Adventure - The War

On Mother's day, we will launch a new church in Chicago. Each step on this adventure has required utter dependence on God and the lessons I've already learned can't be wasted – anyone who dares to walk by faith will face these I'm sure.  

Stepping into our calling is an invitation to spiritual exhilaration and spiritual conflict. There is a very real spiritual war for anyone who resists the temptation to let a dream die. The battle only intensifies as we move closer to the center – the sweet spot of our call. But the rewards and yes, the exhilaration of doing what you were made to do, are too rich to surrender to forces of darkness.

In Part 1 I offer you a look at my outline from last Sunday's message. The launch team benefitted from this and I hope you will as well. Please take a deeper dive into the scriptures and be encouraged. The war is real...but the exhilaration of God's presence and power triumphs!

1. Satan is actively deceiving, harassing, and accusing God’s kids – Satan is for real! (Rev. 12:9-10)

2. What should our posture be in the face of such evil? (Eph. 6:10-20)

  • Remember that PEOPLE are not the ENEMY.
  • Use every piece of EQUIPMENT God PROVIDES.
  • Never underestimate the POWER of PRAYER.
  • Refuse to be AFRAID of Satan, but do be ALERT.
  • Always RESPOND to attacks with the GOSPEL.

3. Why wade into the battlefield when we can avoid conflict?

  • PERSEVERANCE is rewarded with God’s presence. (Matt. 4:11)
  • OVERCOMING is contagious to broken people. (Acts 5:12-16)
  • EVANGELISM is too much fun to miss out on. (I Cor. 9:23)

4. Between now and Revelation 12…

  • What do we do with temptation?
    • Get with your spiritual allies. (Eccl. 4:12)
    • Take extreme measures to remove those things that trip you up. (Matt. 5:29-30)
  • What do we do with the false accusations?
    • Sort truth from lies – List what’s rattling around in your head in a confession column and a rejection column. Confess known sin and totally reject false accusation! (Note: Doing this with actual paper and pen can be incredibly liberating.)
      • Confession of sin breaks bondage…(I John & James)
      • Rejection of false accusation sets us free…(Romans 8 & II Cor. 10:1-6)

I love you with the love of Christ and am praying right now (I just stopped to pray) that God would guide you in strength as you step into your God-given dream – he died for you to live!

Please share this flyer with anyone you know who may want to join this adventure!

South Carolina & Satan

We simply can't ignore it any longer. Our nation is in a spiritual war. The "prince and power of the air" is wrecking havoc on us. The horrendous murder of nine precious lives in South Carolina is evidence of unchecked sin that causes people to "steal, kill, and destroy".

Our hope is found in the "prince of peace". Only Jesus can still the raging seas of anger and fear in our land. Behind the cowardice and pride of man is the force of evil. We can't simply write off these events to pills and mental illness. This is a war for the souls of man. Turning the hearts of stone into flesh is a God sized job...and he can do it. Let us pray and be bold with the gospel.

Ephesians 2:2, John 10:10, Isaiah 9:6

Face The Enemy

Satan is not only real, he is ruthless! He has co-laborers–demonic forces. I like to call them The Committee. The "roaring lion" metaphor in first Peter wasn't for dramatic effect. The Committee works fast and goes after those who are weak, alone or woefully unprotected. They spit, snarl, intimidate and they love the taste of Christ-follower. Satan clamors for strongholds and if he can't get that, a toehold will do. But don't look for blatant manifestations of Satan. He likes to stay low key. He's a stealth, serial killer. Satan's best work is done in the shadows, just on the edge of light. If Satan can find an angle to plant a little concoction of temptation, accusation, condemnation and intimidation he's got you where he wants you, neutralized!

This is why we're hit with a stern warning, "give no opportunity to the devil". This warning is for anyone who's passionate about taking hold of abundant living and spreading broadly the "good news". Here's a reality of war: The only way Satan won't target you is when you've given up the dream and settled for a "normal' life. Just look around, normal is not enough. 

But the real battle is in the way The Committee hammers our mind. Satan led Jesus on a temptation tour, enticing Him to sell-out cheap for something that looked very good. The Committee always uses tantalizing bait and will swap-out bait until we bite. And when we bite on a lie, we get dragged through desert valleys of shame until we're left for dead. Because of this a warning is critically important. Most of us have joked about "hearing voices" in our head. But it's no joke, it's very real! Our mind IS where Satan goes to work and he brings his friends. His aim is to shame us, blame us, tempt us, crush us and sometimes just discourage us. If it goes unchecked, Satan will reduce us to living in utter emotional squalor. The real danger is to live in this pitiful place so long that you can no longer imagine a different place. It's time to take the war to the enemy.

We have a weapon of war that's designed for hand to hand combat, the truth of God's word! We need to build our lives like Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem, a brick in one hand and a spear in the other. Deal with each wave of attack, one at a time. Tell the enemy that your identity is secure in Christ, you don't need the approval of man. Tell the accuser you're loved and useful, you're not taking the "loser" label another day. Tell The Committee you resist bitterness and tonight the sun won't go down on your anger. Tell those terrifying whispers coming from the shadows that "perfect love casts out fear". Tell the lion in the weeds that the depression you seem to battle is not to be mistaken for abandonment or weakness, you're still God's child and under the protection of the "good shepherd". Fight back now! Cry out to God. Reject and renounce lies. Come back tomorrow for another battle, it never ends. But here's the kicker, "the gates of hell will not prevail". Tune your ear to God's Word and His voice. Listen closely, that's the voice of truth, love and life, cheering for you! 

I Peter 5:8, Eph. 4:26-27, Matt. 4, I John 4:18, Matt. 16:18

Prevail...God can get you through your battles

Battles are unavoidable. They can't be ignored, avoided, or even put off - but they can be won. The sooner we come to grips with challenges of all kinds and tough spiritual conflict, the sooner we can get on with winning the war. Let's stake claim to a serious spiritual promise, right now. God can get us through our battles - In Christ we prevail!

Now, "prevail" is no wimpy word. Check out this strong definition: "to defeat an opponent especially in a long or difficult contest". Let's break it down from back to front.

  • It will be "difficult". That means a certain level of pain is involved. And with every level of difficulty comes the urge to escape. But often the only way to get distance from our battle, is to bust through our battle. This is critical: We must refuse to medicate the pain while in the middle of it all. There's things God wants us to see, feel and experience at a soul level. These can only be fully received and taken-in while under the influence of God's Spirit.
  • It will be "long". Hang on, this ride isn't ending soon. Prevail doesn't indicate a fast and furious fire-fight. It points to a victorious resolution that's absolutely certain, but we're going to be weaving our way through enemy territory for quite a haul. We can't keep looking for the clearing. We must place one foot in front of the next and trust God for when the win will come.
  • It will result in "defeating an opponent". Now, our "battle is not against flesh and blood", so people are not the enemy. But boy do they look like it sometimes. People can in fact be used by the enemy as a tool to deal us some blows. The sooner we realize that there's an evil force who can control circumstances and some people, like a gamer uses a joy stick, the sooner we can see our battles for what they are. We're locked into a contest that is both sweet and sinister, good and evil. But here's the payoff - In Christ the enemy is defeated...we prevail!

So keep your heart bowed low before God and keep your chin up. Whatever you're battling through, God's already seen it and he's mapped a plan to get you a win. God will prevail!

Matthew 16, Ephesians 6