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.

#wcaacc: Day Two summary thoughts: Changing perspectives lead to actions that can change perspectives

Day two at the World Conference of the American Association of Christian Counselors was a day the provided challenge. The key words for me were that of being engaging in changing perspectives. Now of course the questions is what is the meaning in those words and how does it related to what God stirred within me today. These thoughts are ongoing musings that are not so much about any specific teaching but a bringing the thoughts together into a perspective on what God is showing me today.

The thoughts are that each and everyone of us see things from a perspective. God has worked and operated in our life and reveal Himself to us. We have understanding. Yet, our understanding of God, mankind, self, and relationship is partial and limited. We all have growth needed in one way or another. Some growth and healing from hurt and pain. Some growth in moving into what God has called and helping others move into what God has called. God has given each of us gifts and perspective. Our eyes and ears, and hearts and minds God has opened to certain views. We need to grow in what God has given us and ask God to open our eyes, ears, hearts, and minds to a broader view.

We can easily settle for what we think we already know. We can have a knowledge that can even develop into pride and arrogance if we let it. God though has ways of shaping us in particular seasons. What God does one day and in one persons story is not necessarily the way it is for the next. God engages as He does in our lives. And while God does not change, the relationship varies in accordance with the individual not in relativistic or pliable way, but in a relational way in correspondence with how He designed us. He knows our individual design intimately and what we need for growth.

Now here is the deal, God interacts with us in a relational manner. He gives us His love. We reflect what God does in us. We take what He has done and reflect it to those around us. “We let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify God in heaven.” The reflection is a simple small light compared to the brightness of God’s glory. An encounter with God brings weight and the vision is never the same. And each of us, regardless of where we are have a response to the weight and brightness of God’s glory. There is no way we can grasp it all at once, so He gives us different and varied perspectives and lets us reflect. Each of our lives and actions are a story of revelation much like those who came before.

So, in reflecting what God has revealed we in turn touch others. For we have no other choice but to do so, because an encounter with God and his interacting with us in ways that are relationally true, there is no other response but to engage others in love and truth with what God is doing. For the Love of Christ, how he has touched us pulls us to in turn share with and engage others. In other words, we are compelled by Christ’s love. We engage in being who we are in line with what God has done and gifted. We then become salt and light, answering Gods call where we are. Not for the point of some great transforming of this temporary world, but to draw others toward a change in perspective about God to the point where they may yet choose to surrender self and become a member of God’s Kingdom. Yet, not just a member but an adopted child. Blessed only because of who God is, which gives us the opportunity to draw others toward there own encounter with the great, mighty, and heavy God of glory.

Personal Musing: 9-11-2001 to 9-11-2011: Thoughts on ten years of change and choices

Today, 9/11/2011 is the ten-year anniversary of the collapse of the twin towers after airplanes ran into them. Tributes, memories, and stories have been playing on television on varied stations. It is also a time where can reflect on where at on that day emotionally and where are today. God showed both the illusion of perceived peace of the world as well as His sovereignty. Each person in the United States had to face how he or she perceived safety and some took time to examine relationship with God. God also showed that pride does come before a fall. People thought nothing could ever happen; pride was strong. Then towers fell. Things have changed. Ten years have brought a world more insecurity. There have been wars, financial struggles, and everything shaken. There were cries for change and disillusionment. In addition, whether we like it or not, change happened. Ten years ago the world is not the same as it was, this country and the world is a far different place than it was ten years ago.

For me and my wife, we had been married for just over a year. There were lots of hopes and dreams as we were working on growing together and getting started. It was a strange thing waking up and then learning what happened on the internet. The action shattered the perception of “safety” and awareness of pervading darkness was strong, particularly for my wife. Fears were pervasive. In the midst of that, as we sought God, He gave us a lesson and a promise. The story is found at this previous article https://peacebringer7.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/reflections-8-years-after-9-11-2001/. Quickly the lesson was twofold. People are bound in darkness, listening to lies and need the truth. The second is that God is aware of the encroaching darkness and is always simply a request away. He will provide safety in the darkest times if one turns to Him in surrender and calls on Him. The promise was personal to the desires of me and my wife with the promise of two children.

