Have We Lost the Will to Fight?

HAVE WE LOST THE WILL TO FIGHT?

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Psalm 144:1—Blessed be the LORD my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.

We desire victory, but for what? Just to be “better” or “more victorious?” We want strength and the ability to fight, but never take to the field of battle. We are more like gun collectors than marksmen. We are merely shiny blade admirers, more than cunning swordsman. What good is a weapon unused? Harbored strength is not strength at all.

“The weapons of our warfare…”—2 Corinthians 10:4

What are they, these weapons? Do we even know? They certainly are NOT carnal or manmade or any device we wield on our own. Have we labored or lingered with God long enough to look down on the battleground below, the conflict that wages day and night for the souls of men and women on this earth? At some point, in the Christian walk, we SHOULD graduate from the simple milk of personal understanding in the rudiments of faith and start to see the world, the war that wages, and the dire needs of our fellow man…the way God does.

And when we do, we want to do something about it! Crucial burden starts to sink into our hearts, slow but purposed. Great need. Broken behavior. Shipwrecked faith of many a believer. Milquetoast living. Compromise. Biblical illiteracy. No prayer. Apathy. Oh Lord, we see it…but what do WE do about it!?

Enter in said “Non-Carnal Weapons of Our Warfare”

We pray.
We read our Bibles.
We praise, we worship.
We fast.
We disciple.
We fellowship. We bind together. Unity.
We operate in our gifts.
We obey.
We humble ourselves.
We repent.

As you can see, most of these are the antithesis of what we would muster in our own strength or choose to use against a formidable foe. But, speaking very biblically, these spiritual endeavors render results unlike anything in the physical world. Away with cannons, cutlasses, grenades, bombs, high-powered rifles, and the olde battle axe…the weapons of this warfare are about as paradoxical as you can get. Pray takes time in silence, seemingly motionless. Fasting weakens the body, yet turns the spirit into the Hulk. Biblical study turns a foolish grunt into a cunning captain. Spiritual gifts enable a feeble body to accomplish super-human feats. Obedience and humility result in an iron-clad ensign, fortified against innumerable horrid hosts. Fellowship and discipleship forge a band of battle-ready brothers and repentance strikes a death blow to the devil. Our carnal minds will disagree and our flesh will fight the idea that these are effective, but when put into use, the outcome is hard to argue with.

Throw all these at Satan and your flesh and see Who is Victorious.

This IS a fight, so we MUST fight. Our country, upside down and backwards, is screaming for medics and men, fighting men. In an age of the perpetual child, stalwart men must rise to the ensuing onslaught…or perish in cowered obscurity. In the words of Aragorn, “Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.” We Christians, particularly in America, are overrun and bankrupt. We have rusty weapons, dilapidated from misuse…from no-use. It is time, again, to remember these spiritual bows and arrows, these rifles, this artillery, these defenses and fortifications. Remember that there is a war, and it is right outside your door.

Are you out of practice? Haven’t fired your weapon in years? Return to Him Who trains for war, and repent of your desertion . Get refitted. Get outfitted. Get fit…period—back in shape spiritually—AND GET BACK IN THE FIGHT!

Come on gents, we look pathetic! We’ve got work to do. And not much time to do it. The hour is late in these battles. Let us form our ranks. Let us march out to war. For King and Country. For the souls of men.

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Light the Beacon

LIGHT THE BEACON

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If we light our beacon, atop the tallest hill in the most visible place, so then they too can light theirs. But we must climb. We must ascend to the greatest heights with torch in hand. And there must be oil…and there must be a pyre—which, by definition, is a heap of flammable things to burn the dead. Sounds about right: an arduous and determined ascent, carrying a spark-starter, a pursuit doused in Spirit, culminating in a dry, dead pile that needs to burn bright for all to see.

This is us. And this is the call that is sounding.

Lord, light the beacon(s). Draw them and call them north. There is such work to be done. We stand, a remnant, on the precipice of the war of this age…and stakes could not be higher. The hour is grim.

So, may it sound in the night like a clear bell ringing. Yes, a tall fire that makes a noise. Not just a noise, but rather, the blowing of a trumpet. Call us up! Call us in…Bright Trumpeteer! Call us to the front Lord, there is no greater advance.

And let it ring, let it ring! Let it glow and reverberate for all the other hills to see, one after another catching their own lonely funeral blaze with wind, oil, and torch…instilling solid hope. O Captain, they must see…and how will they see? Glorious One, they must hear, and how will they hear? In an age where all is drowned out, where all in white noise and fake fire—how, my Jesus, will they discern pure white flame and clear piercing blast???

