Category Archives: worldliness

Beware the Enemy Within

As the sun slowly began its rising journey over the trees and the mist slowly burned away above the wheat field, a squad of seven soldiers knelt quietly but nervously, awaiting the signal to attack the bunker that guarded the main supply route into the city. For months, these seven men had trained for this moment. Over and over they had rehearsed their individual responsibilities, which would insure the success of the mission. They had over time begun moving as one – not seven, and now all the training had ended and the plan was now ready to be carried out. This bunker located on a sharp rise just above the road offered the only resistance to the city. The objective was simple: “Kill the bunker, control the supply route, and you control the city.”

Each soldier was heavily armed and trained to carry out a specific task in the siege. Each had also been trained to carry out each of the other tasks in case a team member was wounded or worse, killed. But the success of the mission demanded that at least one of them reach the bunker and deliver the explosive charge that would render the concrete fortress ineffective.

At the precise moment, the signal came and with a barrage of machine gun fire the squad of warriors began their ascent up the hill. Almost immediately they were driven back by the destructive assault of heavy machine gun fire. In the heat of the battle, one comrade was killed. Again they began the deadly climb toward their target and again encountered heavy fire that drove them back with another member of the team falling wounded on the slopes.

Again and again the same thing happened until there were only two commandoes left.As they began one more time to mount the attack, the squad leader began to notice as they crawled inch by inch up the hill that each of the men he had lost had been shot in the back while climbing toward the bunker, not in their retreat away. Within just yards of the bunker and only inches from accomplishing their mission, a sickening realization enveloped him. The mission has been compromised and the real enemy was a member of his own squad. Rolling to his right and looking back, his fear became reality as he stared helplessly down the barrel of an M-1 rifle.

This story serves to remind those believers who are involved in daily spiritual warfare of a tremendous principle: “You cannot take ground from the enemy if the enemy has ground in you.” The result will always be the same – defeat – disaster – and even death. You cannot take what you have already surrendered.

Today as you kneel before God, surveying the enemy out in the mist before you, take a few moments and make sure that no sin has control of your life. The very thing you war against cannot destroy you unless you carry it hidden under your uniform. Its shrapnel cannot pierce the breastplate of Christ’s righteousness unless you yourself slip its razor sharp edges up under that breastplate and hide it in the soft tissue of your heart. Sin is a bullet loaded in the chamber waiting for just the right moment to pierce your back and leave you dead or dieing on the hillside within just inches of that victorious moment when the bunker you face should fall.

“Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to its lustful desires.” (Romans 6:12)


Holidays or Holy Days?

What do you do when all the turkey’s gone and the dressing is just a faint memory exemplified by some solitary crumbs scattered across the pan? What happens when you wake up and Black Friday has become an even blacker Saturday and Cyber Monday turns into penniless Tuesday? The holidays have become a mind numbing scramble for what can I get and how much. The motto for many during this season is: Get all you can, can all you get, sit on the lid, and poison the rest. Sadly, the holidays have degenerated into a selfish materialism ruled by the terrible triplets Me, My, and I.

What do you do when the holidays become horror days rather than holy days? Thanksgiving was once a day of sharing the bounty of God’s blessings, and Christmas, a birthday celebration for the greatest gift ever given. Not the mindless grabbing and snatching at 3 am in the morning in the dim glow of a blue light special or in the rush of pushing and shoving to get that early bird special on sale. Will you even remember what you bought on January 1 when the credit card bill comes; or even worse, will you even know where you put it?

The original intent of holy days was to celebrate the gifts of God and His magnificent grace shared with those who had nothing and absolutely no hope of ever having anything. God gave…and gave…and gave. Something is terribly wrong with this picture if we are called to imitate Him (make no mistake we are), and all we do is take…and take…and take some more. Consuming, but never giving; blind to the needs of those around us, but stuffed, bloated, and selfishly addicted to our own selves.

There is a better choice—a far nobler pursuit available, but it will mean the tenacious application of what many consider a dirty word—“no.” There. I’ve said it; and you’re probably in shock that a pastor would say such a thing! Surely you don’t mean that I should tell me, myself, and I no. Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. To borrow a slogan of another day and another cause…just say no!

Take the two hundred dollars you would have wasted on another mindless video game for the kids and buy some groceries for a family that’s struggling. That money you would have spent on a top-of-the-line battery powered drill that would have looked so good in your tool box—spend it on soap, socks, and coats, and drop it off at the local homeless shelter. Instead of wasting your money on a designer handbag and matching shoes that will not be in vogue next season, invest in the life of a family that will have nothing for Christmas.

The rush of the holidays will come to a screeching halt, and the joy of the holy days will return when imitating Jesus becomes more important than entertaining ourselves. Remember, Jesus did not come to be served, but to seek, to serve, and save those who are lost. I know, I know—you’ve been standing in line a long time, awaiting your opportunity to give this glitzy department store money you don’t have for something you don’t really need. Step out of line and allow that person behind you to take your place and then take that fist full of dollars, open your eyes wide, look around, ask God what He wants to do with the money He has entrusted to your care, and then give it away.

Wake Up Sleeping Beauty (part 7)

The Church in America is, for all practical purposes, powerless. I have no stones of accusation or judgment to throw at her; instead I simply state a troubling fact. I am a part of her and this sad truth is obvious to anyone who reads their Bible.  She no longer resembles the militant Bride found in the book of Acts, who trampled and routed the kingdom of darkness like a conquering army. Like Sleeping Beauty, she has swallowed a lie and fallen asleep. Sadly the slumber of the Church has lasted far longer than the one hundred year nap of the fairy tale character.

At her birth, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead filled the infant church’s lungs with a resurrection fire that had the capability of bringing the dead back to life, both literally and figuratively. The enemy could not withstand her power so he purchased it. That’s right; he bought it for almost nothing with some cheap trinkets and worthless baubles called prestige, fame, riches, and influence. For almost 1,800 years the Church has sought the power of the world rather than releasing the power of the Holy Spirit who resides within her. Her pristine gown has become soiled with the stains of worldliness, and unbelief has shackled her like a prisoner in the stocks.

Like the Old Testament hero Samson, the Church possesses an anointing that is unrivaled—beyond belief. The power of God resides in her and is accessible to her. But, like Samson, she is more concerned with her wants than with what God wants. She has forsaken her anointing or worse merchandised it like a prostitute to obtain a comfort level that looks amazingly like a coma. Samson played games with both the anointing and his people until he was lulled to sleep on the lap of Delilah, the devil’s handmaiden. That nap costs him more than the price of a haircut; it cost him the presence of God. Tragically, his response is no different than ours: “I will do the things I have always done”—but with one major difference—the Lord had departed from him.

In the 13th century, the famous theologian Thomas Aquinas visited Rome for an audience with Pope Innocent IV. The pope took Aquinas on a tour of the Vatican treasury and showed him the church’s priceless treasures of jewels, art, gold and silver. As Aquinas looked on the massive wealth, the Bishop of Rome rather smugly said, “So, you see, Thomas, we cannot say as did St. Peter, ‘silver and gold have I none.’” And with a deep sadness in his voice, Aquinas replied to the pontiff, “No, but neither can you say, ‘rise up and walk.’”

Our Sleeping Beauty rests on a golden bed entangled in the invisible chains of worldliness. She has obtained everything she ever dreamed of, but in the process lost that which is most precious. And the saddest part of this story…we are not even aware that He’s gone.