Standing up to the enemy

A few nights ago I held a little mini bible study with the kids in regards to something that is very close to my heart right now: spiritual warfare and battling in the spirit. If you are not a Christian what I am about to share might not have any meaning to you. If you are a Christian then this is, I believe, the type of thing you should be doing everyday. I say this as someone who does this, not your all too typical Christian that says you should do one thing and turns around and does something else (of which I am guilty but not in the area of spiritual warfare).

A great place to start is the 12th chapter of the book of Revelation. This chapter describes John’s vision of the birth of Christ and the battle that was raging as Mary delivered Jesus. It also describes the fall of Satan, his subsequent casting to the Earth and his rage with those that choose to follow Christ:

And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 12:17

It is my belief that Christians face a very real enemy. Yes, I believe we are the product of a Creator and that we, each person ever born, is part of His plan for glory. I also believe in angels, the warriors that battle on your behalf and intercede for you daily. No, I do not believe that angels are cute little fat babes with wings and red cheeks. Nor do I believe that angels are female in form. No, I believe angels are huge beings that bring fear and astonishment with them where ever they go. Why else would the first words out of their mouths always be “Fear not.”?

To that end I also believe our enemy, satan, has a plan as well. When he was cast to the Earth a third of those big scary warrior angels went with him and seek after the same thing he seeks:

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

John 10:10

Christians then are embroiled in a way every day as satan tries to look for ways to attack and best us. Demons, fallen angels, are dispatched according to his plan and take their jobs very seriously. But God also has a plan for use. One that involves victory, glory and success. To that end God ha made us a few promises that we can live our lives out daily in:

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD.

Isaiah 54:17

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

In addition to our supply and our overall stability Jesus gives us authority in His name to do the things He can do (I also believe this stems from us being created in the image and likeness of God) through the use of our mouths:

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”
And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Luke 10:17

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

Mark 11:23

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.

Matthew 21:21

So putting this all together you can come up with the notion that if you are a Christian there is an enemy that will attack you on the regular and he will come after you with everything he has. But he will not be successful in his attempts to snafu you because he has no authority over you. In fact, you have authority over him. And you can exercise that authority just by opening your mouth and commanding him to be bound. We have that ability because demons and even satan himself are subject to us. They must do as they are commanded.

So my lesson concluded with me teaching my kids that when we are at battle, every day we are at battle, that we speak to our enemy directly and with purpose, not mincing words or feelings, and commanding the enemy to return what he has stolen from use and to keep his hands off of anything that he might think adequate to touch. We speak to our mountains, broken cars, broken TVs, bare bank accounts, collection calls and tell them to recover. We speak to our physical bodies, our minds, our feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, wrath, contention, discontent and we command those feelings to be bound.

Rebuking the enemy is the fastest, easiest spiritual battle you can fight. “if you say to this”… It sometimes requires more than just that to work your enemy over, but we must keep trying and keep fighting. We have been given authority so that we might use it to the glory of God. The enemy is trying to take that authority from you or at least make you believe you have none. Because he comes to kill, steal and destroy.

But if I am reading my God right I know he has come so that not only will I not lose what I have I would have more and plenty of it. This is very reassuring, especially in this time when it seems like the enemy is consuming me and my possessions. I think, no, I know he needs to be stopped and I know I have to the equipment to do it.

“if you say to this”… I just pray that I continue to fight the good fight everyday and that in all things God gets the Glory. And I will continue to speak to these mountains.

So I had an idea the other day. I haven’t shared this with my wife yet because, like many of the ideas I have had in the past, she knows in her heart that this idea will fizzle like the rest of the ideas I have ever had. No, I don’t need to ask her if she feels this way. She has cause to based on my past. That said, let’s move on…

A few months ago we decided as a married couple that we would start a life group. A life group is essentially a bible study that acts as a sort of extension of the church. It is not church as most know it, and it is not just a bible study as many know it. It is a branching of the church into the homes of those in the church in an effort to reach out, minister to and love on the unchurched. These have also, in the past, been known as cell groups and home groups.

Well, we decided that now is the time for us to ramp up to hosting one. We set our start month as January of 2007. We attended the first meeting of the church to those that feel led to do this. And we bought journals to begin our journaling process.

Sidebar: One of the things that is strongly encouraged (not required, but encouraged) is using the Life Journaling techniques developed (I believe) by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro. The journaling process walks you through the Bible in a year if you read the selected devotionals every day. In fact, it takes you through the old testament once and the new testament twice. It is a great resource and it is used as by our Pastors as a teaching tool to the leaders of the life groups.

So as I was journaling the other day I thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to have access to my journal no matter where I am?” And then it hit me (like many other ideas I have had) that I could built an online Life Journal for myself. Then it quickly hit me again…if I can do it for me I can do it for others.

So I decided that I am going to do it. I have already begun the DB architecture of it. I will be working on integrating the codebase into Padlock. And I should have something usable fairly soon. And rest assured, when I do I will link to it from here.

And I will tell my wife that it is ok is she wants to kiss me for finishing something.


