Category Archives: Spiritual Warfare

Don’t Allow The Enemy a Foothold

As I prepare for my trip to Colorado in 2 weeks, one of the many things they asked us to do is to re-read John Eldredge’s book, Wild at Heart.  When I first saw this on the list, I thought, “really?”.  I’ve already read it 3 times over the past couple of years.  After going through some of the other things, I picked the book back up again began to read it once more.  After not reading it for a year and half, I was immediately sucked in again.  The reason being is the practical teaching that Eldredge placed in this book.

41ebvat8gvl-_sy344_bo1204203200_My last post a couple of week’s ago, I wrote about the Father’s restoration.  I thought more about that as I read through this book. I’m on the last couple of chapters now.  I realize just how desperately I needed restoration again and how complacent I was getting in my own spiritual discipline.  Life moves so quickly, so fast, and mine is no exception.  I’ve been on such a fast track that I think my time with God became more of an obligation, than a full on desire to be with God and walk with Him.  It really hit me yesterday, when I was sitting in prayer and a million thoughts began to run through my head, distracting me.  Later I was sitting and reading the book again and on the first page I was on, it talked about this very thing, being in prayer and just consumed with so many other things.

In essence, this is a battle that the Enemy is waging against us.  Knowing you’re trying to speak with the Father, the Enemy immediately thwarts us in some way.  I recognized that this was once again, another one of his tactics to distance me from the Father.  Satan will try in every way he can to pull you way from the Father.  William Gurnall stated, “It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell, it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons.

So what do we do with all of this?  How in the world do we handle this?  Knowing we are in a world at war.  Knowing as Jesus said, that thief wants to kill and steal and destroy.  Knowing as Peter stated that our adversary, the devil, prowls around the world, looking for someone to devour.  What do we do?  Discipline!  Being disciplined every day to walk with God, not out of a sense of obligation, but from the reality that we are in a world at war and we need to be able to stand strong and firm in the faith of who we are in Christ.

Spiritual discipline seems so hard for many of us though.  John wrote, “A man will devote long hours to his finances when he as a goal of an early retirement; he’ll endure rigorous training when he aims to run a 10k or even a marathon.  The ability to discipline himself is there, but dormant for many of us.”  In essence, although it requires work, when we have our own goals in life, we can find a way to discipline ourselves to attain those goals.  The Father has the goal of walking intimately with each and everyone of us.  It’s readily available to us, yet we find it so difficult to do.  We don’t want to get up in the morning.  We don’t feel the sense of connection with the Father when try praying or reading Scripture.

This may, for many of us, be easier said than done, but we have to become more intentional, more disciplined through real prayer, meditation, fasting, submission, journaling, and studying of Scripture.  All of these disciplines coincide together.  If we don’t get intentional about how we walk with God and if we don’t stay on alert through this armored with the full Armor of God, which He has given us, the Enemy will easily gain a foothold in our hearts and find a way to take us out.armor-of-god_seriesbutton2_raster_web

Eldredge wrote, “Against the Evil One we wear the armor of God.  That God has provided weapons of war for us sure makes a lot more sense if our days are like a scene from Saving Private Ryan.”  God has given us the armor for a reason.  This is no fairy tale we live in.  Don’t live in fear of the Enemy, but rather live with a sense of knowing he is there and wants in every way to destroy your connection with the Father, through lies, deceit, pain, and struggles.  Being disciplined enough to prepare yourself each day and not walk through this world, blind to this reality will help you stand stronger.

This armor is what you need and you need to pray it over your life every day, authentically. Put on the belt of truth, choosing to live a life of honesty and integrity, the breastplate of righteousness, knowing that His righteousness can stand against any condemnation and corruption, the shoes of the Gospel of peace, choosing to live for the Gospel at any moment.  He has given us a shield of faith to deflect the arrows that the Enemy will try to fire our way.  Those arrows come in the form of wounds, sin, agreements, and anything else meant to draw you from God.  We have the helmet of salvation, which declares nothing can now separate us from love of Christ and our place in His Kingdom. Lastly, we have the sword of the Spirit, through which the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth’s through His Word to enable you to counter the assaults of the Enemy.

