The Terrorist Next Door

Love

In the wake of the recent surge in terrorist groups, does it make you uncomfortable knowing that known terrorists are able to enter our country? Suppose your next door neighbor was a terrorist, and that tomorrow morning, you observe massive amounts of activity and wake up to a large missile carrier outside your window and see his shed emblazoned with the words, “Death to America!” How would you respond?

I would like to submit to my readers that this exact scenario not only will happen, but has alreadyMissiles happened in towns and cities all across America, and you must be ready to decide how much terrorist activity you will allow in your backyard. The greatest terrorist network has already started moving missile launchers and weapons into position. They are much older than Al-Qaida, more ruthless than ISIS, connected, and well funded, and they already have established base camps throughout our world.

Even though they have collectively declared war, they are hard to spot. Their espionage works not only because they are masters at integration, but because common citizens are willing to defend, protect, and even offer assistance in their unholy war. The worst threat facing America and the world is the embracing of the demonic realm and agenda by Christians.

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, one of his goals was to warn them of the cosmic battle that is taking place on a daily basis (Eph 6:11-19). The war has been raging since the dawn of time, the spoils of war have been servitude and allegiance, and the battle ground has always been our hearts. The thought of giving over the control of our hearts terrifies us, so mankind desperately clings to following his own way. God wants the submission of our entire being, yet we resist Him. The longer this battle rages, the more pain is inflicted upon ourselves and others.

The Great King calls to each heart to end the bloody coup. When we lay down our arms of inssurrenderurgency and bow to His Kingship, God takes our failing emotional economy and builds factories of peace and joy, God removes our sewers of despair and gives us hope, He breaks down our walls of pride and the cities that once could only take and maim become centers of love.

This process is started at the moment of surrender to God (salvation) where we in faith repent of our sins and rebellion against the Great King and claim peace with God through the death of the Prince of Heaven.

After our surrender, God begins to build in our lives a great country. But the problem is, our new country although under a new government, is still open to terrorists, because we invite them in.

Paul warns of making room for terrorists in Ephesians 4:27, “Neither give place to the devil.” Paul is saying, “Don’t give the Devil a plot of land to fire missiles from!” As believers we expect threats and missiles hurled from the outside (Thankfully God’s anti-missile program is top-notch. Isaiah 26:3 Phil 4:6-7). Yet God does not protect us from the terrorists (or the missiles they send) when we invite them into our lives.

In context Paul is specifically talking about dealing with anger. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” Even though the principle of not inviting sin applies to every sin, improper handling of anger specifically will lead to the destruction of our cities.

     Paul does not give Christians an option. He is saying that anger must be dealt with in a godly manner. Notice he does not say all anger is wrong, but simply deal with it according to God’s rules in less than 12 hours (slightly more or less depending on what hemisphere you reside in.)

     Satan is building a launching pad for evil, and that should bother all serious Christians.

Suppose your terrorist neighbor while building his arsenal, knocked on your door and asked you for some extra cash to purchase some Uranium or rocket fuel? The obviousness of your response would not even merit speculation, yet how often do we fork out our financial or mental resources to help Satan send nukes from his home base in our heart?

This constant scenario reminds me of the woe against the ancient Kings of Judah, “Nevertheless he removed not the high places of idol worship.” It does not take long for our cities with our well fed and supplied terrorist to resemble the cities of the unbelievers who are still at war. In war time people get tense, edgy, untrusting, selfish….

After the long siege of Satan, our hearts begin to starve for the way things were, and we then go on the offensive and maim and attack other believers, James 4:1 makes this perfectly clear. “Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you?” We besiege other people (friends, family, co-workers, random people at Wal-Mart), and allow Satan to bombard them from the missile hubs of our heart. We launch these missiles, and they flow from our heart to our mouth wreaking havoc (James 3:9).

  The defilement of bitterness has allowed Satan a no fly zone of safety from which to launch his missiles.  

      Satan knows that even though he cannot keep a believer’s heart for eternity, he can bring as much hell into our life after the initial invitation. It may seem like an innocent grudge for a wrong yet from that fireman-100722__180harboring of anger and resentment, a whole assault of your life will take place. Nothing is sacred for Satan, and once we open the door and give him his “Green Card,” he has no reason to go back.

