Dealing with Spiritual Warfare

I have some friends that are in the midst of some heavy spiritual warfare. I (and probably a lot of you) have been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

I can’t say it was a pleasant experience. It was anything but. Looking back, I’ve found a few nuggets of wisdom that helped me to get through that dark night of the soul.

First of all, make Zephaniah 3:17 your mantra. Read it as often as you can in as many translations as you can. Write it down and post it in as many places as you’re liable to go  during the day. Memorize it. Let every word of that verse sink in deeply and meditate on the fact that God is speaking those words directly to you.

Next, I recommend praying out loud. I for one am normally not one to pray out loud when I’m alone. It feels strange and awkward. But there’s something about declaring with your voice the blood of Jesus and claiming the victory He’s won over the spiritual foes you’re facing.

I personally tend to shy away from prayers about how I’m going to take down the devil myself. I think of that verse where even in the book of Jude the archangel Michael didn’t confront the devil head-on, but instead said “The Lord rebuke you.” I know that by myself I am no match for Satan but under the protection of the blood and the name of Jesus, Satan has no power over me whatsoever.

Finally, I’d say to surround yourself with people who will encourage you, who will speak life into your darkness, who will pray unceasingly for you and be strong for you when you are weak. People who will gently correct you when you’re tempted to believe your overwhelming feelings above God’s promises.

I want to remind you that God is faithful even now when it seems like He’s a million miles away. God can take even this dark and dry season and turn it into something more than worth any struggle and pain.

God is good. All the time. All the time, God is good.

Set Free

I’ve been really privileged and blessed to be able to participate in a Vacation Bible School being held at Set Free Church in downtown Nashville.

Set Free Church is a ministry that reaches out to homeless men in Nashville and offers an intense live-in discipleship program for those who are trying to get cleaned up and put their lives back together. They also minister to the needs of the families in the nearby neighborhood with Wednesday night meals and various outreach programs throughout the year, as well as Sunday morning services each week.

To me, they are a light in a dark place. I see a place where the Spirit of God is moving and lives are being changed and families transformed by the amazing power of God.

The pastor himself is a formerly homeless man who can testify to God’s sovereign power to reach out to those that everyone else has given up on and to make those people into trophies of grace that tell of the awesome saving power of Jesus.

I see the Gospel as the story of how God in Jesus came down to set the captives free and to proclaim liberty to those in bondage to darkness and sin. This church is the Gospel lived out in flesh and blood with hands and feet on a daily basis.

I’m so thankful I get to be a part of what God is doing in downtown Nashville. I try to serve and to be a blessing there, but I always end up being far more blessed and receive so much more than I give.

Pray for these men and women who are on the frontlines of a very great spiritual battle. Pray that the neighborhood would see Jesus in them and be drawn to what they see.

I know for certain that there will be a multitude of people in heaven because of their faithfulness.

Praying on the Armor of God

I had an epiphany recently. Well, more of a “duh” kind of moment. I realized that I had been neglecting to pray on the armor of God every morning and I could tell the difference.

I was vulnerable and easy prey for the enemy to attack, particularly in my mind. So I started back praying on the armor. I cannot urge you stronly enough to do this EVERY morning. Here’s how I pray the armor on:

“Lord, I take on the belt of truth today. May Your truth hold me together and tell me who I am, not what I’m feeling or thinking at the moment or what my circumstances or other people say.

Lord, I take on the breastplate of righteousness. May Your righteousness be my covering today. Protect my heart and my emotions and keep them centered in You, so that I am not swept away by every feeling or fear that comes my way.

Lord, I take on the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace. Help me always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope I have and may I be able to share Your Gospel with at least one person today.

Lord, I take on the helmet of salvation. Protect my thoughts today from the evil one and help me take every single thought captive and bring it under Your Lordship. Fill me with Your thoughts so that there is no room for thoughts that are not of You.

Lord, I take on the shield of faith. Protect me from the assaults of the enemy today, whether they be physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional. Be my Fortress and Shield and Mighty Defender today, because without You, I will certainly fall.

Lord, last but not least, I take on the sword of the Spirit. Bring Your Word to my mind at every possible moment and help the Bible not to be words on a page or nice sentiments, but Words that transform and change me in a radical way. Help me not only to read them, but obey them.”

