Monthly Archives: November 2010

Wanted: Real Heroes

Where have all the heroes gone?

By heroes, I don’t mean the ego maniacs gassed up on arrogance and steroids that have commandeered the grassy fields and hardwood courts of sportsdom—nor the testosterone terrors and the cosmetically enhanced Aphrodite-ees prancing across the silver screens—nor the intellectual pigmies who have seized the music industry and hold it hostage with the vomit of lyrical language unfit even for the sewers from which it was spawned. I refuse to call this cultural garbage of infantile behavior, obscene language, gangster attitudes, outrageous bling-bling, and immoral lifestyles heroic. Call me an old fuddy-duddy if you want, but I cannot accept these damnable depictions as worthy of patterning my one and only chance at life on this planet after.

Where has integrity and character gone? In what dusty trunk have we packed away morality and honesty? Under what rock has honor been placed? What has possessed us to call evil good and good evil? All these questions beg for an answer in our narcissistic “me” driven culture.

Heroes are real people with values worth fighting for. I grew up with a hero birthed in a moment of crisis at a football game surrounded by sixty or so thousand people. He was christened with that mantle forty rows up in the north end zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium, and as long as I draw a breath I will never forget the lesson I learned that day.

There among the rabid fans of Alabama football sat my family—my father, my mother, my brother, and me. Our section was filled with the Crimson and White faithful, all cheering for the same team, but not giving allegiance to the same set of values and beliefs. Directly behind us sat a man who had drank a bit too much Coke spiked with something he didn’t buy from the Bama concessioneers. His liquor laced-brain soon slipped out of gear, and his mouth fell open with a torrid of some of the most colorful cursing my ten-year-old ears had “never” heard.

If I live to be a hundred, I will never forget what happened next. My father stood up, turned around, and looked this belligerent drunk straight in the eyes and without blinking said, “This is my wife and these are my sons. I will not allow you to speak like that in their presence. Sit down and shut up! Now!” The man sat down and never said another word.

In my eyes, my father became ten feet tall. It was a holy moment, because there in my fifteen dollar seat I was introduced to, and awed by, an example of real heroism. A hero stands up for what is right—not for what is accepted or allowed. A hero stands when it is inconvenient, impractical, and often not popular. A hero stands up because what he or she believes in is more than a belief—it is a core value worth fighting for and worth dying for.

My dad did not create a spectacle and he did not make an empty threat. When he stood, he was committed to doing whatever was necessary, no matter the cost, to accomplish what he believed in. Only two people heard him speak that day—me and the drunk guy, and the message was loud and clear. It was not the words he spoke that still ring in my spirit, but the conviction of his character exemplified in the midst of a crowd who could have cared less.

Heroes stand out in the crowd. They stand apart from the crowd. And…often a hero must stand alone, even in the crowd.

Tea Parties and Prayer

A few months ago, we shook up the tranquility in the toy world of a three-year-old. Lincoln Logs, dollies without clothes, and stuffed animals of all shapes, sizes, and species filled her safe little world. But the grandparents arrived with something new and novel—a miniature porcelain tea set complete with a miniature lace tablecloth, all neatly packed in its very own red satin hat box. What can I say? It was a smashing success.

The coffee table was summarily cleared and magically transformed into an elegant English parlor as the two ladies of the manor reclined—one to teach, and the other to learn the intricate art of hosting a socially acceptable make-believe tea party. I had no idea that there were so many elite nuances of culture required in this particular type of soirée. Quietly, I observed the careful placement of the cups and saucers and the delicate manner in which the hostess poured the pretend tea while holding the lid on the tiny china tea pot. Next, it was time for cream or sugar and the demur etiquette required when offering either. Finally, the tiny cups were raised with pinkies out, and the fantasy brew disappeared with a gentle gulp.

Over and over, I watched this ritual performed and practiced until the junior socialite decided it was time to invite the socially inept barbarian called Papa to the party. Being the doting grandfather I am, I slipped onto the floor and folded my legs into an unnatural position for which they were never created and bellied up to the bar.

