October, 2011

Spiritual Warfare – Not a Strange Thing.. It’s THE thing.

I remember the first time I heard the term “Spiritual Warfare.” I had visions of extremists, nuts, snake handlers and… well you get the picture. Even as the years of my spiritual walk passed I still considered Spiritual Warfare the work of specialists, kind of the Seal Teams of Christianity. I thought that “Soldiers of Christ” was a term to be applied to a small group of super Christians and not the the body in general.

As has so often been the case in my life, I was wrong. Let me suggest this. Pick a gospel. Let’s say Luke. I pick Luke because he was a physician, a man of science. You would think he would not get too caught up in the spirit realm.

Let’s see:
Chapter 1: He talks about Zacharias being filled with the Holy SPIRIT.
Christ’s birth being announced by an ANGEL.
Elizabeth being filled with the Holy SPIRIT.
Zacharias prophesizing in the SPIRIT.
Moving to Chapter 2:
ANGELS appear and announce the birth of the savior.
The HOLY SPIRIT fulfills a promise to Simeon.
Chapter 3:
John Baptizes Jesus and the HOLY SPIRIT descends on him in bodily form like a DOVE.
Chapter 4:
Starts with SATAN personally appearing to and tempting Jesus.
Jesus casts out an unclean SPIRIT.

Well, you get the point. There is constant activity in the spirit realm. Just because we are unaware of it and don’t see it, says more about our lack of perception than it does about whether such things exist. Remember a few years ago when This Present Darkness, Christian novel by Frank E. Peretti made such a big splash. It portrayed the spiritual realm and its impact on the natural. Pick up a copy and read or re-read it. It will reinforce the truth of the very real truth that Spiritual Warfare is real. It’s not a sideline. The defeat of Satan was the purpose of Christ’s coming. A purpose that will be ultimately fulfilled with His second coming.

Satan has been far too successful in his hiding-in-plain-sight strategy. We need to pray for an increase in our discernment. Lord, let us see things as they really are. We need to quick focusing on our brothers as the perceived problem. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12. 

It’s time we realize all that’s going on and GET IN THE GAME. Tomorrow we look at Getting in the Game.

Be blessed.


All in the Family

I grew up in a big family, the oldest of nine. We were close, the kind of closeness that only poverty can create. When I say we didn’t own a car until I was in high school, I get one of those yes-and-you-walked-ten-miles-to-school looks. I remember carefully studying and analyzing the Sears Big Book in the weeks before Christmas preparing for that all important decision: what one gift could I get this year. Sharing ideas with brothers and sisters. It didn’t matter that what looked so good on the glossy well-worn Big Book page, didn’t quite match up by late on Christmas day.  Our family is still, what you might consider, close. Although many I see but once a year. I keep up with many of them either because they’re on Facebook or, in the case of my baby brother, we share a passion for UL sports. It’s always good when I’m with one of them and the days of growing up together, days that were somehow better, don’t seem that far away.

I think we’ve lost the sense of family. I see a generation whose concept of family is too loose and too complicated. Divorce, separation, and non-marrying are all taking a toll. I guess that’s why something like Facebook is so successful. We really do want to know that Fred’s dog messed up the rug or see that picture of Mary’s kid after he/she got into the laundry basket. We laugh about Too Much Information while inside we weep from too little real connection. Social sites fulfill an otherwise unmet need for contact and closeness. But all the texting, emailing, Facebooking in the world doesn’t fulfill the need for one-on-one contact. We are so electronically connected and yet emotionally and physically disconnected. 
Try this sometime. Show a personal interest in that surly gal at the supermarket checkout and watch her change. See her face light up because some stranger showed some minimal interest in her life. Families with a Dad and a Mom and nine kids (eight of them wearing hand me downs) are a thing of the past. This generation is growing up with incomplete and disconnected families. This isn’t a “pro-family” or anti-anyone rant.  It’s just a nostalgic recollection of when things were pretty bad economically, but were a lot better otherwise.
How well do you know the person who works next to you all day or sits next to you on Sunday? That’s assuming you’re in church on Sunday, as I reveal my old-fashioned ideas. So let’s modernize it: How much do you know about the person sitting next to you in the club or rubbing elbows in a crowd. Disconnectedness used to be an urban disease. It’s gone country.  Do you even know that by not really knowing others, that you’re missing out?
I’m going to set aside my i-devices this weekend. I’m going to one-on-one with my Kairos family and my church family and even a couple of my family family. It won’t change the world; but it will make my world a bit better. It will make me recall a time when we cared because we were really connected, physically, personally and emotionally, if not electronically 
What you think?

The End of Us

[14] And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying,[15] “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.[16] “So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”[17] Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”[18] And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.[19] Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”[20] So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.[21] “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17:14-21

A couple of days ago my wife asked me, “Is that knee getting any better?” It was a rhetorical question. I was hobbling around pretty badly. The knee obviously wasn’t getting any better. And that’s what I told her. It felt terrible to voice it. My knee had improved considerably since the surgery; but it hadn’t gotten as good as I hoped. It was tough to admit that I had reached my maximum medical cure. I had gotten everything out of the surgery I was going to get. I had reached the end of the natural. It was a depressing place to be. I said a brief and not very heart felt prayer, “It’s up to you.” I said glancing up to heaven but really not expecting much.

Yesterday morning the knee was better. By nightfall, it was quite a bit better. I am reminded of the Daily Bread verse for today, “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength”. —Isaiah 40:29 The end of us is not a bad place. In fact, it is where He wants us to operate, to be. I can’t help but think how  much misery I would avoid if I wouldn’t  keep drifting back to the point where I begin to think I’m doing something on my own. 

Consider the disciples. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record how Jesus sent them out and miracles happened. And it wasn’t long before they thought it was all about them. That they were the ones who were healing and casting out demons. So they asked Jesus, “Why could we not cast it out?” His response was that it was a question of faith, and prayer and fasting. Faith is trusting in Him and not in us. Prayer is spending time with Him and becoming more like Him and fasting is coming to the end of the natural so we can operate in the spiritual. We lose our focus on us, our hunger and our needs, so that we can focus on Him. 

It’s at the end of us where miracles happen. We are called into Spiritual Warfare. We should be seeing the blind see and the lame walk and demons flee. But that will only happen at the end of us, at that place where we know it’s all about Him. Jesus is saying that nothing is impossible for us when we come to the place where it’s not about us.


Hiding In Plain Sight

Jesus Restores a Demon-Possessed Man

 26 They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes,1234