You may pray something different. You may physically act out putting on the armor as you pray (I do that sometimes when I feel especially under attack). The important thing is to pray these things on at least once a day if not more.

The battle is real and if you’re not ready, you will be overcome. Choose this day to live as an Overcomer and Conqueror in Christ.

My two cents on spiritual warfare

A group of guys and I have been watching a DVD series on spiritual warfare by Chip Ingram called The Invisible War (and yes, that was a shameless plug). It got me thinking about the mindset of so many American believers (including me) regarding the whole topic of spiritual warfare. Plainly put, either most of us don’t believe there is an war going on with an enemy that is constantly seeking our destruction. If we believe, we sure don’t live like it much of the time. Again, me included.

The war is real. The enemy is real. In this world, we are not tourists on vacation, or passengers on some kind of luxury cruise, but soldiers engaged in battle. Our ignorance of the battle and our enemy can only do us harm. We need to wake up to realize that we are under attack. But here’s the best part.

The battle is already won. Chip Ingram said, “As believers in Christ, we don’t fight FOR victory. We fight FROM victory.” That’s the good news (which is why it’s called the gospel!). But there is still a battle.

We fight back by putting on the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. We should pray these on every morning and pray these for each other on a daily basis. We should pray with eyes wide open to the spiritual realm, asking God to give us eyes to see the battle around us like the Elijah prayed for his servant when they were surrounded by the Syrian army. We should pray for discernment and wisdom. Most of all, we should pray at all times to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled, taking every thought captive and submitting them to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We must fight together. If you are fighting the enemy on your own, apart from other believers, you may succeed for a season, but you will ultimately grow weary and faint. You will stumble and fall. You need other believers praying God’s protection over you, encouraging you and keeping you honest.

We fight ultimately with one weapon– LOVE. Not as a feeling, but as a decisive act of the will. We fight by showing that Calvary’s love is stronger than hate and that love overcomes anything. Chip Ingram said, “Love is giving to another person what they need the most when they deserve it least.” Love is doing whatever you can, even to your own detriment, for the good of the beloved. It means dying to yourself and your rights and own ideas about how the world should work.

So live with eyes wide open, hands raised, side by side with your brothers and sisters in Christ. And remember that the battle is already won and that we have overcome!

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Stream-of-consciousness thoughts on spirituality

As believers in Christ, we don’t fight for victory; we fight from victory. The battle is the Lord’s and He has overcome. The battle is won!

The moment we choose to rebel against what we know to be true is the very moment we open the door to demonic activity in our lives. Peter is a good example of this when he opposed Jesus’ going to Jerusalem and to the cross. If we are under attack, maybe the question to ask is, “What am I believing that is a lie?” or “What am I not believing and acting on that I know to be true?”

God doesn’t want all your activities and programs and to-do lists as much as He wants your heart. And that does not mean a still-beating heart on a silver platter. It means that God wants your heart surrendered to Him. He wants your affection, your emotions, your devotion. In essence, He wants you to fall in love with Him all over again like you did at the first. God is not mad at you or disappointed in you. He knows you better than anyone. He knew who you were and who you’d turn out to be when He created you. Nothing you do is a surprise to Him. But what He’s about to do in your life will be a great surprise to you (and better than anything you could have dreamed of). As I heard someone say, God will use you unless you choose not to be used.

Some of Satan’s modes of attack is accusation and condemnation. That you are not good enough. That you are not nearly up to the task He has called you to. Remember that God doesn’t call the equipped, but equips the called. He wants your availability, not your ability. Another mode of demonic attack is to divide and conquer, to get you isolated and vulnerable. If you are cutting yourself off from fellowship with other believers, beware. You are walking straight into the devil’s trap. But every story of deliverance starts with admitting that I am helpless and that I need Someone to come to my rescue. And God is in the business of rescuing.

God wants your heart. God wants your availability. Believe it or not, God wants you. God still wants me, after all I’ve done wrong and how I’ve often been a walking billboard of reasons not to believe. Rest in your Abba’s love for you. Wherever you are and wherever you’re headed, you can always turn around and come Home.