I Don’t Want An Enemy

I have walked with Jesus for 36 years.  So it shames me to make this admission.  But the reality is, I haven’t been very cooperative on the journey.  Much of my heal-digging and fist-shaking probably stems from one thing.

I don’t want an enemy.

I have spent some time in the Word along the way.  God makes lots of promises that the life and sacrifice of Jesus totally backs up.  But I can’t find where He promises no enemies.  In fact, I find the opposite.  He promises tribulation from the world, my flesh, demons, satan.

I still don’t want an enemy.

I want my steps of faith to be met with blessing, encouragement, praise from others.  And, I confess I have received some of these.  But, most of what I see, what I focus on, is the condemnation, the discouragement, the criticism.

I could say that is what I think I deserve.  Truthfully, I think it reflects more on my image of God.  

I can say with Paul that I am the worst of sinners.  But, I think I hear such negativity because I don’t believe God loves me.

But, He does.  He is mighty to save.  He is my strong tower.  His thoughts toward me are for healing and hope.  And He will take the field of battle with me.

Because, like it or not….

I have an enemy.

Point Man

I never did it in combat.  I was the commander’s radio operator and was usually somewhere in the middle of the column.  But in training I sometimes got to be the point man.  And, at least in training, it was something I was good at.

The point man, for those of you that are civilians, is the guy that is in front of the unit.  He has to see what is coming before it becomes a problem.  For example, I was leading a fire team through some pretty heavy brush.  I rounded a bend in the trail and saw movement.  I didn’t see a person, or the whites of anyone’s eyes.  I just saw movement that was out of place.  I called a halt and we were able to take out an ambush.

Sometimes people ask me why I want to be up front, why I want to lead worship.  Do I crave the attention?  Do I have to be noticed?  I know my heart is “desperately wicked and deceitful at all times”, but I don’t think my desires are centered around self.

I think I like being the point man.

The down side of being the point man is that the enemy will see you first, shoot at you first.  You carry the weight, the responsibility for all the lives in your unit.  If you’re good, people live.  If you aren’t, people die.  Simple as that.  

If I can lead people to worship the King of kings, people live.  If I can focus all attention on His presence, the movement of His Spirit, people live.  If I am attuned to His voice, speak and sing yielded to His leadership, people live.  And yes, I will take the shot, if it saves their lives.

As worship leaders, we face attacks that others never see.  We deal with issues and problems that others never think of.  Our prayer life has to be tightened, our time in the word more disciplined, our submission to His will more constant, or people will die.

So to my fellow point men (and women), I salute you.  “Be brave, be strong, for the Lord our God is with you.”

What an awesome privilege to serve and lay our lives at His feet!

http://youtu.be/BAGZ7c8V9SM

No Victory Here

Anyone who follows me, do you find yourself wondering if I messed up . . .

Again. . .

Doesn’t bother me.  I would be thinking the same thing.  Knowing what I know about humanity and our capacity for making huge claims and blowing it.  Knowing what I know about myself, my utter stupidity and huge rebellious streak.

My enemy, our enemy, knows our weaknesses too.  He sees my failures over the years.  He reminds me of them daily.  He points out my flaws, my shortcomings, my shame.

But I have a King.  How amazing to know that I have a King, a Hero,  a Savior that has chosen to twist my life into the threads and fabric of His kingdom.

His name is Jesus.  THE Prince of Peace!  THE GREAT I AM!

My freedom, my life, my victory is already secured.

The idea that I can be defeated.  The belief that, because of me, I will be a failure.  The hope that satan and his hosts cling to, that I will fall.

No.

You will have no victory here.

http://youtu.be/nZiiW2tLxEU

Who will I be?

I was set free from addiction more than a year ago.  After close to forty years of struggle and shame, of hiding and depression, I was released to a new world.  Often the whispers come at me to return, to quit fighting.  The problem with the whispers is that I recognize their end game, I see them for what they are.

I like being free.

But, why was I released.  I still can’t get a job as a pastor.  I still have not fully recognized the calling that God placed on my life.  I still work a dirty, low-paying job at a factory.

Do you ever see yourself from God’s perspective?

When I was young, I wanted to be an Airborne Ranger.  These are the guys with the dangerous missions behind enemy lines.  Hard charging, never quit, crazies that will not back down, will not die.  The ones who are willing to go where no one else wants to, no one else can.