Being disciplined and intentional enough each day to walk with God and pray His full armor over your life, will help you to be prepared for the onslaught that is to come.  We will continue to be attacked.  Look around you.  People we love are being taken out everyday.  It’s a reality.  We have to be prepared and discipline ourselves to truly walk in this reality and walk with the Father allowing Him to come over our lives to Father us and guide us in the way we should go.  It’s a daily struggle.  Don’t let complacency set in.

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Taking Ownership

There’s been a thought that has been on my mind quite a bit these last days.  That’s the idea of personal responsibility.  This is something that seems to be lacking so much in this new entitlement culture that has been created today.  Nothing seems to be of our own doing.  The same can be said for our struggles, sins, and wounds.  Yes, we have wounds in our lives that can have a drastic effect on lives.  Yes, we live in a world that is steadfastly set against our faith and are fighting an enemy in Satan that, as Jesus says, wants to steal and kill and destroy our hearts and pull us further away from God each and every day.

With all of the things that can come against us in this life, it’s so easy to forget our responsibility in it all and that we have a choice in how we choose to respond to struggle.  There is a way to respond and although it may not always be easy to do so, sometimes the most difficult decisions and responses are the ones most needed.  The key is choosing to take ownership of the problems you’ve faced and bad decisions you’ve made in order to move beyond them in freedom.  Not with band-aid solutions, but with real mind and heart renewal.

7b3d3a4d27-f9d2-449c-81fd-4a49f805e6fb7dimg400Dr. Larry Crabb writes in his book, ‘The Marriage Builder,’ “I am unalterably opposed to any line of thinking that undermines the concept of personal responsibility, and I find myself in general agreement with those who insist people are accountable for choosing godly responses to life’s situations.”  It’s amazing how true I have found this to become.  Many people are stuck in the the feeling of ‘woe is me’ and do not try to discover ways to deal with the their sins and wounds in a responsible and godly way.

thingswelearn-01-2I remember being out at Wild at Heart and I was in deep prayer just dealing with my wounds and sins.  I had a couple of guys join me to pray over me and the one thing that really stuck to me, going beyond just allowing Jesus into my wounds was the prayer and encouragement to forgive myself for allowing those things to hold me captive for so long.  I had to also take ownership of the decisions I made that were done in a way that ran from God rather than going to where He wanted me to go.  The Lord was calling for a reinterpretation of everything to understand that this was not just on others, it was on me as well.  Actually most of it was, because, although I did not know better, I did not choose to respond in a godly way before.

Crabb goes on to further write that, “Because our human nature is stained in every part by sin, the work of sanctification is no simple matter of ‘don’t do it your way, do it God’s way’…Merely changing what we do will not change who we are. The cure for selfishness and fear that control so much of what we do cannot be reduced to shallow solutions…We need to understand the wrong goals we have set, honestly face how we feel, and deal with our sinful and painful emotions in a way that reflects our confidence in God’s unconditional acceptance.”

Dealing with our emotions in a a way that reflects our confidence in God’s unconditional acceptance.  This such a key thing.  If we choose to sulk and choose to not move beyond our past sins an struggles, no matter how much we say we believe, it is showing that we do not have confidence in God’s unconditional acceptance.  As my pastor says, I’m thankful to have a God that gives second, third, fifth, and tenth chances.  We can spend so much of our God’s running from God and not trusting in Him and His grace.  We can spend years of our lives blaming everybody else for our struggles and not doing anything to move beyond them.

Let me tell you something…and this comes from real life, personal experience. Taking real ownership of my sins, wounds, and bad decisions and then turning all that to Jesus in full repentance, allowing His full restoration of my heart and mind each day, has given me so much clarity to see that I have a real choice in how I respond to my own junk and everything else in this life.  I can either sulk and have a poor me attitude, or I can choose to have a godly response that does not let any of it define me.  My identity in Christ now, not in my former self and the same can be said for everyone, if you choose to turn to Him in real faith.

