Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shallow Spiritual Warfare

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks abut like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:8-11)
God’s purpose in everything is His glory; even in the attacks of the enemy on God’s people. The enemy does attack the people of God, regularly. Satan is not omnipotent (all-powerful), not omnipresent (all-places-at-the-same-time), not omniscient (all-knowing), nor is he able to do anything that he is not allowed to do. He rebelled against God, as did one-third of the angels in heaven, but he lost, was cast out, and is still on a leash held by God. Sometimes we have a wrong view of Satan, demons and spiritual warfare.
We think and say, “Well, I must be doing something right because I’m having all this trouble.” Sometimes we are having trouble because we are doing something wrong. Sometimes we are having trouble because God is testing our faith (James 1). We think and say, “The enemy is attacking because we are really having lots of sickness right now.” Sometimes sickness is caused by spiritual attack, but often it is just because we live in a fallen world with a fallen nature which includes sickness. We bind Satan, ask God to bind him, speak words against him and do all sorts of things in an attempt to avoid the pain and suffering that Jesus Himself said we would encounter.
God tells us that the purpose of all things, including the attack of the enemy, is that God would use the suffering of it all “to perfect, establish, strengthen and settle” us so that He would be glorified. So be aware of the battle, Satan is real. Don’t freak out, speak incantations over the Devil, or try to shout him out. Instead, resist him by trusting God, knowing that you are not the only one going through this, and knowing that the grace of God is more than sufficient for you to endure and even be transformed by the battle into a person who gives God glory.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Emptiness Of Common Spirituality

And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? (John 9:2)
We are spiritual people because God created us spiritual people. It should be no surprise that, while interest in traditional religion has waned, interest in personal spirituality has continued and perhaps even increased in recent years. But, the spirituality that most seem to have, including many who claim faith in Christ, is nothing more than common spirituality. Common spirituality is based on commonly held beliefs, myths, and personal preferences. It is self-directed, self-defined faith, even when that definition is held by a large group of people.
This is nothing new. In His first advent, Jesus encountered the same kind of common spirituality in His own disciples. They first revealed it when they called Him, Rabbi, rather than Lord. Now, He was their teacher, but if Jesus were teaching a seminary class, I cannot imagine calling Him Doctor or Professor. He would be Lord. They then expressed the commonly held belief that anyone born with a disability was born so because of sin, either their own or their parents. Sickness equaled sin to them. How empty that belief is, even as it is expressed today in many churches and healing conferences.
With just a few words, Jesus revealed the emptiness of their spirituality by revealing the glory of His own, when He answered their question, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in Him.” (John 9:3)
Would you rather hold onto self-defined and common spirituality? If you do, if you define your own belief system, then you must also hold it up. If it fails, if you are sick, or if you encounter trouble and tragedy, then you must be the cause of it since your spirituality is defined by you.
Or, would you rather hold onto an uncommon spirituality defined by God Himself, through His Son, Jesus Christ? Since we are all born dead in our trespasses and sins, the only truly spiritual people are those born again by the Spirit of God into the spirituality of Christ. And, when that happens, no matter what we face, it is for the glory of God, not the condemnation of man . . . or of self. Christ takes common spirituality, buries it, and replaces it with the glory of God.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Denial And Forgiveness

I am part of a group of men who are building a band of brothers, true brothers in Christ. We are using the tool of Men's Fraternity right now to help us and are at the point of dealing with our memories of and relationships with our fathers.

I become so cautious here, partly because I spent years blaming my father for my failure, partly because many times men's groups become father-bashers, partly because our society so devalues true fatherhood, and partly because I am a father and know that if my children's futures are dependent upon my ability to father, they are doomed.

Yet, "The glory of sons is their fathers, (Pr. 17:6)" and we must deal with this most important person in our masculine lives. To fail to do so with adequate humility and respect would end, not in health, but in soul sickness. To fail to do so at all would most likely end in failure to become the men God desires us to be. Too often we deny our past and call it honor, or worse, we deny a sin against us and call that forgiveness. It is not. We must face not only our own sin but those sins committed against us and bring them all to the cross.