I don’t have the tab.  I’m old, chubby, scruffy.  But, I think, in the spiritual realm, I have become a Ranger.  A never say die light in a dark, cold place.  Sniping with words of love and peace and strength.  Deep in enemy territory with my sword and my life and not much else.

I know there are other people like me, willing to lay down their hopes and dreams, their lives, to reach out to those around them.  Living as lights in factories, on construction sites, plumbers, electricians, mechanics.  All living in the world but not being a part of it, no compromise.

I want to be where I am.  I want to sing for my children, lead worship, teach the band to love and serve.  And I want to go back into the enemy’s strongholds and kick his rear end.

Who will I be?  I don’t know.

I kind of like who I am.

Reality Check

He stood off to the side with his pal, though, for the life of him, he had no idea what he was doing there.  He was no criminal, no gangster or thug.  He certainly was no cop, no undercover narcotics officer, no remote affiliation to the DEA.  He was just a man.

They had the initial meeting an hour ago and now stood waiting, reminiscing over times from childhood, when they had last seen each other, when they had last been friends.  By chance, just meeting again on this day, at the worst, or maybe the best moment.

Two goons came up and stood before them.  “Mr. Dozer wants to talk wit you,” was all they said but they were looking at him, not his friend, not the armed policeman.  They were talking to him.  The guns in their hands allowed for no argument.

With quaking heart and watery knees he followed, coming to stand before the leader.  Sinister malice poured from the man wh stared at him now.

“You got your choice.  See we don’t know you, don’t know why your here.  That makes me nervous.  So you get to choose.  I can kill you now or you can take a test.  You pass the test, I let you in my gang.”

As he spoke, the two thugs were handed clubs.

“We’ll give you a chance, you don’t have to ace this.  But every wrong answer is going to cost you.”  They all smiled, the thugs tapping their clubs meaningfully.

He knew he would be caught if he answered wrongly.  He knew that he didn’t know enough to answer correctly.  Good chance that he was dead, no matter what.  So he did the only thing he could think of.

He sent up a silent prayer.  Then, reached out and grabbed a handful of hair from the man before him.  He pulled downward as hard as he could and kneed his enemy in the face.  Then, in one fluid movement, he drove his elbow into the bas of the man’s skull and killed him.  It took two seconds, at most.

Then, as the shock of what happened held them, he turned and walked away, seeming to disappear before their eyes.

My story is intended to remind you of two things.  With our enemy, there are no right answers, you cannot escape him, cannot outwit him.  He is really only interested in hurting you.  But, as the strength of Jesus, His resurrection power, flows through us, we can defeat our enemy and his schemes.  We can walk away untouched because of the life that is in us.  We don’t need to be afraid.  

We need to fight.

What kind of fight is in you?

Being an averaged height person, I always liked to quote, “it ain’t the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.”

So many things come at us.  They attack and tear, condemn and hurt, messing with our faith, our hope.  And those hurts are so real, so painful, so overwhelming.

When Paul said, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood…” He wasn’t minimizing the damage we withstand.  And because the tools, the weapons wielded by our enemy, so often are flesh and blood, it becomes confusing.  We all know the broken places inside us though.  We know the reality of the emptiness we feel in betrayal, in tight fisted words.  We know the bruises of anger and hatefulness.

So what do we do?  what do we do?

I guess, right now, I’m turning that question around.  What do you want to do?  I’m asking myself, what do you want to accomplish?

Do I want the fights that I can “handle”?  Do I want the warfare that my wisdom and strength can conquer in?  I don’t think so.  Because just like those fights, temporal, worldly, so often meaningless, my victories will be the same, temporal, worldly, meaningless.

I want a God fight.  I want a war that only He can win.  I want a marriage that only He can secure.  I want a life that only He can bless.  I want to conquer enemies that dwell in the eternal, that war in the spiritual, that destroy not just the body but the heart and soul of my people.

I will be a warrior that fights by His rules, that wears His armor, that conquers in the name, the almighty name of Jesus Christ.

The size of the fight in this dog, is God sized, is Holy Spirit sized.

Come at me bro’.  Enemies of the cross – you don’t stand a chance!