The bottom line is to renew your heart and mind.  You have a role to play in altering where your story goes.  You can easily choose the path that blames your past and the rest of the world, but you can also choose to truly allow Christ to set you free from that.  Is it always easy, NO.  You will fight it all the time, but when your thoughts are renewed truly in Christ, you will find it so much easier to not let that junk hold you captive, but rather respond in a godly manner, repent fully, and move forward in real freedom.  As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I become a man, I did away with childish things.”  When we learn to truly renew our minds and the way we respond to struggles, we do away with the habits of the old self that are in spiritual adolescents and move forward with greater maturity.

Fighting On Three Fronts

How often do you think about the spiritual warfare that we face in our lives each day?  When you think spiritual warfare, how do you picture it?  Do you think about angels and demons battling it out and Satan in the mix trying jack things up?  The subject of warfare is on my mind often.  I’ve really come to grasp the reality of this through my own life experiences where I’ve been able to recognize the reality of it and through others around me.

I was with Amber on Sunday in our meeting and study with our church small group.  We are doing a study of Ephesians and talk of warfare came up.  I began to talk in terms of the spiritual realm and the warfare that goes on in that aspect.  I referred to Daniel 10 when Daniel had prayed and began fasting for 3 weeks.  A angel finally comes and tells Daniel that God heard him the very day he prayed, but it took him 3 weeks to because the prince of the Persian was keeping him back and he had to call on Michael, one of the chief princes in Heaven’s armies to help him.  It’s a reminder that just as this warfare was going on before, as we in Scripture, just as Jesus had to resist Satan in the wilderness, warfare still goes on today in many ways.

I thought about this more later I really began to realize just how much warfare we face and where it all comes from.  I began to think that, in reality, we are faced with, everyday, fighting a war on three fronts.  It’s a battle for every part of our being that we face.  One front is clear and that is the enemy, Satan and his armies.  We are faced with him everyday or those fallen with him.  We are warned repeatedly about it.  As John 10:10 shows, Jesus stated that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”  Peter tells believers to be on alert because our “adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  This is a given and we know this.  If Satan himself is not coming after us to take us out, his armies are in some fashion.

As a part of the assault we face, there are two other fronts we have to battle in that the enemy uses.  The next is against this world and those around us.  Because we are a fallen race, we are faced with daily battles with people around us.  There is so much in this world that is designed, much of it by the enemy, but it is designed to draw us away from things of God.  To draw us away from Jesus and the grace offered through Him.  This world can take you out in such a big way.  I’ve seen it for years and even fell victim to it.  To find yourself in a way that you begin to do things that others expect of you.  This could be choosing a path in college and a career.  Allowing the problems of others to effect you in some way.  Simply seeing so much despair in the world and losing those we love in ways that we don’t understand causing us to question life and our faith in many ways.

The third front is within ourselves.  The battle with the false-self.  This is something we don’t think about enough, but all to often we are faced with ourselves.  The decisions we make day to day.  Choosing to fall to sin and temptation.  Choosing to live life behind a fig leaf and not coming from hiding to face the false-self and renounce it.  There is a glory in each one of us, that God created in each of us.  It has been veiled since the fall and we are faced each day with whether to let that glory shine through or to hide.  We are restored in Christ, should we choose to follow Him and just as Paul said, we should be “renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:23-24).

This is a daily battle within ourselves to seek Christ’s restoration everyday, putting on the whole armor of God to fight each battle.  Spoiler alert!!! Christ has won the war, but until his return and the coming of the Kingdom, we continue to face these battles on all sides everyday.  I know it can sound all mystical and strange to some to think of spiritual warfare, but it is very real and it comes at us from every angle.

