Thursday, September 29, 2022

When it Comes to Spiritual Warfare, "We Gotta Do the Rules."

Years ago, when Bay and I were still in youth ministry, our group of high school students joined us from most of the Christian churches around the area. Vividly, I recall one night when we were discussing 1 Peter 5:6-9, and the reality of the enemy of our souls, one of the young men raised his hand, and informed us that his pastor had told his congregation:  "You don't have to worry about Satan! He's not the boogie man; he's not out to get you, or anything."

With that memory stirring in my mind, I was perusing through the internet, and ran across an interesting article in the Washington Post, published in 1995, by a professor from Columbia University, who wrote a book by the same title as the article:

The Death of Satan: How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil.

The author, Andrew Delbanco, writes,

"Once Satan was understood to be everywhere. But, now, when he attacks, he gives the "fatal stab unseen," and his slyness -- his very essence -- is confirmed by the difficulty of recognizing him. Now, the devil's cleverest wile is to convince us that he does not exist. We can track and follow the devil's decline into invisibility, a process that has seemed as ominous as it was inevitable..." 

The remainder of the article is this gentleman's tracking of the slide of the enemy into nothingness.


Basically, Delbanco says, Americans have settled on evil that results from problematic childhood backgrounds.

We've nodded our heads and agreed to "scientifically researched bad behaviors that find their roots in a lack within sociological and/or psychological environments."

But, he says..this is getting tiresome. Some evil just can't be explained away...and, this from a secular author!

I was reminded of a line in a song, no doubt published about the same time, by Christian songwriter, Keith Green, talking from Satan's perspective: 

"I used to have to sneak around. But now they just open their doors. No one's looking for my tricks because no one believes in me anymore." 

There is some truth here, obviously, if what the now-former-pastor of one of our local churches once told his congregation is any indication.

But, CS Lewis warns us in the introduction to his little book, Screwtape Letters, Satan's strategy is not only for us to think too little of him, but, also, too highly (to have an unhealthy interest in him; ascribe him too much power).

This, we know for sure:

No matter what, Jesus-followers need acknowledge we are in a battle with the unseen world.

The enemy, and his military host, exist to deceive us, distract us, and undermine God's glory.

We are in a war with the unseen world. 

As John Calvin (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1:15.13) reminds, 

"We are forewarned that our enemy relentlessly threatens us, an enemy who is the very embodiment rash boldness, of military prowess, of crafty wiles, of untiring zeal and haste, of every conceivable weapon and of skill in the science of warfare. We must bend our every effort to this goal: that we should not let ourselves be overwhelmed, careless, or fainthearted, but on the contrary, with courage rekindled stand our ground in combat. Since this military service ends only at death, let us urge ourselves to perseverance."

..."Since this military service ends only at death...."  

Did you catch that part? 

It either ends at death or we're called home by rapture (oh, come soon, Lord Jesus!)...

And since, that's so, we need take Peter's words (1 Peter 5:6-9)seriously:

Humble ourselves UNDER GOD'S MIGHTY HAND (1 Peter 5:5).  It's easy to remain humble when we recall the mighty hand and outstretched arm of God that led the Israelites out of bondage and into the Promised Land. We're on the same journey, Jesus-followers. Let's remember who our God is: the God who protects, provides, and has a plan that is for our good and His glory (a plan that will prevail, no matter what)...

Cast your cares on the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). The God whose mighty hand and outstretched arm covers us, wants us to bring all the battle worries to Him. Take off the backpack of anxiety and hand it to Him. He'll carry it all... And, in due time will "lift us up" (bring the victory; it is sure!)...

Be alert (1 Peter 5:8). Remain watchful. Be on guard. Recognize who and what we are up against: the architect of all malice and iniquity (Alistair Begg). Be strong and steadfast in your God, who watches over you.

Be sober-minded (1 Peter 5:8). Keep correct thoughts. Think rightly about the enemy and your situation. Remember Satan definitely exists to bring believers to a defeated life; but, keep in mind you and I already have the victory. Jesus defeated him at Calvary. His time is limited. Our God is stronger. Know his strategies and his wiles; his methods and his ways. He's very, very personal when it comes to his warfare (Paul describes it as a wrestling match...face to face, hand to hand). 

Resist the enemy, firm in faith (1 Peter 5:9). Take your stand in faith...strong in the Word of God and the power of Truth, and at all times, pray!

