will be drawn to you.

In your past you have been wise concerning what is evil.

You must now pursue the wisdom of the pure.

And soon the God of Peace will crush Satan under your feet.  [click to continue…]

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(The Twelve Names of Christmas, Part 1) 

Cross and Cradle

As you may have detected from one of the previous posts, we spent last week in the magical confines of Disney World in Florida.  “We” means all 15 of us – kids, spouses, and grandkids from age 5 to age 11 weeks. And, of course, about 12 thousand of our closest friends.

Every once in a while in this sea of strangers, about half of whom weren’t speaking English, I’d see somebody with that familiar cursive “A” on a cap or shirt, and out it would come – that instant bond forged among strangers as the result of two simple words:  Roll Tide!  And brother, it was instant.  Truth be told, I did see a few people wearing blue and orange and was tempted to say “War Eagle!” to them, but just couldn’t get words to form in my mouth.

And if you have no idea what any of that last paragraph means, never mind.

There is another rallying cry, however, I do want to tell you about.  In times of trouble in ancient Israel, including times of going into battle, they would summon courage and unity with one simple word:

Immanuel!

Immanuel was their way of expressing confidence that God was present with and fighting for the cause of his people.  And it was no accident that when Jesus arrived on the scene in Bethlehem at that first Christmas, one of his biographers made mention of it: [click to continue…]

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Breakthrough GrowthYou’ve been told how special you are, how good you have it, even in spiritual circles what an Overcomer you are. But what you hear doesn’t seem to match up with what you see.  You look at the rainbows and unicorns of somebody’s social media status and all you seem to see in your life are the clouds and jackasses.

Maybe it’s time for a reality check.  Maybe it’s time for a Come to Jesus meeting, where you actually come to Jesus.  There with a good dose of truth, faith, and courage you will see that you actually are more than a conqueror.  Yet you still must overcome.

Why?

Because every motion forward… in kingdom life, in relationships, and in your own personal growth runs headlong into resistance.

Even special people.

Even blessed people.

Even Overcomers must overcome.

Your identity isn’t a badge you wear to feel good. It’s a weapon you’re given to enforce the truth.  Maybe it’s time to sharpen that sword. Without a doubt, it’s time to overcome. [click to continue…]

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worship surrender 2Raise your hand if you’ve ever stood in church and sung, “I surrender all.”

Raise your other hand if you were invited to “come to the altar and surrender all to Jesus.”

Both my hands are up. I’m typing with my toes.

Just two problems with that idea.  First, surrender isn’t something you do in church.  Second, surrender isn’t something you do at the end or the close of anything.

A few years ago I learned a new language – the language of surrender and freedom.  Inspired by someone’s idea of absolute commitment to Jesus expressed as, “I don’t have to survive,” I began a mental and spiritual journey of surrender.  What else can I let go of? How else can I be free?  And I began to make the list…

I don’t have to be successful…

I don’t have to get angry…

I don’t have to feel rejected…

I don’t have to be right…

You get the point.

Lately I’ve been revisiting that idea, for an important reason.  [click to continue…]

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Sword and Scripture

(If you never read another thing I write, before going any further, please read this short piece my daughter wrote to her children, ages 5, 2, and ten months. Click here, if you dare, and brace for impact.)

Okay.  Back?  Let’s get to it.

You don’t have the luxury of praying for people you love – especially your children or grandchildren – like a sissy.

The time is too short…

The enemy is too cruel…

The church is too powerless…

The Lord is too near His return…

…for you and me to sit on an arsenal mightier than a nuclear weapon and ask God to make their lives more comfortable…

easier…

safer.

Safer to whom, for God’s sake? The devil? The world? The ACLU? The media?

Stop asking God to make your little angels little angels. Or mild-mannered weenies.  In the name of all that is holy, I dare you to ask God to make them dangerous. Call on Him, in the heavenly realm, to put a sword in their teeth and courage in their hearts to blast a hole in the kingdom of darkness. [click to continue…]

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YearningYou may be wondering if anybody sees, anybody knows, anybody cares.  I wanted you to know someone does.  And I am praying for you.

Especially on this day, as you pour yourself out in love, I pray you experience a return – not just in the world of faith, but even in the realm of sight – that others would give back to you as you have so faithfully given to them.

