IT COULD BE ME?

Lion roaring1 Peter 5:8
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

I want to go HOME

I sit here in my favorite coffee shop looking out at the world and I struggle to even want to be here. When I say “here” I mean, “on the planet,” not here in the coffee shop. The coffee shop feels safe, it feels friendly, it feels comfortable. It is small and for whatever reason I feel protected, like I do in my home. My home is safe, my wife makes it a refuge. When I am here or there the “ugly” is far away. There is no hate allowed here at the coffee shop. Everyone is welcome to come here. They will love you and serve you and make you a coffee that will rock your world.

But I cannot live here in this oasis and last week was terrible in our hemisphere. I don’t think it compares to things going on in other parts of the world: the starvation, wars, kidnapping, mutilations and the bombings and genocide. But that doesn’t make it less real.

I CAN FEEL IT

I feel the evil affecting my soul again and I have to reach deep to shake myself. Then today I woke up to a pastor falling to alcoholism and it just touched me hard. I don’t idolize him. I have been to his church conference and it was good. I don’t care for some of his theologies, (surely the kingdom of God is not about punching people in the throat or shooting them if they enter his home) but hey, I like his preaching and I like that he is sold out to the kingdom work in a large, get off your butt and do it big, sort of way. I love that he appears to spell faith, “RISK.” I appreciate that he gave and gave and gave. I really appreciate that he inspired me at one point in my own ministry. But, my heart hurts for him and I feel afraid, and yes, I know this fear is not from God.

There have been times

This pastor IS still a leader; as pastors we are all leaders. Leaders in a war we can barely see, but we see better than the average church go-er. The battle worn, the mutilated, the broken, the chewed upon, they walk into our offices every day. At times we can jump to it and bind up the weary and the broken hearted, comfort and bless, and at times we have no clue what to do or how to help. Sometimes we watch people switch sides in the battle and at times we watch people walk away wondering, “What could I have done better?” Beating ourselves up believing we failed, or thinking we “could have, should have,” and yet, we aren’t God. And If I can be honest without being needy, at times I have envied those that could throw up their hands and walk away. I would dare say there are times I have longed to be able to do that.

As I think about this man and his ministry to so many, I am aware of Peter warning us all that Satan, a very personal accuser, is a roaring lion, but he is not just running around or laying around making noise, no, he is seeking some to devour, to destroy.

Could that be me?

I cannot help but glance around and wonder when and how he will come after me. For I know my calling is to give him reason. Will he wreck my life today? Can I remain focused through the negativity thrown at our local leadership, the world attacking our local church and the hate being spewed across all the news venues, as well as standing against my own temptations? Will he sneak up when I least suspect it and destroy everything God has allowed me to be a part of? And if he were to succeed, then what of the church (the people), what of those that work here and have their income here? The weight, the fear, it can be incredibly unbearable at times.
This is the fear that haunts me daily as I hear King David saying,

                   “5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
                      sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
                       6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
                      you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
                      7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
                      wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
                                                      Psalm 51

He has given me a hope

What is our hope then? Who can be called his son or his daughter that is born of this world? There is none, no not one, that is righteous enough in and of themselves to enter heaven; to dwell with God. We all stand condemned whether it is in thought or deed; we all were born evil, sinful and lost. We all need a rescuer, a savior and I for one am grateful that God sent one.

I am in need as well

I have not yet preached a sermon, done a deed, planned an outreach, sacrificed, given or paid for something, nor led a person to Christ, or any other thing that would even catch God’s attention, let alone impress him to allow me to enter his presence. My good “things” will never outweigh the dirt on my soul, the selfish intent of my heart nor the greed in my spirit. I need a savior. I need Jesus more than anyone else on this planet.

lion in the grassSo today I look around and tentatively, with great fear, I stare into the tall grass of this world, looking for a telltale sign of a lion. Is that a shadow of something prowling? Is that the swish of grass, dragging down the side of my soul’s predator, as he moves closer for the pounce? Today will I be the focused attention of such a vile spirit? Is it greed, or lust, pride, or idolatry about to break forth from the grass and kill me?

Of the tribe of Judah

My hope is in the Lion next to me: The Lion of the tribe of Judah in whose shadow I run. In whose name I have life. Praise God his love was sacrificial and daily transforming. Praise God almighty that his name is

“The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

Praise God he knows my name, and though the enemy may wound me, he cannot take my life, for I have given it freely to my Lord, it belongs to him. But I still fear the wound the enemy may cause; so I watch.

Cry with me, pray with me

Today my souls cries in pain for this pastor that I love, that does not know me. Today I know, there but for the grace of God go I. Today I do not get haughty or take any joy, for that could just as quickly be me.
Today I am aware that I need your prayers just like this pastor does.

 

 

 

ARE YOU AN EFFECTIVE CHRISTIAN?

salt2I’m reading through Matthew. Whenever the voice of the enemy or the activity of the enemy starts escalating, I run to my commanding officers standing orders. Whenever Lucifer starts influencing the world I operate in, I turn to Jesus. What did HE say? What does HE expect? What is has asking of me? That’s what I need to know.

THIS MEANS WAR!

