Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Battle for the Mind

The Christian life is a paradox of sorts. It is at the same time a constant struggle and a settled confidence. It is an innermost peace wrapped up in the paper of uncertainly and held together with the tape of faith. Spiritually speaking, this life is characterized by two words with infinite capabilities: eternal and abundant. Naturally speaking, those two words are battlefield and belief.

We are the recipients of all the riches of God in Christ. We certainly do possess all the spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. And yet, all of us struggle—most of us do so every day. The reason for this is we are living on a battlefield. Yes, our enemy is defeated (Christ did that at the cross), but he is not dead or imprisoned. He is mortally wounded and looking to destroy as many of us as possible in the short time he has left. That battle, which all of us are engaged in, is not fought against people, or governments, or business entities. No…that great battle is fought moment-by-moment in the jungles and deserts of our minds. The issue is do we really believe what we profess?

It is guerilla warfare fought hand-to-hand with a winner take all mentality. Our enemy hurls everything he has at our minds to cause confusion, fear, tension, and a hundred other emotions that create a soupy fog and castrate our ability to think biblically. The enemy could care less whether or not we think rationally, but above all he does not want us to think biblically. Biblical thinking cuts a swath through that dense fog and clears the mind.

It seems our divine destiny is always in conflict with demonic darkness. None of us are standing on the sidelines of some great cosmic game (if you are, you are already in the enemy’s trophy case), we are all intimately involved—it comes with the territory. Therefore, what can we do to make sure when the smoke clears and the zing of the bullets stop we are still standing? That is the million dollar question.

First, realize that you are at war. This is a battle and it will continue to be a battle until either you go to Jesus or Jesus comes for us. That’s reality. You need a battle hardened mindset—a battlefield mentality. Toughen up a little and the enemy may well back off a bit.

Second, take control of your mind. God has given you (yes—you alone) authority over it. Don’t allow it to take in anything and/or everything that passes by. Shut the all-access revolving door and post a guard at its entrance with orders to shoot to kill. You won’t have to deal with most things if you deny them access. Take every thought (yes every last one of them) captive.

Next, make a decision that you will never, never, never give up—no matter how hot the battle gets or how long the siege may last. Surrender never brings the promised peaceful silence we all long for. It only brings slavery—a lifestyle marked by the bondage of failures and limitations.

Finally, access the mind of Christ. You have it—it’s comes standard with the package. Spend a little time every day reading the Scripture. Memorize verses as you store supplies before an attack comes. Then, when the shelling starts (and it certainly will), willfully choose to obey what the Holy Spirit is telling you to do. Do it the moment He says it. Obedience grants us deeper access, as well as greater authority. Learn to relax in Christ. From that peaceful place, all the enemy can do is lob shells at you. He can never destroy that fortress of security and your mind can get some much needed rest.

Moving Day

Moving is a hassle. It requires packing all your earthly goods up in boxes and crates and hoping they survive the trip and make it to your intended destination. Days are spent wrapping things in newspaper and bubble wrap and then sealing them up in a multiplicity of various sized boxes. Pack the boxes and then stack the boxes and hope with all your might the boxes survive the packing, stacking, and whacking they will get while on the truck.

  Once they do arrive, you undo what you so meticulously did in the former location. Unpack and unwrap and put your head in your hands and hopelessly disappear into the abyss of crumpled newspaper, spent packing tape, and ripped cardboard looking for your treasures. Moving is the pits. It is physically draining, emotionally taxing, and spiritually numbing. It sucks whatever life is left in you right out.

We quickly discovered we have way too much stuff—too much to pack, too much to unpack, and absolutely no place to put it. It won’t fit—there’s not enough room so we had a house cleaning. We moved again—except this time we bagged it and took it to a mission drop off box and left our priceless possessions there on the curb. But…not before we made sure we got our tax deductible receipt to add back into the growing pile of stuff that brought us here in the first place. This is hopeless.

