Sabotage

Soldiers, mercenaries, terrorists.

Any of the above will do.

With a boldness unparalleled, these agents of warfare penetrate deep behind enemy lines. Their mission is clear; leave a wake of destruction through stealth, planting of minefields, and ambush of unsuspecting and unprepared combatants.

Even though multitudes of their fellow soldiers have been discovered, trapped and eliminated, they keep coming, undeterred as madmen from the denizens of Hell. Because that is exactly who they are.

The demonic minions of Satan never rest, never tire, never waver from the destruction of their enemy; which is that fellow or lady in the mirror, by the way.

Only one thing stops them in their tracks. One weapon that brings them to their knees.

“the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” [Eph 6:17]

And of course Jesus, who is the Living Word.

And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. [Mark 1:34]

I implore you as I remind me:

1. Put on your armor and keep it on [Eph 6]

2. Guard your heart [Prov 4:23]

3. Pray and Read the Word, especially when the forces of evil strike, intent on sabotaging your heart and faith.

In the strong name of Jesus, Amen.

Poem:

War on Self

I declare war
on the ruinous me
the kind that sneaks around
and loves the darkness deep
Who suppresses Christ
in favor of emptiness

This man is marked for death –
so that the new creation
can thrive, cloaked in the Holy Spirit

Charge!
And do not stop
do not look back
until you have thrust the spear
deep into the blackened heart
and reclaimed the King’s territory

To Him be honor, glory and praise
Forever and always

07/24/13

Convergence of Complexities

Anybody else…or just me

That point when you have way more list than day to complete it. When both work and life are unbalanced, despite your best efforts. When all the chainsaws you are currently juggling double in size and accelerate. When the world seems to get crazier by the day. When the Merry-go-round won’t let you get off…

Take heart. Put your focus on Jesus, and I will too.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have affliction; but be of good courage, I have overcome the world.

Poem:

Foolishness – A Dichotomy

I. “Innocent” Foolishness

We all know this one. Engaging in harmless fun, goofing off and the like. I’m not here to be a Grinch and rain on everyone’s fun. Having fun and letting off steam can be a good thing. Recreation and leisure is a necessary antidote to a workaholic life.

Yet, I think we all know the dangers of letting these attitudes dominate. Procrastination is a problem in and of itself, as this author well knows and admits to. But I am referring here to what the Bible calls “slothfulness.”

Proverbs Chapter 26 has a few things to say about the topic:

13 The slothful [man] saith, [There is] a lion in the way; a lion [is] in the streets.

14 [As] the door turneth upon his hinges, so [doth] the slothful upon his bed.

15 The slothful hideth his hand in [his] bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.

16 The sluggard [is] wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

Okay…so the slothful man can barely get out of bed and feed himself…not exactly a flattering description. The point here is that we cannot, particularly in an environment of endless distractions, allow ourselves to be lulled into a life of inactivity and listlessness. A life of inadequate motivation and productivity. When we reach this point, it is no longer “innocent” foolishness.

II. Immortal Foolishness

The Bible is clear that the gospel message is the essence of foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor 1:18). The behavior of persons who are not believers in Jesus Christ (as indicated by speech and actions which are in stark contrast to God’s Word; only God knows the true heart) seemingly continues to shock and amaze us. But it really should not. Unconverted hearts combined with the assault on traditional family values and the Judeo-Christian ethic has resulted in alarmingly sinful behavior. As an aside, the behavior of believers (who seem more worldly than godly) is sometimes troubling as well, but that is a topic for another time.

Later in First Corinthians [2:14] Paul reminds us that the “unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God…he cannot understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” This is indeed a danger zone. The human heart, when unfettered by the boundaries of God’s moral law and influence of the Holy Spirit, is capable of the utmost evil and depravity. The Bible, human history, and our life and times are filled with examples too numerous to mention here. But, my guess is that at least one or two from the headlines or your own experiences just popped into your mind.

What are the consequences of this immortal foolishness? The Bible tells us that it is appointed once for a man to die, and then the judgement [Heb 9:27]. That the wages of sin are death [Rom 6:23]. That Jesus will come again to judge all mankind; of which some are sheep who receive “Well done good and faithful servant” and some are goats who hear from the Lord, “Depart from me; I never knew you.” (Mat 7:21; 25:23, 31-46)

One chilling example from Scripture of a person exhibiting immortal foolishness is the rich man from Luke Chapter 12:

16Then He told them a parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced an abundance. 17So he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, since I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and will build bigger ones, and there I will store up all my grain and my goods. 19Then I will say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take it easy. Eat, drink, and be merry!”’  20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be required of you. Then who will own what you have accumulated?’  21This is how it will be for anyone who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Woe to the man or woman whom Almighty God calls “fool”! Each of us likely knows a family member, friend, or co-worker with this attitude toward life. A life motivated by greed and material wealth. Perhaps by lust or desire for alcohol or drugs. It is for these precious souls that we as intercessors labor before the throne of the Lord as often as we can.