Of course, there's more we need to be aware of in spiritual's simple, but complex. 

One thing I've noticed this week...these first five steps? One hinges on the other. We can't skip steps. We can't jump to number five without doing number one. Goodness, we can't do number two without doing number one. They follow in order...and, sometimes, I find myself battle weary, because I've not consistently done things according to God's order when it comes to the battle. 

In my own pride, I've figured I can just do it myself.

How juvenile!

How like a two-year-old I can be when it comes to warfare.

No wonder, the enemy often laughs at me, rolls his eyes, and dances over me in delight.

As my grandson, Ethan, once wisely stated (at about age 4), "We gotta do the rules...."

Thursday, September 22, 2022

🎶 "I'm in the Lord's Army" 🎶 - How About You?

As I began studying for an upcoming retreat, my research led me to a quote from Pastor Steve Furtick, Elevation Church:

"The birthmark of a believer is a bullseye."


While I'm not one to see the enemy behind every bush (believing that sometimes we simply battle the entanglements of this world, and sometimes we just get in our own way), the spiritual forces of evil are alive and well in the unseen world, and actively working against us. 

When I was a kid, I loved Vacation Bible School. I most loved the singing time, when we'd all gather together in the fellowship hall, one of the teachers would play the piano and we'd sing fun songs about Jesus. My very favorite, because of all the motions, was this one:

"I may never march in the infantry, ride in the Cavalry, shoot the artillery...I may never soar o'er the enemy, but I'm in the Lord's army...Yes, sir!"

Remember it?

It was catchy, fun, and kept us moving (which I NEEDED after having sat for so long listening to Bible Stories and doing crafts, which were often beyond me). 

But, it was more...

I recall feeling like my life had a sense of purpose...

A mission...

A destiny...

Even before I really understood what it meant to give my life to Jesus and follow Him...I felt important.

I was in God's army.

He was calling me, would equip me, and I would fight for Him, because living for Jesus was a battle not a playground! 

I felt like I might, just maybe, be useful for the sake of His cause...

Maybe, just maybe, it was #mywhy (after all, that's what we're all looking for, right?)


Yes, sir!

But, somewhere along the line, perhaps in the midst of the fun, I forgot the seriousness.

I lost the sense of purpose and the importance of being a part of God's army.

We are in a war with unseen forces; and, it's complicated.

Scattered throughout Scriptures, the call to spiritual warfare reminds me of this truth, and I've decided to go back and RE (my prefix for this year) CAPTURE the Lord's call to arms.

I need fresh, new insights and reminders, so I'm digging for both within the Word. My shovel hit this word first:

Spiritual warfare isn't just a guy thing, a pastor, preacher, or missionary thing. It isn't just for the strong and the brave. There's no sexism, racism, or religious exclusions. It's not simply for the experienced and physically strong. It's for warriors and wimps (maybe especially wimps) and women...all who claim to be disciples of the Lord. 

As I wrote the paragraph above, I was, first, reminded of Gideon. 

In the Old Testament, spiritual warfare took literal form as the Lord called His people to battle the idolatry of the nations around them. 

Just so: Gideon (Judges 6).

The Lord calls Gideon, while he's in hiding, threshing wheat in a wine press, where the enemy (the Midianites) could not find him or his wheat.  

From the words of his mouth, we know the condition of Gideon's heart: fear-filled and timid.

He was the youngest of his father's sons.

It's obvious huge doubt about God lodges in Gideons heart, and he's an idol-worshipper himself.

Of all candidates to be a strong military leader, Gideon is the least likely.

But God sees what we don't - His eyes beheld unseen valor: "The Lord is with you mighty warrior (Judges 6:12)." 

Gideon, once surrendered to the Master and confident in God's strength, idols torn asunder, stood firm against the enemy...gathered a tiny army, and brought defeat to the multitude of Midianites that held Israel captive for years. 

Once more in our day, God's looking for the surrendered-weak that He can make strong, in order to do battle against the seen and unseen enemy of our souls. 

I'm reminded of Deborah and Jael (Judges 4) - women who rose to heroine status and again brought Israel victory over her oppressors (Jael's story is impressive: think tent peg to the skull). 

God's looking again for willing warrior women (Hebrew word often translated "noble," is a military term for a warrior, person of great valor, strong one - think Proverbs 31:10): A woman of noble character is a rare find...she's like finding precious jewels. 