Thank goodness when Jesus comes for His Church, our move from here to there won’t be nearly as hectic. No packing—everything you’ve collected here will be left here. The sum total of all our accumulated junk and treasure will be jettisoned like a fighter pilot bailing out of his damaged plane and our move will be hassle-free. All of us will leave with the same package we arrived in—with one exception, this broken down body will be retro-fitted to the same model that Jesus is currently using. In the blink of an eye—a split second—we will no longer be here but there. The horn will sound, a shout will go up and the final move will take place. It will be over just like that!

 Just reminding myself of that gives me the encouragement I need to dive into those last few boxes. To paraphrase the great apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:58—your toil is not in vain in the Lord. Not in vain…huh? Hand me another box!

Give Honor Where Honor is Due

The problem with getting older is you spend far too much time at funerals and cemeteries. Both are man-made, and neither was a part of God’s original plan. Our present reality is the self-inflicted result of humanity’s rebellion. Death is a constant companion—an enemy not a friend—who dogs each of our steps beginning at birth.            Death claimed one of my friends last week. She was far too young to die, but unexpectedly, that’s exactly what she did. One moment she was here, and the next…she was with Jesus. I mourn what I tell myself is a temporal separation, but I grieve the loss of her intimidating presence and daunting persona. She was a force to be reckoned with—a woman out to change all wrong into right. She made a difference wherever she went—and she went a lot of places.

She was blunt and bold. She said what she meant and meant what she said. She was rarely at a loss for words, and if so not for very long. Her words could be weighty and sharp or tender and compassionate depending on the circumstances. One thing you could always count on—her words were true. You always knew where you stood with her, and if you had any doubts she would clear those up without hesitation.

In fact, at times she scared me and we were dear friends. Not because she was bizarre or frightening, but because she was so comfortable in her own skin. She understood exactly who she was. She knew both her weaknesses and her strengths and she was not afraid of either. Those traits together made her the woman she was. Perhaps her ease with her own mortality is the destination we are all seeking.   

 She was an excellent wife, an exceptional mother, and an extraordinary grandmother. Her husband, her daughter, and her grandkids are all eternally marked by her self-sacrifice, her enduring love, and her bigger than life personality. Her contagious character is etched in each one like the date on a coin. They cannot deny it, or escape it—she has left an indelible mark that will not be erased. You can see her in their movements, hear her in their conversations, and feel her in their expressions of emotion.

I will miss her greatly, we all will—but in reality, she has probably replaced St. Peter as heaven’s border guard and is already stamping passports and welcoming the new arrivals to heaven. She is a take charge lady. Let’s give honor where honor is due.

Jacquie—we love you, we will miss you, but one thing is for certain—we will see you again one day soon.

Real Living

Life never turns out according to our plans.  Fantasy and reality are usually polar opposites.  Fairy tales begin with “Once upon a time” and always end with “They lived happily ever after,” but real life is lived between the first and last line of the fairy tale.  Life is tough and very often filled with pain. Every person must face the disappointments, the pain, the frustration, and wounds of life and deal with them correctly or life will ultimately destroy that person.

How you face things determines who you become. You can become a “victim,” one who blames every circumstance, situation, or person you encounter for the pain you are enduring. Victims never really take responsibility for their own lives. It’s easier to blame someone or something for the disappointments you find yourself immersed in. Some pain is self-inflicted and some just comes, but if you choose to be a victim, you will never take responsibility and search out the healing grace that comes from God. Victims are satisfied to moan and groan but refuse to be shown a way out of their pain.

Some face the pain of life by becoming angry. Unresolved anger is often the mask a person puts on to hide the hideous face of unforgiveness.  A person unwilling to forgive will find themselves trapped in a prison with no way out. Even God refuses to help when you refuse to forgive.  Unforgiveness is an act of the will, and if you won’t forgive God can’t forgive you.  Facing life with anger and unforgiveness only insures a life filled with more pain and disappointment.

There are some who simply ignore the pain of real life and stuff it down deep inside in the recesses of their mind – in that little closet at the end of the hall.  Carefully tucked away and hidden, you may think, “out of sight out of mind,” but you are deluded if you think pain will stay hidden and not affect the way you think and feel.  Pain is real and it cannot be ignored. Disappointment comes; sometimes on a daily basis and to ignore it or belittle it or act like it does not matter is to lie to yourself and to insure you will be faced with the pain over and over and over.

