Tag Archives: destiny

God Is Watching.

gods-eye-nasa
“God’s Eye In the Sky” (NASA photo)

   Click.    The backdoor lock sprang and imperceptibly, the doorknob turned. Flashlight off, the intruder paused, listening for the piercing scream of an alarm and hearing none, nudged the door open a tiny crack. In slow motion, he peered around the edge of the door and then crept forward, a stealthy shadow, into the house.

   “Jesus is watching.”

   The man froze in mid-step, bulging eyes straining to distinguish the source of the soft, croaky voice floating from the thick darkness.

   “Jesus is watching.”

   The burglar drew in a sharp breath and then sighed in relief.

   It’s just a bird! A stupid, freakin’ bird!

   The man clicked on his flashlight and aimed it in the direction of the voice.

“Birdie,” he whispered, “it’s hunting season.”

    His light beam danced around the room and then stopped, catching the reflection of a pair of red, glowing eyes and a set of very white bared fangs.

   The voice croaked again. “Meet Jesus.”

   God is always watching. Whether that thought brings any comfort or not is another story entirely. But it should. The knowledge that when things go from wrong to very wrong, from a  small mishap or a disappointed expectation to a long-term heartache or a sudden tragedy, God is not unaware.

   “‘I have seen the anguish of my people in Egypt and have heard their cries [and] I have come down to deliver them . . . for I know their sorrows’” (Acts 7:34, LB; Exodus 3:7, NKJV).

   If you remember, the Israelites suffered as slaves under the cruel oppression of the Egyptians for 400 long years. And in all that time, God was silent.

   But God was watching.

   God witnessed every whipping, every beating, every deprivation, every shameful violation, and every degrading humiliation wrought upon the Israelites by their slave masters. God heard every mournful, wailing prayer, every desperate, sobbing plea for help, and every heart-splintering scream for deliverance as His children begged to be freed from the vicious brutality of the Egyptians. He also listened as the Israelites shouted at, bargained with, cussed out, and  even forsook Him for other gods because of His silence. For silent God was – for centuries.

   But why?

   God does nothing arbitrarily. God had a plan for the birth of a new nation, a people of His own to proclaim His name throughout the whole world. But before that could happen, that  people would be required to suffer slavery for 400 years at the hands of the most powerful gods known to man at that time. Nevertheless, throughout all of those  excruciating years, God never missed a single moment of the suffering of His people; He saw it all – the shredded flesh, the indelible scars, and the tears as numerous as the grains of sand upon the earth.

   Perhaps, in the midst of the pursuit of the destiny that you were 1000% certain God had called you to, things have gone terribly, terribly wrong. Maybe you struggle to find the strength to make it through just one more day. Or perhaps circumstances in life – your hopes and dreams – have simply not happened the way you had hoped they would happen and every day you feel that you’re sinking deeper and deeper into the dark and formless void of hopelessness and nothingness.

   Maybe you’ve ceased to dream at all.

   That’s how the Israelites felt. And my guess is that’s precisely how Moses felt after squandering  his identity as an exalted Egyptian prince and ending up instead a forgotten fugitive on the backside of the desert with nothing to his name except the rags on his back and a crooked staff in his hand.

   Even so, God never relinquished His watch over the Israelites or over Moses; night after night, year after year, decade after decade, He never failed to see. And in the end, God delivered His people in a way far more miraculous than they could ever have  imagined and, in doing so, proved Himself to be the God above every other god on earth.

   If you’re in that place, that desert where dreams die and destiny is destroyed, then hold to the truth that, in order to rise from the ashes, we must first walk through the fire. And should you find yourself in the flames, don’t lose sight of one thing: It’s all part of the plan. Nothing can happen or is happening that God does not see.

   Our God is the god of the Resurrection – and He’s watching you.

“The Wall”

broken-glassYou will hit a wall. There will be a point in the pursuit of your goals during which something goes wrong or people say you can’t do that thing or you feel overwhelmed with the scope of the task or you simply get tired of working, working, working and waiting for something to break your way. You’ll run into adversity or out of money, resources, time, energy – even faith.

 Welcome to “The Wall”.

The Wall is any seemingly insurmountable obstacle, which, by definition, simply means “game over”. So the question then becomes – then what? Is the game over? Is your dream dead? Was the vision only a mirage? Is your very destiny teetering on the precipice of doom? Maybe.

But before you throw in the proverbial towel, it’s time to hit the War Room. Now, I’m not talking about the war room in the movie War Room – although stopping by that room to pray is highly recommended. But no, I’m talking about your other war room – the one which every military general has, the one in which your strategy is conceived, planned, and from there, implemented.  It’s the room in which you “map the dream,” “plan the work and then work the plan” and, sometimes, “go back to the drawing board”.