978-0-7852-8829-9Don’t neglect this important part of our reality.  I know I have written about it many times, but only because it is on my heart a lot and it is so real, yet many refuse to believe it or are just completely oblivious to it all.  Remember, you are created in God’s image and the closer you draw to Him, the harder the battles will become.  William Gurnall stated, “It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons.”  They will come at you head-on, they will attack through those around you, or come at you from within your false-self.  As John Eldredge wrote in Waking the Dead, “The is the heart of our Enemy.  He is determined to hinder and harm and ruin God’s image bearers.

The war is real, the ongoing battle is real.  The enemy will do everything he can to take us out.  To steal and kill and destroy us. What will you do to stand against the enemy from within you and within this world?  Don’t deny it exists, recognize it, and stand firm in the faith and in the strength of the Lord’s might.

The Fog of Religion

I’m going to talk about something today that will not be very popular with many people.  This has to do with the religious veil that is pulled over many of our faces still to this day.  A veil that Jesus himself brought down and that was torn in two, forever opening the door to the Father through Christ.  I guess it’s appropriate that this is on my mind today on Ash Wednesday.  This day is observed by many as the start of Lent, leading up to Easter.  Even before I fully came into my faith, something never sat right with me about it all.  Now that my eyes have been opened, I see it more clearly.

We have a serious religious problem across the Christian faith.  I guess it’s bound to happen over a 2,000 year period as messages get skewed and people begin to prop themselves up through the creation of new religious practices.  While Lent and Ash Wednesday are not referenced anywhere in Scripture, I don’t have an issue with people that want to observe this time.  The problem lies in the motives of the heart.  There are many people and I know many, that use the time leading up to Lent to indulge however they want. To live like hell and just whatever.  Then Lent comes, they get the ashes on their forehead and then portray to be living a like a Christian for 40 days.  Easter comes and goes and right back to life as usual.  Living a life in Christ.  Seeking holiness and sanctification is not for only 40 day out of the 365 days we have each year.  This is meant to be a 24/7 365 life.  People think that this time can make up for the rest of their crazy living.   Doesn’t work that way.

a43673c9d067ac92903fa8250de42be5In his book, ‘Beautiful Outlaw,’ John Eldredge speaks to the religious fog and how Jesus himself was very much anti-religious.  That’s who he went after directly more times than not through the Gospels.  John says this, “The religious fog uses sanctified worlds and activities, things that look and sound very Sunday school to distort our perception of God and our experience of Him.  It is cunning as a snake and adaptive as the flu, infiltrating our practices to make them ever so false.”  Read the Gospels and as John stated, there is one thing that is unmistakably clear…religion is the enemy.  “Every hostile encounter Jesus has is with very “churchy” people.  This spirit is the great enemy of our life with God, and it is this spirit that Jesus warned his boys about when they were whispering in the boat about the bread” (See Matthew 16:6-12).

Religion is a major problem that we to contend with.  Religion is built by man on rules and regulation that continually build up larger walls between man and God.  Jesus tore those walls down.  Our salvation, our freedom, our restoration, our eternity lies with Him and Him alone.  Not in religious practices and rituals.  We are to be disciplined spiritually through prayer, studying and learning Scripture, and so on, but getting caught up in religious discipline and practices can be a real problem and can begin to pull you away from the heart of God.  Following Jesus does not require the burden of religion.  Matthew 11:29-30, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

9780060694425_p0_v2_s192x300Why do we forget this?  There is a cost to following Christ as it will pull you away from many around you, even if you are close them them, if they do not follow as well.  However, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Jesus did not put up more religious walls to shield us from God.  No…He opened the door. The goal of living a life in Christ is to live as Christ lived.  Not to follow every little thing that He may did, specifically, but to follow His example.  In ‘The Spirit of the Disciplines,’ Dallas Willard explained it this way, “The secret of the easy yoke is simple, actually.  It is the intelligent, informed, unyielding resolve to live as Jesus lived in all aspects of life, not just in the moment of specific choice or action.” 

