War

All posts tagged War

Mighty Weapons, Mighty Warrior

Published April 26, 2018 by Dawn

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty! For the pulling down of strongholds, the casting down of imaginations and everything that sets itself up against the wisdom and knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4).

David walked into camp and handed over the goods, sat down and began to chitchat with the mighty men of war. A booming voice interrupted them: “Are you still here, Israel? This day, I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” Goliath taunted and caused a wave of fear to crash into the Israelite camp. The mighty men of war ran away in fear while David looked around in bewilderment.

His brother ran out from around the great boulder that shielded him and grabbed David’s arm, yanking him out of view. Anger painted his face red and he clenched his teeth in rage.

“Does this happen every day?” David’s nonchalance made the others ashamed and all they could do was nod their heads.

“What’s to be done for the man who defeats him?”

“What man?” Eliab sneered. He pushed David’s shoulder roughly. “I know you are conceited, but come on. You cannot defeat that gigantic phlegm-wad. Sit down and shut up.” David steeled his body against the blow, shoving his heels into the ground for stability against his brother’s attack. He knew his oldest brother was prone to jealousy, but this was bitterness he had not seen before. Perhaps the weeks of cowardice had sown that bitterness. David could see that fear had taken inches off his brother’s majestic stature as he cowered there with the rest of the men.

When the bellowing died down, the soldiers crawled out from their hiding holes and scattered once more across the hill. They could see the Philistine army in the distance, but they had evaded the war for one more day.

“You there! Come!”

David was shoved toward a captain who had called out to him, and he fell in beside the man as they rushed up the hill. Before he knew what was happening, he was standing in the tent of Israel’s warrior king.

“What’s this I’ve heard, boy?

David exuded a youthlike confidence that was somewhat comical against the backdrop of a cowardly army. “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine. Your servant will go and fight him.”

Saul eyed him suspiciously. He hadn’t the heart to stand against this magnificent threat, nor had any of his other men, or even his own son, who had once defeated 20 men with his armor-bearer beside him.

“You’re just a boy. He’s bred for fighting. It’s suicide.”

“With all due respect, you misjudge me. I have killed both lion and bear to protect my father’s sheep. This uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

Resigned, Saul waved his hand disparingly. “Go, and the Lord be with you. Only …” He signaled his armor-bearer, who jumped to attention scurried toward the chest in the back of the tent. David watched as the man pulled up coats of mail and shields, heavy swords and breastplates of the highest quality.

A few minutes later, David stood awkwardly, burdened down by the clanging metal suit and hardly able to stand, much less move around. “I can’t wear this into battle. I’m not used to them.” The men around him watched in horror as he took the armor off and piled it next to him. Brushing off his tunic, he picked up his staff and nodded to the room before walking out unencumbered toward the stream that lay between Israel’s camp and the camp of the enemy.

David studied the streambed as he walked slowly through, picked up a few stones and put them in his satchel. Then he continued forward to the edge of Israel’s camp. The Philistines mumbled as he drew nearer and nearer, and Goliath stood solemnly to greet him.

“What is this? Am I a dog, that Israel would send a boy with sticks? Come here, and I will feed your flesh to the birds and wild animals!”

David stopped and smiled. “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day, the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves, for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

Goliath moved menacingly closer to the edge of camp, shortening the distance between he and David at a terrifyingly rapid pace. David, unperturbed, ran toward the edge of Israel’s camp as Goliath lumbered toward him. He reached into his bag and pulled out a smooth stone from the bottom of the stream. He deftly fitted the soft leather pouch of his sling around it, swung it smoothly through the air with surprising force and released the strap. No one knew what had happened until the evidence of victory lay bleeding at his feet. The stone had hit with such monumental force, it sank into a self-made cavern in Goliath’s forehead and instantly, David had defeated the Philistine’s boasting. Running toward the body, David ignored the rumbling around him and drew out the sword from Goliath’s side. He stood above the giant’s head and slammed the sword down through his neck. Goliath’s head lopped off to the side and rolled toward the towering warrior’s feet.