Everybody who’s ever achieved his destiny has a “War Room”.

Don’t have a war room? Maybe you do. War rooms go by other names, too: board rooms, conference rooms, “think tank” rooms – all places where people meet to brainstorm, “hash out,” and make decisions regarding ideas, problems/solutions, and tactics. Chances are very good that you have one at work or even at home. It’s where the dream/vision/goal is tracked, nurtured and, if necessary, revised, repackaged, remarketed and re-released.

But mostly, the war room is the place where you go when you need to fight through and you need the resources to help you to fight through. It’s where you come up with a strategy to get around The Wall – somehow, some way: climb over it, dig under it, tunnel through it or, my personal favorite, blow it up.

 So what’s a war room like? Well, if you’ve ever seen one, there are maps all over the room – lots of them. That’s because winning a war requires taking territory and maps are essential for determining which territories you already possess and which you want to possess. In terms of our dreams and visions, a map then would be the equivalent of a goal chart. What are our goals? Which ones have we already achieved? Which ones do we want to achieve? These goals need to be clearly articulated and clearly visible.

Sometimes the best way to depict a goal is through a picture. Some people, in pursuing their fitness goals, post pics of people who have the waistline or muscle mass they want to have. Or someone who’s trying to save money toward a goal might post a picture of a car or house or vacation spot. Someone working toward a career goal might post a picture of someone doing the job she wants or even (you’ll think I’m so shallow) the salary she’ll earn. Use pictures or statistics or words to illustrate your goals – just make them visible.

Next you need a plan: how, specifically, will you achieve your goal? In our school district, I’m part of a team which designs and implements what we call, appropriately enough, our district-wide “Strategic Plan.” We meet in a conference room and everything. But the point is we create a plan with goals, steps for meeting those goals, and a timeframe within which those goals should be met. We meet occasionally to evaluate and, if necessary, tweak the plan.

But what if you hit The Wall – what then? First and foremost – define the problem. What is it, how serious is it, who’s involved and who or what might be impacted? Next, what are all of the potential consequences of the problem? Go to worse-case scenarios: what happens if? And don’t skip any of them. Odd as it sounds, I like this step; I like mapping out all of the potential problems with a vision and/or the ways that a dream could fail. Why? Because it’s really true that the fear of the unknown is scarier than the actual reality. In other words, in identifying the ways something could go wrong, we often find that the worst-case scenarios aren’t as bad as we might have imagined. And, as importantly, it gives us a chance to plan strategies “just in case” the worst happens.

For example, what if we own a business and we run short of money to keep it going? Brainstorm: What are worst-case scenarios? Would we have to close up shop? Would failure mean bankruptcy? What are the possible ways to get more money? Loans or investors or partnerships? What’s the game plan if we can’t get more those ways? Cut backs on products/services or staff? A raise in prices on products/services? Point? Don’t wait until you hit The Wall to try to solve the problem – especially if pre-consideration of potential problems might prevent them.

 Does all of those “presupposing” make you a worrywart or pessimist? Not necessarily – unless after considering what might happen, you walk around expecting it to happen. For example, before I bought any stocks (not that I have a lot), I considered the possibility that, given the market’s history, it might crash before I retire (someday). What if it does – will my entire retirement be destroyed? No, because since I considered the possibility of loss, my entire retirement is not in the market. Does that mean I expect it to crash; do I go to bed scared at night? No. It simply means I haven’t invested more than I can afford to lose.

 “Acceptable risk” – another war room strategy: What can you afford to lose without resulting in total failure or ruin? Think resources: money, time, energy? Are relationships or health at risk, etc.?

 All of these considerations are why we need a war room to offset The Wall. Obstacles will happen. Even Jesus said tribulation would come. So get ready for it.

What’s going down when you and The Wall collide? Will it be you – or the wall?

 

Prayer Wreckers

Man in DespairWe all spend a lot of time and energy praying for all kinds of things – and some of those prayers are urgent, desperate prayers. But what if we’re sabotaging our own prayers? What if we’re doing something, even unconsciously, to negate them? Would we want to know that? Why wouldn’t we?

In my last post, “Ten Ways to Blow Up Your Destiny,” I introduced three things that will shipwreck our prayers. Today, I want to discuss the rest of the principles that we should know in order to not sideline our prayers.

Thing #1: Put God first. In other words, we cannot and should not put our dreams, visions or destinies before God. Jesus tells His followers, ‘”Your heavenly Father already knows all of your needs . . . Seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all of these things will be given to you as well . . .’” (Matt. 6:33). Our “needs” are not just categorized as physical needs; we need all kinds of intervention for all kinds of things. No matter – same principle applies: the big “if-then” – if we put God first, then we get whatever we might need. Period.

