Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘spiritual warfare’

Make Believe War

ATTACK AT NICE

Another day, another slaughter at the hands of terrorists.  This time, it’s a beach in France.  This time, the body count is 70 dead and counting.  To no one’s surprise, the heartless executioner was named Mohamed.

No wonder there’s a rising tide of rage against apathetic world leaders.  Once again, President Obama will condemn the violence, insult the coward who did this, and reassure us with promises about ultimate victories.  French President Hollande rushed into a press conference to comfort the helpless masses, and assure them France will be stronger after this.  Of course, we heard the same kind of platitudes after the last massacre of innocents, but it’s clear nothing has changed. Talk is cheap, particularly the kind of glib rhetoric that offers empty promises and meaningless slogans.  The savages are waging a real war with deadly weapons with a vengeance.  The nations have responded with pretend warfare, verbal assaults and pleas for peace.

But this is not a political blog.  As I listened to all the same, old tired promises and empty threats on my radio while driving to work this morning, it struck me that you could say the same thing about the spiritual war being waged by the Church today. Here in the USA, atheists, pagans, and radical activists continue to mount a shock-and-awe campaign against the foundations of civilization.  We have lost all the battles for social values: the right to pray in public events, the sacred right of the unborn to live, conjugal marriage, and even biological gender.  But that’s all happening because we are losing on a larger, more strategic front: the hearts and minds and souls of men and women.

This week, the Pew Foundation released polling data that indicates non-religious voters are now the largest voting bloc in the USA- outnumbering both Protestants and Catholics. Their number has increased by 50% just in the last eight years. For details, click here.

Every Sunday, pastors and Christian leaders across the land stand in pulpits to assure us of the certainty of our victory. Does that sound familiar?  We are waging a spiritual war. Our cause is just. Souls are at stake.  The weapons of our warfare are not man-made, but they are mighty.  The battle is the Lord’s.

I’m not questioning the Lord’s willingness to fight, but isn’t He supposed to have an army?  He’s the general- not the infantry, right?  He’s the head: that means there is a body complete with hands and feet and eyes and a mouth, right?  There’s no doubt that Christ will finally win the war, but if you and I carelessly forfeit millions of souls of men and women in this particular battle, that’s on us.

Reports describe the street along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice last night as too ghastly to televise. There were corpses everywhere- bloody and mutilated, some only children. If only we had eyes to survey the streets and buildings around the world where the spiritual carnage numbers in the hundreds of thousands: people who could have been saved but, tragically, were never reached.  People who are still moving, but are doomed. Many won’t even know what hit them.

It’s counter productive to be angry at “them.”  They are lost and confused as well. The problem is “us.”  We should be angry at ourselves.  And then we should repent and cry out to God for grace and mercy and power.  And then we should resolve to stop the make believe war and the head fakes:to go risk something, to engage in a spiritual skirmish for souls.

The battle is the Lord’s. Yeah, yeah, yeah: but we are his Special Forces. It’s clearly going to require a work of divine race to get us off our butts and into battle. Please join me in praying for courage, vision and fire from Heaven.

And lift up the Cross!

 

 

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Bless Your Heart

When the Bible speaks about being pure in heart, we tend to think about getting rid of dirty minds.  In biblical terms, however, a pure heart requires far more than clean thinking.  In scripture, your heart is the control center of your life; the place where you make your decisions and turn your purposes into actions.  That means a pure heart denotes the control center of a life that is not riddled and twisted with conflicting purposes and contradictory priorities.  It is best described in Ezekiel 11:19.  “And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.”  God desires a steadfast heart, an undivided heart, a personal situation room where he sits at the head of the table.

When you understand the meaning of a pure heart, it’s easier to grasp why spiritual warfare is so real and so painful.  We tend to imagine that kind of conflict as being waged by angels in the heavenlies, or by invisible forces.  But in fact, the most commonplace form of spiritual warfare is the skirmish for control of the steel reinforced door to your heart, your control center.  It’s the only place Jesus Christ can really be Lord, but it’s the hardest place in life to surrender.  We can manage a few habits, but Jesus seeks a pure heart.

For most Americans, the heart is a bundle of conflicting purposes and coping mechanisms all battling for control.  We do things that are dangerous and foolish; we commit selfish, unkind acts without even understanding why!  We wonder why life seems out of control.  And the answer is that the heart is about more than personal ambitions; it’s about secret sins, shameful experiences locked away from memory, unthinkable evils perpetrated against us by others when we were children or teens.  All those hidden toxins boil and fester and seep into our decision making- some times when we least expect it.  That’s why giving your life to Christ can seem so intimidating for a moment.  Most of us don’t even recognize all the forces at war in our lives.

The good news is that God can take away your heart of stone and give you a tender heart of flesh.  Learn more about this topic at http://www.providencetoday.org/pages.asp?pageid=24646.  The sermon is called “The Heart that Must be Broken.”

Lift up the Cross!

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