********

We discussed this verse last night in Bible study and immediately, I knew I had to share what the Lord impressed on me this week as I read 1 Samuel 17. The chapter starts out with an innocent trip to see his brothers on the battlefield. David was sent with provisions for his brothers, as well as a gift to the commanders of the army, who were all encamped on a hill opposite the Philistines. Little did Jesse know what he had asked of his youngest son. Little did he know it was the last time David would be home tending the sheep. Little did he know his shepherd boy was about to make all the hearts of Israel captive.

This battle was David’s battle. Saul was a mighty warrior who had no reason to be afraid, yet his heart was melting in fear. His son Jonathan had proven his mighty faith in God by defeating an entire outpost of soldiers not long before, but we don’t see him stepping up to challenge Goliath. In fact, no one except David even dreamed of doing such a thing. It was a God moment, and David was to rise to the calling of the warrior within.

His brother, mistaking David’s courage for conceit, chastised him angrily. His cowardice resented the courage and conviction of his little brother. Here, he and all Israel’s great men had cowered for forty days under this verbal assault, and his youngest brother who had never known war was defending God’s honor and making them all look bad? Eliab was indignant.

My favorite part is when Saul tried to fit David with the armor. It’s symbolic of Saul trying to prepare David in man’s best wisdom and best effort. David knew that wasn’t how he was supposed to walk into battle, so against all better judgement, he shrugged it off and walked out just as he walked in. But when he got to the battle lines, we find he wasn’t undressed. The Bible says that David told Goliath that he came in the name of the Lord. Kinda like I’m in my favorite pair of jeans today … David was literally cloaked in the name of Christ and he wasn’t backing down because he knew that God’s name was enough! His confidence wasn’t in any man-made preparation. It was in the name of the Lord.

I love how David went into battle looking like a fool just to prove to Israel that their strength wasn’t in their numbers or their training. It wasn’t in their weapons or the wisdom. All their victories depended on God, and all they needed to do was remember how powerful and faithful God is. David, unwavering in his strong convictions about God, smote a man everyone else hid from, including their king.

No, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. They are not devised by men with limited wisdom. They are mighty! They tear down strongholds. The enemy cannot prevail against the name of Jesus, for our God is the same today as He was then, and therefore, we have access to the same victorious power. If God be for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31).

There’s a battle for each of us, and I pray you show up to yours with grace and unwavering confidence in God. I pray you act out of a heart of obedience instead of fear, trusting in the powerful name of Jesus to save you. I pray you defend God’s honor and ignore the shameful ignorance of those around you. I pray you go forward in peace and assurance that God will supply all your needs and deliver you from all evil, as He said He would. I pray you walk unencumbered by the burdens others try to weigh you down with, knowing where your strength lies. I pray for you, mighty warrior. In Jesus’ name!

 

*I took some artistic liberties with this one, so please read 1 Samuel 17 for the unembellished version. 🙂

 

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A House Divided

Published August 8, 2017 by Dawn

“I hate your house. I hate the music you’re always listening to and the way I feel when I’m there.”

He dissed my music … and my house. And the atmosphere in my home. I could have taken this personal. In fact, I might have except … well, I know it’s a spiritual thing and I am not letting the devil bait me.

I bet you want to know who said it. It hurts me to admit it, but it was my son. He hates my home. He attributes all his anger, depression and anxiety to the atmosphere of my home. That’s how I know it’s spiritual.

Ok, let’s talk for a moment very specifically about what he hates. He hates classical music. The soothing music that is scientifically proven to de-stress you. He hates it. Or, my worship music. The music that brings peace into the chaos of my life. He hates it. Why? Because Satan is trying to cause a war in him and the music I listen to is quite literally an instrument of peace!

He hates constant singing. That’s what I do. I sing … a lot. Like, all day, every day. I also laugh a lot. I also like to make him responsible for his own messes and hold him accountable for his actions and his words. He hates that. What teenager wouldn’t?