Thing #2: Unconfessed sin. David proved that after he sinned with Bathsheba, lied about it, and then killed her husband, Uriah, to cover it up. Now, if anyone should have their prayers tuned out by God, it would be someone who’d done all of those things. But David repented of his sin (with a little persuasion from the prophet, Nathan). David pleaded to God: “’Don’t keep looking at my sin. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God, Renew a right spirit in me . . .’” (LB, Ps. 51:9-10). After David confessed his sin, God was able to interact with him again. Remember, Habakkuk says to God, “’Your eyes are too pure [even] to look on evil; you cannot tolerate sin’” (1:13). “Tolerate” is a little mild for the translation. The KJ version says, “’You cannot [even] look on sin’”.  And the word “cannot” in all translations means “cannot”. It doesn’t mean “might not” or “can-if-He-wants-to-but-just-doesn’t-want-to”. God is not able even to look at sin, much less have fellowship with someone in it (thus the reason Christ died – but that’s another post entirely). So – unconfessed sin = unanswered prayers.

Thing #3: Wrong response to authority. We see this principle in Paul’s warning to children to submit to and obey their parents and they’ll be blessed. Why? Because their parents are the authority over children. If they will submit to authority, then they will be blessed. But that warning about authority applies to all of us, not simply children.

And why does God feel so strongly about submission that He ties conditions to responses to authority? Because societies fall apart when people begin to blow off authorities.

(Watched the news lately?) So God has built into His principles the condition that if we submit to authority, then we will be blessed. And aren’t all answered prayers considered blessings? I know mine are.

Thing #4: Pride.  This is another no-no if we’d like our prayers answered. We all know pride is bad – no surprise there. For example, take Naaman who came to the prophet Elisha to petition (pray) for healing from leprosy. When Elisha told Naaman to go and dip in the Jordan River some times, Naaman thought that was ridiculous and refused. His pride got in the way. Consequently, he didn’t have his prayer for healing answered until he decided to humble himself and take a dip. Then his prayer was answered. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5-6).

Thing #5: “Evil speech.”  Our words can be another problem if you’d like your prayers answered. Gossip, slander, accusation, arguing, lying, complaining – all of these can hinder prayers. Now, thank God for his mercy because who hasn’t, at the very least, complained? But for those who continue in these things without repentance, their prayers won’t accomplish much. Isaiah warns, “’If you do away with the pointing finger [accusation] and malicious talk . . . then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday [revelation]. The Lord will guide you always [direction]; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land [provision] and will strengthen your frame [healing] . . .’” (58:9-11, interpretations mine). Peter says, “’If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and keep your lips from telling lies’” (3:9).

Thing #6: Have faith in God, not in faith itself.  It’s not up to us to manufacture our faith and moreover, “having faith” is not about how much faith we have, it’s about whether or not we trust God. Why is this important? Two reasons: first, sometimes we treat faith like heaven’s money; if we just get enough of it, we can cash it in for whatever we want. Doesn’t work that way. Second, the essence of faith is the question: “Do I trust God – whether or not He answers my prayers the way I want Him to?” That’s vastly different than “Okay, God, here’s how much faith I have so here’s how I want You to answer my prayer.” Faith is not cash, and God is not a vending machine. If we think so, I think I can predict that our prayers won’t be very effective.

Next post I’ll finish this up; there are three more principles for praying effectively and, if disregarded, will negate our prayers. In the meantime, lest we become overwhelmed with all of the ways we can shipwreck our prayers, let’s simply remember to begin our prayers with a sincere, “Lord, I’m sorry for . . .”

 

To Quit or Not to Quit? That is the Question.

Grandfather Clock           Ever feel like you just want to throw in the towel? You’ve worked, labored, toiled at some particular thing for a long time – weeks, months, even years – and suddenly, you come to the realization that it was all a waste of time. Or you think it was. Isaiah thought so. Isaiah knew that the Lord had called him to speak for Him and yet still, he doubted the impact of his calling and labor: “’I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing . . .’” (49:4a).

            Isaiah felt like many of us when we give years of our lives to some dream and then it all falls apart. It’s devastating. It could be sowing into a career, a ministry, a business; it could be something we’ve been striving to create or to build – it could be any dream or vision fused with our hearts.

           And the emotional train wreck is not the only problem. After we hit the Big Wall, we find ourselves stuck on the question: “Is this just a temporary setback in the will of God or have I been on the wrong track the entire time?”

Because if it’s the “wrong track,” that means we’ve wasted the only real commodity we’ve got in this life: time.

            The problem is – which is it? The distinction is huge. The difference makes all the difference.

