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We can take our thoughts captive or be taken captive by our thoughts.  We can be led by the Spirit or be driven by the storm.

On his own merit, our enemy is not particularly powerful.  He can accuse and provoke, but until he finds something within us to grab hold of, he is limited.  Unfortunately, identifying such a handle isn’t necessarily difficult.  It can be provided by unresolved hurts, lies we’ve believed, a distorted sense of who we are, a twisted sense of who God is (or isn’t), unforgiveness…  An important part of defending ourselves against such attacks is to recognize what those handles are for us.  This comes through an honest examination of what consistently steals our sense of peace, or security, or joy, or hope; and those triggers which cause us to abandon Christ’s character/ways in favor of something more visceral.  One of the adversary’s most effective tools in these situations is blame.  If we can find someone else to blame for the condition of our hearts, we will remain focused on “them”, and never seek the healing we so desperately need.  That is a win-win for our enemy, as we remain both miserable, and powerless to do anything about it.

We humans have an uncanny ability to see only what we choose to see, and to ignore the aspects we don’t want to acknowledge.  Two popular scriptures exemplify this phenomena.  The first is the oft quoted 2 Chron. 7:14, which says if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land”.  This verse clearly addresses the posture of one’s heart, if they hope for their prayers to be effective, and yet we generally skip right past those requirements, and jump to the desired outcome.  Thus, the common takeaway becomes “Pray for our nation”, which presumes that these other issues have already been addressed.  Similarly, Isaiah 40:31, “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint”, is a popular catchphrase for Christian t-shirts, posters and bumper stickers.  But if a picture is included, you can be sure it will be of eagles soaring, and not people waiting.  In both cases these assurances are predicated on us taking the first step.  There is little doubt that we’d all like to soar like eagles, and to see our land healed, but the burning question is, are we willing to endure the process of apprehending those precious promises.

  • Virtual:  At one time this word meant that a thing was essentially the same, or equivalent to another.  But after a couple of years of 1st hand experience, we can all testify that virtual hugs, virtual meetings, virtual doctor visits, virtual reunions… are nothing like the real thing, and that virtual reality isn’t anything like the real world.
  • Privacy:  The demise of our privacy is the convergence of our cultures voyeuristic bent, with the advancements of technology.  We now live in a world where everyone carries their own personal electronic tracking device, which traces our every move, records every picture/ text/ meme/ video… we look at, and actively listens (i.e. Siri, Alexa) to every conversation.  Just about every significant piece of data related to our lives is now available to any person with the skills to access it.   On top of that, our entertainment includes “reality” shows with cameras mounted in places like the bathroom / bedroom, apps for hooking up with complete strangers for casual sex, and platforms for soliciting / selling nude photos /videos.
  • Justice:  The root of the word justice is “just”, which is related to the concept of right and wrong, but in our culture, that element has largely been eliminated.  In the modern vernacular, this term has become completely subjective.  When people declare, “Justice for enter name here” they’re not asking for a fair judgement, based on an unbiased review of the facts, they’re demanding a ruling in their favor, regardless of the facts.
  • Hero:  This word used to be reserved for people of high integrity and character, those who had gone above and beyond, who sacrificed, and overcame, and/or whose virtue worked to the greater good.  In recent decades, it has been attached to anyone who champions our own personal agenda, regardless of character/integrity.  As such, the word increasingly means little or nothing.
  • God Given Rights:  This phrase seems to be a favorite among those of the Judeo-Christian persuasion, but a review of the sacred texts doesn’t seem to support that many of the claimed rights come from God.  Indeed, the Bible speaks extensively about sacrificing ones worldly rights in order to fulfill a more eternal purpose.
  • Racism/Racist:  There is no doubt that tribalism and racism have plagued mankind throughout its history.  These are serious topics that warrant thoughtful consideration.  Applying these terms to things that don’t have anything to do with race, and/or using them as a stick to poke or beat anyone that disagrees with our perspective only dilutes their meaning, and short circuits the potential for meaningful dialogue.
  • Friend:  Perhaps no word has suffered a greater assault at the hands of social media than the word, “friend”.  Without malice, Facebook used this term to describe anyone you might connect with on their platform, and the meaning has steadily eroded from there.  A relationship that is devoid of privacy, physical interaction, meaningful dialogue, genuine affection, or shared experiences should hardly be described as a friendship.
  • Hate:  Hate is not merely the absence of love, it is an extreme form of malice with an endless potential for destruction.  It is not passive or haphazard.  It is active and fueled with intent.  But in today’s world, anyone who disagrees with my point of view is considered a “Hater” and anyone who tries to address my wrong behavior is “Hating” on me.  These arbitrary applications only serve to trivialize the profound nature of genuine hatred.
  • Dialogue:  It is a popularly held idea that protests draw attention to an issue and create dialogue; but I’ve noticed that depending on the nature of the protest, it more often distracts us from the real issue and creates rhetoric. Dialogue is talking to each other, presumably with the intent of reaching some new level of agreement, while rhetoric is talking at each other, generally used to establish the superiority of our position.  One has the potential to move us forward together, while the other can become the basis for civil war.  It can’t rightfully be considered dialogue if neither side is listening.
  • Unprecedented:  Thousands of years ago, King Solomon observed that “there is nothing new under the sun”.  No doubt his conclusion was based on man’s nature, and the repetitive pattern that human history illuminates.  But we live in an era where the emerging generation has been taught that their technological advancements, and evolution as a species have somehow exempted them from the lessons of the past.   Even a cursory review of history, or an incisive look at other cultures around our world would reveal that there is little that is “unprecedented” about the challenges we currently face.