      Satan will sit happily in his fortified bunker, hurling missiles that will destroy your closest relationships.

How do I know if I have been aiding terrorists? What are some tell-tale signs of the destruction and fall-out of Satan’s bombs?

  • Am I consistently thinking about how others wronged me?
  • Am I wanting to give them a piece of my mind? (instead of a piece of the cross)
  • Am I consistently standing up for my “rights?”
  • Am I afraid to ask spiritual people for help?
  • Am I enjoying the company of wicked people?
  • Am I talking about other’s wrongs to other people?
  • Am I always thinking about going to war?
  • Am I always giving excuses?
  • Do I feel apart from God?
  • Do I hate going to church?
  • Do I lie awake thinking?
  • Do I wait till the other person repents before admittance of wrong?
  • Do I envision this entire list as applying to others?

So what is the cure? If I have allowed Satan to build a network of terrorism in my heart, what do love-699480__180I do? Thankfully, God doesn’t give us commands without the resources to carry them out. Paul gives the answer, look to Christ.  Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

You may have been hurt in ways that are so grievous that it seems impossible to let go of the comforting inner fire of rage. Forgiveness is not easy, nor is it natural, and that is why God has given us supernatural weapons and perspective. I cannot forgive, until I look at the cross of Christ. When I realize the depths of my grievous sins against God and submit to His example, God’s Spirit enables me to let God handle the consequences (Eph 5:18, Gal 5:16, Rom 12:19).

As much as I long to crucify someone, the cross reminds me, I deserve what Christ received.

The hurt and rage we feel against people for wronging us intentionally or unintentionally, cannot exist when we look through the lenses of the cross. It is impossible to see men and women with rage and malice when we are looking at the gift of our Savior. We must take our eyes off of the bleeding Savior, in order to stay angry and continue to let Satan wage war on our lives.

 

Don’t eat the Cookie!

Can you resist...?

Our desires seem like assassins who know us so well, and at the end of the day, they are waiting for us when we least expect them.  

Have you ever sought to please God and vowed to stop a particular sin? Then the next time you are tempted your spirit and mind undergo an intense battle, and you are left broken and bleeding as the enemy carries off your banner of righteousness and mocks your very existence?

   I remember an intense battle with lust as a college student. I had memorized Scripture verse after Scripture verse that told me of the wiles of the devil (I Peter 5:8) and the end of the sinner (Proverbs 7), but even though I wanted deliverance, it seemed like I was trapped in quicksand and the more I fought, the further I sank.

This battle continued to rage until one afternoon as I was preparing for my first youth sermon on the joy of knowing God from Psalm 34:8. God graciously opened my eyes to the truth that I was fighting the wrong battle. The Psalmist declares, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” I was trying to outthink and outmaneuver my desires, nothing I produced or program I could come up with would be powerful enough to overcome the flesh and the devil. The only thing that was going to deliver me from temptation was a desire for God to fill my “stomach” with Himself. This is where the fork meats the table, because my taste buds had been trained to follow after “junk food.” I had forgotten the taste of God. This principle was dramatically portrayed one night when I was making a batch of cookies.

I would like you to imagine someone in your home gets the desire to make some cookies. You hear the clinking and clanging of ccookie 2ookie sheets and bowls as the cookies are being prepared. You happen to walk into the kitchen hoping to get a bit of the dough, and before you are showed out, you notice that the chef has doubled the recipe and added twice as many chocolate chips before wrapping each ball of dough around a piece of caramel. For the next few hours the smell of cookies permeate the house, and all you can think about is the gewy tenderness of fresh baked cookies. You enter the kitchen once again, this time with a new strategy, you ask if you can help in exchange for a tender morsel. Once again you are unceremoniously showed out of the kitchen and told that under no circumstances are you to touch a cookie.

For a few minutes you might be able to block the thought of a cookie from your mind until the oven opens and a fresh batch of cookies sends its aroma seemingly straight to the core of your being. It almost feels as if the cookie is beckoning you to simply hold it in your hand and feel the warmth it exudes and begs you to pull it apart as the chocolate and the caramel drip from its cookity freshness. I would venture that right now you are having a hard time not thinking about a cookie. If I were to pause this story and ask you not to think about the aroma of a freshly baked cookie with luscious chocolate chips and caramel mixed together in a perfect blend of chewy goodness, you probably would be thinking about the dessert I just described.