            As Christians, we put a great deal of stock into “seeking the will of God” – as well we should. However, when things don’t pan out, then we’re often in doubt: Was it ever God’s will that I pursue this dream? Or was it not? (Of course the assumption is that we did ask first.) Nevertheless, whether it was the will of God or not, we have the same two choices: We can persevere – or we can quit. However, if we know that pursuing that thing is the will of God, then quitting is not an option. We’re going to push through because the encouragement we have is that we’re not on the wrong track – we’ve just hit a temporary obstacle. But if it’s not the will of God, it would be stupid to persevere with something that God was never in to begin with. So then the fundamental question remains: was it God or was it not God?

            What if we really just don’t know?

            Back to Isaiah. Granted, Isaiah had the advantage of having heard from the Lord in the first place that what he was doing was what he was called to do. So knowing that, he was able to say, “’Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward’” (41:4b). But when we haven’t heard directly from the Lord about what we’re doing – and let’s say we did sincerely ask – then what? Do we fight through or do we back up?  Fascinating question.

            There’s always the option of putting “the dream” on the shelf. If it’s God’s will that we get back to it, then we won’t have to dig through the trash to find it. If it’s not God’s will that we ever pick it up again – well, then, it dies on the shelf.

            I have to believe that somewhere along the way, God will show us which it is. And really, isn’t that what Isaiah did?

            Sometimes it’s time to leave a dream behind, to move on, to begin a new thing. And sometimes it’s time to persevere, to fight forward, and to keep that thing alive. In the meantime, dealing with the devastation of loss is excruciating – whether it’s temporary or permanent.

           “’Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand . . .’”

           The critical thing is this: do not quit moving forward. If you’re not be able to move forward with that vision, then seek God for a new one and move forward with that. Just do not let the loss take you completely out. Because then, guess who wins?

           It’s not you.

Let the Race Begin.

horse-herd-fog-nature-52500Would it make any sense to give a six-year old an algebra problem? Perhaps not. Learning to count would probably be a prerequisite. How about scheduling a med student to do brain surgery? What if it were just a small brain op? Or what if couples skipped all the long years it takes to have kids and just went and picked out a whole litter at once? Say, maybe a baby, a couple of two-years old – oh, and they wouldn’t want to miss the whole teenage experience – maybe a fourteen-year old? (Fourteen is such a wonderfully expressive age.)

The point is, we can’t just be thrown into the middle of challenges – especially big ones.

Consider the prophet Jeremiah, aka “the weeping prophet” (because he was always weeping for the people): the day came when Jeremiah had just had enough. He was tired of people sinning against God and refusing to repent; he was fed up with the unrighteousness and idol worship that had so completely polluted the nation; and he was done with people plotting to kill him. (Who wouldn’t be?) So he went to the Lord with a complaint:

“’Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy? You have planted them, and they have taken root and prospered. Your name is on their lips, but in their hearts they give you no credit at all. But as for me, Lord, you know my heart. You see me and test my thoughts. Drag these people away like helpless sheep to be butchered! Set them aside to be slaughtered! How long must this land weep [from sin]? Even the grass in the fields has withered. The wild animals and birds have disappeared because of the evil in the land. Yet the people say, “The Lord won’t do anything!”’” (Jer. 12:1-4)

Now Jeremiah had a point: the people were evil – and they were good at being evil. In addition, they were mocking God and saying, essentially, “We can sin as much as we want and God won’t do a thing about it!” Jeremiah didn’t like that. One bit.

God’s response? “’If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan?’” (Jer. 12:5)

Point? If the job training is more than you can handle, then how will you handle the job?

But – here’s what we say: “Lord, when is my destiny going to happen? Why is everyone else living the dream and I’m still struggling? You know my heart! You see how sincere I am! Why do they get to be happy and prosperous and not me?? They don’t even give You the credit for their success!”

Now, here’s what the Lord might say: “If you can’t balance a checkbook or stick to a budget, how will you manage great wealth? If you can’t give when you have a little, how will you give proportionately when you have much? If you can’t discipline yourself at your job when you aren’t solely responsible for everything that happens, how do you expect to be able to discipline yourself when you’re the boss or self-employed? If you can’t honor your mother and father now, how do you expect to honor a husband or wife later? If you can’t handle the ordinary spiritual warfare and attacks of the enemy in your own life, how do you expect to fend off the enemy if your destiny makes you visible to the community or to the nation or to the world?”

Here’s what the Lord has said: “’Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given’” (Luke 12:48).

This means that the greater your destiny, the more that will be required of you. Pick any Bible character who ever did anything worth mentioning and that will be their story. However, that’s always a choice; never does God force the “more required” part on anyone.

Remember: if you don’t cave in the prep “racing against mere men”, then you’ll win in the battle “racing against horses”.

