Spiritual Warfare in the time of coronavirus

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Eph. 6:10-11)

The old joke goes something like this:

There are those who make things happen. There are those who see things happen. There are those who wonder what happened.

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Through the battle into abundance

Praise be to the Lord my Rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    my fingers for battle. (Psalm 144:1)

There always battles the Lord will take us through. We are never going to be “battle free” in some sense as we walk in this life. That does not mean exhaustion or weariness.

But if we understand the training of the Lord we can move from a mentality of “battle weary” to “battle tested“.

The periods of testing are necessary. The promises the Lord gives are powerful. The enemy wants those promises undelivered so he battles. Often we may not understand that, so when the promises don’t seem to come, we ask God why he didn’t come through.

Battles are present because there is an enemy bent on stealing the promises. If we will understand the war and get into the battle we will find the place of abundance. David comes through this battle into that place of provision:

12 Then our sons in their youth
    will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
    carved to adorn a palace.
13 Our barns will be filled
    with every kind of provision.

David also knew that didn’t mean he would be “battle free” for the rest of his life. He just knew what it was to be battle tested. 

This is a crucial weekend for me and our church. We have a time of worship and intercession Sunday night and in my spirit is a sense of “labor and delivery.” We are needing a final “push” so to speak to see some battles won. It is a testing time. Our hands are ready. We need that final movement of prayer to bring in the answers of abundance.

Lord, let me know the toughness of battle. Remind us that all that has come before has prepared us for this moment. All that we will see in battle will also test us and ready us for all that is ahead. Let us be warriors in your Kingdom. Amen. 

The people who know their God

I’ve been meditating on the thought of the Daniel Generation that started HERE.

The foundation to all of it is we must know God. If we do not truly know God, if we are not grounded in him, the American Church will head into a new “Dark Ages.” 

Not “America.” The American Church. 

As I have tried to prepare people for these huge shifts, my own life becomes exposed. My own spiritual state gets examined deeply by the Holy Spirit. It is needed. But here’s the thing: I’m found wanting. 

Three years ago I began a prayer journey that has radically altered my own life, ministry, and church. But now that we’re at the very threshold of something new and, quite honestly, powerful, I’m stalling.

I’ve stalled in prayer. I’ve stalled in fasting. I’ve stalled in communication. This is my confession.

In the very hour those areas need increase of effort on my part, I’ve stalled it out. Hear my prayer, O Lord. I am not ready for what is ahead… but your Spirit comes and challenges me! “You’re not ready… but you can be. You don’t need to stall out!”

We MUST know God. I must know God!

My prayer life can deepen again… and I know the way.

My discipline of fasting can return… and I know the way.

The Lord can communicate through me his precise vision for what is ahead… and I know the way.

Lord, hear my prayer. Forgive me of my laziness. Forgive me of my trepidation. It is time to step up. The people who know their God take action. We are at that day.

Oh, Lord, hear my prayer.

Culture of death

When I watch people say incredibly threatening things to a dentist who hunts a lion… (which, by the way, would be terroristic threats in some other situations)… and then say NOTHING when videos are shown of Planned Parenthood doctors talking of selling off body parts (or worse, defending the actions as “legal”)… and when I realize that many of the people doing these two actions would call themselves Christian…

It only confirms we have a culture of death. Not life.

Whether it’s being “pro life” politically and then not caring about the poor once they are born, or you care nothing for the unborn and are willing to look the other way why their body parts are being sold off… it’s a culture of death. Not life.

To cry out in supposed compassion for “reproductive rights” and then scream about killing a dentist for killing a lion (and then going and protesting a death row inmate being executed would be the next “logical” step) is hypocrisy at its highest.

We have made it an either/or world and in doing so all “sides” have welcomed in death… not life. We are not a culture that lifts up life any more. Not really.

The way forward is not to defund Planned Parenthood or kill a dentist (or even extradite him). The way forward is not to make killing animals a capital offense, and the way forward is not to make sure everyone is carrying a weapon. That’s all futile and only perpetuates a death culture.

It’s not all that I have left… it is the way forward: It is the way of prayer. This is our grand invitation as believers… believers who see and understand LIFE in the Kingdom… PRAY.

William Wilberforce was a man of political action and prayer. Yes, he acted politically, but through his prayerful journey he was able to end the slave trade in Great Britain without firing a shot decades before the United States ended slavery by a bloody war.

The great invitation is prayer because there is an accounting God will bring to each one of us in a final day. So even if Planned Parenthood kills a million more unborn and sells off every part and the White House prosecutes anyone posting a video showing it… Planned Parenthood will stand before God on that day. And it’s not Cecil the Lion. It’s the Lion of Judah. They’ll only be wishing for Cecil the Lion.