In the New Testament, I think of Peter: rash, impulsive, quick to give in to anxiety and worry. "Master, don't you even care that we are perishing?" He certainly wasn't a poster boy for the Lord's army! How dare he try to lecture anyone on resisting the same emotions that dictated his life?

Yet, a different Peter emerged, once surrendered to the Lord, and after Pentecost, we see a bold, confident, even courageous Peter stepping up and speaking out. Folks wanted to know what it was that made the difference in his life...and he was able to give them the key:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith... 

(1 Peter 5:6-9a)

Oops...I inadvertently ran across another lesson in humility.

There is no chance on earth, or under the earth, or beyond the earth, for spiritual victory if there is not humility reigning in the life of a Jesus-follower.

God is looking for humble, surrendered, anxiety-casters, who are willing to keep a sober-mind and be on the lookout for the enemy's attack. It doesn't matter who - even a child will lead them. The well-prepared to resist the enemy are those who heed Peter's own experiences, and the words of his mouth.

Yep, the birthmark of a believer is a bullseye...

We best learn to do battle God's way...

To not fight for victory but to fight from a place of victory. 

-Warren Wiersbe-

If you're a Jesus-follower, you're in His just may have been hiding in a wine press, thinking you're not qualified, wondering if God is all He really says He is, and living out of your fears...but, it's time for each of us, to salute our Commander in Chief and say, "Yes, sir!"

Then humble ourselves under His mighty hand...

PS...more on this topic to come....

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Brokenness, Leadership & Humility: Finally, A Final Lesson

I believe I've come to my final written thoughts on humility.

It's been a journey of conviction.

A study that will never resolve itself in total victory, but remain ongoing til I arrive in that heavenly place awaiting me.

With each step I've taken, the struggle to walk in humility rises before me, ever challenging, ever beckoning me her way...

...but, pride wants its way, and, to be honest, its way seems an easier road to travel and has a nice feel to it (hence, the struggle)!

The road map I've studied came to me via a man named Moses, of whom the Lord spoke these words:

Now the man Moses was very humble (the most humble man on the surface of the earth) - Numbers 12:3.

Moses was no Charlton Heston (TheTen Commandments, but, he was no Prince of Egypt (depicted by Dreamworks), either. Somewhere in between the two, we see the real man.

The Lord needed a man of Moses' character to lead His people-sheep out from Egypt's bondage. 

Yet, even Moses needed breaking and re-molding to be useful. 

Therein is THE KEY to humility.

It's a law unto itself. 

Brokenness leads to usefulness; because brokenness always results in humility. 

(Can I just say, I really dislike this principle! I'd sure like for there to be another path.)

Being the word-nerd that I am, I found the following interesting (stay with me til the end, you might find it so, as well).

The word humble comes from the Latin word (approximately 13th century) humus (of the ground).

Don't confuse it with hummus, the yummy Middle Eastern dip I thoroughly enjoy with Naan or veggies, and made of Tahini and chickpeas.

Humus is the decomposition of plant and animal waste that forms a rich organic soil comprised of crucial nutrients increasing production of fruit and flower...

Don't let that definition get lost on you.

Strong leaders of great integrity, who are capable of finishing strong, without succumbing to pride (which always leads to a downfall) have gone through this process of decomposition.

They are brought low...

All the yucky stuff within the heart is sifted through, broken apart, left to decay and rot away. 

In the end, what is left is "useful to the master and prepared for every good work (2 Tim 2:21)."

What is left is compost! Rich...crucial...resulting in fruit and flower...


I love my veggie garden.

This year it has not thrived.

It has limped along, producing but little for all my effort. 

A little too late, I recognized I didn't compost well enough to make it through the season and finish with lush results.

Oh, I watered. I fed. I weeded. I managed. I just didn't have good compost early-on in the gardening operation.


In the wilderness of Midian, God worked decomposition in Moses that He (the Lord of the Universe) might have rich compost to plant humility in the heart of the man He needed as a fruitful leader of a multitude. 

And, Moses, a man of humility (correction, a VERY humble man) grew out of the breaking of his soul. 

He became nothing, and, yet, was content (Exodus 2:16a), as the Lord worked in him to become one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known.