He hates it when I talk to him and my words end up being something straight out of the Bible, because the best of my wisdom comes from the Word of God. I speak to my kids in scripture form a lot. He hates that.

Do you know why this didn’t hurt me? Because I know who “he” is, and it isn’t my son. You see, Satan hates all of these things about my house. Right now, he’s managed to manipulate my teenage son into believing that everything that “he” hates about my house is making my son miserable. Perhaps it is. After all, my son is in the midst of a great battle to figure out who he is. He doesn’t know which side of the fence he’s on just yet. I’m praying for God to woo him one way, and the devil is masterfully persuading him in the opposite direction. I’m not surprised … we all have this war at some point in our lives. We all have to come into our own faith because someone else’s relationship with God won’t save us. It must be our own. So we all have a crisis of some sort, where our foundation is solidified; just us and the Lord.

I’m surprisingly calm, right? Ha! Listen, I’ve had my moments of crying out to God. This all started when my son was eleven, almost twelve. The turbulence in his heart and mind became really violent. He began struggling with depression and anger. I took it to God in panicked, ugly-crying sessions, begging him to save my son. He spoke something that was so true, though hardly comforting: “Every warrior was once a boy in training. There’s a time of preparation for the man of God, and mothers don’t get to choose when they are ready. Fathers do.”

Dear Lord.

That was the day I handed him over in my heart. I tried taking him back, but sadly, he’s not mine to coddle any more. He still runs to me like my son, leans into my hugs like he misses being a child and invents reasons to need me. But now he fights, which is something I never saw coming. He’s an untrained warrior learning how to wield a sword and sometimes, it teeters in my direction. He’s not my enemy. He never will be. I know who the enemy is. No, this emerging man of God is a warrior learning the battlefield for himself. War hurts, and so sometimes, he hurts too. Hurting people hurt people. My son doesn’t hate me. He hates the confusion. The angst. The constant struggle inside. I get it! I hate those things too.

I guess I just wanted to share this with you because, well, parenting is hard. Peopling is hard too. Sometimes, waking up in the morning is hard. You feel me? It helps to remember that “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness, and wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).

Don’t take it personal, friend. At the end of the day, it’s not even about you. It’s about so much more than you. Pray for your loved ones. Give the hurt to Jesus and love them like you always have. They need your constant, unwavering love as a safe-haven in this war-torn world. Love is truly an oasis, even if they can’t always recognize it as such. One of the first things a warrior seeks out in battle is a safe place to duck into in case of an ambush. Let your love be that place.

Remember, friend, you are at war too. Only, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty! For the pulling down of strongholds, the casting down of imaginations and everything that sets itself up against the wisdom and knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4). As our loved ones train for their own battles, let us look past their faults and see their needs. God bless!

God of the Hills and Valleys

Published August 3, 2017 by Dawn

“Afterward, the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, ‘Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.’ Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, ‘Their gods are gods of the hills. That’s why they were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they.”

“The next spring … the man of God came up and told the king of Israel, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Because the Arameans think the Lord is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the Lord.’”” (1 Kings 20:22-23, 26, 28)

I was picking up around my room yesterday morning, and it was a rare moment where I really wasn’t fixated on anything in thought. My mind was quiet, which hardly ever happens. I’m glad it did, though, because I heard the Holy Spirit say something that I needed to hear, very clearly.

You over-estimate the devil, and under-estimate God.

It was a mouthful of something bitter I needed to chew on. The truth is bitter sometimes, you know. I was glad the Holy Spirit confronted me on this, even though in that moment, I was uncomfortable. I mean, I know my thoughts are laid bare before the Lord all the time, but sometimes, I put on a good enough front, I can even fool myself into believing I have rock-solid faith. It’s all a sham, I’m afraid. When the Lord spoke this to me, I knew instantly I had been called out on something He wanted to deal with.

I wrote it down on the whiteboard in my bedroom. I put my prayer requests on it, quotes I want to think about, scriptures that are doing a work in me … pretty much anything I need to ruminate on go on the whiteboard. I wrote this “word” down and went about the rest of my day, thinking back to it often because let’s be honest, when the Holy Spirit speaks so clearly, you know God is about to do some major work in you.

