Outward, Christian Soldiers

Jesus painting in D.C Photo from Tristie's PhoneI’m practically convinced that the Great Commission could have already been fulfilled IF the church had obeyed the second greatest commandment. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 5:43) What can this look like in our lives?

Loving your neighbor as yourself means you share your faith.
Loving your neighbor as yourself means build others up with your words.
Loving others as yourself means you choose people over wealth.
Loving your neighbor as yourself means you pray for people.
Loving your neighbor as yourself means you forgive others.
Loving your neighbor as yourself means you sacrifice your rights.
Loving your neighbor as yourself means you take the lowest chair.

This list can be endless as we seek to integrate and “incarnate” the person of Christ into the world. We integrate the person of Christ into our everyday life by seeing every person as God sees them. Each person is made in the image of God. Jesus reminds me constantly to view each person important and worthy of Spirit-fillled kindness. We “incarnate” by walking in our identity as ambassadors for Christ and reminding ourselves that we represent Jesus to a broken world. If people won’t read the Bible or go to church, you may very well be the ONLY reflection of Jesus they ever see.
Jesus knew what He called us to was (and is!) impossible. “Nice” is not necessarily Christian. Anyone can be “nice”. But, only God’s people can love supernaturally. God desires each person to love people like He does. He initiates, He blesses, and He forgives over and over. He’s the catch-you can’t just decide to love people. You have to get on your knees (metaphorically and maybe literally) to ask God to put His love into you. Then and only then, can a God-empowered love for the world be activated. You need Him to reflect Him. God never gives commands without the promise of His Spirit. I’m praying this is the generation of Christians who not satisfied with nice. I’m praying this generation will allow God to have full access to our hearts so He can love His world through us.

Speak of the devil

rBVaHFa90JOAKVR9AAE3GlO7eps634Spiritual warfare is a concept discussed repeatedly throughout the Old and New Testament. There is constant drama involves the two most basic elements: Good and Evil. Jesus Christ Himself is constantly battling the enemy and invoking His authority over Satan. Reading the gospel accounts of Jesus versus the enemy always leaves us with one uncomfortable lesson: This life IS a fight! There is no “down time”. It’s fascinating (inspiring!) how many believers are seeing the need for awareness of the enemy, his tactics, and the validity of battle in our times! What can we do? Here are some truths to empower us!

1. There is an enemy of our souls. He goes by many names…Satan, the Devil, Beelzebub, the “accuser of the brethren” and the Beast . He is spoken of through Scripture as an “enemy of God” the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. In the Old Testament , we read that he is a created being and was formerly an Arch-Angel . Amazingly, he decided he wanted “be like God” (Always, always a mistake!). Satan was cast out of heaven with a third of the angels that agreed he should be in charge and angelic warfare has been set up ever since. How can it be that less than 60% of “evangelical Christians” believe Satan exists? I think it’s because we believe what the world says about him. Believers and non-believers see him in a red suit, sitting on one shoulder and offering selfish advice. We seem him as annoying and pesky. This is part of his scheme-we have to reorient ourselves to what Jesus says about this foe. He is an evil thief and he is real. Knowing the simple fact that an active enemy exists gives you huge spiritual power and authority! John 10:10″The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

2. The enemy is active and at work. His desire is still to be “like God”…he wants to rule. Yet, his desire is to destroy man . The enemy is exceedingly jealous of man and is frustrated that God had the audacity to offer men and women the kingdom. What can the enemy do? Satan’s “plan B” is this: If he cannot fool people into believing that he doesn’t exist, he can try to discourage and hurt them. This can also apply to non-believers, but he knows that they are unsaved already and it’s really the believers who OBEY GOD and GLORIFY HIM that he must slow down and try to stop.
Game On! I Corinthians 2:11 “so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

3.The enemy’s goal is simple-stop all glory headed God’s way. He doesn’t want believers to make biblical choices or trust God by faith in any and all circumstances. Also helpful to know, the enemy does NOT know the future and doesn’t know Jesus’ timeline of return. With that discussed, let’s talk Battle Plans. We know the War is won. (Revelation 20) If you are a student of Eschatology (the study of End Times), you know that Jesus will return and rule forever. Biblically, those who have believe in Jesus by faith are saved and those who have not believed will be not saved. The enemy will be destroyed and “cast into the lake of fire” and thus begins the reign of Christ forever. While we are on earth, we have assignments— doing good deeds, sharing our faith,and serving others for example. Acts 26:18 “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

HOW TO FIGHT
Perhaps the greatest book on Spiritual Warfare is Chip Ingram’s book The Invisible War. Not only does it set you back on your heels, you REALLY see how it is. Nothing is unimportant…all decisions crucial and your heart and mind up for grabs. Will you believe the world, flesh and the devil or believe the One True God? God has given you the playbook…maybe it’s time to use it. What do you do?

DECIDE WHO’S IN CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE This is always step one because there is no such thing as “I don’t know” or ” I guess I am” This is a completely spiritual world (don’t doubt it for a moment!) and you must choose whether you want to get behind the Cross of Christ and let Him fight your battles or take on the enemy alone…with no weapon.
READ THE BIBLE If you have chosen that you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and you have placed your faith in Him.His Word is living power! Use this power resource! All strategies (past and present) from the enemy are there and all the victory stories too. Learn the Word -it’s your source of clear truth in a murky battle. This is a profound and proven weapon-the WORD IS POWER!
PRAY My dear mentor, Sandi Ireland, says “Prayer is an exercise of faith and the God of the universe always responds to faith.” She’s right! When the enemy introduces a thought into my mind that I know is sinful, I pull out a verse and slice the lie apart. When I’m tempted, I cry out “JESUS, help me!” or “Jesus, come and protect me!” Guess what? He shows up EVERY TIME. Needless to say, the enemy does not like that to hear the Name that defeated death!! Let JESUS fight for you! Have like-minded believers PRAY for you. PRAYER is serious business- a transaction. There are so many times when God seemingly pops someone’s name into my mind and I know (now!) to pray for them immediately. In the middle of the night, unloading the dishwasher, and running errands (even in church!) Prayer is “incense” to God and He delights in us crying out to Him. He is our Father and He wants to help and protect. Know that as you pray, God hears you and acts on behalf of that person prayed for. This is perhaps the most important job of fighting this spiritual war! Again, quoting Sandi, ” Have like-minded believers PRAY for you. There is no force in the Universe more powerful than God’s response to you and to others.”
Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”Romans 16:20″The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

Brian and I love the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis because it treats the series as one long battle. This is true of our lives too. It’s so easy to think we can kick back and glide spiritually. No way! We want to be in the game and we want to be running when Jesus returns. Brian and I deal with tons of spiritual warfare and we have seen  the NAME OF JESUS help us to our feet, wipe our tears, and put our battle gear back on our shoulders. There is something about aligning yourself with the One True King, submitting to His call, and with His strength step out. You want a life (and eternal life!) of reward. He wants it for you too! Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 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. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Healthy Over Hot, Character Over Cool, Less Over More

IMG_2715Pray today that our culture would:

1.Value Health over “Hot”
2. Value Character over Cool
3. Value Purity over Immorality
4. Value Hard Work over Easy Luxury
5. Value Commitment over Convenience
6. Value Less over More
7. Value Depth over Distraction
8. Value Humility over Celebrity
9. Value Love for Others more than Love for Self
10. Value Jesus over the world

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed EARNESTLY that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.” James 5:17