Yesterday, I watched a video of an announcement from a church in Texas that is compassionately and firmly walking her pastor through a season of "decomposition."

From the elders in the church to the pastor, himself, I saw HUMILITY on display, and I applaud them all for "doing the work" it takes to help their leader walk a journey to heart-healing.

Few leaders today are willing to hold themselves to a higher standard, to live above reproach, no matter how small or insignificant a sin might seem (when comparing to the world not Scripture)...

Few leaders are willing to submit to an authority for discipline and development. 

Few leaders are willing to subject themselves to such embarrassment, to be so honest and vulnerable...

As a result, we have scandal upon scandal within the church of Jesus Christ, instead of grace upon grace leading to faith upon faith, and a true ability to LEAD WELL! 

Certainly, the CHURCH of Jesus needs  those who can LEAD EFFECTIVELY to the glory of God, and are, thus, willing to be broken apart to do so.

Oh, that I might allow the Lord to break me as He needs...

reveal to me what is in my heart (all the unhealthy fruit of pride)...

bring total decomposition in order that humility can grow instead...see great fruit be produced...

and God be glorified!

I wonder if I can pray with an honest what it takes to remove pride from me and grow humility?

It's a frightening prayer...

(Thankfully, I do know this: the Lord is a good and kind teacher; He is gentle when it comes to the breaking...)

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Identity and Humility (this blog comes with a WARNING LABEL)

I'm wondering, as I begin to type, when all is said and done with this morning's blog post, if it will be misconstrued…🤔

I certainly hope not, but I guess that will depend on how well my explanation moving forward.

This morning, I'm contemplating my identity in Christ and how this relates to humility. 

Identity is not a new topic to me.

I speak on our identity in Jesus almost every time I do a women's retreat series. 

I've covered the topic multiple times in this blog...scroll back to August of 2012, and there's an entire series of "i am" being changed by the "I AM..."

Knowing who we are in Christ is incredibly important for Jesus-Followers.

As I start to know and understand who I am IN CHRIST, I walk out the Christian life with more confidence, I live loved, I remain steadfast....and pride takes a backseat at the table, while humility is strengthened. 

Because He is a good, good Father, I am a beloved Child of God.

Because He is Creator, I have been sculpted in His image, which means He sees me as valuable and has a  unique purpose for my existence.

Because He is King of Kings, I am royalty (& the King delights in my beauty...even if I am getting older and more wrinkly).

I think you get the idea. 

My life is different because HE IS THE I AM WHO LIVES IN ME.

Knowing our Identity in Christ should leave us in AWE and WONDER!

Reflecting on this truth, makes me ask these questions, "Who am I? Who am I that I am loved by the King of the Universe? Who am I that I've been forgiven and set free? Who am I that the Sovereign God over All keeps watch over me?" 

It's beyond comprehension...for in comparison to who God is, I AM NOTHING!

Knowing our Identity in Christ should humble us! ALWAYS...

You're probably thinking, there is a "BUT" coming...

...and you are right.

My "BUT" centers around a question of disproportionate theology. 

In other words, I am asking myself, do I have a tendency to lean so far in one direction regarding the issue of identity in Christ, that I fail to be biblically sound...or, bask in the teaching to stroke my ego and, thus,  become more prideful? 

Because, if I do, what happens is that my emphasis on receiving the warm fuzzies that come with embracing my identity in Christ, can lead to pride masquerading as spirituality.

Pride is subtle. 

Pride loves to put on a spiritual mask. 

Without even realizing it, I can become prideful as I receive the positive affirmations that come straight to me out of God's VERY Word! 

If  I’m feeling unloved - God's Word is there to remind me just how beloved I am...and before I know it, I'm basking in His love out of a heart of pride...

If I fearing rejection, God's Word reminds me that the Lord is always FOR ME, always receives me unto Himself; and, before I know it, the truths of His Word are pats on my back to stroke my pride...

If I'm feeling worthless...He reminds me I am worthy because He lives in me; but when it becomes about me and my value and acceptance, rather than HIS's pride.

Again, these concepts of love, and acceptance, and worthiness are TRUTHS to which we should cling, but am I turning them into self-righteous-pride, as opposed to allowing them to humble me? 

GOD'S GREAT GRACE toward me is not simply for my own spiritual "feel-good-about-me!" 


GOD'S GREAT GRACE is to motivate me to live out what the Lord has created me to be...His holy, sanctified, HUMBLE vessel. 