The enemy would have us believe that we are living in “unprecedented” times & that everything has changed (Eccl 1:9).  But God’s character (Heb 13:8), His calling (Matt 22:37), and our mission (Matt 28:19) remain untouched within this present tense.

In the days of old mankind was shielded from the Lord’s glory (Exodus 33), but because of Christ we now know where that glory resides (Col. 1:27).  If the world can’t see it, we need to ask ourselves why?

Fear of COVID, or fear of what’s in the vaccine; fear of leaving your house, or fear of being quarantined to your house; fear of losing your government check, or fear of government control; fear of capitalism, or fear of socialism; fear of the left wing, or fear of the right wing, are all fueled by the same spirit. We cannot be driven by that spirit, and be led by the Holy Spirit.


That which offends you is a powerful tool in the hands of your adversary

Scripture warns of a people who honor God with their lips, but whose hearts are far from Him (Isa 29:13, Matt 15:8, Mark 7:6).  Who possess a form of godliness, but who live in denial of His true power (2Tim 3:5).  A people who diligently study scripture, yet refuse to come to Him (John 5:38-40).  Who call Him Lord, and do things in His name, but who don’t truly know Him (Matt 7:21-23).  These warnings are not aimed at an unbelieving world, they are for those who profess to be “Believers”, who consider themselves “Christians”, who refer to Jesus as Lord, and who are likely to be found in a church building.  These warnings culminate in the book of Revelation, which contains strong admonitions for the various churches.

With so many claiming that we are approaching the end of times, we need to hear the voice of the prophet Elijah echoing out of history, “How long shall you waiver between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21).  As John the Revelator said, “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2 & 3).

I have trod upon the flowers

While chasing fireworks

I have crushed the tender shoots

In pursuit of momentary thunder

*

I would not bend to behold them

But fixed my eyes on what could not be reached

*

I have trod upon the flowers

While chasing fireworks

I have forfeited a beautiful fragrance

For the smell of burning powder

*

I would not reach to touch them

But gave my heart to a shower of evaporating sparks

*

I have trod upon the flowers

While chasing fireworks

I have traded a living thing

For a fleeting burst of smoke