Who Has a Target on Their Back

Last week this writer was involved in an accident where suddenly a semi-truck hit the rear end of his car on a highway sending the car spinning out of control.  No other vehicle was hit. A couple days after the accident this writer had a conversation was had with a friend and the thought was expressed that it felt like there was a target on my back.  Now granted the thought was a little dramatic but rooted in having been involved in a prior scary accident about five years earlier. There are also things that have happened in life while engaged in helping others grow and receive freedom.  The thought came to my mind that there is a concerted effort to do me harm.  Now before the reader begins to think this writer is developing paranoia or grandiosity or becoming too concerned with own scope in the grand scheme understand that there is a wider picture here. Sure, this writer may be targeted from harm by spiritual forces. It is a certain possibility. However, it is not isolated to this writer and it is not even isolated to believers in Jesus as Messiah and who surrender to Him as Lord.  The fact is everyone has a target on their backs.  Scripture tells us in 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”   Granted, the verse there is directed at believers. But it is just not believers that “the enemy” is seeking to destroy. It is all of humanity.  “The enemy” wants many harmed. In John 10:10 it states “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy” which indicates that all of us have a target on our backs.  And in other words, there is really nothing “special” about any of us and what we go through. It is part and parcel of living life and we are all targets for destruction.

Now that being said, yes, there are times when things happen in our lives where things go beyond coincidence.  And certainly engaging in the work of loving others and helping others overcome the pain, destruction, chains, and traps of the battle of life brings on difficulties the evidence an attack. But the attack has nothing to do with that person but more about who we serve, that we are servants of the most high God.  Now, given that the enemy seeks to destroy all God has given us directions.  We are to take every thought captive. He are to put on the “full amour of God.”  We are to be sober minded and alert. We are to be involved in tearing down strongholds by spiritual means.  We are to cast down imaginations. We are to stand firm and endure.   Our job is not to “defeat” an enemy but to bring people into God’s kingdom and save them from destruction.  Bad stuff happens. Periods of time where we catch the attention of the enemy do occur and has an impact, in other words stuff does happen. In all that we are to engage and endure and rescue others.  So, yes I have a target on my back, so do you, and so does everyone else.  Be about the business of loving and caring for others and point them to God’s kingdom.

The victor over encroaching darkness: Jesus

The world is filled with darkness. The news is filled with stories of death and destruction.  We have holidays that even embrace and celebrate darkness such as Halloween. There is an ever-growing trend of what is good being called evil and what is evil called good, such as the non-dualist moral framework of that which impedes desire is evil.  Recently this writer visited Brazil and one of wife’s family commented how Brazil used to be a safe place, but it is not safe anymore. He even commented about Southern Brazil experiencing a cyclone (tornado), something unheard of in Brazil.  So darkness is ever encroaching.

No a reader may ask what is meant by darkness.  Darkness is that which is evil, that which shows no light. Now many philosophical and religious systems out there do talk about good and evil, light and dark.  Yet the definitions vary. Essentially it focuses on the battle of evil impulses with those of good impulses.  There is a focus on benefiting the world at large, building it up, or being destructive and tearing it down.

There is acknowledgement in the world at large at pretty significant issues and areas of darkness. The world at large focuses on crime, disease, poverty, climate change,  and intolerance as areas of primary darkness. There are plans and scopes made to find and arrange political solutions to these problems. There is a hope of a New Era Dawning and folks that work toward facilitating a New World order, all in the name to fighting what they consider to be things of darkness.

The Christian world view is quite contrary to the world’s approach to problems.  The Christian view is not about finding political solutions. It is not about finding ways to all work together.  The Christian worldview sees darkness as defeated.  The encroaching darkness is something that is but temporary.  The evil within each of us evidenced by our on-going selfishness has been dealt with, a person simply needs to choose to accept the solution and turn from self and surrender to God.  The answer to darkness if found in the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah. 

Now, there are many that distort the Gospel and change the message of Jesus. There are many who believe they embrace light, when they reality is they are exchanging one darkness for another.  The number of things that appear to be light when they are truly dark is numerous.  Even within those that profess following the Gospel there are many deceptions and ways of darkness that can take one-off the path.  There are many who think they have embraced truth when still lost.

The fact is the forces of darkness know that time is short. They are working hard to deceive many and bringing destruction. The forces of darkness celebrate each choice that leads to death.  The forces of darkness want to take all to the reality of hell and eternal separation from God. 