The next few moments seemed like an eternity, as my little red-haired social butterfly instructed, cajoled, berated, and bludgeoned this middle-aged man with the exact phrases, voice inflections, and cautions of her illustrious teacher. With utter dismay and disgust—well, as much as a frustrated three-year-old can—I was abruptly dismissed from the table as a moron who could not even hold his tea cup properly. I can still see her tiny hands resting on her hips and hear those awful words, “No Papa! No! Not like that!”

As I ponder my failure as a seasoned man of proper breeding and social rank at that make believe tea party, and it’s far reaching effects on my male psyche and ego, I heard the still small voice deep within I know so well: “How does it feel to be told how thing are going to be done?” Uh oh, no place to hide and no place to run—I was busted.

Too often as we are praying we quickly switch from intercession to instruction—from requests to demands—from Thy will to my will. Suddenly, from God’s viewpoint, I looked like the three-year-old in command of the tea party. Unable to muster an adequate answer, I decided to listen more and talk less. And who knows? In this process if I live long enough, I might become proficient enough in the minutia of the manners required for another invitation to the tea party being held on the corner of the coffee table in my den.

Alligators and Clorox Jug Evangelism

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Scars from the battle

 

 

He will bite us but he cannot defeat us!

 

A picture paints a thousand words, and the damage to this Clorox jug will serve as a metaphorical picture of the unrequited rage and deep primordial hatred of our ancient foe. Jug fishermen use plastic bottles like this for floats as they put out baited hooks in hopes of catching the big catfish. Once a jug begins to bob up and down or becomes snagged in the labyrinth of the lily pads, it usually signals a hooked fish. The jugs don’t catch fish; they simply carry the bait to the fish and alert the fisherman that he has one on the hook.

This jug was the victim of an alligator attack. It happens on a regular basis. It’s a nuisance, but it really does nothing to deter a jug fisherman, who pulls another one out and ties a hook on it. Occasionally, you lose one, and there’s nothing you can do because alligators are protected by the Federal government. Big deal, there are far more jugs than there are gators.

Who knows what that red-eyed monster was thinking or why it destroyed this jug? Perhaps it went after the big bream we were using as bait and got a surprise when the hook snagged in a tender place. Perhaps it simply hated the presence of the bottle in its bog. Who knows and who cares? The alligator is one enemy a jug fisherman cannot worry about. These reptiles are a part of the eco-system, and thus we are forced to co-exist with them.

Switch gears, but keep the frightening picture of the gator attacking the jug in the back of your mind. Picture the devil and his demonic angels as gators sliding silently through the dark waters of the cosmos seeking souls to devour. Peppered here and there are the fishermen of Christ, working the same dark soup, going after the very same souls. Every soul in that black water will spend eternity somewhere. The question is where—heaven or hell? Look out your office cubicle—your kitchen window—the rear view mirror of your automobile— to the left and right, sitting in the little league bleachers—every person you see will be alive a million years from now in either be in heaven or in hell.

Now back to the jug. In this cosmic struggle for the souls of men, women, boys, and girls it represents you and me. We are not the bait or the hook, we are the simple floats—the vehicles—that God uses to carry the Gospel where the fish (the lost people) are congregating. We carry the message like the jug carries the hook, and the enemy hates us for it. He hates us because he hates our Savior. Get used to it! It’s been this way from the beginning.

From time to time our frustrated enemy erupts in rage or hatred and bites at us for rescuing those he considers his own. Don’t get hung up on the tooth marks or the pain you might incur. Wipe off the blood, reach back in the boat, and get another jug. One day when you stand in heaven, surrounded by the souls you snatched from hell you can tell them your fish tales and show them your scars.

As a jug fisherman might say, “Forget the gators, the fish are tearing it up—hand me another jug!”