III. The Foolishness of God

I Corinthians Chapter 1

20Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

I just love sections of Scripture like this. It gives us insight into the mind of God as Paul wrote his letter to the church at Corinth (as divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit). And as I mentioned in an earlier piece God’s Upside Down Economy, the Lord excels in flipping things on their head. God describes all of our so-called “human wisdom” as folly, when compared to the good news of the gospel. The former has the power to deceive and confuse, and Satan makes much use of that. The latter has the power to soften and plow even the most hardened heart. And thus allow the saving message of the gospel to take root.

The “foolishness of God” – once despised as the most ridiculous nonsense imaginable – is now gladly worn as a badge of honor and glory to Almighty God in the converted heart of a redeemed sinner. Each of us, in some form or fashion, were considered a hopeless foolish case. Now we are proud to be considered fools for God.

POEM:

Foolishness

Unbeliever:

“I have no time for foolishness.” The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.

Believer:

“I have no time for foolishness.” I put away childish things. I run from the things of the world to pursue Christ.

01/23/16

Substandard Care

We are all caretakers of souls…

Ours, first and foremost. What are we feeding our soul? What dangerous and toxic influences are we allowing free and unfettered access to the innermost parts of our being? What old clingy habits do we need to remove, and forcibly evict?? How can we effectively lead others to Christ if our own souls are in shambles?

But also the souls of others. Those with whom God has entrusted us with a spiritual fiduciary responsibility. Children, grandchildren, even those pesky kids that sometimes run amok at church. Are we investing in the proper development of their souls? But there are countless others, from our family, friends and neighbors to school and work colleagues, to random people we meet in not-so-random God-ordained opportunities. Every day.

Substandard care from an engineering or architectural perspective may result in weakness and fatigue in a structure that may not be visible at first, but eventually results in collapse and destruction.

Substandard care in a soul may also result in destruction, but one which is eternal and irreversible. While a building may be rebuilt, a soul at death without faith and trust in Jesus Christ is destined to spend eternity in Hell. There is no greater human tragedy.

What can we do? First, ensure our own soul is covered by the blood of Jesus on the cross. Second, love and care for other souls in a way which points them to the Christ. Life on earth is short and fleeting, and there’s no time for shoddy care of precious souls.

We are called by God to care for souls, just as He does…

Acts 20:28 (Easy English Bible) You should be careful about yourselves, and about what you are doing. Keep safe the people that the Holy Spirit has asked you to help. Lead all the groups of believers. Some men have their own sheep. They feed the sheep and they keep them safe. Be like that kind of man. All the believers belong to God because Jesus died for them. He gave his life blood for them.

God’s Upside-Down Economy

How many of you love this?…

I remember as a young boy, my grandmother preparing this cake. Upside-down cake…I was confused…the cake was still upright. Where’s the part where we flip it on its head and make a total mess?

I am often reminded that God has His own “upside-downedness.”

  • The last shall be first, and the first shall be last
  • He or she who would be great, must be a servant
  • To truly live, we must die (to ourselves)
  • The proud are humbled, but the humble are exalted
  • She who had the least to give (the widow), gave the most
  • And of course, the ultimate example where God used a killing machine (the cross) to save the world

There are many more examples in the Bible. I encourage you to share your favorites.

Jesus simply turns the conventional wisdom of the world, about success, happiness, love — on its head. The cake is finally flipped!

Poem:

Upside-Down

Christ has flipped
these two worlds
on their collective heads

Last is first
the humble instead
of the prideful perch

To truly live
I must be dead

Walking

Jer 7:23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people; and walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, so that it may be well with you.

Jer 6:16 Thus says Jehovah, Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths where the good way is, and walk in it, and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it.

I am not walking well. Physically, I mean. My back issues have cropped up again and I am hobbling at best. Soon I will have surgery again. Twice in two years, almost exactly a year apart is not a good trend! Maybe I can skip August from now on…

Let me clarify that I’m not asking for sympathy, although I do covet prayers. God will see me through.

But thinking about my difficulties in walking with my back and legs led me to think about walking with my heart and my soul. My walk with the Lord. I confess I am sometimes hobbling and stumbling here too.

My prayer is this: “Lord Jesus, help me to walk in the way You have established for me. Let me not deviate from the path of righteousness and holiness and obedience to You. And when I stumble, when my spiritual walk is weak and hobbling along, lift me up and strengthen me in your Spirit as I cry out to You. Unlike the people in the time of Jeremiah, I desire to find and walk the old paths. Restore the beauty, wonder, and peace of a faithful walk with You. Let me bask in the fullness of Your grace. In the strong name of Jesus, Amen.”

God bless you today.