Yet, while darkness is growing stronger and many are deceived, darkness is defeated. There will be those that turn from light to darkness, there will be those that seek to aid darkness, thinking the darkness is good.  Yet, the end result is all darkness is already defeated.  A time is soon coming when Jesus will return and implement the victory of darkness and bring wrath and judgment.  The question for each of us, is what choice have you made. At death or upon Jesus return it will not be about how often you did good things over embracing your dark impulses, because one thing done selfishly is disqualifying.  Light and darkness do not coexist and are not interdependent.  So the question is what keeps the reader from embracing and walking in the light? What source of darkness have you embraced?  What is your response to God’s offer of redemption through Jesus the Messiah?  Jesus is the light, there exists no other. Jesus is the victory over all that is dark.

Is Halloween harmless?

We have come to the end of the month of October and the “holiday” known as Halloween. Now many consider it a day of harmless fun for children allowing them to dress up and receive goodies from others. For many it is considered a day of harmless fun. Growing up, I participated in all the fun that goes along with Halloween. My family educated me about the good and the bad but still allowed us to participate in the fun of Halloween. Personally I do not yet have children where need to make decisions on how to deal with this cultural holiday. Last year I focused on discussing three elements at the foundation of Halloween: fear, selfishness, and deception in a blog article. This year the thought on my mind is whether the day can be considered harmless. My answer to the question is a resounding no.

Now, did celebrating the holiday cause me any long term spiritual harm? I do not believe so, but in thinking about reactions to the day growing up, I know it was not harmless. In examining my own responses I notice three particular ways that what the day celebrates and teaches is harmful. The first of the three areas of harm is that the day really does encourage unbridled desire. It at the heart teaches to embrace what you want and to let go of inhibition. For children the day is about accumulating as much candy as possible, which often gets consumed quickly. The whole concept of “trick or treat” even is about getting what you want or inflict consequences on those who may be inhibiting the desire. Unchecked desire leads to increased selfishness and embracing of an approach of focusing on desire fulfillment.

The second danger is related to desire fulfillment, and that is promotion of disinhibition. Meaning, Halloween promotes the giving in to impulse, to not holding back. Personally when growing up, I found myself more willing to do things I would not do otherwise, simply because it was Halloween and pranks are to be expected. So it was okay to think about egging someone in the neighborhood. Usually the folks at the end of the pranks were folks disliked for some reason or another. Sometimes things were done just because it seemed funny at the time. Admittedly, there were such actions done at other times while growing up, but Halloween just had an atmosphere of allowance.

The third danger I want to comment on is that of desensitization. Halloween is known for attention paid to things that generate fear. The things that are generally considered dark are embraced. The ultimate result of the focus and celebration of darkness results in minimizing the reality of the dangers. Children dress as witches, vampires, zombies, and other assorted demonic monsters with the net result of making evil things seem to be simply matters of child’s play and stories to generate fear. The reality of the forces of darkness is ultimately minimized. When evil is minimized or ultimately made light of, it is far more easily embraced.

So these three identifiable ways Halloween is harmful are significant. Yet, many in the culture hold actually value the focus on desire fulfillment, disinhibition, and desensitization. These are values that are contrary to a Biblical view of love. Ultimately, each of these spiritual dangers make it easier for people to fall into the traps of darkness.  These dangers make it easier to embrace the darkness and forces of evil.

Whatever a parent decides to do with their children regarding Halloween, I encourage you to consider these factors. Whatever you do, take time to teach children the value of loving God and loving others. Take time to teach children that there is real spiritual evil, that evil is not just stories and imaginations of man. Take time to teach the power of light, which is only found in Jesus, and casts aside all darkness. Seek wisdom and ask God to lead your steps in training your children the path of truth.

Now perhaps you are simply a reader who has not accepted the Gospel. You do see Halloween as harmless and find my thoughts to be simply over-reactive. I challenge you to take time and examine further. Look at your own life and see how desire fulfillment, disinhibition, and desensitization have played out in your life. Take time to examine the light found in the Gospel and in Jesus the Christ.

One last thought to close this article. There is very really danger that occurs on Halloween for many adults and children. There is very real harm perpetrated on this day. The folks who engage in harming others on this day, do so ultimately to grow their own personal power. The real spiritual darkness feeds on people being harmed and destroyed. So whether you think I over-react to the elements of Halloween and the harm it produces, there is really harm done to many.