Kingdom Prayer: Transformation (Part 6 of 6)

Wow! You look so different. I know what you’re thinking: I can’t see you from where I am in the mist of the world-wide web. I may not know what you look like, but I know what you feel like on the inside. And it’s better to feel good than it is to look good, no matter what the guy used to say on Saturday Night Live. A sense of freedom is springing up, and a transformation is starting to occur in the ground you have invaded and occupied through kingdom prayer.

That is the final phase that must take place for kingdom prayer to reach its fullest potential. That ground, held so long by the enemy, is now being changed. You are now ready to pray “on earth as it is in heaven.” Call forth in spiritual authority the will of God, which is done perfectly in heaven, into the realm you are standing in. Declare that heaven’s perfect order casts out all chaos and confusion. The enemy has been routed, so stop worrying about him, and build something permanent to the glory of God on this peaceful little spot of your life. This is redeemed ground now. The realm of your King has been empowered here. Heaven has come to earth in this one little place. The kingdom of God has not only come near; it has been established in this spot.

This kind of prayer—“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”—radically changes everything it is applied to. It is the full surrender to God of our hopeless independence in exchange for a full partnership of life with Him. If you have completed your invasion, occupation, and subsequent transformation, there has been a change in your form, your appearance, your nature, and your character. You are drastically and dramatically different, and you know it. You have invited the King to be King, and He heard you and established His throne over another area in your life. That area, which was once enemy territory, has now been transformed from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.

This is not rocket science. This is hearing the Word of God and applying it specifically to your life. Kingdom prayer is activating the King’s promises. Enjoy the abiding peace and the quiet calm of this moment. Enjoy it, but don’t think this is it.

When you’ve had time to catch your breath, sharpen your sword and tighten your armor. I hear there’s another invasion happening soon. Grab your gear and load the landing crafts. The word is: The King wants all the territory held by the enemy in our lives. Hang tough. I’ll see you on the beach.

Kingdom Prayer: Occupation (Part 5 of 6)

You made it! I thought you might, but we can’t stop here. If we don’t keep moving the enemy will reset the sights on his guns and we will be sitting ducks. The invasion has been a success, but now you must take occupation of this territory you are fighting for.  The only ground you hold right now is located under your feet. You must conquer it if you have any hope of holding it.

Occupation means “to seize and control an area.” For this ground to become a part of God’s kingdom, you must place it under the authority of the King. You must control it in the power of Jesus and for His glory. This is where you forcefully pray: “Thy will be done.” You can no longer do what you want or what the enemy wants. Territory is considered occupied when it is actually under the authority of Jesus Christ, whom you represent. It is not enough to stand on the territory; you must enforce the will of God here and conquer the enemy who stands in your way.

To turn battleground into conquered ground—to move from invasion to occupation—you must evict the enemy at all costs. You must expose him, extricate him, and eliminate him. This is house-to-house, hand-to-hand combat. This is where you must become transparent with God about your life. Whenever we expose the enemy, we always expose a personal partnership with him. Confess it and do not give the enemy a foothold. Destroy his resources, roadways, and supply lines into your life. Wrestle in prayer until God answers. This is bloody, but you will overcome if you stand in there and fight.

As you see the enemy weakening, take courage and exercise the King’s authority over this area. In Christ, you must begin to declare the new terms of occupation. You must bring God’s government to bear on everything. It is “His will” that must be declared. Anything that stands against His will must be destroyed. Yes…you heard me…everything. Anything you leave in opposition will rise up and one day destroy you. Deal with it now and deal with it completely.

You’ve established the King’s rule; now you must enforce His reign in your life, circumstance, or situation. You have conquered the ground in the power and might of Jesus, but prepare yourself the enemy will counter-attack. Set up sentries on the boundaries. Position your forces carefully. Vigilance is essential. Pay attention to the movement of the enemy in the distance. Always remember this…he wants back what you have conquered and he will take it unless you abide by the will of your King. Take the necessary precautions and fully enforce at all costs, “Thy will be done.” If you do, he will never defeat you, and the ground will be transformed.