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Posts Tagged ‘demons’

screwtape

In 2 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul begins to defend himself within the Corinthian Church.  He had been encouraging and instructing in the preceding chapters.  Now, his tone completely changes.  He began to deal with the fact that there were false apostles, false teachers, and false teachings in this church that were presenting in the form of competition and defaming of his own personal character as well as a concerted effort to discredit him personally and deny him the authority he had been given by God to lead and teach in this church.

Paul begins with humility agreeing with his accusers that he was indeed low and mild when present among them.  Paul makes clear that he has no desire to be rough or overbearing even despite the severe and abusive slander being spread about him personally.  Paul is not about to stoop to that level, although he does make it very clear that he is both equipped and prepared with the authority given to him by God to punish offense done against him.  It was hindering the gospel which, in turn, made it an offense done to the gospel itself.

Paul points not to his own power, but to the wonder-working power of God over the spiritual realm.  Consider his words:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.” ~2 Corinthians 10:3-6

He’s like, “Hey, guys!  This confusion and conflict and disunity we find in this particular church has nothing to do with the superficial problems or isolated issues that everyone wants to argue over.  This conflict is spiritual.  Everything going on here is a result of unseen forces working to destroy and devour God’s people and God’s plan.  There is bondage here – spiritual bondage that we must wage war against.  Spiritual strongholds are just that – spirits strongly holding people captive by deceit, by confusion, by ignorance, by prejudice, by lust, by lofty, high and prideful thoughts and opinions which contradict God and His will. These things are not trite or trivial.  They are a force waging an all out war against us all.  Thank God, that in his grace he has given us weapons with divine power.  Divine power!  The very power of God!  These are weapons which are able to defeat these forceful, spiritual strongholds.

That’s why I’m not gonna play your game of fleshly and worldly comparison.  We have a war to fight and that war is not against each other.  We have only one enemy and his name is Satan.  The war is against demonic forces evidenced in these conflicts and character assassinations being brought against me personally.”

“Ignorance, prejudices, beloved lusts, are Satan’s strongholds in the souls of some; vain imaginations, carnal reasonings, and high thoughts, or proud conceits, in others, exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, that is, by these ways the devil endeavours to keep men from faith and obedience to the gospel, and secures his possession of the hearts of men, as his own house or property.  But then observe, the conquest which the word of God gains.  These strongholds are pulled down by the gospel as the means, through the grace and power of God accompanying it as the principal efficient cause…The apostle speaks not of personal revenge, but of punishing disobedience to the gospel, and disorderly walking among church-members, by inflicting church censures.  Not, thought eh apostle showed meekness and gentleness, yet he would not betray his authority; and therefore intimates that when he would commend those whose obedience was fulfilled or manifested others would fall under severe censures.” Matthew Henry

Paul had every right and reason to punish this blatant disobedience to the gospel but he was waiting for the fulfillment and completion of their obedience first.  Later, in verse 10-11, he references again their complaint of him and responds:

For they say, “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present.

In other words, Paul doesn’t say things right.  Who does he think he is?  Writing corrective letters but showing up and speaking softly?!  His speech is all wrong.  Why would we listen to him?!

If you hate what someone is saying and you want to avoid the truth of it, a great strategy is to just personally attack them and incessantly complain about how they say it.

Paul answers by pointing to his actions.  Actions speak louder than words.  If you find someone who doesn’t talk like you or walk like you but they walk like Christ, think about who they are called to follow and imitate.  It isn’t you or your preferences.  It is Jesus Christ and His practices.

Paul goes on to oppose their worldly comparison games and refuses to participate.  He restates his purpose – which was edification for the church, not destruction as he was so often and brutally accused.

Herein we find both the cause and the remedy for conflict, confusion, and disunity within a divided church.  The cause is spiritual strongholds and evil influence warring against God and His people.  The remedy is using the weapons which are listed for us in Ephesians 6 as truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer.  These are the things which, when used appropriately, have divine power to destroy the enemy’s schemes and free our brothers and sisters from spiritual bondage.  Thank God!

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood.  Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”  C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

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“Dost thou . . . renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world . . . ?” 

In a day before mandatory seat belts and car seats, I inched forward from the back seat.  I crept into the adults’ conversation almost undetected.  I began to tell a joke I’d heard from the kids at school.  I don’t remember the gist of it all, but I will never forget that the punch line involved a demon.