I have grown to become very much against religion.  Actually, I hate religion.  It is the enemies ploy to skew the message and the Good News to pull us away from the heart of God and truly living our lives in Christ.  Christ is the example, not the pompous religious pharisees of today that prance around with so much pomp and circumstance just as the pharisees and religious leaders in Jesus’ time did.  Christ challenged them directly and fiercely.  We should not let our lives fall into their trap again.  Clear the religious fog and live in the freedom and restoration found in Christ alone and is directly available to each and everyone of us.

No religious ritual can ever make one’s heart right with God.  That only comes through the grace and spiritual blessings of the Father through the works (life, death, resurrection, and ascension) of Christ Jesus.  Religion keeps you in chains and bondage behind a veil. Jesus tears down the veil, breaks those chains, and sets you free.

The Warfare Intensifies

I’ve become a firm believer in the existence of spiritual warfare.  I’ve experienced first hand and the evidence of it is all through Scripture.  It’s been around since time began.  Jesus encountered this warfare in the wilderness when He was tempted by Satan.  Jesus warns us about this war by.  In John 10:10 we are told that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”  Peter puts out the warning in 1 Peter 5:8 to believers that our, “Adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”  Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:11 to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

These are just a few examples in Scripture, but it’s been going on from the very beginning.  There is a war in the spiritual realm and we are right in the midst of that war.  We have gained victory through Christ, but I don’t think we would warned about it time and in Scripture if the war weren’t still going on.  Jesus has been given authority, but this world is still fallen and the enemy still prowls this earth with his armies with one goal in mind.  To destroy the human heart and pull us further away from God by taking us out through warfare.  He knows he stands no chance against God, so instead he attacks that which is nearest to God’s heart, which is the human race.  Imago dei.  God’s image bearers.

As I mentioned, I’ve experienced this warfare first hand in many ways.  There are many that believe if you come to faith in Christ, you should be without problems.  The fact is, often times, the believer, is the one who has to battle the most.  The enemy currently has the non-believers already, which are the lost we need to fight for.  The enemy will next try to take out those which do believe through various ways.  The closer to you come to God, many times, the harder the battle will become.  I’ve experienced it and I’ve seen it in people I love that have been surrendered to Christ for years.  The enemy will continually try to get you to fall back.

I’ll give a couple of examples that have happened to me and to my family in the last year.  One, I wrote about recently, which happened before leaving for Wild At Heart.  I spent most of January 2015 suffering continuous headaches.  Had never had them like that before, but they were relentless.  Almost to the point of my cancelling the trip.  When arriving and John Eldredge says after prayer, “Great job men…You’ve made it,” the headaches left.  I knew after that, this was warfare.  The last week, before getting to baptize my family this past Sunday, we came under attack again.  It was disruptive to the point that we were under such distress.  We regrouped as a family, prayed over it and were freed from that leading to a wonderful and unforgettable day.  Being stronger in the faith, we recognized the attack for what it was and took the steps to fight back though the power of Jesus Christ.

There is no way to deny that this warfare exists.  It’s apparent throughout this world.  The enemy is using so many different things in this enlightened and post-modern world to take us out and draw us away from the heart of God.  The answer in this is Jesus Christ.  Stand firm in our faith in Christ and we can be victorious through Him against the warfare we face.  Billy Graham is quoted as stating, “Whenever I am conscious of Satan’s presence, I try to follow the formula once offered by a little girl: “When Satan knocks, I just send Christ to the door.”  The answer lies in Christ.  Bringing the blood, life, and authority of Jesus against every evil power we face.

Armor yourself everyday with the full Armor of God.  Pray for it every day.  The belt of Truth, breastplate of Righteousness, shoes of the Gospel, helmet of Salvation, shield of Faith, and sword of the Spirit.  Do this in prayer and by staying in God’s Word.  This is your armor.  Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword…”  

037512John Eldredge writes in his newest book, Moving Mountains, “Resist, Fight back. Take your stand. The Scripture is very clear on this point. First, Jesus models it; the the disciples do it; the Paul and the early church. To make it all perfectly clear, the command to fight is also written down in black and white.  This is part of what it means to be a Christian.”  