Temptation works much the same way. We cannot will away our temptations and choose not to think about them. Just like thinking about how you are not going to eat the cookie draws your thoughts toward the cookie, thinking about resisting a temptation will cause us to desire it. There may be times where we will feel we are starting to forget or have victory, but then someone opens the oven door and with a squeak we smell a fresh batch of temptation, and the cycle starts all over again. Are we to just limp along in our Christian life hoping that someday we will find a strategy to win over our sinful desires? No! God has given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, the secret is to change our desires.

Let’s go back to our story. As you are sitting there trying your best to not think about cookies, you are told you cannot have a cookie, because your family is planning on going to a Brazilian steakhouse. Now if you have never been to a Brazilian steakhouse let me describe in miniature what such a restaurant entails.

They are more than an all you can eat bonanza. After you proceed through the salad bar which is loaded with delicacies such as, fresh mozzarella cheese which squeaks in your mouth, Grecian salads lightly tossed with seasoned oil, shrimp mixed with an endless selection of dips and sauces, fresh vine ripened fruits and vegetables, you continue on to the hot plate section and smell the fragrance of a myriad of creamy soups prepared by award winning chiefs. Once your plate is loaded with the finest from around the globe, you go to take your seat and are offered a red and green, laminated piece of paper about the size of a coaster. As long as the paper is green side up, waiters in tuxedos walk in time with live violin music holding onto skewers with freshly cooked meat. There are fifteen different kinds of choice meats, all of which have been marinated and seasoned to perfection. Filet minong wrapped in bacon, so tender you could cut it with your soup spoon, leg of lamb soaked in mint sauce, pork roast seasoned and broiled to perfection, roast beef slathered in its own gravy, salmon and halibut complete with homemade sauces, slow roasted chicken dripping with flavor.

After sampling these fine meats and finally having thirds on your favorite, you push your lobster soup and Italian bread aside and flip the little piece of paper to red, signaling you have had your fill. All the while not once thinking about your lack of cookie.

   If my strategy for resisting temptation is simply trying to ignore it, I am doomed for failure. However, if I shift my focus off of my sin and unto my Savior, then I can go to the buffet line of God’s goodness time after time, and feast on His goodness, and mercy, and dwell on His holiness, and feel his love, and see His wondrous blessings. I will not only have fed my soul with the choicest of meats (Psalm 63:5), but I will have no room for another morsel of temptation.

In regards to some desires (wealth, fame, intimacy, happiness, etc.) God may even decide to allow me to have a cookie, but only after I feast my soul on God’s greatness. If I follow after God and seek His face, I have access to the buffet line of God’s greatness, with or without a cookie I therewith will be content (Psalm 23:5).

 

Holiness cannot be an end of itself, God is our destination, and holiness is a result of pursuing Him.”

 

Is Satan Watching You

 

How is your relationship with Satan? Is Satan watching you? Is He concerned about the havoc you may cause to his kingdom?

In Job 1:1-11, Job is seen from a heavenly perspective. God declares Job to be a righteous man. In the dialogue God asks Satan if he had observed Job, and Satan’s answer shows he had been watching the servant of God. Satan knew many things about Job.

Satan knew Job feared God. How did he know Job feared God? Job worshiped with his life. Job feared God, shunned evil (1), and offered prayers and sacrifices (5). Job walked the walk so loudly that Hell took notice.

Satan knew Job’s situation (9). He knew Job’s resources.  Does Satan have a better understanding of our resources than we do? He knows the untapped power of a focused Facebook account, he knows how the power difference between fifteen minutes of prayer or sleep makes.  He knew that the blessing was God given, he knew that God protected Job. As Satan is not omniscient, it appears that Satan had taken an extra amount of time to study one of God’s righteous saints.

Satan also knew that Job was not his servant, and he was losing worship to the Almighty. The testimony of Job seared the lungs of Satan with its sweet aroma and pleased the nostrils of God. Job was a man of such integrity and testimony that he caused the Prince of darkness great concern.

My prayer is that more believers would follow Job’s pattern and cause Satan to sit up and take notice. Job’s life was a testimony not only to his friends and family, but also to the heavenly host, as Satan watched the firework display of God’s glory.