By the end of my spiel, my aunt had turned completely around and sternly reprimanded me.  “We do not joke about demons,” she scolded.  I remember it like it was yesterday.

I mean, I was the little girl who was afraid of the bad things I saw other kids doing.  I cried when they got punished.  I’m pretty sure I was physically unable to say bad words.  I distinctly remember one of my friends trying to convince me that cussing wasn’t bad if it was in a song and trying to get me to say it that way.  I still refused.  My conscience was as sensitive as ice cream on a hot day.

I slunk back in the big backseat and I regretted my failed attempt to fit in by following the crowd.  I understood what I had done.  Needless to say, I learned my lesson after being corrected.  Demons are not funny.  Never entertain yourself with them.  Ever.  For any reason.

It seems a tender conscience has made its way into my daughter as well.  From the time she could speak, my Mia has exhibited both discernment and conviction.  When she does something she knows is wrong, she generally comes to me confessing before I even find out about it.  Things are very clear to her, and when they are not, she asks a zillion questions.  She understands a lot more than most kids her age.  I’m pretty sure she’s physically incapable of lying believably.  Mia possesses naturally what many skilled adults have no success ever learning: discernment and conviction.

All that to say, the other day she came to me with the Aunt Shirley sobriety set like stone upon her face.  

“Mom, I turned off the cartoon my sisters were watching.”

“Why?”

“Well, we really like it but I looked up the talents for the characters and one of them said, ‘demon.’ ” 

“Oh.  Well you were right to turn it off.  Thank you for protecting your sisters and sacrificing for what’s right.”

“But now they’re mad at me.  I tried to tell them why but they don’t care.”

“It’s ok.  I’ll tell them you did right.”

I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am that my daughter not only recognizes danger in today’s world of evil influence, but cares enough to put away that which she personally enjoys of it for the sake of her own well being as well as her little sisters.  This is the single most important lesson she could ever learn regarding personal holiness.

I thought back to a conversation we had a few weeks ago about this very subject.  One of the kids’ favorite games on the Wii is a dancing game made by Disney.  One of their favorite songs to dance to is a kids song called, “Calling All the Monsters.”  They asked me to download it to my phone so they could listen to it in the car.  As I listened intently, I caught a line wherein the lyrics spoke of a demon.  Yeah.  That was the first and last listen for me and the very last listen for them.  

Mia questioned me about why and what was so wrong with the song.  She understood.  She remembered.  She applied it to her own life.  How proud I am of her!

You may think I’m a fanatic.  So what if one of the characters in the show is a demon?  So what if the song talks about demons?  So what if every new doll that comes out has the appearance of a demon?  So what if the message of the magazine, the book, the movie, the commercial is anti-God?  We’re big kids.  We can handle it, right?  It won’t hurt us; affect us; change us.  We know who we are.  Abstinence is for babies.  In fact, I’ll prove it to you.  Just you watch me do this and not get hurt. Just you try to tell me it’s wrong.  I can do whatsoever I want to ya legalist.  God forgave me.  You must not understand what that means.  Are you even saved?  I’ll knock you into next week ya moron.  Better yet, maybe you should get out from under the rock you’re living under and lighten up loser Lori.

Well, I’m not sure if you can see it, but I do believe we live in a culture immersed in great darkness.  My elders taught me well.  Never entertain yourself with demons.  Ever.  For any reason.  I will never acquiesce to any other idea.

“Is it right to look on what is disgraceful to do? How is it that the things that defile a man in going out of his mouth, are not regarded as doing so when they go in his eyes and ears?” ~Tertullian

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtDrlk7vnkI

 

 

 

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I used to be naive.  I thought most people were mostly good.  When I heard of scandal or impropriety, I was literally shocked.  Then again, I was a child then.  Before long, I saw my own darkness and surprised myself at how far I’d fallen from the ideals I’d set for myself.  Now, over two decades later, everywhere I look I see total depravity rearing its grotesque head.  If I could go back and choose, I’d surely take naivety over reality.  But I can’t.  Instead, today, I beg for the ear of my Christian brothers.  Please hear me.