Looking back ten years, the promise still stands awaiting fulfillment. In the past ten years, the calling on God in need at times missed; succumbing to the darkness happens easily. Yet, we have changed and grown. We live each day aware of the fragility of this life. The things that have transpired have worked in our lives to shape and change us. We both have areas of needed growth and moving toward overcoming the own things that bind us. We are free in Jesus but He has us work out the healing and growth. It is easy to lose focus and at times, we certainly have; yet God brings us reminders, draws us back, and urges forward on His path. We know that as we walk through life in this dark world there is joy and pain. We can choose to focus on self, and on pain, or walk the path God sets before us. When we follow God’s way, ultimately there is fruit. When we go our own way, we struggle. It is easy to fall into the path of pride. It is easy to embrace unbelief. It is easy to be selfish. Honestly, there have been moments of each. There also was been moments of great change and repentance. Today, we face a challenge to move forward on God’s path. A challenge to trust in God and move forward on the path with what God puts before us. A challenge to spend more time calling on him and be filled with the light of His love. Each day needs to be a day to move forward. He will renew and uplift but there needs to be responsible forward movement while depending on Him. The choice is ours as it has been each day since that fateful day. Either shrink back and be overwhelmed in the encroaching darkness, or to walk in faith taking the steps as God leads. And these choices are not just for me and my wife but for each us. For tomorrow everything can change in a moment.

Every day each of us need to remember the He who promised is faithful. We live in days of encroaching darkness. Things will continue to change. A time is coming when right is called wrong and wrong right, even more than what is in evidence today. People will lose sight of God’s path and walk their own. People will embrace promises of safety that will crash. Some people will embrace illusion and lies. Other will see and speak truth. As much as things have changed, more change is to come. People will either embrace the darkness of find God’s light. As for me and my household, we are seeking and serving the Lord and His way. Take time and reflect where you have been, where you are, and where going. Are you seeking God or seeking self. Walking in God’s light, or lost in the dark. So here is the challenge, seek, examine, and pray. Ask God to show you where may be bound and what you need to turn over to Him. Seek him and move forward in your relationship with God and touching those in the world around you. Each day is a new day and new choice. Move forward or shrink back. Faith or fear. God’s light or chains of darkness. Truth or lies. God’s love or despair. Resistance or surrender. Self-determined path or God’s way. What do you choose?

 

The Saints Win

The Saints win.  Yes, that is the result of last nights Superbowl game.  Yet the words mean more to a Christian. Before going on further in my thoughts, I do not believe the game was won on the basis of name or anything symbolic that can drawn from the results of the game. Fact is, it is just a game. 

Now that being said, it is important for Christians to remember the end results are that “The Saints win.” The victory is already declared.  God has conquered sin and death and brought victory.  The forces of darkness, the tyranny of suffering, the selfishness of humanity are all defeated, the end of the story has been written. We just are playing out how we get to the final chapter. 

Now for someone who has accepted the Gospel and believes God has won it is at times hard to keep that focus.  The forces of darkness and tyranny of suffering seems unending.  It is easy to focus on the evil and pain, but we can have a different focus. Not on the pains, hurts, and struggles of this life, but recognition that God is in Heaven on the throne and He saw to make a way that selfishness can be overcome and everything made right. So, set you sight on Jesus, His victory, and walk in surrender.  In so doing you will sense the Joy and Peace of knowing victory is assured. The Saints win.

Focus on the Family Tim Tebow Superbowl Commercial

During the Superbowl tonight there was a lot of hype and talk about the Tim Tebow ad for Focus on the Family that ran during the Superbowl.  The ad was controversial because it was delivering a pro-life message.  The commercial itself was really showing the relationship of Tim and his mother and encouraging folks to go see the rest of the story at www.focusonthefamily.com. The controversy over the ad seemed much to do about nothing as the ad simply gives the viewer a chance to go see more.  If the Go Daddy ads pointing folks to see sexually mature spots are able to do that, a pro-life message certainly is viable.  Also feel the spot is worthwhile, because it does focus on making a choice for life. It really does nothing pointing to any political agenda, rather simply encourages life.

The story is worth watching and basically tells how Tim was dedicated before birth and that his mother’s life became at risk during the pregnancy and was told she would need to abort.  A different choice was made. There are many other stories like Tim Tebow’s where the “exceptions” folks generally agree to was not followed and there is a person here today making contribution to the world at large.   And in terms of God’s kingdom, Tim Tebow is playing a role and walking the path God sets before him.  Perhaps he will go on to be successful in the NFL, perhaps his skills will not transfer to the next level.  Regardless, Tim Tebow is walking the path God set before, living as not only someone who is a follower of Jesus but also someone whose life was dedicated prior to birth.

 Here is the commercial that was run during the Superbowl:

People Praising and Repenting in Haiti: CBN Video Clip

CBN video highlighting God moving in peoples lives in Haiti. They are showing God working in the midst. People turning to God in peace. It is encouraging. Now, not particularly found of how the information is presented, but the essential facts of people turning to Jesus or being drawn back to Jesus is important to note and praise God.  

Vodpod videos no longer available.