Poem:

Sense

I sense in you the supernatural gift

the divine essence

the touch of the Almighty

the breadth of forgiveness

the calm of those who walk with the Lord deep into the night

And arise with a joy magnanimous

beyond this life

11/23/15

Reflect

Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away

Phil 3:8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, so that I may gain Christ

I have been thinking lately.  Reflecting.  Specifically, about the following progression.  No matter how “good” our actions may be from a human perspective, no matter how altruistic our aims – even if carried out on behalf of the church or with Christian intent — if we act solely in our own strength our accomplishments might as well be garbage.

Too strong, too harsh?!

Paul did not think so.  He was in the “Who’s Who” of Judaism in his time.  You can refer to Philippians Chapter Three for his resume.  But Paul’s zeal (Saul at the time) resulted in the death of Christians.  Now, I’m not equating our actions with the murder of innocents.  [Although puported Christians who support abortion would in my mind be similar.  But that’s a topic for another day].  But in one respect we are the same as Paul.

Ask these questions about your actions, as I do the same:

  • Whose glory do I seek?
  • Am I confident that I am acting in God’s will, after a time of prayer?
  • And perhaps most important, have I confessed my sins & asked Almighty God to forgive me, accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior?

It is not an easy thing to lay down sin, especially the persistent kind that we are susceptible to, but it is so incredibly necessary.  It is a challenge to pray without ceasing, especially when the distractions of the world encroach, but it is so incredibly necessary.

I pray that we will see all of our earthbound abilities, talents, accomplishments the way that Paul did.  Filth.  Refuse.  Garbage.  Dung.   Depending on your translation.  But you get the idea.  Absolutely worthless.  Only fitting for the landfill or junkyard.

I am not condemning anyone.  But I hope that you will reflect as well. What are you leaning on?  

Important:  If you are unsure about your salvation, if you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can do so now.  Cry out to Him, admit you are a sinner, ask forgiveness for your sins, and ask Jesus into your heart.  Find peace.




Poem:

Handprints

I see the handprints of God…

It was an innocuous event really.   One that stems directly from our smartphone generation.   The screen of my phone went suddenly dark after having timed out to keep the battery from draining.   I happened to look down at the reflection of the light hitting the the surface of the phone; and what I saw was a bunch of little hand prints.  All the Taps and swipes that come from using a smartphone.  

This got me to thinking.  I thought about little handprints on the back door from our grandchildren, looking out in amazement at the world and leaving the imprint of their little fingers on the glass.   Then I thought about, of all things, our cat.  She has a habit of climbing up on the roof of the car while it’s parked in the driveway and in the course of doing that – leaving little prints all over to mark where she’s been.

Ultimately that led me to think about all the handprints of God in my life.  How behind the scenes and often not visible to the naked eye, God is there.   Working, moving, interceding on my behalf.  And on the various and sundry requests that I lift up to him.  That we all do.  

God is there.  He never left the throne, and He has our best interest at heart.  I encourage you to think about that today.  The little handprints of God.  If you look really hard, or maybe even not that hard, you should be able to see them.  

Traffic

Isaiah 53:6
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Philippians 2:21
For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

Simple question ~ most of us have run a traffic signal, especially trying to beat it before it turns red…but what would be the result if many or most people simply barrelled through the signal at full speed, from every direction, regardless of the color of the light?

The results are predictable.  Chaos, confusion, frustration, rage, wreckage, pain, death.

I find it interesting how compliant people are with traffic signals.  No matter what’s going on in our lives, we typically obey traffic lights.  I have this curious image in my mind of a thief, who after committing burglary then stops at every traffic signal on the way home.  Doesn’t want to draw attention to himself…

Now, don’t misunderstand.  I’m not saying people are perfect angels on the road.  I keep looking on the front grill of my car for a flashing neon sign that reads “Go ahead and pull out in front of me, I’ll just slam on the brakes.”  Haven’t found it yet, but I’m convinced it’s there…

Here’s the point of this.

Yes, I know, about time.  I can sense the palpable excitement.

Forgive the comic relief.  But from a spiritual perspective this scenario is being played out.  Think about it.  Millions, perhaps blllions of people are careening through life.  Ignoring or blatantly disregarding the signals that God amply provides.  Consequences be damned.

God’s Word has a plethora (I like saying that word btw as an irrelevant aside) of admonitions against sinful behavior.  We are wholly without excuse.  When we follow our own desires with abject determination, we plow through God’s traffic light.

The results are inevitable.  Chaos, confusion, frustration, rage, wreckage, pain, death.

But while you have breath, there is still time to slam the brakes on your out-of-control life.

Poem:

Inner God Divine?

What god resides in your soul tonight?

Yahweh the King or some cheap delight?

I must press the point with all of my might

What if you died or Christ split the night?

No matter your sins

No wrath shall condemn

If you place your trust

In Him who made us

(from dust)

So, who has the throne

in this life you call home?

while your true home awaits

the decision you make

and failing to choose

seals your soul’s doom

but while you have breath

there’s always room…

If only Heaven were filled tight

which god resides in your soul tonight?