James 4:7, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  We must submit the Lordship of Jesus Christ and stand firm resisting the attacks of the enemy.  The closer to press to God, the harder the battle will become.  The attacks will persist as the enemy wants nothing more than to take you out and pull you away from the heart of God.  He knows he already lost the war and he wants to take as many of us with him as he can in each individual battle.  Don’t let him claim victory in the battle over you and over those you love.  Resist and stand strong

Trust Him Through The Distractions

You ever feel like life is overtaking you?  Like there is just so much going on that you can’t tell if you’re coming or going.  If you say no, then I don’t think you’re honest with yourself.  I think at one time or another we have so many things piled on that it gets difficult to stay afloat.  I certainly had one of those weeks this week as I began a new semester of school on top of increasing work demands.  I found myself at a point where I was just spent.  I stared at my computer screen last night to finish some work that was due for one of my classes and the mind was racing.  When you get to that point, it definitely gets difficult to focus and get anything accomplished effectively.  I was sitting in prayer this morning and called out to Jesus. I needed to reset myself.  To get my life…my body, soul, and spirit realigned.  I left the gym and came home and stopped again.

I share this because it helped me to remember that through all of life’s demands we need to trust in the Lord, knowing that Jesus is enough. I’m reminded of something I heard recently, which is that life is filled with a thousand distractions.  Things that will try to pull you away from the heart of God and His call on your life.  It can be so easy to let all of that just consume you and take you out.  If you let it, the world will devour you and spit you back out into a heap of nothing with no sense of direction or purpose.

Bruce Larson stated that “On days when life is difficult and I feel overwhelmed, as I do fairly often, it helps to remember in my prayers that all God requires of me is to trust Him and be His friend. I find I can do that.”  When we find that all just need to trust in God and follow His lead, there is a greater sense of peace to be found in that.  Does that mean we will be able to get rid of all of these troubles?  Absolutely not.  While we live in this fallen world, we will continue to have these kinds of things happen.

GraceIsSufficientPaul writes in 2 Corinthians 12 that to keep from exalting himself he “was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud” (Vs7).  In verse 9 he reminds that Jesus says “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  He goes on to say that “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”  

This is important to remember.  The grace we are given because of Jesus Christ is sufficient.  We need to learn to let go of those moments of weakness.  Those times when we just feel completely overwhelmed and unsure of our direction.  Come back to the Lord and remember that Jesus + Nothing = Completion.  He is enough.  Troubles will come.  It’s a part of this world.

Even Paul recognized he had to deal with this thorn of the flesh, whatever that was for him, particularly.  Troubles come and troubles go.  We won’t be without troubles in our life until we enter the Kingdom.  With that as the case, it is important to remember that Jesus is enough.  Trust Him through all of our troubles and pains. Whether small or big, trust Him.  His grace is more than enough.

the-sacred-romance

I am reminded this morning from The Sacred Romance by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis that we live in a larger story that is far beyond ours where God is the central character.  He is the hero of the story that we live in and we belong to Him.  Eldredge also wrote in Waking The Dead that, “When we are in the presence of God, removed from distractions, we are able hear Him more clearly, and a secure environment has been established for the young and broken placed in our heart to surface.”  Walk in His presence and trust Him through it all.  Trust in Him through the troubles and through all of the distractions.  He is enough.  Trust in God’s heart and His endless pursuit of ours.  That’s eternal.  That’s where life is found.

Trust in Him at all times, O people. Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. – Psalm 62:8

Daring To Risk

There seems to be a theme that has been building in my life that has really began to come full circle as we begin this year.  I wrote about this last week when talking about living an adventure and that theme falls back to risk.  Throughout life there is the challenge to enter into risk or to avoid it.  To try things that are dangerous with an uncertain outcome or to play it safe and follow the straight and narrow.  There are good risks and bad risks.  When I was a kid, we didn’t think twice about stacking all kinds of junk and leaning a long board against it for a ramp to jump our bikes.  What was probably even less genius about it is that the ramp was on the driveway and the landing point was the road.  We certainly had our share of close calls with cars flying through.