So then – let the race begin.

“The Wait” or the Counterfeit? Your Call.

Hold Button GoldSeveral years ago, I needed a teaching job. I had switched careers and already had kids, meaning I needed a full-time job, not part-time, and I needed permanent, not temporary. So – I searched and searched, but without experience, it was slow going.

     Nevertheless, one day I got a call from a principal to interview for a high school  English position. I was, of course, all in and set up the interview but then, as we were ending the phone conversation, he said, “By the way, the position is full-time but it’s a temporary maternity leave for the fall semester. Are you still interested?”

     What was I supposed to say? No?  “Of course. Thank you.”

     Well, I have to tell you that for the next two days, the left side of my brain and the right side of my brain did nothing but fight.

     RIGHT SIDE: “Of course we have to try for the job. We have two children to feed!”

     LEFT SIDE: “But we need a full-time, permanent job and this isn’t it.”

     RIGHT: “Yes, but we’re running out of time! They only hire for teachers once a year. They won’t be hiring again till next year!”

     LEFT: “Right, but if we took this job, we’d have to start this whole job-hunting thing all over again in January. And there’s never anything then.”

     RIGHT: “I know but in the meantime, it’s a paycheck.”

     LEFT: “True, but we could miss the job we’re really supposed to have.”

     It was at this point that I finally stepped in and shut them up. But, I had to admit, Lefty had a point: I could miss the job I was supposed to have. I’d been praying for a full-time, permanent job and this job wasn’t that. Where was my faith? Was I going to trust God or was I going to “settle”?

     I picked up the phone, called the principal and thanked him for the interview opportunity but explained that since I really needed a permanent job, I didn’t want to take up his time interviewing for a job I knew I couldn’t take. He thanked me for calling – and that, as they say, was that.

     I was nervous. All I could hear was Righty saying, “That was dumb.”

     Until the phone rang again. I was offered an interview for a full-time, permanent job which, I’m happy to report, I got and have had for sixteen years.

     Truth: if it’s an important decision in your life, the enemy will often fix you up with a counterfeit thing before God offers you the real thing.

     A “counterfeit” is, by definition, a fake or phony something or other intended to deceive and/or derail. In this case, it was a counterfeit job. Think about it: not only would I have had to begin the whole long, arduous job-hunting process all over again in January, but the job God had intended for me would have been taken by someone else. 

     Fast forward to 2012: I wanted a pre-owned Camry Hybrid with no rust and at an affordable price. I know – tall order. And I learned one thing: there aren’t too many Camry Hybrids out there – rust or no rust.

     So I shopped around, found one and it looked good (even though it was gray) so I got set to make an offer. But before I did, I took it to my mechanic to get it checked out. (Can’t buy a car not checked out.) Turns out there was some rust on the undercarriage. It wasn’t much but there weren’t any other Camry Hybrids around so I had a decision to make: take this car or take a chance and keep looking? (Did I mention that I had promised my son who needed a car for college that he could have mine when I got my new one? All I heard for three months was, “When are you going to get a new car??)

     And then I remembered the job and so I prayed, “Lord, I’ve been believing you for a car with no rust, I know that’s not too hard for You, and so that’s what I’m going to wait for.” (Son wasn’t happy about that.)

     Long story short, shortly afterward, I bought a beautiful, rust-free, red Camry Hybrid from a dealer in Pennsylvania (where they don’t use road salt). And I picked it up one week before son left for college.

     Lesson? The enemy will often offer the counterfeit thing before God reveals the real thing. Why doesn’t God come through sooner? I asked Him once while in the middle of “The Wait,” and He assured me that things were “in the works” but that the other people involved weren’t yet ready. In the job situation, I found out later that the opening didn’t happen until nearly August when another teacher waited longer than usual to announce her retirement. I got the job right before school started. Listen – the Lord will often test our faith and allow the waiting to go right up until the last minute. But, as they say, “He’s rarely early, but He’s never late.”

     So – if you’re sick of waiting to see your dream realized, your vision fulfilled, your destiny unfold, understand that God has the perfect thing (or person); he/she/it simply may not have their circumstances aligned yet.

     In the meantime, remember Abraham who got tired of waiting and took matters into his own hands. Now we have war in the Middle East.

     Do not fall for the counterfeit. Your destiny is well worth “The Wait.”

What are you waiting for? Let me know here.

Spiritual Warfare vs. Your Destiny – Part II

Keira Knightly
The bigger the destiny, the greater the battles. And how can we handle the bigger battles for the greater destiny if we can’t handle the smaller battles?