  

more about “Ministry Clip Of The Week – 2010-1-19“, posted with vodpod

  

Seminarian from Duluth Ben Larson died in Haiti

The Star Tribune has reported the probable death of Ben Larson in Hati. He, his wife Renee, and cousin Jonathon were on a mission trip to Haiti and were staying at St. Joseph’s guest house.  The building collapsed.  Renee and Jonathon made it out, Jonathon did not.  This death really emphasizes that for each of us, we do not know what day will be our last.  Ben was serving God and loving others, letting his light shine and reflect God’s love to others.  Personally, I never met the man or his family, but he died following God’s call.   Pray for his family, his friends, and all those who cared for the man as their hearts will be heavy with grief.  Yet, I hope and pray that they are also able to rejoice, for He has gone to be with God. He served God, and it was time to go.  Now the paper did indicate that there is some slight hope that he might still be alive, but if he is alive he is buried in rubble that rescuers cannot clear or get through.  It is a season of pain  and sorrow for many, yet may God’s peace grow in the hearts of those touched by Ben.  May his wife and family receive God’s comfort and peace and may their mourning be turned to dancing as God’s glory is served.  He died serving Jesus and loving others.  We all need to remember that to live is Christ, which is filled with pain and suffering along with loving others in surrender to the Father’s will.  Death is gain, for he is gone to be with Jesus with no more suffering or pain.  It is hardest on those left behind, yet I know God is bottling their tears and has His hand on their hearts. 

Another important word to remember is that God does work all things together for the good for those that love God.  Now that does not mean absence of pain or suffering, rather God brings good that glorifies Him out of all that happens in our lives.  We surrender to God, He works things out to the good.  Important to note that the good is not about things in this life, but rather the life found in Jesus and each step sanctifying us as we grow more  into God’s intent over our own and become a brighter reflection of God’s love.  This is true in each difficulty in our lives, not just tragedies filled with pain, suffering, and death.

Be Thou My Vision: Musings with Lyrics and Video

The Christian poem and Hymn known as by though my vision has been on my mind and heart recently.  Now perhaps it is connected to my mother’s vision loss issues but there is more to it.   If we are truly surrendered to seeing with God’s vision, eyes can be opened to things people are blind.   When surrendered to the Kingdom of God and have your eyes, ears, and heart opened to the realities of God there is awe, wonder, and fear.  You also are aware of the reality of how lost people are in the darkness of the world.  People are lost because not only are there the realities of God but the realities of evil.  People need to have eyes opened to see.  If they do not see their own sin, the lostness, the emptiness, the futility they cannot turn to the light.  Part of sharing the light of the Gospel is presenting things in such a way that they may see.   This in part is the essence of Matthew 5:16.  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  What people do see and are attuned to, is what we say and do.  They see our reflection and if there is nothing different that makes them take notice there is nothing that will open the eyes, ears, and heart to that which they cannot. 

Yet, God as our vision is not just being aware of the spiritual realities, it is also a matter of our focus.  The things of this world including the joys and the pains can easily distract and result in a loss of focus.  When we loss focus it is easy to be swayed by fears and despairs.  We begin to sink like Peter.  So we need to continually have our vision and focus checked.  Time in God’s word and prayer is one way to have our vision and focus checked.  Another way is engaging in fellowship with other believers.  Ultimately it requires submission and exposure to the truth.   At the core even ultimately it is the truth of God’s word that checks our vision.  In particular it is the things God has outlined as being right and wrong that are checks on focus.   It is a moving outside of our own conscience to what God has revealed in his word.  Even more to the point it is the daily presences of the Holy Spirit giving meaning to God’s revelation to the specifics of what God is moving in our own life.    So ultimately these thoughts really come down to a question of how is your vision and focus? Are your eyes, ears, and heart open to the moves of God in your life?  Have you lost focus or vision?   Turn to God and make the old Irish Hymn your prayer: BE THOU MY VISION.   Please take time to think on the song and lyrics and ask God to open your eyes, ears, and heart to that which He is directing in your life.

Be Thou My Vision
anonymous, 9th century (translated by Eleanor Hull)
 http://www.rc.net/wcc/ireland/early8.htm

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
Naught is all else to me, save that Thou art.

Thou my best thought by day and by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my wisdom, Thou my true word;
I ever with Thee, Thou with me, Lord.

Thou my great father, I Thy dear son;
Thou in me dwelling, I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle-shield, sword for the fight,
Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight.

Thou my soul’s shelter, Thou my high tower;
Raise Thou me heavenward, power of my power.

Riches I heed not, not man’s empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance now and always.