I sat down to read my Bible this morning and eventually ran into the above scripture, and recognized myself in it immediately. I think this is my problem: I see God as master over certain situations, but deficient in others. I also tend to look at the enemy in certain circumstances and immediately give him the victory in my heart because I’ve seen him victorious before. I also worry a lot when I don’t see the whole picture, afraid that God is not going to prevail in things that are truly important to me. You see, I have designated Him a God of the mountains. I have come to expect the mountains, strive in climbing them, meet Him there, but then I descend (as we all inevitably do) into a valley and immediately lose sight of God because I believe Him to be up on the hill somewhere above me.

I don’t expect God to be with me in the valleys. I don’t carry with me the faith that He truly will never leave me or forsake me, even though He said so and the word assures me He cannot lie. In the valley, I am often defeated in my mind before the battle even really begins, and because of that, I cannot see the victories until I am up on the next hill looking backward. He hasn’t failed me ever, but I often feel He is failing me because I allow my abandonment issues to rise up and cloud my vision.

Add to all of this, the fact that I give Satan credit where none is due, and I can clearly see why the valleys seem so deep, dark and troublesome. I feel alone in a place I know the enemy is lurking. He’s got a plan and before he even begins to work at defeating me, I’ve raised my hands in surrender, trembling at the thought of what he’s capable of. I get my eyes off the Lord because I don’t trust Him to truly be with me and deliver me. In my heart, I have believed that God is not God of the valleys.

Just like the prophet said, the enemy is preparing for battle all the time. We need to muster our courage, check our defenses and strengthen what remains. We need to strategize and have a plan (it’s not hard … my plan is to rely on God and see His victory!). We need to stand up and face life head on KNOWING that our God is God in the valleys just the same as He is God on the hills. I probably don’t have to tell you that in this story, He reaped an awesome victory. He will do this in our valleys too. While our enemy may be encouraging us to see his own strength and to fail in our faith, God is lovingly imploring us with His tender gaze to TRUST HIM. He is no less God in the bleak days. He is no less powerful in the darkness or storm. He is no less loving in our struggles to believe. He is God who cannot change. The same yesterday, today and forever. He is for us. He is victorious!

Our God is God of the hills and valleys!

Going Through the Motions

Published July 6, 2017 by Dawn

“Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, ‘Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemy.’

“So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

“ When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, ‘What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?’ When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. ‘A god has come into the camp,’ they said. ‘Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods that struck down the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!’

“So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died” (1 Sam. 4: 1-11).

Isreal, God’s people, were in battle. Surrounded by the enemy and being defeated mercilessly. They were so sure of victory, they went into battle a little under prepared. We know that because they didn’t even take the ark of the covenant with them. It had been at the forefront of their trials in the desert, their crossing the Jordan and stepping into the Promise Land. All the battles won as Joshua was obedient and conquered the land so the people of God could have a place to call home. The ark went before them, symbolic of the presence of their great and mighty God. They knew where their strength lay … for a time, at least.

Then it happened: they went zealously into battle against a great enemy. The giants in the land – the Philistines. Israel, so sure of victory, went into that battle with nothing more than a grand illusion and lost. They had forgotten to bring God into their plans, and subsequently, their plans failed.

An elder knew immediately what was wrong. The ark wasn’t there. But to the new generation of Israelites, who hadn’t been in the desert, it was only a relic. They went after it, of course, and brought along the “priests” as well, but it almost seems like they just set it up ceremoniously on the edge of the field of battle, celebrated their forthcoming victory and again, went into  battle in their own strength.

It amazes me to think of how it happened: they Israelites even shouted in praise that the ark was there. Their praise was so loud, it shook the ground and got the attention of the enemy. It scared the Philistines, and awakened them to their impending doom. Their solution? Fight harder.

It worked.

How?!

I literally sat here and cried after reading this. It’s just like us, friends.