This causes an aching in me Jesus. I see an over-saturated, über-stimulated, “super-too-much” herd of dead nerves walking. They rush to paper scenery and faux-backdrop. They crave the new, novel, and hip. They starve while consuming fluff and pictures of real sustenance.

How shall we, Your sounders and beacons, strike the note that is heard and light the blaring edifice that is to be seen??? Why did the Israelites stand and watch? Why did they take the time to gawk at a passion-prophet rebuilding an altar? How did Elijah gather the people to the dispute of their time? How did he do it….

He shut up heaven from rain…
He prayed….
He dressed a sacrifice…
He mocked evil…
He reopened heaven with fire and the hand of God…
He started a public war…
He slew falsity by the River…
AND PROVED GOD MIGHTY AGAIN.

Holy Father, light your beacon again from on high, show Your hand mighty, use a prophet…a man, and BRING HEAVEN DOWN ON EARTH with all Your might.

Do it Lord, or we will soon perish in an age of evil.

Come quickly.

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FORTIFY: A Protective Prayer for Leaders

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As another hero in Israel has fallen, and I can still hear the sound carrying through the trees of the church, I bow my head in brash vulnerability and pray for the captains. Lord, Your leaders…Your men…Your pastors…Your under-shepherds…they are weak in their flesh, as rightly You know. Take up now, their lowly estate; look down from heaven and pity their firebombed position. They seek to stand in the Spirit. They seek to fight on their knees. They pray to hold on in the storm. Help them Jesus! They are busted. WE are busted, and broken!

OUR GREATEST WEAKNESS IS NOT SEEING HOW WEAK WE TRULY ARE.
So come, Almighty One, and be our strength in great depravity. No man can stand; not one can stand in the face of the relentless and blasphemous winds that kick up in our direction. And there is an adversary. And he seeks to scatter us. he seeks to bring ruin to our camps. he seeks to clobber marriages and families. he seek to kill. He seeks to steal. And he seeks to destroy these leading ones much more than the rest. he longs to brutalize those who shake heaven. BUT YOU ARE STRONGER STILL. Father God, come and fortify our positions. Entrench us in our trenches. We are desperate to have our rewards remain until that day we kneel before your throne and cast them at Your Feet.

Oh Glorious, Shining One, be brilliant on our behalf!!! Bring us to the point of spiritual fitness. Help us grip sword and shield with torn-up hands. Surround us with other men that will watch our six and bandage our wounds. Bring the medics. Sharpen the marksmen on our side. Fuel the planes. Load the cannons. Let us man the offensive and fight back! No longer relegated to lying and dying in foxholes. We have weapons in this warfare. Remind us Who is on our side! Remind us that You are mighty in battle. Call to our minds that The Lord is a Warrior!

In this place, may it be so Holy Spirit, no weapon formed against us will prosper.

Show us our breaks in the line. Show us which piece of the armor we have been forgetting to put on. Call to remembrance that Your best men are men at best. But Jesus…YOU ARE MUCH MORE THAN A MAN and Your Victory is already won.

TodayletYourleadersYourmenbefortifiedinJesusNameweprayAmen.

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A Prayer for Younger Brothers

*Recently, a healthy exercise for me has been writing out some prayers for various needs of certain believers and “The” Church or our local church. Prayer is always in danger of being a lost art, or at least, a grossly underestimated tool or weapon of the faith. I post this to embolden our faith to entreat heaven. God loves it when we bring needs, burdens, excitement, joy, frustration, brothers & sisters, vision, or really anything to him in prayer. Here is a heartfelt example of an intercessory prayer I felt The Lord had me write down. This practice has been utilized by many a godly man and woman from yesteryear and I think it is a strong and healthy practice for Believers today.

A Prayer for Younger Brothers

Drive deep Lord…deep into my brothers. Put an insatiable hunger in their young bellies. A hunger for the banquets of deep heaven. Drive deep, deep within them and plant Your burden and Your call. Place within them all that they would ever need to keep their gut-furnaces lit with the coals of purpose. You have desired that they would be purely satisfied with all that is You, and my desire is to feed that satisfaction…that hunger…that fascination.

Oh we need to be fascinated with You again, Lord of Hosts…fascinated and fixed. Help us look up. Get our heads out of the begrudging here-and-now. Lift these eyes to look upon You and all You’ve ever done. Help my brothers, these ensigns, these comrades-in-arms…help them dig in, fortify, fall madly and hopelessly in love with You Jesus. THEY CAN BE SO MUCH MORE!!!