Thou, and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

King of the seven heavens, grant me for dole,
Thy love in my heart, Thy light in my soul.

Thy light from my soul, Thy love from my heart,
King of the seven heavens, may they never depart.

With the high king of heaven, after victory won,
May I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

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.

Reflections 8 years after 9-11-2001

 

Well it has been eight years since the collapse of the twin towers in New York City. September 11, 2001 is a day that is now infamous. In terms of reflecting on what to write given this date my mind has been thinking about trials and spiritual warfare. Certainly the content on the blog reflects the reality that trials and ongoing awareness of spiritual warfare and spiritual battles. Certainly like on September 11, 2001 things can come unexpectedly and we can ignore the warning signs of trouble in denial. However, in praying about what to share as a reflection I believe it is time to share what was going on with me and my wife at that point in time. So enjoy this reflective testimonial story.

For us September 11, 2001 was a day not unlike any other day. The wife had called into work sick with a headache. She was still sleeping. I had gotten up and was going through my routine of searching the internet. Generally I was home during the day because I worked evening shifts. I was perusing the free for all section of www.footballguys.net forum. I had noticed there was a thread talking about collapse of two towers. MY first thought was it was a thread related to something to do with basketball. Eventually my curiosity became peaked and I opened that thread and learned of the attack on the Twin Towers and subsequent collapse. I woke my wife and turned on the television and saw the replays of collapse. My wife was filled with a sense of fear and ongoing darkness. Also at the top of our minds was what did God have ahead, would be able to have and raise children. A strong desire we both have to this day.

Well, I worked with finding ways to calm and comfort my wife and suggested we pray over the events and fears and sense of darkness. It was a battle. We sought God and asked him to reveal His love and truth, to perhaps give my wife a picture of God’s love and purpose. I don’t remember how long I prayed with her and over her and sought God. I know there was a deep sense of darkness that the wife couldn’t get through. Well God answered her prayer and gave her a vision. Now I will reveal what I remember of the wife’s report of the vision. Certainly details may be missing because neither of us wrote it down. I know the prayer over and over was to ask God to show her the light, to bring the light.

As praying this the wife said at first she just closed eyes and saw darkness, but eventually she saw light and Jesus came to her with the light. Jesus then took her away from the darkness to a place of light and rest. Most of our family was also there in that safe place of light. I think Jesus gave her direction of just calling on him to bring her to the safe place of light at anytime, but not certain of that as part of the vision at the time. The family that was in the vision included two children, the wife believes they were girls, but it was definitely two children. Then Jesus showed her the people in darkness. The darkness was deep and people were stuck in the darkness. I don’t recall if there were chains or not. I think there was but am uncertain. What there definitely was within the darkness was serpents speaking lies to people. All throughout the darkness were serpents speaking lies. There was directive to bring the light of truth to people. Now there may have been more details that I don’t recall but this was the essential point. The vision contained to things in my mind, a promise to us of two children., a directive that God’s safety and peace is just a prayer away, and that darkness is indeed foreboding and I believe even fueled by the deceptions of serpents in the dark.

We are at an ongoing war, there is always for believers the place of rest in Jesus and is accessed through him. Darkness seeks to engulf all but cannot extinguish the light, because the light is Jesus who can always bring us to a safe place and will take or burdens. Yes, trials come, towers fall, darkness spreads. Yes, evil is at work. Yes there is pain and suffering. Yet, there is not one thing in all that darkness that can overcome the light of the world and God’s love for us. He cares enough even in the midst of a dark time of great fear to give us a promise. Yet, God not only gave a promise but made clear the urgency for bringing the lost out of darkness.

A safe place of light

A safe place of light

Now eight years have passed since that time. We have not reached the point of having children yet and have had struggles and periods of darkness engulfing our marriage. Yet, God’s light remained faithful, even during our times of greatest struggle and darkness, Jesus was ready to bring us into His light. There is always hope in Jesus at the worst of times. The serpents in the dark seek to bring destruction and like Wormtongue in Lord of the Rings say things that blind us to the truth. Jesus cuts through all the fog of darkness with His light. All any need to do is turn to Him in surrender and ask to be brought out of darkness. Jesus is faithful and will gladly take any of us out of the darkness.

Now that does not mean suffering and trials and difficulties won’t happen. In fact they will, not only that but there is an enemy at work looking for any opportunity to bring destruction. We need to not be caught sleeping and ignoring warning signs. The enemy will use whatever weakness we have to bait and entrap and seek to gets us trapped in the dark and off of God’s path. Yet, no matter how deep of darkness we get Jesus can and will bring us back to the light. In fact, as a pastor from my childhood used to say, God sends his sheepdogs after us to bring us back.