Monthly Archives: December 2012

Spiritual warfare

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”  -Ephesians 6, THE MESSAGE

Church,  I have to tell you (but I’m sure you already know) we are in the last days.  And in these last days spiritual warfare is increasing in intensity like never before.  The topic of this blog (and my own odyssey as a pastor at a church where our pastor fell) is all about spiritual warfare at the highest level.  There is no greater victory for the enemy than taking out a pastor of a church.  In doing that he succeeds in destroying the work of God, if only for a while, in that pastor’s life and in that church. It disheartens the parish, shames the church in the community and confuses (sometimes beyond recovery) some who are new to the faith.

The world is glad to laugh and mock a pastor who falls.  It’s vindication to them that they weren’t “fools” to be part of that “Christian thing” and the church goes through a time of spiritual warfare that is more intense than many could imagine.  Now, for us 6 years out, we are still in the midst of intense spiritual warfare.  It’s tiring, discouraging, disheartening.  It makes you want to give up!

Paul writes, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own.”  He was so right!  The enemy has found, through the fallen heart of every pastor, a way to destroy or at best cripple a church.  Pray for your church. Pray for your pastor. You need to know he’s under heavy attacks from the enemy and especially so if he teaches the bible and invites people to trust Christ as savior.  Our greatest weapon is prayer.  Our greatest ally is God himself.  Our best offense is to simply stand, pray, trust God and continue to preach Christ.

In case you wondered the church is the front lines of spiritual warfare.  The enemy is working in the life of your pastor to destroy him, his family and your church.  Pray for him, encourage him, care for him and yourselves.  Pray for each other.  Watch out, be prepared, pray.

The cruel one

Proverbs 5:8-10

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Keep your way far from her
And do not go near the door of her house,
Or you will give your vigor to others
And your years to the cruel one;
10 And strangers will be filled with your strength
And your hard-earned goods will go to the house of an alien;

The cruel one.  What an interesting wording from this passage about adultery and promiscuity.   In the heat of passion with a pretty woman a man may fail to realize he’s also about to suffer the wrath of the cruel one.  I’m fascinated by that wording.  On one hand affection, passion and love of a woman who isn’t your wife.  On the other hand the wrath, anger and hatred of the cruel one using this affection to destroy you.

Few men in the pastorate realize that behind the kisses and affection of a pretty woman who says she loves you is an enemy who says he hates you.  What you see as your “soul mate” is actually the perfect weapon of the enemy of your soul whose only goal is the destruction of your life,  your marriage,  your ministry and your church.  In a moment of passion and affection he can accomplish all of that!

Church, realize that behind every enticement to unfaithfulness, to an affair, is the cruel one in the shadows smiling at the opportunity to destroy everything you love.  If you find yourself attracted to a pretty face, an affectionate glance, someone who “really cares about you” realize that behind that person is another, the cruel one, waiting to destroy everything you care about.

The cruel one wears his name proudly.  He has no mercy, no care for you, your wife, your kids, your church or your life.  His great deception for you is that this affection, this affair is real and will satisfy your empty soul, but all it will do is destroy everything.  Solomon’s words are a vivid picture for anyone in the pastorate!

Extreme grace

I am thrilled to know and experience the grace of God.  It’s absolutely life changing once you know what God has done for us.

One of the great tragedies of the church in our day is the fear so many have of grace.  They fear what might happen if people really knew they were completely forgiven, loved and part of heaven even now.  That security, for some, is just too good to be true. There must be a trick up God’s sleeve somewhere.  He can’t really mean that we already have everything and can never lose it.  There must be something we have to do, some work, some duty that will let us make our relationship and eternity sure, but there isn’t….it’s absolutely and totally free, available by faith alone and will last forever!

But grace is even more extreme than you think it is.  It’s outrageous and foolish from man’s viewpoint.  In his love God provided for all of mankind a free gift of forgiveness, redemption, salvation, security, eternity with him, and peace now…if they would simply accept his gift by faith.

You have to know I haven’t gotten to the extreme part yet.  Here it is, are you ready?  God has made it possible for us to be his sons, his daughters!  Imagine, a son of God.  That is so crazy I can’t even understand what that looks like! But there’s more….he’s also given each of his children HIS Spirit to dwell in them, lead them, help them, and be with them….are you ready….forever.  When the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, takes up residence in us he promises to never leave.  We are men and women indwelt by the God who made us for all eternity!

More?  Ok, here we go…there is nothing you can do, good or bad…ever, to lose what he has given you.  You cannot lose his gifts to you if you have received them.  They are yours by faith alone and eternally yours….you can never be lost.  An eternal, indwelt by the Spirit of God, child of God.  More? We are destined to live with God and be part of his eternal kingdom.  Priests and Kings he calls us.  Children of God he describes us.  The names and provisions would fill pages, more than I have room to speak of here, but his grace extended to us is extreme at the far end of the scale.

The work of God in grace could fill volumes!  It’s not just a “saving grace”, although it is that, it’s an extreme grace that completely changes everything about our lives here and our eternity ahead.

But sadly many have made this wonderful grace a small thing.  They fear what believers might do if they knew.  The tragedy is that if they knew they would fall more deeply in love with God and lean in closer to know him better.  Let’s talk about this extreme grace to those we know and celebrate the amazing love of God in his provision for us. It is a wonderfully glorious magnificent extreme grace!