I prayed to understand, because frankly, I’m sick of being defeated. Here’s what happened:  The Israelites were defeated the first time because they went out high on past victories, in their own strength and completely underestimating their enemy. When they were defeated, someone reminded them that their past victories were due to the presence of God among them, so they went back and grabbed the ark. Sadly, to them, it was the symbolism that mattered, not the reality. They went through the motions and expected that God was in it. He wasn’t … because they hadn’t spent time seeking His will and His way to victory.

The really disturbing part is how their hollow worship scared the enemy into action. The Philistines recognized something the Israelites did not: They had brought gods into the camp. Not God. Little Gs … gods. They had brought their own idolatrous ideas and plans into the camp and worshiped as fervently as they knew how. Their enemy noticed and although they afraid, their fear was based on what God had done for the Israelites. Not what the Israelites had done for themselves. Are you getting this? The Philistines’ fear led them to fight stronger and because the Israelites had a form of worship with no power, they were defeated.

This scares me, church. And humbles me. And suddenly, the continuous battles and frequent defeats make sense. Maybe it’s because, instead of truly seeking God, we’re just going through the motions. Maybe that’s why America’s church is powerless and the world is in chaos. Satan seems to be winning because he is, I’m afraid. Because we’re fighting him with gods; our own ideas and strategies are failing us. We have for so long refused to get still before the Lord and seek His face. Instead, we’ve changed the program a hundred and fifty different ways trying to bring people in, but all this time, what we really need to do is bring God back in. Not with our preconceived ideas of how things need to go, or what people want to hear. People need God. They want to hear God. Not you. Not me. They are dealing with deep calling unto deep, but we’re beckoning them into shallow church services. We’ve reduced the movement of God to a program and put Him in a box we refuse to let Him out of. That’s what Israel did. They went back for the box, but they didn’t open it up and let God do what He wanted to do (technically, they were forbidden from opening the ark, but I’m speaking metaphorically here). They were afraid it would look a little foolish, maybe. After all, they defeated Jericho by walking around the walls and shouting. They defeated the Midianites by breaking clay jars and blowing trumpets. All God’s plans, and let’s face it: it was a little weird sharing the war stories. A little humbling. They couldn’t take credit. Maybe that’s why they went out without Him. Maybe they wanted to actually look and feel like warriors instead of weirdos. How’d it work out? Defeat.

I think it’s time to stop going to war without God. Stop trying to win people to our ideologies and get back to what scripture actually says. Stop trying to make it fancy and give it to people straight. Stop worrying about if they like our worship and just worship. It’s not for them; it’s for Him. Stop candy-coating, or polishing up, the truth and give it straight. It is the truth that sets men free, not a confusing combination of cutesy anecdotes and platitudes. Our sermons have become so devoid of actual scripture, the garbage being fed to the multitudes is quite vomitus. No wonder the world can’t stand the church! God himself would like to spew us out of his mouth, no doubt!

Stop doing your thing, church. Do God’s. And if you don’t know what that even means any more, I think that’s a good indication it’s time to get on our knees and shut up long enough for God to speak. He hasn’t changed. He cannot. He will not. Therefore, we must.

Made for War

Published March 28, 2017 by Dawn

Funny story: I was standing in line at the check-out yesterday at Wal-Mart. My kids were bickering and had been for the last two years of my life, and I look around at all these people with their cute little kids twirling around like they don’t have a care in the world. As I’m telling my kids to stop talking to one another for the millionth time, I inexplicably start laughing. “What’s so funny, MOM?”

She said it just like that, too. I just kept laughing. I didn’t tell her why, because she doesn’t share my sense of humor and wouldn’t have appreciated it, but here’s what was so funny: all of those people enjoying their little kids like they won’t one day be teenagers. I laughed until I cried. Or maybe I was laughing to keep from crying and it didn’t work. I don’t know.