I believe as a result of reading Ezekiel 28 and Genesis 1-2, that I exist and have my life behind enemy lines; that every day I get up I need to be quiet, and spend time on the “Horn” with the home base. I need to stay in touch with God. He sees me down here and he has work for me to do. Now, I get that I need to be bold, and no one ever accused me of being too gentle. (God forgive me that is not always a positive, sometimes it is a sin.) But as I go about my calling, I recognize that the enemy is coming after me, just like he is coming after you. How’s your day going by the way?

WHAT GOD SAYS

So a lot is transpiring and not all good, but I would agree necessary. So I’m sitting in my office and I think the answer is to be with God. So, I turn to Matthew 5 and I begin to read.

POOR ISN’T ALWAYS MONEY

Blessed are the poor in spirit – for theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The economic poor, the spiritually poor, the relationally poor. The depressed, the anguished, the abused, raped, jobless, cast aside, the mean, the ugly, the loud, the hiding. The poor. The drained, the empty, the “don’t have anymore” kind of people. Blessed are those, Jesus is saying, who have come to the end of themselves. Enough of the lies, the belief you are more than you are, or that you have more than you have. You are wrecked. There is nothing. God here I am. A leper. A cripple. An Oil-less virgin, waiting, crying, now fallen asleep waiting for the bridegroom. The less than, the least of these, those mourning.

MOURNING CAN BE GOOD

Blessed are those who mourn – for they will be comforted. They are crying out, they want to be heard, they have no voice. They are beaten down and oppressed. They are those who are imprisoned; rightfully and wrongfully. Imprisoned in a skin color, imprisoned in a sexual orientation, imprisoned in racism, imprisoned in hate, imprisoned in the need to be a victim, to be important and stand on a stage, imprisoned in a besetting sin that will not go away, or be healed, or be satisfied; so they cry. They mourn inside, they are weak, they are scared and meek.

MEEK MEANS FREEDOM

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. They recognize their situation, they finally come to the end of themselves and they wait. They are waiting on God. They want to rise up on wings of eagles but they are willing to wait. They don’t chase their education and then wave it around like a flag. They don’t come in and pretend to be humble telling you all the while how humble they really are. They know their calling, more importantly their role, and they long to play it. They move forward seeking those that they can move forward. They don’t want things; they just care. As a result of caring, the world is at their feet. They aren’t easily offended and they aren’t easily robbed. They just love. Jesus showed us this character. In their obedience, they hunger for more of God.

HUNGRY MEANS VICTORY

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for they shall be filled. Not gluttonous, not covetous, but hungry. They are not satisfied with the status quo, they believe things can be better. Not through hate and violence, but through hunger and meekness. They want a better marriage, so they serve more, give more and leave more: like Jesus did. They are hungry for a chance to serve the less fortunate, hungry for an opportunity to give to the needy. Their hunger is a godly hunger, not the perverted hunger of the prince of the power of the air. As a result, they just long to be filled: filled with the Spirit, filled with the presence, filled with the opportunity, and filled with love for the lost and the despised. They will be filled.

The list goes on and it goes through the merciful who will receive mercy, pure in heart who will see GOD himself in all that is around him, the peacemakers who shall be called sons of God (no gender intended from me), and then it lands on the persecuted.

WAIT, THIS ISN’T FUN

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness – for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. They have already received the Kingdom. They are already citizens of the glorious home we long for.

IT GET’S REAL

You know all the other “blessed are’s” feel good, feel spiritual, feel like God is up there just caring for us all, watching over us. Feel like he is keeping us from all harm; and then there is this. Blessed are you when you are persecuted. When you read that word, don’t think of the professor that mocks you in class, the fellow students that make fun of you for being a “goody-goody.” No, this is persecution for doing what God called you to do. This is being harassed by the enemy to the point that things break, sickness is thrown at you, people show up to lie and deride you, even take credit for what you did. It is THE ENEMY!

We know the enemy is coming. Shoot, we started this with the understanding that he is here and we are in his territory at war. Of course he is going to get mean and nasty, and ugly; he is the father of lies. But you are blessed when he takes notice of you. Jesus says you are blessed when you are so involved in the kingdom they the enemy persecutes you and falsely says all kinds of evil against you because of Jesus, for your reward in heaven is great AND they (enemy) also persecuted those prophets who went before you. You are in good company.

BEGIN AGAIN ……

So, back to the top. When the enemy starts lying to me I run to Jesus, get on the horn with the home base. Today, I heard God, through a recent message I preached, remind me that it is “principalities and powers pushing people’s buttons to get at you.” See the goings on as the father of lies pushing people around to distract you from the calling, the mission, the vision! Then press on!

WHERE’S THE SALT?

The next statement is, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”

ARE YOU BEING EFFECTIVE?

And in the margin of my Bible I had written a while ago, “Are you an effective Christian?” After all the “Blessed are’s”, and all the, “You shall receive’s” the question I am left with is, “Are you being an effective Christian?” And as I read that I have to say, not if I am whining and complaining. I cannot be effective if I am focused on people and things and comfort. I cannot receive the blessing and help if my goal is not the Kingdom of Heaven here and now!! If for just a moment the enemy makes me believe that it is people and ME, I am most vulnerable to attack and depression.

Are you an effective Christian? What’s your salt quotient and what are you doing about it?