    Last post I shared my memorable last week and the barrage of “unfortunate” experiences that just kept coming – a.k.a. “fiery darts”. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s in reference to enemy attacks launched in the spiritual realm, in short, “spiritual warfare”. 

I shared how things had begun to break and needed to be replaced or repaired. Quick review: the electric stove kept shocking us; the pool motor shut down and had to be replaced and installed (idk which was the bigger pain); the car had chlorine spilled all over the trunk; the car was splattered with tar all over – not the usual spatter, mind you; this particular mess gave me a two-toned car; had to buy a new phone (the other one just quit) and then lost all of my contacts and had to input them manually; and, last but not least, my computer shut down and wouldn’t fire up (panic!). Turns out I needed a new charger. (Did I forget anything . . . ?) Oh, right – it all cost lots of money. However, all of that happened in context of making real progress on the book on – guess what? Spiritual warfare.

   So – what can you do when the darts start flying?

   First, remember that “We battle not against flesh and blood [people], but rather against rulers, powers, and spiritual forces of darkness in high places” (Eph. 6).  What that means is that even if people are involved in the attack, fighting with them isn’t going to end it. That’s because they’re not the source of it.

   Second, doing the usual is not going to work in a spiritual war. Of course problems need to be attended to but to end them is an entirely different game.  It’s similar to a soldier being wounded: one treats the wound but doing so doesn’t end the battle. We have to fight. And the fact is that we can only fight a spiritual war with spiritual weapons. So . . .

   Thing #1: Pray. Now before you say, duh!, pray the right way. First, pray Scripture. The Bible tells us that the Word of God is literally a spiritual sword – meaning it annihilates all attacks – whether in the spiritual or physical realms. A friend who sees into the spiritual realm once told me that he’d seen fifteen-foot angelic warriors come to full attention when anyone proclaims scripture. This happens because the angels don’t hear the person talking; they literally hear the voice of their commander, Jesus Christ, giving them orders. And they act on those orders. If you want to activate angels on your behalf, pray scripture and personalize it:

  “It is written: ‘No weapon formed against me will succeed; every tongue that rises against me in judgment will be condemned; and if anyone does attack me, they will surrender to me.’” (Isaiah 57).

   Thing #2: Pray in unity. Find a prayer partner and either meet regularly or as needed. The Word tells us that “One can put a thousand to flight, and two can put 10,000 to flight” (Deut. 32:30). Praying in unity is a spiritual firebomb!

   Thing #3:  If you know how, pray in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is willing to intercede for us and often prays for things that we have no idea we should even be addressing. I’ve heard of amazing breakthroughs coming after people spent time praying in the Spirit.

   Thing #4: Be grateful for what you do have. Bless the Lord and keep an atmosphere of praise in your home. In short, the enemy can’t stand listening to it. “Resist the enemy and he will flee” (James 4:7).

   Thing #5: Proclaim the blood of Christ upon the people and situations involved. The blood has power!  The enemy cannot stand an atmosphere “soaked” in the blood of Christ because it has defeated him and he must retreat from it.

   In short, the way to victory from attacks is spiritual warfare: the Blood, the Word, and the Spirit are our weapons. No matter what form the attack takes, it’s a spiritual attack.

   Nevertheless, some folks just don’t like conflict; they don’t want to fight a battle – spiritual or otherwise. The only advice I can give is that you’re already in it. And unfortunately, the only two choices are to fight or surrender. Ignoring it never seems to work.

   Another reason to do battle? Your destiny is at stake.  I once heard someone say, “The bigger the destiny, the greater the battles. And how are we going to handle the bigger battles for the bigger destiny if we can’t handle the smaller battles?”

   When you’re under the gun, remember what that means. Something really big is coming . . .

Spiritual Warfare vs. Your Destiny

Lightning - Single Strike   We all know it’s going to happen. You’re going along, living your life, working the dream, minding your own business, and – bam! you get hit. It’s a huge financial setback or a relationship crisis or an illness/injury/disease or a job loss or the car goes or, in some cases, a combo package.

   It’s spiritual warfare.

   And lots of times we have the same reaction: “Oh, well – I must be doing something right.” Probably. But without a more, shall we say, involved response, you may not be doing that thing much longer.

   I write on spiritual warfare when I’m not doing this. (This is fun; I call it my playground.) But sometimes, the research and the writing can get a little dark and the heat a little hot. Case in point: the last couple of weeks.

   It all started within the last seven days when I received a breakthrough from the Lord concerning a book I’ve been working on for a while. Problem was that I’d hit a wall with some plot components and just could not figure some things out. At any rate, like I said, breakthrough this past week. I sat in awe as the Lord sorted out one thing after another until all of the pieces were in place.

   Enter the warfare.

   First, my electric stove just up and started shocking us when we would touch it and it didn’t even have to be on. One of my sons got a couple of serious shocks.