Yesterday I heard a radio broadcast interviewing a woman involved in rescuing victims of sex-trafficking in India.  She talked about how difficult it was for her team when their male counterpart had to take a leave.  An all-female team in a place where women are thought of very poorly made everything they did all the harder.

When asked what her greatest hope was for her mission – what the one thing she would wish for was if she had a magic wand – she said, “For men’s hearts to change.”

Oh.  Is that all?

She went on to talk about how little it mattered even if they were to save and keep every woman from buying into the lies of the industry.  Forced, manipulated, bought, or bribed, women will ever oblige these appetites.  “When there is a demand, there will always be a supply” she said.

I sit and consider how very true that statement is.  I recall the scandalous full page portrait which violated me as I opened a national newspaper the other day.  I remember half a dozen more I saw on billboards and commercials just yesterday.  I grieve when I find myself having to explain to my young daughters why there are half naked women on the covers of every other magazine in the grocery store.  I remember a time when I was gladly the girl standing next to the car in the magazine and proudly the first place bikini contestant.  To that end, I have to wonder why so many Christian men (and women) accept, approve of, and participate in entertainment that clearly degrades, denigrates, and disrespects women.  Show me a man who stands up against this ubiquitous sickness in our culture and I will show a man who loves, honors, protects, and respects women as he claims to.

Change men’s hearts.  That’s where the buck stops.  Not change women’s hearts.  Not change children’s hearts.  Change men’s hearts.  Only One can do that.

Acts 13 has been laying on my heart for the past several weeks.  After studying it more in depth this morning, I now realize why the Lord has troubled me so with it.

Paul, a former Christian-hating murderer, meets his match.  Bar-Jesus, meaning “son of pride” or filius infaltionis “son of inflation” in the ancient Aramaic, was a magician.  He began to harass the apostles who were preaching the gospel to the influential leader whom he sought to own.  This was a man who was bold, loud, and overly interested in gaining power.  He was a man most interested in selfish gain and stopping at nothing to silence anyone in his way.  A man, that is, who was just like Paul before his conversion to Christ.

Little wonder why he was so opposed to the coming of the Christians.  They were on his turf – Paphos.  Paphos – the supposed birthplace of the false goddess, Aphrodite, also known as the Paphian Venus.  Aphrodite – ever known for driving illicit sexuality and practices.  Pride, selfishness, power, and lustful sex.  Doubtless, this guy liked his leader blind and his city the way it was.

Paul was not amused.  If anyone understood this guy’s state, it was surely Paul.  He knew exactly what this enemy of the cross was doing – for he had done it, too.  Surprising to me, Paul was extremely harsh with this fella.  He looked him right in the eye, and with a holy boldness and strong opposition, rebukes him, calls him a “son of the devil” and sends him off blinded by the power of God.

Um.  Dude was just like you, man.  Couldn’t you have identified with him?  Took him under your wing?  Loved him into the kingdom?  Didn’t someone do that for you when you were blind?  How is this guy different and why no mercy here, preacher?

I’ve thought.  I’ve thought and thought and thought about this.  Aside from the sheer grace of God, the only difference I find between this magician and Paul is that Paul heard the Lord’s voice and he…repented.  He heard and he repented.  We are not told that the Son of Pride ever did that.

So, the very same thing the Lord did to Paul, he did to Bar-Jesus through Paul.  The difference was that Paul was God’s voice and the man did not repent.  Nevertheless, where God used Paul’s repentance to bring many to faith, he used the Son of Pride’s unrepentance.  The even more influential man, the proconsul, believed by Paul’s boldness and the Lord’s clear wrath upon the unrepentant.

When I look around, as much as I long for purity and decency, I cannot be naive.  Our world is neither pure nor decent.  Repentance is our only hope in this culture of blindness.  Repentance is our only hope in this culture of illicit sexual perversion, sex-trafficking, and women-degrading entertainment.  Where are the men who are willing to stand up and fight valiantly for the honor and respect of women?  When they show up, bank on it, women will follow.  Where are those who are willing to sacrifice for us?  Where are they who will look their counterparts in the eye and rebuke them openly for their wickedness?  Regardless of what Hollywood is propagating with it’s feminist, emasculating agenda, we need you.  We need men who are willing to repent.  We need men who are willing to sacrifice.  We need men who are willing to protect.  We need men who are not afraid to be authentically counter-cultural.  We need men to stop flippantly approving of that which degrades and dishonors us for the sake of a two-hour macho-movie trip.  We need men who are not able to be content standing by in silence as their peers are putting down, perverting, and robbing us of our very personhood.  We need men who are interested in loving us truly when we are not wearing what’s most appealing.  We need men fathering the fatherless, discipling the unchurched, and caring for the weak and oppressed when they could be sitting on the couch watching football.  The question is not will we follow you, it is where are you leading us?