Bring fire upon them! Come baptism of Spirit. Come Dove of flame. Bring to them vision by day and dream by night. Arrest their interest. Help them be not called away be the wicked siren’s song. Let them be spoiled for this world and all it’s lofty falsity. Spoiled. Spent. Ruined!

I bring them before You Father, these are good men with good testimonies of Your faithfulness and grace—but make them GREAT men. Yes, earthshatterers. Yes, groundbreakers. Those that the world will not be worthy of, but by faith, let them move mountains and restore the lost and the broken alike. Move in them presently Holy Ghost, this night!!! Go after them like those hounds of olde, those hunters of heaven. Let them stir in this night and toss in their sleep like the young Samuel. And let the response be the same, “Here am I Lord, your servant is listening.”

Let them listen. And oh, would You speak. And let them hear. Bring coal from the altar. Bring throne-born gift. Bring election sure and ministry unrefusable. And I say again, may there be stirring tonight!!! Some of them, dear Jesus, have well-nigh slipped…let them not go down without this fighting prayer set to flight. And for those with 10, give them 30fold. And for those with 60, give them 100fold. And for those with 100, help them pray that others around them would gain blessing, calling, and honor for Your Name.

Strengthen all the saints tonight, with all-prayer. All-sufficient. All-overcoming. All-providing…all-prevailing PRAYER! And ignite others to pray this very minute, sweet Savior. I know these words are reaching Your throne. May they fill up bowls. And may those bowls spill down blessing upon we, Your humble sons and daughters.

Fill us Holy Spirit. Forgive us Yeshua. Wash us of the dirt of this earth. Make us “in this world, but NOT of it.” Cleanse. Fix. Mend. Reconcile. Protect. Make Your Church strong again. Oh yes, make her strong again. Help her to her feet. Help her get that white dress on. And STAND AND SEE THE SALVATION OF THE LORD!!!

Amen and amen and amen….

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20 Ways To Make it Through a Seriously Long Winter

HOW TO MAKE IT THROUGH A LONG WINTER:

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Battling depression, spiritual slumps, and the plain-old winter doldrums is part of every snowy, cold season in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan…but this year, it has been a mini ice age almost everywhere in the top half of the country! HOPEFULLY, the snow will be melting next week and, by mid-April, we will actually remember what grass looks like and speak the word “Spring” in a non-sarcastic tone.

Through this consternating and arduous winter we have been going through, I have seen believers and non-believers alike struggling, feeling cabin fever terribly, getting sick, feeling cooped up and a host of other “snow prison” emotions. In my nine winters in the far north regions of this country, I have learned a few things about making it through long winters spiritually, mentally, and physically…and I’d like to share those with you: (AND YES, I WILL REPOST THIS AT THE END OF NOVEMBER GOING INTO NEXT WINTER)

1. Read a book, or books (see the Tribe of Judah 100 Christian Books blog)

2. Pray regularly, practice. We all need more time to “practice the Presence of God.” Maybe those of us God has called to live in colder climes are meant to get alone with Him when all else is frozen and difficult. Yeah…maybe.

3. SERVE…find some body to pour into. I learned early on in Bible College, that one of the best ways to get out from under my own, selfish problems or hang-ups was to go find somebody to serve. He will take care of us…and it is easier to remember that when you are spending your time on someone else’s needs.

4. Find a handy hobby: sewing, carving, crafting, woodwork, leatherwork, painting, knitting, etc. Good craftsmanship and artwork often falls from the hands of the seriously bored. Find something you have always wanted to learn how to do, challenge yourself, go on Pinterest or Instructables, take a class, get a book out from the library…and go create something cool.

5. Move around, ie change location often. Find at least a couple other places to just go…even if they are close or boring. When your four walls are closing in on you, go sit inside—or even stand—in another set of four walls. A change of scenery is mental and otherwise comforting and stimulating. Go to the local coffee shop, a friend’s house, your parents’ house, a public lobby with Internet…just SOMEWHERE ELSE!

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6. Game night, code name: Fellowship. Whether it be Apples to Apples, Qwelf, Monopoly, SkipBo, or a rousing game of Rummy with good friends or your wife and kids…have some coffee, eat some sweets or chips and enjoy pure fellowship and silliness.

7. Video games, also codenamed “Fellowship.” NOW, be very clear on this. I am very aware that marriages, jobs, health and even lives have been lost in the name of MMORPGs or video game addiction. However, my friends and I, even our church, use a few bloody video game battles amongst each other in good fun to spend some quality time when our brains and bodies are mush through ministry.

