October, 2011

Strong in the Lord

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Ephesians 6:10

Maybe before reading this you should spend a few minutes listening to a song.

The first thing Kaydance asks when she sees me for the first time in a while is, “Pick me up.” As independent as a three year old is, she wants to be held and her instincts scream at her to find a greater source of strength. Somehow Thursday night she ended up on the floor by her bed. She lay there crying although she was completely capable of getting up on her own. She wouldn’t stop crying until I picked her up and crawled into bed with her. It’s good to be stronger than someone, even if that someone is only three. It’s good to know when we fall, there’s someone to pick us up, crawl into bed with us and comfort us. It’s as true at 62 as it is at three. 

We know there is a spiritual war going on around us. There is no avoiding it. When spiritual warfare is discussed, Ephesians 6:10-20 is usually the center. These verses are the instruction manual. They are meaty and need to be carefully and deliberately chewed. Don’t race over verse 10. Failure to follow it’s advice and warning is the greatest cause of failure in spiritual warfare. So before you start putting on helmets and breastplates and picking up your sword, consider your source.

That’s what verse 10 is about. The source of our strength: the Lord. Paul has been giving lots of instruction and direction. Now he comes to the bottom line: “Finally” he says, “be strong in the Lord.” 

We came to Jesus in the first place because we got to the end of ourselves. If we came by any other route, we are likely not well established. I am convinced that the purpose of the problems we face in life, is to bring us to the end of ourselves. We could save ourselves a lot of heartache if we just recognized our limitations early. Yet, even having reached that point and having turned to a reliance on Christ, we keep wanting to take charge again and do things on our own. We can never forget that Satan isn’t scared of us; but he’s petrified of Our Lord.

There is only one source of strength. Be strong in the Lord. Life is warfare. Don’t wait until you’re crying by the side of your bed to turn to the only one who can hold you up and get you through.

Be weak on your own, strong in the Lord,  and be blessed.

Nick

The Devil Made Me Do It

In the 1970s, a talented comedian named Flip Wilson, made the phrase “The devil made me do it” famous. He portrayed characters like the “Rev” and Geraldine who liked to blame things on the devil. If you have forgotten or you’re too young to remember you can watch this segment.
I have to think Satan loved Geraldine. She helped in both of his strategies: to get credit for things he didn’t do and to be made such a comic character that no one would take him seriously. Hollywood has helped him out often. Who can forget the sinister movie, the Exorcist? To those who are too young, I won’t help you with a video clip…too scary. 
When we begin to consider spiritual warfare we will run into both of Satan’s schemes. Like so much in life, balance is what is required. Satan wants you to sin, but sometimes you want it yourself or the temptations of the world are just too strong. Yes, demonic possession and lesser levels of influence do exist. Satan is real. But just because you’re not spewing forth pea soup and your head is not spinning around 360 degrees, doesn’t mean he’s leaving you alone. And when you covet that dress, electronic gadget or your neighbor’s spouse, Satan could be hanging around or it could be just you.. Does it matter? Just don’t do it.
It all comes down to discernment. The ability to know about spiritual things. Discernment is an acquired ability. We acquire it by hanging around with God. Now we’re back to prayer and fasting. Spending time with Our Lord, we absorb so much including a enhanced sense of the spiritual. It’s the most/ important tool in our arsenal. 
As you begin to consider the spiritual, don’t make things too spiritual. Satan’s goal is to impact what you do in the natural, your behavior. He doesn’t want you at church. He doesn’t want you sharing. He doesn’t want you loving. He wants you so distracted by the things of the world, that you forget about your true nature and your ultimate home.
Don’t let him do it. Don’t make “The Devil made me do it” your catch phrase. The best way is just not to do “it.”
Be blessed.
Nick

1 John 2:5-6
New King James Version (NKJV)
5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
When we focus on what Jesus said we tend to drift into theological discussions that can distort his message. We would often do better to focus on what. he did. If we live like Jesus did, we can know we are like Him. 
Those who preach a prosperity gospel should consider that Jesus didn’t seem to own anything and even noted that He had no place to lay his head.

Those who urge political correctness, being nice, and not offending; would do well to consider Jesus’ anger at the Pharisees, and his physical violence when offended by the money changers.
Those who just hang around with Christians and go no where but church, would do well to consider where Jesus went and with whom he talked and ate.
Those who believe that the bigger a church’s building the more efficient the ministry, might consider Jesus preached on hillsides and in boats.
Those who moan and struggle over how to get people into church; must have forgotten that Jesus went where the people were, long before crowds came to Him.
Those who spend so much time concerned about the visible sins and the agendas of certain sinners, might want to recall His focus on the heart and what’s inside and repentance over condemnation. His actions always demonstrated love over all.
Those who love sitting up front and dressing up for service might remember Jesus on His knees with a towel and a bowl of water and a row of dirty smelly feet.
We judge friends and family and politicians more by what they do than by what they say. Is that a lesson?
There is usually a quicker answer to the issues of life in asking “What would Jesus do?” than in trying to recall, “What did Jesus say.”
His words are important and immortal. His actions saved. Our words are hollow by our actions people will know we are His and want to join in.
Act and be blessed.
Nick
Be blessed,
Nick

The Reality of War

I know about the reality of war. I served two tours in Vietnam. But that’s not where I gained war experience. In fact, I spent those war years in a legal office in the belly of an aircraft carrier. I killed no one and saw no one killed. I weep with those who did and then came back home not to ticker tape parades but to the jeers of hateful demonstrators.
I gained my war experience at home where the enemy is more deadly and more cunning than the Viet Cong. In this war the enemy is seldom seen. He has the ability, it seems, to get into the heads of his enemies and confound and confuse. He can turn combatants against each other. You seldom see his missiles coming or hear his footsteps in the night.
 Leave him alone and he doesn’t seem to notice you. Yet he honors no rules regarding noncombatants. In fact, he seems to relish injury and pain in the weak and innocent. He has no concept of fair fighting nor has he heard of the Geneva Convention. He fights fearlessly and relentlessly though his cause is lost and his defeat inevitable. 
He counts his victories less in broken bodies and rubble reduced buildings than in destroyed relationships and weakened spirits. He specializes in flashes of anger, cutting words, and haughty looks. He’s the master of unexplained “accidents,” malfunctioning appliances, and rot and decay. He loves the past with its bad memories, missed opportunities, and  hard to forget sins. He adores tongues that wag, feet that wander and hands that hurt. He hates the promise of the future and the opportunity of the present.
He doesn’t mind being pictured with a forked tail and a reddish complexion. He loves the media when it portrays Him an worthy opponent or, better yet, just a dark and menacing force. He doesn’t mind being depersonified, demonized, or deplored. He accepts with a sneer the adoration of the lost and smiles at being ignored by the masses.
He’s Satan and he’s real. He’s clever and he’s defeated. 
A war is raging around you. It exists whether you acknowledge it or not. You can be  a combatant, spectator or blind to it’s existence. But it controls your world, injures your family and robs your future.
You can shiver in fright or wallow in ignorance or you can gird your loins and fight.
It’s good to have options.
Consider them carefully and 
Be blessed.
Nick

A Matter of Trust

Luke 8:40-56

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman

 40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

   As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,1234