    It turned out that the stove’s ground wire had become disconnected. All by itself. For no apparent reason.

   Thankfully, a friend came over and reconnected it and all was well. We could cook again!

   Until my phone went. Well, we could still cook, but I had to buy a new phone. And while I got a deal, it still cost some bucks – 300 of them. But it would’ve happened eventually. I guess . . .

   Then on Saturday, my pool motor and pump sprang a leak so off to the pool store I went and bought the part they said I needed. They were wrong but that’s beside the point. (Or maybe that is the point . . .) So we started taking the pump apart but it just wouldn’t come apart – at all, no matter what. Long story short, back to the pool store to pick up – rather, buy – a new motor and pump. More dollars.

   Now, while I’m there, I thought I’d pick up some chlorine for the pool. Smart, right? Kill two birds, etc.  Except that the guy who put the massively heavy jug of chlorine in the back of my car didn’t put the lid on tight enough. You guessed it: when I got home, I found that a good portion of the black carpeting in my trunk was now white. And did you know that breathing in chlorine can make you sick? I do. Now.

   Speaking of the car, it’s red. Except for the parts where the asphalt and tar from some brand new road decided to stick to it. And I don’t just mean some spatter; the car is now red and black.

   Then yesterday, after we got the pool pump installed and the chlorine mopped up (sort of) and I bought the tar cleaning stuff, I decided to relax and write. So I got on the computer and after a few minutes, got the “plug in or die” message. But when I plugged in, nothing happened; it wouldn’t turn on. Did it crash?? Did it overheat?? Did it go on vacation?? So, after a trip to the computer store (in the red and black, chlorine-smelling car) and forty-plus dollars later, I am the proud owner of a new computer charger.

   Seriously though, I’m grateful the computer problem wasn’t something worse. And I’m grateful that the whole enemy barrage wasn’t something much more serious. I’m grateful that I have the money to get things fixed. And I’m very grateful for the friends I have who are willing to help me.

   So – what can be done about the attacks that will come? Basically, we have three choices: we can fight them, we can ignore them, or we can run.

   Two of those strategies won’t work.

   Tune in on Monday to find out what will work in your spiritual battles. The fact is, the spiritual war is raging all around you but, in Christ, you’ve already won.

    The enemy just hopes you don’t know that.

The “Insignificant” Days of Your Destiny

           The Beginning Book Cover 2 A lifelong relationship begins with a “hello”.  A business begins with the very first customer.  A mighty oak tree begins with a small acorn.  Writing a book begins with the first word.  A concert pianist begins with “Chopsticks”. Losing pounds begins with the first day of the diet.  A dynasty begins with one man and one woman.

            “Do not despise the day of small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zech. 4:10).

            God rarely begins a person on the highway to his or her destiny in a big way.  Not that He can’t, but there is much to be learned on the road from small to big. And depending on what our dreams and destinies are, lessons will vary. 

            For example, how to manage people is a big lesson for anyone wanting to own their own business. Businesses rarely begin with more than a handful of employees so that owners learn how to hire wisely, manage workers with the right balance of respect and authority, and handle personnel problems.  Imagine trying to learn all of that with dozens of employees. Or a military service member – he or she begins as the lowest-ranked soldier or officer and grows into more responsibility through promotion.  To begin as an admiral or general would probably not work. Many other examples come to mind. Talents for writing or music or art must be developed; one begins small, writing for a school paper, performing in a music recital, or painting a school mural.

            “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.”

            We often want to start big and then get frustrated when we can’t.  Or, we get tired of working, practicing, doing and re-doing and so we quit, thinking the dream will never happen.  But here’s a principle: the bigger the destiny, the long the prep time.  Oak trees take decades to become full grown.  Masters take decades to perfect their crafts.  Multi-million dollar companies take many years to become that profitable.

The fact is that to appreciate the value of “small beginnings,” we have to realize that all of life is about “becoming.”

            We make the mistake of asking children what they want to “be” when they grow up.  Rather we should be asking them what they want to “become.”  Small distinction but the message is huge: “becoming” takes time and work.  Fortunately, the Bible contains many examples of “becoming” from small beginnings.

            David, for example, spent years by himself learning to shepherd sheep and fight the lions and bears.  After that, he spent 16 years hiding in caves from Saul who wanted to kill him.  What did he learn from all that trauma?  Warfare, leadership and honor. And what did he become?  A mighty warrior and a king. 

            Joseph was sold as a slave to a rich Egyptian (not fair), during which time he rose to favor for his ability to organize the entire estate and business, causing both to grow and prosper.  And what did Joseph learn?  He mastered the Egyptian language, culture, customs, and upper class etiquette as well as how to manage an estate, its staff and businesses.  God was training him to become an administrator.