8. Invite somebody over for dinner. Simple enough. Just change up your evening routine (don’t you love how complacent those can be in winter) and invite someone over for some hot food. Heck, maybe even invite a co-worker, a neighbor, or someone from church you don’t know real well…just to get to know them better. Have fun.

9. Learn an instrument, even if it is tambourine. Music, worship, just jamming or fooling around on an instrument you love or would love to learn is plain old good times! Find someone who knows how to play music or guitar or drums or piano that may be interested in helping you get going. Read a book. Watch YouTube tutorials. I know very few people who can’t learn how to play bass, djembe or tambourine at the simplest level. Or maybe even the ukulele….

10. Worship often, sing praises! What a mood lifter and a healthy spiritual practice to boot. Worship has combatted the winter doldrums many, many times in my nine U.P. seasons I have weathered. Again, this may take a little diligence to step into, and you may not “feel like it” at first, but it will pay off in the end. This can be as simple as downloading a new worship album or putting in a tried and true worship CD.

11. Watch a good movie. Some I would recommend are: Most, The Sea In Between, Defiance, We Were Soldiers, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Amazing Grace, Book of Eli, Prince of Egypt, City of Ember, Ushpizin, Fiddler on the Roof, Band of Brothers, and the list could go on. NOTE: I said watch “a” movie, not 14 hours of Netflix in a row or four DVD’s!

12. Blog. There are some things in my life that only writing can fix. Something about the processing of thoughts and the thoughtful communicating through well-chosen words. I love it.

13. Journal: see statement made above. But here is where I also write down things The Lord is showing me. I also record Scriptures, prayers, and general questions in life.

14. Push yourself! Whatever we try to do when it is hard to try to do anything, we are gonna need some serious discipline and drive. Some days, going outside is almost completely out of the question. Then you can’t focus reading, or you break a tool or project you are working on, or the Internet goes out while you are trying to work on editing photos or post a blog. There are those really, super rough days where you just have to push yourself to do something. Prayer and reading the Bible help much, as well as asking for help from the Holy Spirit. Keep going! The righteousness man or woman will try seven times and fail or fall, but ya gotta get up every time! Trust me, it does work.

15. Don’t sleep too much. Too much sleep can be an enemy of an active or productive winter. Even when it is cold, dark and/or ugly outside, this area of life demands the utmost of vigilance to maintain. Here’s a tip: even as the days get shorter try to keep waking up at the exact same you did during the fall or long days of summer. That extra hour or two in the morning, and not staying up seriously late, will help continue in a good sleep pattern (6-8 hrs.).

16. GO OUTSIDE! Even if it is a five minute walk, bundled up…. Most people can walk. One of my friends UP here in the Upper Peninsula who recently moved to Calvary Chapel Hoth (hehe) has made it part of his daily routine, to get acclimatized to our weather, just by going for a ten or fifteen minute walk every evening with as much winter clothes on as possible.

17. Find a winter sport: snowshoeing, ice fishing, dog sledding, fatbiking, cross country skiing, snowboarding, walking the dog for ten minutes…sledding! Activity will make you feel alive. Get some blood pumping. Burn some calories. Breathe some, albeit chilly air, but fresh oxygen nonetheless! THIS WILL DEFINITELY HELP YOU HAVE A BETTER WINTER…and not feel so lethargic.

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18. Build an igloo, snowman, or ice castle. Sounds like child’s play, but—especially if you have kids—you would be surprised what some good old winter fun will do for morale.

19. Go on a retreat. Even if it is three miles away. A change of geographic location in a long, hard winter that can eat up four or five months of the year, is almost paramount to survival. If you can afford it, get around some extended family, friends in another (maybe warmer) town. Go. Breath. Go shopping. Even if it for a new toilet brush. Even a Wal-Mart trip or decent drive can help in this way.

20. Listen to good music. Some music I recommend is: Josh Garrels, Liz Vice, Rend Collective, All Sons & Daughters, Ascend the Hill, Hands, My Epic, Phil Wickham, The Ember Days, the Psalters, anything the Interpose Productions produces, Justin St. Thomas & The Funky Fresh Fellowship, Overcome, Extol, the Star Wars soundtrack…. And many, many more.

There, I really hope that helps! Print this off, and tape it up inside your locker for next winter.

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How to Seek God: Get in There, Stay There

*A topic that comes up often at Calvary Chapel Iron River, where I pastor and teach, as I’m sure comes up in many a church, is how to seek God. How do we hear Him? What does that look like? How do I build the habit? Well, here’s a short piece I wrote a while back to answer those questions and create a shotgun, rinse-and-repeat, type of approach to the subject. Get in there…stay there. Enjoy the Lord.