The great invitation is prayer because it is changed hearts that will begin to make wiser choices. Life will start to mean something. All of life. Unborn and living. All can be sustained. God forgive us for our weak arguments! God forgive us for our vain efforts!

Let us PRAY.

Two bold prayers I have on my list every week now, and I ask you to prayerfully put them on your list:

1. End racism
2. End abortion

Call it a fool’s errand. No problem.

But my heart is challenged to pray… and keep on praying.

I weary of this culture of death and how many ways we can keep people from gaining life, and then how cheaply we take it. There is something so much more grand for us all. But we’re blind.

God help us.

The toleration we have for “the devil we know”

Mark 5:1-20 tells the story of the demoniac in the Gerasene region. What strikes me each time I read this story is the toleration the villagers had for the bondage this man was under and when he was actually made whole, they wanted Jesus out of the region.

They had “the devil they knew” and could “manage” the bondage at that point. At least, that was the lie they were working with day after day. Then, when real deliverance showed up, they had a power they didn’t know.

Too often we tolerate the bondage of the enemy because it’s somehow “known” to us. It’s “manageable.”

But when Jesus walks into the room… we can’t manage him. He sets people free, but HE is in control. We prefer the illusion of our own “management” skills.

This is a story that haunts me. Do I tolerate the activity of the enemy in my life or around me too much?

Spiritual power

I am meditating through the temptation of Jesus in Luke 4 again. I am continually challenged with the thought of Jesus being full of the Spirit, then led BY the Spirit into spiritual battle.

We pray for spiritual power, but we don’t want the battles. Miracles don’t happen in calm times. Jesus didn’t walk on water when the sea was calm. The miracles, the victories, come out of the storm.

David’s Mighty Men

I am prayerfully walking through 2 Samuel now as I look at spiritual warfare. In Chapter 23 there is the story of David’s mighty men. Amazing heroes who would go the distance for David. They caught his heart, loved him, and would battle anyone anywhere on his behalf.

I think of that and am deeply thankful for not only mighty men, but mighty WOMEN I have around me. We are going through a huge transition as a church. We are selling our current property and looking for new locations. We are preparing to change up everything we do about ministry, AND we are gearing up to set up a coffee shop.

I have a staff of women and a board with men and women on it. I have mighty men AND women. I am so thankful.

My wife is incredible. She is a mighty woman of prayer, of faith, of care… looking to see what God is up to and believing for incredible things.

I am thankful for the incredible warriors God has put around me. They are tenacious and full of faith. It has blessed my life beyond measure.

David and Goliath

“Kids stories” are the best stories. I can remember them. The details may get more full as we grow older, but if I heard a Bible story as a kid, I can remember the basics.

David and Goliath is such a main stay. And then to have it told in King James English… even better. There was a whole sermon preached at a youth convention off a phrase in the KJV and has an entirely different meaning from what the text really says. The sermon was titled: “Is there not a cause?” It was a great sermon. It missed the nuance of the question, but it was a GREAT sermon.

The story is also a great devotional read on spiritual warfare. As I am praying through the OT narratives right now, I am listening again to lessons on the spiritual warfare, so this lesson from David and Goliath brings back all those thoughts on prayer.

1. Sometimes we let the enemy dictate the terms of battle. We get to the battle field and rather than moving ahead as the Lord commands, the enemy lays out a new rule and somehow we think, “Oh, well I guess I better play by that rule.”

Israel was paralyzed because Goliath set the terms of battle. No one was going onto that field to take on one guy twice their size. In the heat of hand to hand combat it was possible to overwhelm the big guy, but one on one? “Fuhget about it!”

There are times when we need to step back and ask, “WHY am I battling this way?” Or, “WHY is the enemy getting away with this in my life?” Maybe it’s because you’ve allowed the enemy to dictate the terms of the battle and now you’re finding out he doesn’t even play by his own rules.

2. Saul had no idea who he was in God. Goliath taunted and Saul laid back in fear. David came in knowing who he was in God.

3. David had no fear because he was clear on the problem. GOLIATH was the problem. The enemy was taunting the people of God and the people of God were simply far more able than an enemy of God. That was a settled issue in David’s mind.

4. Use the weapons familiar to you.

Saul tried to put the armor on David to fight the conventional way. David had weapons he was familiar with… and thankfully stuck to them. There would be a time he would be trained in the sword. This was not that day.

We keep thinking, “Well, when I get enough training. When I get through seminary. When I finish this book on prayer. When I…”

And here comes a battle.

What’s in your hand? Use it. God has an amazing way of empowering what we offer up. Moses had a staff. David had a sling. The boy had five loaves and two fish. Offer it up. See what happens.

5. One man, Saul, held a whole nation back out of his own fear. One man, David, led a nation into victory because of his faith.

It’s a great story with some great reminders. Don’t pass by the old stories!