So where are you?  I follow your Lord and he expects me to follow you.  I just want to know where we’re going.

 Give me one man who practices what he says he believes about honoring women and you can keep the 10,000 who profess it.  We do not need any more sons of pride.  We need sons of God.  As your sister, I beg you.  Stop fighting the villains in call of duty and spend your time learning how to fight the good fight.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGE6Davndh0

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I wake and wonder why.  There’s a specific inclination on nights like this that insists there is a reason.  I close my eyes and try to resist.  Thirty minutes pass.  Then an hour.

“Ok, Lord.  I give.”

I begin to pray.  I begin to puzzle.  Truthfully, I can’t really remember which comes first.  Both seem equally perplexing to me.  Nevertheless, I try hard to remember that verse that’s been swirling in my head for the past week – that ever so elusive verse that I’ve wanted so much to learn how to live out for so long.

“…do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” ~1 Peter 3:6b

Do good.  What is good?

Confident that Peter will enlighten me for the tenth time this week, I exit my bedroom, turn on the only light in the neighborhood, and resolve to sit with him until I get it.

“…wives, be subject to your own husbands…respectful…pure conduct…let your adorning be…with…a gentle and quiet spirit…do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” ~1 Peter 3:1-6

Do not fear.  Fair enough.  Do not fear anything that is frightening.  Ok Lord, that’s cheating.  I won’t fear if there’s nothing to fear.  But when there’s big monsters under my bed, I’m hard-pressed not to fully freak out.  More accurately, there are demons in my bed.  How do I handle that?

But who fears when nothing is frightening?  Right.

Real fears aren’t usually over grotesque monsters hovering in the shadows anyway.  Real fears are usually more over small monsters living and walking among us, perfectly accepted and never acknowledged.

How do I cease from those?  How do I put away valid, rational fears?  How am I supposed to look fire in the face knowing I’m drenched in fuel and willingly determine to walk through it?  Help me here, Peter.

Peter says, “…wives, be subject to your own husbands.”  Peter means cease from pride.  Submit to authority.

Peter says, “…display respectful and pure conduct…”  Peter means disrespect is borne out of entitlement.  Impurity is borne out of lust.  Both are demons who will undermine fearless courage to live as a victorious Christian.

Peter says, “…let your adorning be with…a gentle and quiet spirit…”  Really, Pete?!  Since when has being quiet ever changed anything?

“Trust me.” Jesus whispers.

Peter says, “Do good…”  Peter means put away rebellion and evil, arrogant attitudes which oppose God and people.  Bring life to this culture of death in which you have been called to live.

Peter says, “…do not fear anything that is frightening.”

 “How, Jesus?”

“Peter just told you, Einstein.  Let me repeat since you are slow to learn.”

“Cease from pride.  Display respectful and pure conduct.  Exhibit gentleness and quietness because you trust me more than you trust your fail-safe arguments.  Do what’s good and right as you wait for me to rescue you from the fierce fire of obedience I’m calling you to walk through.”

I begin to type as I wonder how many more times I’ll have to read this passage before I put it into practice.  I realize that maybe the only things I should truly fear are those things which will rob me of the courage to walk without fear.  I make a list to appease the schoolteacher idealist in me:

Pride.  Entitlement.  Impurity.  Control.  Rebellion.  Cowardice.

I need not fear them, either, though.  I shred the list, douse it with gasoline, and throw it before me into the purifying, scary as all hell, sweating before I get there with eyes full of tears, fire.  I resolve to fear God alone.

Lord, raise my broken and bowed head that I might see you.  Lift my longing eyes to your mercy.  Wipe my tears and extinguish my fears.  Give me intense courage and make me Sarah’s child.  Lay me down and give me your rest.  Amen.

 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. ~1 Peter 3:5-7

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5w0dotWseU

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