            But then Joseph went to jail, accused of something he didn’t do (also not fair.) But while there, Joseph exhibited his talent for management and so the chief jailor put him in charge of all of the prisoners and prison affairs.

            But why prison?

            In prison, Joseph had become one of the “lower class,” the prisoners, and so he learned about their ways of thinking, their culture and customs.  He learned how it felt to be them.

            Needless to say, it was quite the coincidence that he’d need to know all of that as Joseph became Egypt’s second in command to Pharaoh.

            Esther is another example – my favorite.  Esther was among the young women “kidnapped” and put into the Babylonian king’s harem so that he could, he hoped, find his next queen.  But before Esther could even hope to become queen, she first had to spend a year in the king’s harem – not, generally speaking, the first pick for a virtuous young Jewish girl.  But in the midst of the beauty treatments, Esther learned the Babylonian language, culture and, I’m certain, a great deal about how to navigate the politics of a royal court and its country.  And as we later find out, she needed that intel to become the one to save her people from annihilation. 

            What do David, Joseph and Esther have in common?

            While they suffered much in the circumstances they were thrust into, each one still made the best of the situation by doing the best they could.  They exhibited humility, excellence and honor despite their long periods of hardship.  And here’s the endgame: each of them was promoted to royalty.

            They did not despise their days of small beginnings.

             Don’t be discouraged at the small beginnings of your dream or destiny. It can seem overwhelming when you envision how far you have to go so, as Michael Hyatt says, “Just do the next thing in front of you.” Then trust the Lord to grow the dream.  Remember: “the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.”

            Your work.

Destiny Nation

Flag and Fireworks     For 240 years, the United States of America has embraced its destiny, as Ronald Reagan liked to say, as a “shining city on a hill”. Proof is Lady Liberty as she’s welcomed untold millions to find refuge and freedom and, in short, a home.  Thus the United States has been nicknamed the “Great Melting Pot” as generations from countries worldwide have assimilated to become proud Americans. 

     Nor has Uncle Sam been idle, leading the fight for liberty and freedom around the world. Everywhere on earth, on every continent, America’s influence and generosity can be seen and felt.  From being the Cavalry in World Wars I and II to promoting the principles of democracy to peoples who have never been told that all men are born free, America has led the charge in the battle for good in the very real face of oppression and evil.  Country after country, people after people have the United States to thank for rescue in times of war, political unrest, famine, natural disasters and financial crisis.

That’s the legacy of the United States of America.

     However, despite all of that, America’s greatest destiny has been – and continues to be – the privilege of bringing the life-changing news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to virtually every nation on earth. Dedicated and brave American missionaries, for the sake of that Gospel, have faced persecution, imprisonment and even death from the worst of dictatorial and communist countries.  America has sown its blood, sweat and tears into the soil of nations around the globe to proclaim the good news of true freedom in Jesus Christ – and what could ever be a more noble legacy than that?

     Many say that America’s best days are behind her. However, that’s been said before.  Imagine a war in which citizens slaughtered one another in one bloody battle after another.  Surely the Civil War was the end of our nation.  Or the stock market crash of 1929 which led to a decade in which fully one-quarter of Americans were unemployed. Add to that the great Dust Bowl in which nothing would grow and it certainly looked like the end of America.  Or World War I – the most massive war in the history of the world; surely that was the end of the whole world.  Or WWII in which the Nazis reigned in Europe and the U.S. was attacked on its own shores for the first time in its history.  There was no doubt then that the Apocalypse had come . . . Et cetera.

     Certainly the United States has problems and they are broadcast far and wide for all the world to see. But the only difference between the crises of today and those of all the decades past is cable news.  Without a doubt crisis was happening; we just didn’t know about most of it.

     Is it the end of the United States? I don’t believe so.  The United States still has a great destiny to fulfill: the continued spread of the Gospel worldwide.  And until the day comes that America quits doing that, our nation will continue in order to fulfill that destiny.  No other nation on earth has even come close to sacrificing what Americans have sacrificed in order to achieve that priceless goal for mankind. 

     God has not forgotten America because, despite all of the bad press, Americans like us have not forgotten God. The United States has sown its time, its people, its strength, its money, and its resources into saving and blessing other nations and so we will, according to the Word of God, “reap what we have sown”.  We have sown salvation, blessing, freedom and hope into the peoples of the world, and so we have a long future of blessing to look forward to as one the greatest nations history has ever known.

     So on this Independence Day, I hope you’ll join me in declaring the great destiny of the United States of America:

     “ONE nation under GOD with liberty and justice for all.”

     Happy Birthday, America – and may you have many, many more to come.