Christianity · Faith · spiritual warfare

The Long Fight of the Soul

Michael 04Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life.

Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.

But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s! (Romans 7:20-25; 8:1-11 The Message)

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C.S. Lewis · Christianity · Faith · Jesus · Matt Chandler · spiritual warfare

Everyday Armor

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20 ESV)

There is a daily battle going on, it is waging on outside and inside of us. This battle looks to win our hearts and minds. It looks to tear us down and defeat us; dragging us back to the life that we have died to in Christ. So much has been written on this passage and I do not think that I have much to add, other than highlighting it for us. You see Charles Baudelaire is right when he says,

“The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he did not exist.”

We get so busy in our daily lives, running to meetings and after kids, keeping up with the Joneses that we forget the battle that is raging for our souls. So as you go out today, “Suit up”! Do not forget that the devil is real and actively looking to trip you up, make you weary and get you to go back to the life of death you have been called out of. So soak yourself in the truth, know the Gospel and it’s power to effect righteousness in your life, use faith as the shield against the lies of the enemy and speak the Word of the Spirit, the very Word of God in prayer to destroy what is evil. Constant vigilance and preparedness are the key. The only way to be this vigilant is to be rooted and grafted into Christ, to abide in him daily.


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:1-11 ESV)

abortion · spiritual warfare · The Princess Bride · worship

Owl Post 2-20-2012


As You Wish: The Princess Bride: 

I asked our readers what I should watch (and review) for Valentine’s Day, and The Princess Bride was nominated. Some people in my college dorm watched the film back in 1991 ad nauseum and put a bad taste in my mouth for this 1987 Rob Reiner movie, but the reality remains that the fanciful film is an enduring classic for men and women, boys and girls of all ages in all ages. Examining the narrative, is it any wonder why? Link

Learning to Stand: 

My recent studies of Ephesians have marked me deeply. It may be that the most important application to my life has been in the awareness of Satan’s work around me and, on that basis, learning how to stand firm. Ephesians 6 is a powerful call to be aware of the enemy and his army; it teaches that there is an enemy who devotes his entire existence to the destruction of God’s work and God’s people. Every Christian is engaged in battle against him. Link

The ‘Safe, Legal, Rare’ Illusion: 

AMID the sound and fury of the latest culture-war battles — first over breast cancer dollars and Planned Parenthood, and then over the White House’s attempt to require that religious employers cover contraception and potential abortifacients — it’s easy to forget that there is at least some common ground in American politics on sex, pregnancy, marriage and abortion. Link

An Open Letter to Praise Bands: 

“Dear Praise Band,
I so appreciate your willingness and desire to offer up your gifts to God in worship. I appreciate your devotion and celebrate your faithfulness–schlepping to church early, Sunday after Sunday, making time for practice mid-week, learning and writing new songs, and so much more. Like those skilled artists and artisans that God used to create the tabernacle (Exodus 36), you are willing to put your artistic gifts in service to the Triune God.” Link