Today was intense. Rather than pasting in my notes, I’m just going to speak to you from my heart. First, I apologize for bringing politics into this discussion. The point I made could have been made without ever mentioning the word politics. Lesson learned. I will speak from my heart on this (so you don’t have to agree with this, it is my perspective) — I have seen a radical change in our culture over the past 10 years. We seem to embrace Islam and do whatever we can to welcome it under the veil of “freedom of religion” while at the same time, it seems Christianity is under assault. Apparently, freedom of religion doesn’t apply to Christianity. This should not surprise us. Jesus warned us that we’d be despised because He was despised. We have welcomed and embraced the homosexual agenda, legalized gay marriage, encouraged elementary schools to welcome and make comfortable children who now self-indentify as transsexuals. Political correctness has consumed America. If we offend anyone with our beliefs, we are bigots. Michael Yousef, the Atlanta pastor who is a native Egyptian, has said that Islam’s strategy to “invade” America would be to play upon American’s repulsion of being called intolerant. That Americans will do whatever is necessary to avoid being called intolerant. He said this about 15 years ago long before “political correctness” became the buzzword. By playing on our fear of being considered intolerant, Islam knew it could capitalize on this to gain favor in America. It is working. What is going on? Why does it feel like this fog of deception is swallowing up America? Exactly. The enemy is a liar and his operating strategy is distortion. He twists and lies and these clouds of deception come upon us. It is warfare. We are seeing all of this play out in front of us. To my point this morning, I can see (again, it’s my opinion) that we could be the verge of the next 10 years being about a war on manhood in America. That men are the “the problem”. This can be the police, the CEO’s, big corporations, Wall Street, the insurance companies, etc. that we could be seeing the start of the next phase of the war and the root of it is coming after manhood. That through the police or Wall Street or CEO’s, that men have ruined this country and must now take a back seat. I may be wrong. All I wanted to say this morning — in the context of talking about spiritual warfare in a room full of men — is that we just need to be braced for it. Be on alert. It would seem to make sense that this could be where the enemy tries to take this battle. We simply should not be surprised to see another wave of the attack and a further breaking down of what we hold dear.
And so, we’re back to warfare. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” James 4:7-8 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God an he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Verse 11 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”. (bold/underline my emphasis)
Remember back the Louie Giglio talk. Warfare is coming at you. The enemies are all around you. Don’t be surprised because the attack is coming. Satan doesn’t eat, he doesn’t sleep, he doesn’t chill out at the beach or the TV. All he does is attack. 24/7 he exists to take you out. He doesn’t play fair. He reads your mail. He knows how to play you. So the enemies are going to be and are, all around you. He’s just trying to land a seat at your table. He just wants to pull up a chair and engage in conversation with you. (Please watch that talk if you haven’t already – from October 5th on the blog) The question for you is, who have you been listening to? Is it the enemy? And if so, why? Perhaps you’ve engaged in a conversation with him and started to form some agreements around the lies he’s been telling you.
What role must we play? To the scripture above, I have underlined/bolded the key words for us. It is not a passive affair. You have a role to play in defending yourself from the attack that is coming 24/7. First, you need to control “self”. That is the “me” thing. It is lust, sex, greed, envy, jealousy, impulsiveness, anger, etc. If we give into these things, we’ve given the enemy a seat at the table. If we go to lust, to pornography, etc. we are just inviting him in. It’s like riding in an armored limo going through a hostile crowd and rolling the windows down. By rolling the windows down, we’re giving him an opening to exploit. And he will. Second, we must be alert. It is coming. It may not come directly at you but instead it will come at your wife or your kids. You must be on alert at all times and not drop your guard. And then it says we must resist and stand firm. The temptation is coming. She will call out to you, “It won’t hurt to look” or “no one will ever know”. You must resist and stand firm. “NO! I will NOT be that man. I will not be that man that falls for this and gives up my honor and integrity”. Next, it says we have to “come near to God”. We have to be in the Word. We have to pray. We have to seek him. We have to care for our souls and feed upon the nourishment only God can give us. Next, we must purify and wash our hands of the sin. That is a real battle but it is putting guardrails up that you will not cross. It is setting standards of operating behavior you will not vary from. That may be no R-rated movies for you. It may be nothing with sex scenes in it. It may mean giving your iPad away so the temptation is gone. It may mean confession to your band of brothers of a weakness in your armor your need to fortify. The truth shall set you free. Lastly, we need to humble ourselves. Humble. Humility. A desperate need for a power far greater than you possess. It is a death of hubris or “I’ve got it all figured out”. Humility is a beautiful thing in a warrior and we’ll talk more about it later this fall.
You have a role to play. The Lord has “prepared a table for you in the presence of your enemies”. They are all around us. Revelation 12 says that Satan was thrown out of heaven and down to earth where he wages war against woman and all her offspring. God doesn’t pull us out of the fire. The power of your testimony is what God will use to bring others to Christ. That you can walk through this minefield and keep your honor and integrity, die to self, live in humility and have a radical dependence on God, that will testify to the doubtful that this God we serve is real and powerful and transformational. That God can take the tragedy of your messy life and turn it into a Triumph is a testimony. But as Richard Peters reminded us today, testimony starts with “test”.
More to say but that’ll come in another post.