But seriously …

I was lying in bed last night, rolling around trying to fall asleep. It’s my nightly song and dance that, frankly, I could live without. Finally, I turned to God and said, “You know, this is hard. This daily grind. This constant friction. There’s so much hurting my kids right now and I feel a lot of resentment and bitterness toward you and a lot of other people. I’m trying to lean in to you but at this point, it’s about as comfortable as hugging a porcupine. You could do so much in our lives right now, show yourself mighty on our behalves, heal our wounds and hold us – comfort us – in our troubles. But though we lift our cause to you over and over again, you keep us here in the fire.”

I fell asleep praying for peace in my home, peace in the hearts of my children and restoration and healing in our deep wounds.

I woke up this morning and made tea, like usual, except I made it for my son, who on top of everything else, has a severely sore throat (that almost made me bitter but he left it without drinking it, so I am having tea while I write). I put some eggs on to boil (easy breakfast) and sat down to read my Bible. I opened it where I left off yesterday, and just started reading from the top. Because God is faithful (but mysteriously patient in our pain), He started the conversation right away.

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5).

Just in case the meaning is vague here, let me make it clear: things are going to get rougher than this. How are we going to manage the larger battles, the fierce persecution and constant attacks of the enemy, it if we can’t handle life in relative comfort?

When things started heating up in life for my kids, I remember praying to the Lord and asking Him how He could stand to put my kids through the fire. He told me that every child of His is made into a warrior, and the training for war is fierce. In His mercy, God could shield us from every attack, but that’s not how muscles are made. Muscles are made through the constant tearing down and building back up of muscular tissue. If you never use your muscles, they disintegrate.  Warriors have big, strong muscles. Because God is no respecter of persons, He even trains our kiddos. He trusts them with The Holy Spirit. He trusts them to grow in faith. He trusts them to grow in their relationship with Him. In my own life, these precious things have grown through suffering. How can I expect anything different for my kids?

So, here we are being strengthened though, at the moment, it feels like all of Hell is on special assignment Code Name: Dawn’s House. We’re going through training to be warriors in anticipation of greater battles in days to come. And they are coming. Anyone who spends time in the Word knows that prophetically speaking, there’s nothing else left for God to fulfill before Jesus comes back for His bride. The next fulfillment of prophecy will be the breaking of scrolls and the outpouring of the wrath of God. At that time, the Bible says Satan will be unleashed for a time. Unrestrained. God is growing His people to handle the onslaught of Satanic activity against the church. Everything that comes our way is to prepare us to face our enemy as we have never had to before. Here in America, we have been blessed and sheltered from a mighty storm but we won’t be shielded forever. Rather, we are being trained to withstand a mighty tempest. We are being strengthened so that in times of great tribulation, we are as unmovable and unshakable as the rock we are founded on. These last few years have been hard, but I have seen exponential growth in my children. I just want to encourage you: don’t look at the storm anymore. Look at the Maker of the Wind. He can stop it’s blowing, or He can show you how to stand in it. He can shelter you or He can show you how to be as fierce as the storms you’re in. God is making a warrior out of you. Trust Him.

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19).

 

 

War is Hell

Published May 3, 2016 by Dawn

“The more I seek him, the worse things get.”

A friend of mine sent me this message last night, although I took the liberty of summing it up a little. I was heartbroken for him … I’ve felt this way so many times before. The more I press in, the more I surrender, the worse things get too. I feel like it’s the Christian’s condition. I almost cringe thinking of what lies ahead for new Christians because I often wonder if they are under the impression that life gets easier after we surrender to God. I can honestly say it doesn’t. The battle intensifies with a two-fold purpose. Graham Cooke says it like this: “God and the devil both have one thing in common: They are both trying to kill you!” God allows circumstances that purify us, killing off the fleshly, natural man. Satan, on the other hand, declares an all-out war on Christians to kill our witness, our effectiveness, our joy and our willingness to press in to God.

I recently went to a training and wrote down a bunch of really great quotes from Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients about their experience in battle that I loved, and suddenly, I want to share them with you as I write a little about Spiritual Warfare.

