Identify the Enemy…before you fire!

In a war, of any kind, there are decisions to be made, battle lines to be drawn, and weapons to be fired.

It is imperative that we correctly identity the enemy!

If a watchman is given a certain area to patrol, and he sees something moving in the brush, and that thing–whatever it is–is coming toward him, what should he do? Should he fire without first identifying the enemy clearly?

No! Otherwise he risks firing on a ‘friendly’, and doing harm to his comrade, his unit, and himself.

I’ve never been in that actual ‘war’ situation, but I would imagine it’s sometimes hard to hold your fire until you can identify who (or what) is coming at you. Every impulse you have may be to fire–sight unseen–to be ‘safe’.

Spiritually speaking, this kind of ‘battle’ plays out all the time…and we Christians often mis-identify our ‘enemy’ and shoot at the wrong object.

Who, after all, is our ‘enemy’, but satan…the devil and all his demonic host. He is “a liar, and the father of lies”, and a “murderer” (John 8:44), the “accuser” (Job 1:6,2:1; Revelation 12:10), a “deceiver”(2 John 1:7), and the enemy (1 Peter 5:8).

He attempts to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10)anything that God wants to do in this world and through His people.

He often animates and inspires people to do his will…but they don’t know what they’re doing. They are duped, deceived, and enslaved, but they think they’re free! They willingly cooperate with him, thinking he’s their ally…but they are simply pawns, and find out too late that they are enslaved by him.

Edmund willingly went to the White Witch

RELEASE DATE: August 17, 2007. MOVIE TITLE: Superbad - STUDIO: . PLOT: Two co-dependent high school seniors.

in CS Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe;

In LOTR’s Two Towers, King Theodin willingly accepted Grima Wormtongue’sTheoden and Wormtongue counsel (and was ensnared in so doing).

These are great stories, but the reason is that they are true to life in some ways!

Many willingly walk into the influence of the enemy, without knowing it.

BUT…and this is huge: They are Not the enemy!

This is part of what Paul meant when he wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

We do wage war…but not against our brother and sisters, or our coworkers, or Democrats, or Republicans.

Our war is against the enemy of our souls, who tries to deceive and distract from God’s revealed will. (Incidentally, that’s how we know it’s ‘the enemy’ behind it–their stand goes against God’s revealed will as found in His Word.) 

Knowing this, how are we to fight this war?

  1. Identify the enemy–satan.
  2. Identify the Truth of God that is being undermined, and
  3. Show the love of God to the person who’s opposed to you.                                                                                                                                                   Help them to understand that God’s will is the best thing for them! God is not ‘holding back’ on them (the lie that the serpent told Eve in the garden), but rather, God wants to give them Real Life! His will for them is, not coincidentally, the ‘best way to the best life’ possible! Jesus said, “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that they (His followers) might have Life…to the Full!” (John 10:10)

It really does make sense…if I am living under His control, His guidance, His power, and His love, my life is going to ‘make sense’. It’s going to ‘work’ the way it was designed to. This does not mean that we have no problems, trials or pain–after all, we life in a fallen world–but it does mean, in general, that IF I allow the Lord to direct my life, it’s going to go better than those who simply want to live for the moment, at the whim of a lost culture.

That is why it is crucial for Christians, as we try to influence our culture, not do so by ‘attacking’ the individuals who are opposed to us, but rather, by sharing the love and wisdom of God and inviting people to experience His blessing as they surrender to His Lordship and wisdom.

My mother always said, ‘It’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar’ Flies and honey…so, let’s let the ‘sweetness’ of God’s love flow through us…then we can influence our culture!

 

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Welcome…

welcome

You know the feeling…

That feeling you get when you’re walking up to a friend’s house for a party, or when you’re getting together with family for Easter dinner.

It’s a warmth, an anticipation…an excitement. You know that you are ‘Welcome’ and that you will be celebrated, as you ‘celebrate’ the others in attendance.

If you’re the host, you know how important it is that you ‘Welcome’ your guests, so you prepare enthusiastically–you get out the nice dishes and ‘dress up’ your table, you clean your home and even your entryway. At our house, we light candles to contribute to the warm feeling. You think of everything because you want your guests to know: They are WELCOME!

In Jesus day they may have done some similar things (although I’m sure they’d think some of the stuff we do is wacko). One day, when Jesus was coming in to Jerusalem, the people wanted to ‘welcome’ Him in a unique and special way–a way that only He deserved!

“When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.  Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Mark 11:7-10)

The people knew what they were doing…they were welcoming their Lord and their Messiah!

The Prophet Zechariah had foreseen it:

“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)

Jesus was offering Himself to the people in this way, and many of them were saying ‘Welcome! We acknowledge You! We celebrate You! We know who You are!’

We now refer to this event as ‘Palm Sunday’.Palm Sunday

It makes me think: How can we ‘Welcome’ Jesus today?

As Easter draws closer, many of us will be making plans to welcome friends, family, and loved ones. We will ‘celebrate’ them, and ‘Welcome’ them into our homes.

This year, as we get ready to celebrate His Resurrection, let’s make sure that we’re not simply welcoming others…let’s ‘Welcome’ Jesus into our hearts and lives in an even stronger, more all-consuming way.

Prepare now by reading the events of His last week, before the cross. You can start in Matthew 21.

Welcome Jesus–not with nice dishes or decorations. Welcome Him with your worship!

Open War Is Upon You…

In the Lord of the Rings, the Two Towers, Theodin, King of Rohan, has been released from the spell which has held him captive for years. He has come to his senses, and now realizes the precarious position his people are in, as an army of Urukai come toward them.

He is counseled by Gandalf and Aragorn to ride out and meet his enemy, head-on. There are other men out there who are loyal to him, and will return to fight along-side of him.

Instead of going to war, Theodin elects to escape and hide at Helm’s Deep–a fortress that has protected them in the past.

But Theodin does not understand the threat. This is not the same thing he’s faced in the past. He cannot escape this war.

Theodin says “I will not risk open war.”, to which Aragorn replies, “Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.”

In his excellent book, Waking the Dead, John Eldredge that “The primary reason most people do not know the freedom and life Christ promised is that they won’t fight for it, or they have been told not to fight for it. Friends, we are now in the midst of an epic battle and vicious war against an Enemy who knows his time is short.” (p. 181)

“Satan and his emissaries bank an awful lot of their work on the fact that Christians don’t know the power and authority we now have In Christ.” (p. 179)

This, I believe, is a big part of the reason that many followers of Jesus do not experience the Full Life that Jesus promised (John 10:10)–because they don’t realize that there IS an enemy of our souls, and he (and his followers) are constantly fighting against us. We need not fear this–we’ve been given “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) through our union with Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

…but we need to engage in the battle!

Part of the reason the Apostle Paul illustrated the ‘weapons of our warfare’ in Ephesians 6:10-18 is that he was making the point that We need to ‘take up’ the armor! We need to fight, in the power of the Spirit. We need to use the weapons we’ve been given! We need to remember that our enemy is not the flesh-and-blood person opposing us, but rather, satan…evil.

We will receive the victory in completion, eventually.

In the meantime, we FIGHT, in His power.

Open war is upon you…whether you would risk it or not!

Ephesians 6:10-18:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Engage, Church!