Monday, March 28, 2005

The Battle: Part 2

The Battle: Part 2

John Eldredge mentions three parts to a spiritual battle with Satan:

Stage 1: I’m Not Here
"You can’t fight a battle you don’t think exists."
John Eldredge
For those of you who have seen The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, this stage one theme is mentioned throughout. The king of Rohan, Theoden, falls to deceit, unaware of the battle. Denethor has the enemy at his gate, but refuses to charge his soldiers to protect Gondor. Unknown to you, the enemy is near and wants you in his clutches. Are we aware of his presence?
1 Peter 5:8 – 9
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (NIV)
Now look at Eugene Peterson’s interpretation of the same scripture:
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up.
John’s story of the ministry that dissolved was a clear example of what ‘napping’ can do.

Stage 2: Intimidation
I believe Satan is the creator of doubt and fear. For some time now, I’ve thought about going into a career in ministry for youths. God and Satan both know this. God says, "Have faith – go and do." Satan says, "I doubt you can do it. You worry too much about your family, your friends, your church. You’re a poser and a failure. Go back to your hole."
This is how Satan intimidates us. He may not use doubt or fear, but he may use finances, past sins, regret, etc. Look how often his lies infect Christ’s church:

Want to join the church choir, but afraid your voice will crack under pressure?
Do you feel led to begin a new ministry, but don’t have the financial resources?
Long to give more time to the church, but doubt you can make room in your already busy schedule?

I believe you get the idea.

Stage 3: Cutting a Deal
Satan wants to deal when we take a step and stand for God. Satan says, "Let’s put our guns down slowly and back away so no one gets hurt." Or, "I’ll let up on the doubt and fear if you just forget about that ministry idea."
It is here that we use the sword of the Spirit to cut down Satan. He fears the Christ knowing how powerful Jesus is. Jesus is the ultimate sword bearer. As believers in Him, we too can use the sword. God wants us to use his sword - his word.
John uses Revelation 21:7 – 8 to give us a picture when we don’t fight:
7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
Did you see, "cowardly"? Jesus is not talking about humble, but cowardly. I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to be known as a coward in the eyes of God. Living for God, through Christ, takes strength. We all have the strength in Christ to carry on.

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Monday, March 21, 2005

Lesson 5: The Battle

Lesson 5: The Battle

“The Lord is a warrior;
The Lord is His Name.”
- Exodus 15

How many men do you know could handle themselves in a fight - physically AND spiritually? This is the essence of John’s message. In today’s Christian culture, we and our boys, are not taught to be warriors; we’re taught to be ‘nice’. Our culture has come to expect us to be ‘nice’. And if we aren’t, then we’re shamed. Now let me be clear – I’m not talking about being a gentlemen or chivalrous. I’m speaking of being nice in everything we do. As John quoted Philip Yancey, “No one would crucify Mister Rogers or Captain Kangaroo.”

Men are wired for battle. Show me a godly major character, in the Bible, who didn’t fight.
Adam – fought against the hardships of becoming flesh: Exodus 3:17
Moses – fought against doubt that he could lead the Jews out of Egypt
David – fought against the Philistines and his own desires
Jesus – fought against Satan and hard-hearted, hard-headed Pharisees. He fought death.

Interesting that the Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke each quoted Jesus yelling at the Pharisees. He didn’t kindly call them hypocrites. Oh no. He yelled at them – screamed at them. In the video, Bart points out that Jesus knew his audience. The lepers, He touched them with his hands and words. To the adulteress, he defended and to the foolish Pharisees, well, let’s just say He ripped their souls in two.

Is this the Jesus we’ve been taught throughout our Christian lives? I wonder how many Christian teenage boys were taught, this past Palm Sunday, that Jesus tore up the Temple after his triumphal entrance in Jerusalem? Better yet, look at remainder of Matthew 21. Jesus is fighting battle after battle - the battle against cynics, doubters, and hard hearts. In Matthew 21:18, Jesus purposely withers a fig tree that doesn’t bear fruit. The disciples are “amazed”! Why? They had seen Jesus heal and restore, but never condemn a living being. Sure, He defeated evil spirits, but not a living, visible being. The tree did not serve a purpose. Ouch!

Physical and spiritual battles. Have you got what it takes to fight the good fight? Is there a battle in your life where you need to take up the sword?

Matthew 21: 21 – 22:
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

Our next journey will take us to, The Adventure. We love adventure! Please read those chapters in your WAH book and answer the Field Manual questions.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Lesson 4: Healing the Wound

For us to heal, we must give our wound to God and allow Him to heal us. To begin, John suggests taking quiet time alone and pouring our wound out to Him. Then, we must listen and feel God's grace upon us. God speaks, but differently to each person. He may speak to you through His voice, a godly person, dreams, revelations, and on and on.

As you give your wound to God, beware of being vulnerable. Satan will prowl around like a hungry lion waiting for you to slip. I truly believe The Deceiver wants nothing more than to see our lives destroyed. Yesterday, I was physically and mentally exhausted from a grueling weekend. Between our son's Tae Kwon Do tournament on Saturday and my wife's mother getting ill, I just lost my patience. Worse, I lost my patience with our boys.

Satan was toying with me. He knew I just blew it and he was digging the arrow further in my chest. He wanted me to admit that I, as a father, was a failure. I didn't immediately rebuke him, like I should have. Instead, I repaired the damage I did with our boys and then this morning, I blasted Satan. All along God has been whispering to me to be strong and be a defender of my family. God is my Father who will never leave me nor forsake me.

This week we will be studying chapters 8 and 9: The Battle. John says that every man needs a battle and become the warriors we were meant to be. Now he isn't advocating picking a fight with our boss. However, he is saying that we are at war against Satan and need to protect ourselves and our family. Provided you have time, watch either The Matrix or Braveheart movies. I also recommend The Patriot. Can you tell I like Mel Gibson?

This read like a poem that touched my soul:
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Lesson 3: The Wound

The wound is given by our fathers - whether they recognize it or not. The wound, which could seem so slight, can cut deeply into our souls and defines our personalities. For many of us, the wound is kept hidden and therefore we never heal. John Eldredge knows the wound his father gave him: absence. His father became non-existent when John needed him the most.

From the Band of Brothers DVD, we learn the wounds vary: from Craig's stepfather calling him a 'seagull' to Gary's father never approving of his work in ministry. All of us watching this lesson could identify with John's Brothers. All of us felt their pain and frustration.

As men, we tend to take the wounds and bury them under layers of resistance. The first step in this lesson is to identify the wound no matter how painful. John mentions that this isn't about bashing our fathers, but recognizing our wound and how this wound has affected our lives.

Next week, we will discuss "Healing the Wound".

Psalm 6:2 New Living Translation
Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my body is in agony.