Firstly, let me say that spiritual warfare is not a healthy 24/7 focus. It’s important to know that we have an enemy roaming around seeking whom he may devour. It’s important to acknowledge that the devil is prolific at what he does. We should not deny him, but we should not fixate on him either. We are full of power and authority to defeat him. But here’s the truth: “War is hell.”

Yeah, I’m sorry about that. Well, in a “sorry, not sorry” kind of way. This is a quote from Tibor Rubin, a CMO recipient with an incredible testimony of defeating the odds in so many situations meant to destroy him. Before he was a war hero, he was a Nazi death camp survivor, American soldier, and POW. If anybody understood war, it was Tibor Rubin. Many of us will never know that kind of fiery intensity, so we can just take his word for it. And it’s true of spiritual war too.

I don’t know if I can adequately describe war, having never been there, but I will try to describe the videos of war that we watched in this training. I’m going to throw out some adjectives: Terrifying. Deafening. Confining. Lonely. Dark. Horrific. Deadly.

Can it even be done, to describe the scene of battle? Surrounded by the enemy. Breathing heavily, pressed against a rock to evade detection. Sometimes captive. Starving. Thirsting. Sick. Beaten. Watching others die. Wishing you were dead.

That’s unremarkable, really. The realities of war are so much more … devastating. There really aren’t any adjectives that do war justice, and I’m feeling really inadequate. Can you hardly imagine it? Spiritual warfare includes all of these things. Satan fills us with an emotional storm and manufactures circumstances that stir up the wind until … chaos. Our lives are a mess, relationships crumbling down around us, devastation lying at our feet and our hearts and minds in torment. Then, as if things couldn’t get any worse, he takes us captive. He speaks lies we believe and we become bound. Prisoners of spiritual war. In the least, unhappy. But often times, so much worse off than that. Sometimes, we want it all to be over with … and even romanticize death as the way out of it all. And that’s another lie of the enemy. He who has come to steal, kill and destroy leads us to the edge of our proverbial cliff and tells us that jumping would end it all.

Sadly, so many people quit here. They remember life when it was easy and satisfying and in order to save their necks, they stop taking the Christian walk so seriously and settle into a rut to avoid detection. They might even live the rest of their lives in that lukewarm place, not making waves, so they can enjoy life without fighting any more. I know this is true, because sometimes, I see these ruts in life and feel very tempted to settle into one myself. Because the alternative is war. There is no third option. To be alive in Christ is to be at war.

When I am tempted to throw up my hands and retreat in chains, the Holy Spirit reminds me of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  In the words of Salvatore Giunta, another Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, “How could I not do this for them?”

We are entrusted with going before. There will be others behind us, and sometimes, we fight, find comfort and come out victorious so that we can show others the way. “Pass through, pass through the gates! Prepare the way for the people” (Isaiah 62:10).

Another notable detail about their collective experience in warfare was the emphasis on the mind. “It’s mind over body” (Tibor Rubin). That’s his echo of a statement made by so many men who have been in warfare. They literally pushed their bodies past their breaking points because of the demands of the battle. They couldn’t imagine not surviving. They just did what had to be done to live and many persevered by convincing themselves that losing was not an option. Dying was not an option.

Tibor Rubin tells a story of giving a fellow POW goat poop under the guise of it being medication because he knew that the only way that man was going to survive was to believe it. He was otherwise dead already. His defiance against war and death pulled him through what doctors would have described as a hopeless situation. All because of the war he waged in his mind. How powerful the mind is! No wonder this is where the battlefield is when it comes to spiritual war!

But then that means that we have home-field advantage, doesn’t it? After all, the enemy may have access, but we can make up our own minds what to allow and disallow in our thoughts. We know the terrain better and we make all the calls. We can speak things that are not as though they were. We can speak spiritual truth no matter how bleak the situation seems. We can speak scripture and claim victory in Jesus. We can expel demonic thoughts and abolish chains of the enemy because we have that authority. We have Jesus, who, “disarming the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). We can resist the enemy, and we should!