Did you know that the word give is mentioned in 795 verses in the Bible. Give, as in the verb give. This word has exactly four subjects that can be attached to it:

  • I give, we give, they give (the action of giving)
  • You give (the act of giving OR a command to give)

I am thinking about this because I have been recently reminded that I have forgotten how to give. Giving is an odd action in a sense because it is not something that is triggered by something else, it is something that is decided by the giver. At least that is how I see it.

See, when you give it is because you want to give. Literally, there is no other reason that anyone can have for giving. It is as simple as that. If someone offers something is response to a stimulus or a condition that is met, that is not a gift but a payment or an earning. At the very least it is a return of the gift given, but in my opinion it is not a gift in that you did not think to give it on your own so much as you were prompted to offer based on someone else’s giving. Giving is something that someone does because they feel led to do it.

But he answered one of them and said, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?
Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.
Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?
Or is your eye evil because I am good?
— Matthew 20:13-15

When a person gives it is because they want to. Because it pleases them to give, it brings them joy to give. In fact, we have been given instruction to give cheerfully when giving as it pleases God:

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
–2 Corinthians 9:7

The hard part, I think, in all of this is that giving requires acts of selflessness, and taking ourselves out of the picture is a lot easier said than done. How can someone be expected to give when that someone has yet to receive? How can someone give in a cheerful manner when they are not cheerful? How can someone give of themselves when they feel like they have nothing in themselves to give of? How can someone repeatedly give when the recipient of the gift doesn’t take to the gift in a peaceful manner? The answer is easy yet painful… giving is not about you or the recipient but about the heart of giving. What you give and what is done with the gift is not nearly as important as showing someone that they mean enough to you for you to take yourself, your needs, your feeling and put them aside for a season to give of yourself. Personally, I could care less what the gift is if the giver is making a sacrifice to give. That means more to me than anything. And I suspect that it does for others as well.

Like I said earlier, I have forgotten how to give. I have allowed myself to become selfish instead of selfless. I have made it a point to take care of me more than taking care of those that I love. And it shows. In my marriage, my children, my work… everything. So I am resolving, primarily with my marriage as I see that being more important than anything else, to make giving a top priority. I am resolving to take myself out of the picture and give of myself. It is what I should be doing anyway, I suppose, and it is something that my wife desperately needs.

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The paintings of people

If you have not yet seen the VeggieTales movie “A Snoodle’s Tale” you should. It was my inspiration for this post.

Everyone that you have ever come into contact with has painted a picture. You have, too. It is an unavoidable experience and one that, unfortunately, leads to skewed vision for many people. Parents have parents, and since you have parents, there is a good chance that a picture has been painted of you by your parents’ parents. You have also painted pictures of your parents. You have also, more than likely without knowing it, painted pictures of yourself.

You see, every time you develop a judgment you are painting that judgment on someone. As an example, have you ever seen a homeless person standing in the media at a stop light and thought to yourself that the person could probably walk right across the street and apply at the McDonald’s that happens be staring him right in the face? Or perhaps you have seen that woman dressed provocatively and thought to yourself that she is obviously a loose woman since she is tempting so many men, perhaps tempting even your husband or sons?

Worse, sometimes we take it upon ourselves give words to the paintings that we make, thus making the painting a lot more vivid. That painting then becomes larger to the person receiving it and, after a while, the painting gets tacked onto their back with the others. That person then travels through their life carrying the images cast upon them by people without them even knowing it.

“Why do you always do …?”
“Can’t you try … for once?”
“I am so glad I am not you.”
“How do you live with yourself?”

These paintings, images if you will, stay with people for a long time. Sometimes they become so prevalent that they take over our own vision and become the image of what we see toward ourself. When that happens, we begin to see things through the eyes of people that have no care whatsoever how you see things. Thankfully, we have a loving God that sees things a little differently.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
– Jeremiah 29:11

Did you know that God has an opinion? And that His opinion is typically vastly different than yours? God loves you, and He sees the things that He has for you. God has a future for you. He created you with a purpose for the future. It almost makes sense that everything we do in life is geared to forward motion. We are intended to move forward, to progress, to attain to levels set before us.

So how is it that pictures creep up every now and again to keep us from looking forward by making us look back?

“Remember when he cheated on you?”
“Remember what she told her friend about you?”
“Remember when your boss said …?”
“Remember the time your dad did …?”

This is not our intended course. Looking back is not how we are meant to move. If it were, we’d be able to move our heads completely around to see what is behind us. If you don’t believe me, try looking directly behind you right now… without moving your shoulder position or other parts of your body. Can’t do it can you?

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.
– John 10:9-12

Notice something in this scripture: You enter into the presence of Christ forward (as you walk through a door) and run from the wolf (being chased from behind). God is always moving you forward, the enemy is always chasing you from behind. The enemy lives in the past because that is where all your failures, challenges, obstacles, hurts and infirmities (the ones that God has delivered you from) live. Satan has a singular objective which is to totally corrupt any relationship you have with God. He tries to make you remember things in the past that appear as though God let you down. It is very important to remember that God does not remember the iniquity that he has delivered you from. There is no reason to try to remember something that God has chosen to forget for you. So why do we do it?