As you laugh today, I pray that others laugh with you.  As you sing, I pray that others sing along.  As you labor, I pray that others work beside you.  As you dance for joy, I pray that even there you delight in the company you keep. [click to continue…]

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Have you ever woken up first thing in the morning and realized you were in a museum?

And you were what was on display?

You may not have recognized the location at first because everything seemed so real.  You were traveling through one mental display after another of your past life.

Names.

Faces.

Feelings.

Friends.

Sometimes the scenes are wistful and happy reminders of people and days gone by.  Sometimes you’re reliving the glory days.  But sometimes it plays out more like a horror movie or a disaster cleanup.  It’s ugly – and you’re the reason.

It may be a new day on the outside, but in here you’re trapped in the old ones. [click to continue…]

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If you intend to be successful in any area of life, sooner or later you are going to have to have to fight for it.  I wish I could tell you that being intentional (a popular darling word) was enough.  But it isn’t.

I wish I could prove to you that some simple formula – here a step, there a technique, everywhere a quick-and-easy procedure – would guarantee the fulfillment of your fondest hopes.  Can’t do it.

I wish I could assure you that if it was really hard, or lonely, or dangerous, that the idea was certainly not God’s will.  If that were true, the Almighty’s got some ‘slpainin’ to do with some people who are now in heaven.

But the truth is, sooner or later, you’re going to have to fight for your family.  Or for your testimony.  Or for your walk with God.  Sooner or later you’re going to have to fight for answered prayer.  Yes, answered prayer!  Or the advancement of the gospel.  Or the safety of one of the world’s most endangered species – American children.

Sometimes when you run to the battlefield you may discover that you are the only one standing there.  You may find that you’re surrounded by taunting enemies, and for backup you have a bunch of gossips, critics and spectators – but nobody willing to draw a sword or raise a shield with you.

Still think that cause is worth the fight?  David did.

In the familiar story of David and Goliath, the young man after God’s own heart – newly empowered and anointed by the Spirit of God – brought a giant to his knees while the army of the living God looked on in disbelief.  What was the difference between David and the rest of the army of Israel?  Didn’t they have the same power available to them?  Yes.  Didn’t they have the same God?  Yes.  So what did David have that they didn’t?

In the life of David, there was a difference in: [click to continue…]

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I once read that among those who run in marathon races, somewhere around the 18th mile to the 22nd mile of that 26-mile run, the runner hits “The Wall.”

(That’s about as close as I’ll ever get to a marathon, other than the three days I just hiked through the Disney jungle, but I digress…)

The Wall is a place so hard that the runner thinks he or she can’t possibly continue the race.  It’s a little uncertain whether The Wall is physical or psychological, but it’s real.  And the temptation to drop out of the race is greater at this point than at any time in the race.  The runner feels he can’t make it.  The lungs burn, the heart pounds, and the runner fights dizziness and nausea.  A little voice begins to whisper (or scream), “Why torture yourself?”

You may not run 26-mile marathons, but if you are a follower of Christ, that fact alone means you are in an endurance race.  And you can expect at times to encounter “The Wall.”

You will find The Wall when you have tried time after time to pray consistently, and have failed. [click to continue…]

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Imagine a giant stadium, and you’re in it.

As in, on the field.

You’re engaged in a contest that will test every fiber of your strength, will, endurance, and confidence.  Sometimes you’re on defense, and the task is to stand your ground against an opponent that has considerable resources.  Sometimes you’re on offense, and the task is to recapture lost ground or gain new ground as you outwit, outmaneuver, or overpower your enemy.

Let’s just go ahead and dispense with the obvious.  I like you and everything.  But left to your own game plan or abilities, you’re cosmic road kill. Dead meat with all the trimmings.

You.  Can’t.  Win.  This.

Heck, you won’t even make the uniforms look pretty.

Oh, and did I mention… this is no game.  This is your life.  The visible and the invisible.  The temporal and the eternal.  The private and the very public.  The “spiritual” and the “secular” (as if there is any distinction).

Fortunately, you do have some weapons at your disposal that are mighty through God. And there is a pathway – a strategy that leads to prevailing strength and power.  [click to continue…]

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