We should be dressing every day in the armor of God outlined in Ephesians 6, girding our minds with the knowledge of our salvation, our hearts guarded with the righteousness Jesus purchased for us, the belt of truth firmly reminding us of the Word of God through every temptation to believe in a contrary direction, and shoes of readiness that will engage the enemy knowing we can be victorious because we have the shield of faith to extinguish his darts and the sword of the Spirit to demolish his blows. We have this full armor because we are at war! We are equipped, and we will be victorious if we just commit to the fight! “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  

 

What Went Down That First Easter

Published March 27, 2016 by Dawn

“It … is … finished.”

Jesus’ last breath sent a shiver up his spine. Hiding in plain sight among the stragglers still standing near the cross, Lucifer shuddered as a coldness swept over him. He stared up at Jesus feeling victorious, but something about his death seemed all wrong.

He knew prophecy. The power of the spoken word. He had been there when Yahweh has spoken the earth into existence. He stood glorifying the King with the rest of heaven’s hosts that day. He marveled then, and marveled now, at the power that enveloped each word spoken by God. He was bitterly jealous of the Almighty for that very reason. It was a power Satan did not possess.

Distressed by the icy grip that had taken hold of him, Lucifer quickly fled toward Sheol, content that the Son of Man was no longer living. Unbarring the gates, he descended into the halls of torment to breath in the familiar comfort of man’s agony. His home. His paradise.

“Lucifer!”

The grip tightened. The coldness seeped deeper. That voice. He thought he’d never hear it again. He thought it was over. Hadn’t he just heard Jesus say it was finished? Wasn’t it supposed to be finished, then?

Lucifer turned in terror, straining to identify the sound coming down the stairwell from above. It was the unmistakable sound of destruction. His beautiful gates, with their familiar sqeauky hinges, were now being ripped irreversibly from the thick walls of the cavernous hovel he inhabited. A deafening crash followed as no doubt they were tossed carelessly, yet forcefully, aside. Frozen on the landing, Lucifer could do nothing else but cower as he heard the quickly approaching footfalls echoing as if a gigantic being were headed toward him.

“Accuser, I have come!”

Beads of sweat formed all over Satan’s cold, jaundiced man-form. Jesus stood before him, whole and towering menacingly. All the authority Lucifer had feared in God was in His son, and he knew he was powerless. He couldn’t muster the courage to even mumble a reply.

Jesus held out his hand. “Give them to me, now.”

The command was enough to draw the demon’s hand out of his cloak involuntarily. Against his will, he thrust the keys forward. His hand was shaking violently. The thought of Jesus touching him was terrifying and repulsive.

“Here! Take them!”

Jesus reached out and pulled the keys out of Lucifer’s hand. Clenching his fist around them, he commanded silence from all of the underground world. Looking hard into the face of his enemy, he spoke with such assurance, Lucifer could only stand mutely, whimpering in agreeance as his role in the universe became an insignificant minutia for all of eternity.

“All power and authority has been given to me. You will hereafter be a minor detail on the fringe of humanity. Though some will flock willingly to you, others will only be harassed by you. None will be conquered or overcome without their willing consent, and after the times have reached their fulfillment, you will be cast out into utter darkness for all eternity. Is has been decreed and will surely take place. Sin and death are hereby defeated. There is no power in hell, no power in fear, and no power in you that cannot be conquered by just the whisper of my name. Mankind will forever more subjugate your kingdom with the power alive in them. It is the same power alive in me. Tremble, you cowering snake. Today, I have crushed your head. It is finished!”

Without another word, Jesus turned and left. Satan sank to the floor, unable to combat or defend his realm. He felt the power drain from him. He heard the faint tic-toc of eternity echoing through the halls and for the first time, abhorred the sound. Utter darkness. The Lake of Fire. He knew his time was near the end. How much longer he had, he could only guess, for no one but Yahweh knew the times appointed. He trembled in fear. Jesus had overcome. God had won, just like He said He would. Lucifer crumpled up on the landing there and let out a piercing howl. He had been stripped and beaten. Defeated. Yes, he felt it in his marrow. It was finished.