With that I am reminded (AGAIN) of this quote from Andrew Murray:

So, yes, yes, yes!!!! Identity is important...very important!!!

...and, every morning, we should wake up, look in the mirror and remind ourselves that we are (exactly as we are when we step out of bed in the morning), God's beloved child. We are royalty, because we have been chosen as daughters of the King of Kings. We are blessed beyond measure, forgiven, blameless, set apart as a vessel of honor, set free from the bondage of sin, victorious overcomers, and we hold the hope of heaven always before us. There is a time and place for us to declare our identity and live in it...

Then, we should get dressed, wash our face, put on our makeup, brush our hair, straighten our crowns, grab our swords, and


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Foot Washing, Another Lesson in Serving Wirh Humility

Serving and humility…

It seems I really can’t see one without finding the other…and, I’m recognizing Elisabeth Elliot definitely understood this principle! Her thought on the matter has convicted me for some time!

Of course, I've been running across a lot of quotes and different memes on humility as I've been studying the what and the why and the how of "humble." 

But I recognize I really never understood servanthood at all…

In the very first post on this topic, I wrote this:

We are never more like the enemy of our souls (Satan), than when selfish pride gets in our way.

I believe it!

But, I also believe this:

We are never more like Jesus than when we are humbly serving, with little thought to ourselves.

Humility and serving go hand in hand; but, how do you react, I wonder when you serve...and.....NOTHING....

What happens when those you serve see what you are doing, but don't care?

Worse, what happens when they actually treat you like a servant? 

I might think I have a servant's heart; I might even convince you I do; but, deep inside I know better.

I like the pats on the back.

I like the words of encouragement.

I like being noticed. 

Until, it stops, and then I need to do more serving, for more pats on the back, positive affirmation, and gratitude. 

Pride is like that - 

Pride is never satisfied.

It's greedy.

It needs more and more and more.

Not so, humility.

Humility takes no thought to what it receives.

It's willing, like Moses, to serve in obscurity; and, not only willing, but CONTENT to do so! 

Contentment: a heart at rest that accepts, and is even able to flourish, in spite of circumstances. 

Did you see those two words? Accepts. Flourishes.


With this in mind, the following poem by Ruth Harms Calkin has been at the forefront of my brain for the last several weeks.

I keep looking at it.

Maybe if I look at it long enough, I can, by osmosis, serve more like Jesus.

The poem is titled, I WONDER:

You know, Lord, how I serve You

With great emotional fervor in the limelight...

You know how eagerly I speak for You at a women's club...

You know how I shine when I promote a fellowship group.

You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study.

But how would I react, I wonder,

If you pointed to a basin of water

And asked me to wash the calloused feet,

Of a bent, broken, and wrinkled old woman,

Day after day

Month after month,

In a room where nobody saw

And nobody knew.

Jesus gave us an example to follow.

In John 13, He gets up from the table where He's about to eat a meal with His disciples, picks up a towel, wraps it around His waist, grabs a basin of water and washes the filthy feet of His students.

Why would He do this? These very men would run when He got arrested...

One would betray Him for 30 pieces of silver ( the price of a slave).

Another would deny he even knew the Master. Not once, three times!!!

Why? Because we are to follow His example, blessed in the doing (John 13:14-17).

Why? Because, says Warren Wiersbe, "Jesus wanted them to remember the importance of being a servant, walking this earth in humility and holiness..."

This past weekend, I got to wash the feet of 5 beautiful women, whom I'd known for a total of about an 

Doing so was a reminder that Jesus being the Son of God who held all things in His hands, put them down to pick up a basin... 

...That Jesus, clothed in royalty, set aside His garments, to wrap a towel around His waist.

...That Jesus, Sovereign King of Kings, stepped off His throne, stooped low, and took the place of a servant.

While here on earth, it was His turn to serve.

Washing the precious feet of the women in my small group, reminded me I am not Jesus, but I want to look like Him...

It reminded me that while my life is on this earth, it is my turn to serve....and to do so with GLADNESS...not for pats in the back or validation!

The act reminded me, I am nothing, but that He allows good into my life.

It was a perfect reminder of my position in Christ.

What better way to arise and step forth humbly one foot at a time...

Quarry me deep, dear Lord!
It’s my turn to serve and not be served!
Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up!