Life is not always easy and plans don’t always go as they were intended.  People get hurt, they die, they lie, or they do stupid things. Things happen that are beyond our control, and try as hard as we may there is no rational explanation that satisfies the desperate crying of our hearts for an answer that makes sense. Sometimes there is no way to get around the pain or disappointment or wound except to walk through it.

The comforting thing about facing your pain is that you never walk through it alone.  Abba Father, the Beloved One, has a habit of lifting you up from the bitter path of disappointment, gently enveloping you in His strong arms and carrying you through the pain, singing over you as a mother would sing to her child to calm their fears. God cares – no matter the reason for the pain. God cares and only He has the ability to heal the wounds, the frustrations, the memories, the disappointments, and yes, ultimately the pain.

Why walk alone? Why would you even walk when your Abba Father is willing and able to carry you through to the other side?

The Dilemma of Deaf Ears

Famine is the inability to access those essential qualities that preserve and continue life. In the physical realm food and water are necessary to sustain life, and in the spiritual realm a word from God is vital on a consistent basis to nourish spiritual life.

Famine was a deadly penalty for disobeying God. Famines were often creation’s response toward a continual pattern of disobedience to God’s clear and definitive commands and usually came about through the lack of essential rainfall, devastatingly destructive hail storms, a scourge of ravaging insects, or the invasion and siege of an enemy army. Famine, which often lasted for extended periods, occasionally resulted in cannibalism, where parents ate their own children to survive.

Famine always resulted in sickness, which eventually gave way to whole scale pestilence. If a person avoided the slow death of starvation, a deadly plague waited in the wings to claim its victim. As one reads the prophetic books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, famine, pestilence, and the sword appear twenty-seven times as the terrible triplets of God’s awful wrath and judgment on the nation of Israel. Famine was a deadly penalty for disobeying God.

Famine still stalks the earth, dealing death to untold thousands of lives daily. The twin fists of pestilence and war pound continuously the weakened people in whose land famine devours. Media reports chronicle the horrible results of starvation and the long-term effects produced by famine.

But spiritual famine is far more destructive than physical famine. Spiritual famine results when those who have access to the Bread of heaven and the Water of life refuse to nourish their tortured souls with eternal sustenance. Their knawing hunger and parched thirst drives them ever to look for satisfaction but never to find it. This famine is not born in the absence of exposure to the Word of God but rather in the refusal to feed themselves. The spiritually starving refuse to hear, and thereby do not obtain the essentials they need to not just survive but to thrive.

Content to pick the dry bones of long-dead theological carcasses, they gorge themselves on the diseased debris of the devil’s dinner table and then wonder in amazement why pestilence breaks out and consumes their own camps. They are unwilling to hear a fresh word from God, but they willingly cannibalize their own spiritual children. All the while, they claim that the strong must survive. Everywhere they turn, the Father waits quietly, His mouth and hands filled with life-giving words, but they die hoping to hear but stubbornly refusing to listen. As a result their families and their churches are doggedly pursued and battered by famine’s fiendish fists, pestilence and war. Unwilling to obey and feast on prosperity in Christ, they willingly choose to disobey and are famished in a prison of self-induced want. Instead of living as victors in Christ they are squeezed in the vise as death’s victims

Listen up, church! “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh (disobedience) shall from the flesh reap corruption (famine, pestilence, and war), but the one who sows to the Spirit (obedience) shall from the Spirit reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8).

The famine of our day is not caused by a lack of preaching the Word but from a deficit of hearing the Word. If you have no spiritual seeds to sow, no spiritual crop to harvest, no spiritual food to eat, you are in a famine of your own making. If you cannot recognize your perilous condition you may already be a statistic of the devil’s body count. With all your strength lift up your gaunt frame and turn your face to the Father. Open your mouth and He will fill it. Feed on the Father’s manna instead of famine’s manure – choose life not death.