In Genesis 3:1-4 Satan speaks verbally to Eve. In Matthew 4:1-11 Satan speaks verbally to Jesus. What are the chances that at some point Satan may choose to speak to you? If it makes your relationship with God the Father rocky, why wouldn’t Satan try to skew your image of God. Better yet, why wouldn’t he try to skew your image of yourself and your loved ones at the same time so that your relationships get torn up all over the place?

I know from personal experience that actions in the past that are forgiven, but brought back up can have seriously detrimental effects on a relationship. Whether it be marriage, sibling relationship, friendship, employment, parenting… whatever, it is always a terribly experience to endure. God has forgiven the sin, now it is your turn. The enemy is powerless if we give him no power. But if every time the enemy shows you a painting of what someone drew of you, even one you drew of you, and you choose to remember that, you are allowing the enemy to take a stronghold position in your life and more importantly with your relationship with God. When things from the past creep up and and try to sneek into your relationship with God, you need to turn them over to God. Imagine handing God a nasty, funky, rotten piece of filth and asking him to remember it from years ago. I can just see His reaction to it… “Why do I want this? I threw this away for you years ago. Why are you rifling through the trash of the past?”.

So how do we let these things go?
Turning things over to God is very simple, but it is not easy. It is one of the most difficult things to do as a Christian because it involves your complete intimate faith and your willingness to trust that God will take care of your needs when no one else can. This is about the best illustration I can come up for this:

Imagine that those paintings that you have been collecting from other people are all being kept in a nice sack that you sling over your back and carry with you everywhere you go, day after day. You have easy access to all the crap that everyone has ever cast onto you. Now imagine, as time goes by and as more paintings are added to the sack that the sack gets pretty heavy. At some point, if you don’t remove something from it you will not be able to carry it anymore and you will essentially stop moving because you can literally not carry the sack anymore. So you hold the sack, standing still, wanting to progress and not being able to because that sack of remembrance, iniquity, failure, hurt, pain, anxiety, depression, is so heavy. Now you have two options. You can either let go of the sack and continue moving forward or you can stop right where you are at and sit next to the sack for the rest of your life and go nowhere.

This is the part where you get to make a choice. Letting go of the sack of crap from the past means that God needs to meet you at a place where you can give it to him:

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
– 1 Peter 5:6,7

God loves you enough to want to free you from the bondage of remembering past afflictions. He wants you moving toward Him, focused on Him, in pursuit of fellowship with Him. He wants you humility that He would be able to exalt you for it.

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
– James 4:10

Then, when He takes that load off of your shoulders, the one that has been pressing you down, making you grumpy and angry and depressed,, he can then lift you up for His glory.

He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up above those who rise against me; You have delivered me from the violent man.
– Psalm 18:48

Now the funny about all this is that as God tries to rescue us from our past, as He tries to lift us up, we try to recall all the stuff the enemy tries to make us remember. We argue with God as though God will come down and see things your way. God does not need to be reminded of your image of yourself. He made you. In His image. He knows what you are and what you are capable of doing. He doesn’t want your image of yourself, He wants you because He loves you. Our only requirement is that we heed His call.

Hearing God
At some point it is going to come up that in order to do all of this ‘relinquishing’ we are going to have to ultimately come before God and give Him our cares. I can tell you firsthand, this is not nearly as easily done as it is said. But it needs to be both said and done.

In order to know that God will deliver you, you must have faith that God will do what he says He will do.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
– Hebrews 11:1

This means that, while you may not see anything with your eyes or hear anything with your ears, your spirit can already see the completion of the task that God has set in action. That is how God sees: everything that He says will come to pass has already come to pass in His eyes. We just need to see through his eyes every once in a while to actually get a glimpse of what living by faith is truly about.

So how do we strengthen (or in some cases develop) faith? You listen.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
– Romans 10:17

Now this requires a little greater detail than most folks care to mention. Imagine if you will that you are in a crowded room and people in the room are all talking. Who are you going to hear the best? That’s right, the person closest to you. Whether you want to or not, that voice closest to your ear is the voice that will resonate the loudest to you. Right now, Satan is trying to get your attention. He seeks an audience with you so he can continue to go over all those things that can keep you from moving forward with God. But you know what? God is talking to you also. He is telling you how much He enjoys your time, your prayer, your faith, your fellowship and how He wants more of it. Who are going to listen to?

The answer is obvious. Who are you closer to? If you allow Satan to come between you and God, then when God talks, Satan can whisper and still drown out the voice of the Lord. But if you keep God close to your heart, protecting it and you walk with him, Satan can’t scream loud enough to get past the voice of God.

So my challenge to you is this: Put God first and closer to you than anything (yes, closer than your spouse, your kids, your job, your country… anything) and let the continued growing fellowship of God do the work that He said it would do. Don’t let the enemy get close enough to you to make you believe the junk he pushes. And when someone paints a picture of you that stands out dramatically different that what you know you are, give it to God to put in the sack that He is already carrying for you. Besides, God doesn’t need their image of you anymore than you do. He has you, and that is what He wants anyway.

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