He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Pray. Seek the Holy Spirit. Stop. Pray. Seek the Holy Spirit. Stop. Search the Scriptures. Has He spoken to you yet? Search the scriptures again, and as you do, revel in His Presence. As you pray, ask Him for a hunger for his Word—with understanding. But don’t just want to “get answers,” learn to GET HIM. Pray some more. Do what He tells you. Even if it is illogical. Faith is not common sense; common sense is not faith. If you are dead-set on hearing The Lord and His will for your life, then continue. Foster spiritual discipline. Enjoy prayer. Enjoy early, dark-morning moments with Him. Fall in love with the interruptions from heaven when you need to just sit back and soak in His Presence. Abide in Him THERE. Live there. Have your being there. ONLY move…from there. If it is hard, keep going. If you need to hear Him loudly, clearly, FAST. Remove distractions. Remove amenities from your life. Make training yourself to hear HIS Voice your main aim and goal. Pray. Seek the Holy Spirit. Wait. Stop. Do what He says. Search the Scriptures. Know them. Live them. Praise Him in return for the Truth you’ve received. Grow. Share what you’ve heard and seen. Spill out from an overflowing cup. Serve others. Praise Him, for the beauty of His holiness, as you understand His closeness. Seek Him, only Him. Enjoy Him. Enjoy all that is about Him. And rejoice that you have access to him, that He has brought you near. Pray. Seek the Holy Spirit. Get in there…and never leave.

For He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.

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THE BIBLELANDS: ISRAEL TRIP 2014

THE BIBLELANDS: ISRAEL TRIP 2014

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Less than two weeks ago, my wife Grace and I returned home from one of the greatest journeys of our lives, hands down. In one of the craziest seasons of this new year, God had opened a door that no man, including this man, could shut. After over 12 years of wanting to tour Israel, and even shooting this trip down twice—He made a way like only He could.

So, a whole 24 hours after the wonderful conclusion to our second annual dog sled race, that we just happen to direct, we were throwing all that we needed in a few bags and jumping in a car to drive two hours north, only to wake up at 4:00am and hop a plane to Chicago. No, we weren’t breathing too well at this point and our brains were certifiably numb. Not the time frame I would have picked, but at this point, God wasn’t asking anymore, He was telling.

At any rate, we made it to Tel Aviv after some winter delays in Newark and getting to hang out with Orthodox Jews in the airport. Even in the airport and across the ocean in the plane, Jesus was opening my eyes to more…more of Him…and more of the great need for Him. Watching those men, and women, pray with some sense to touch the Almighty—after we landed in country, I would see some of the incredible extents religion has sought to get to God. (More on that later)

But I would also see the simple, humble paths our Lord had taken to get to us. The mean streets, the lowly lineage, the base upbringing, the homely hometown…they all spoke of God making it easier on us to come to Him than we make it on each other.

From Tel Aviv, everything got small. Yeah, small. It’s not a big country. Israel, roughly, is the size of New Jersey. It takes about five hours to drive from top to bottom and not more than and hour and some change to drive across. Small. And even it’s size spoke of the greatness of our Savior to come to such a place.

A quick stop in Joppa or Yafo, as they call it (Hebrew has no “J” you know), and things just started coming to together and exploding at the same time. Jonah bailed here. Simon the Tanner lived there. Basic. Profound.

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The next several days were a blur. We spent the whole first day in Petra, Jordan…had to cross a formerly menacing border. We made it and drove two hours through the wilderness, the same biblical wilderness that the Exodus folk trekked through. We saw where Aaron was laid to rest, the book of Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Then we came to Petra, and Indiana Jones, eat your heart out….

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In a word, like many other places we would see in the ensuing days, Petra WAS history. Probably built by some folks called the Nabateans. They were ancient and mentioned in the Bible. At Petra, we saw gorgeous world-wonders of sandstone tombs, temples, and horrible high places. Yeah, the biblical high places people don’t like to think about, here kings of old slaughtered even their own children to evil idols. Makes you think. That one got me a bit.

I also heard the sermon of the fig tree, another sermon. It was the one where you saw the fig tree, a type of the nation of Israel, growing straight up through feet, FEET of rock and still growing. Tough. Unstoppable. Cursed but not destroyed. Through countless exterminations and setbacks, still growing as if God Himself had a plan for it. Yeah, sounds about right.

TO BE CONTINUED

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