There’s another type of risk that is good risk.  It may still be dangerous.  It can leave you with a lot of uncertainty, but the outcome in the end will be more wonderful than you can imagine.  That is the risk to follow Christ.  The risk to say to the world that I don’t belong to you and I am going to follow where God leads.  This may not seem like a risky thing on the surface to some, but this type of risk is more opposed than anything in this world.  There is so much spiritual warfare pitted against anyone that wants to follow God’s lead.

I remember this time last year.  I was just a couple of weeks out from flying to Colorado for the Wild at Heart Boot Camp.  As the day drew near, I came under attack, although I didn’t know it at the time.  Every single day for the weeks prior, I suffered continuous headaches.  It bothered me a random times of day.  When I was working out, when I was reading, when working, and other strange random times.  It continued so persistently that I was contemplating cancelling the trip.  I was worried about what was going on.  I had never suffered those kind of headaches and haven’t since then.

I fly out and it’s still bothering me.  I get to Denver and board the buses out to Crooked Creek Ranch, it’s still there.  Thinking this may also be altitude, I ignored it, but it still worried me.  Then we get to the first session on Thursday evening.  We prayed as a group.  Me and 400+ other men.  Then John Eldredge says, “Congratulations men, you made it.” The rest of the time there, the headaches were gone.  I came home, the headaches were gone.  I didn’t realize this until later that this was spiritual warfare.  The enemy was trying to stop me.  I took the risk however and followed God and life hasn’t been the same sense.  That was a good risk.

Risk is such a powerful thing and God calls each of us into risk.  Being willing to risk it all, no matter the cost, to seek out His will and allow Christ to come in and transform us.  Risk is always opposed by the enemy when we are following God, but God has been taking a risk on us from the very beginning, first in creating us, and now in his pursuit of us.  Then we see stories of people risking it all for the Lord.  All the way from the beginning.  Abraham followed God to Canaan.  Moses stood against Pharaoh to free Israel.  David stood against the giant, Goliath.  Jesus lived His life on earth following the Father’s will even to the point of His death.  Then we have the apostles, most of whom lost their lives in service of Christ Jesus.  Such amazing stories of incredible risk.

God is calling each of us into risk as well.  He called me to Colorado and is now calling me to do Kingdom work seeking the lost through counseling.  I pray about this change everyday.  I don’t know what God will have in store as this work truly begins.  He is using the gifts He granted me for His glory now and I have surrendered to that.  That is a big risk.  It’s going to bring about massive changes for my family, but it’s something having a renewed heart, mind, and spirit that we welcome wholeheartedly.

Too many people are complacent in where they are in life.  Especially many Christians.  God calls us into risk and into spiritual growth and maturity.  We can’t be stranded in stale adolescence.  David Wilkerson wrote, “Today, some Christians are content to merely exist until they die. They don’t want to risk anything, to believe God, to grow or mature. They refuse to believe his Word, and have become hardened in their unbelief. Now they’re living just to die.”  Don’t live life to just die.  As one of my friends, Jeff, wrote today on Facebook, live to live.  God has so much in store when we enter his Kingdom.  Be willing to risk now so that you can live life and not just live to die.

Let’s get out of mediocrity.  Let’s get out of stagnant and stale adolescence and risk it to follow Christ no matter the cost.  The enemy will oppose you.  His demons will oppose you. The world, even including people you love, will oppose you.  You, however, need to be willing to oppose all of that in order to live for the Kingdom.  To win for the Kingdom.  To be sanctified by Christ daily in your walk with Him.  To follow Him no matter the cost and if He is calling you to move, being willing to move into the unknown.  Dare to risk!

I want a lifetime of holy moments. Every day I want to be in dangerous proximity to Jesus. I long for a life that explodes with meaning and is filled with adventure, wonder, risk, and danger. I long for a faith that is gloriously treacherous. I want to be with Jesus, not knowing whether to cry or laugh.” – Mike Yaconelli