Being the Captor not the Captive

the cross

From the time our eyes first fly open in the morning we’re in a battle with the enemy, or at least I am. My mind starts rolling with to do lists, my iPhone buzzes with received messages, social media is calling my name and the covers are oh so warm… let’s wait a while… and Izidora the Chihuahua agrees that under the covers is a better place to be. Why move?

I love places of comfort! The church is that to me (meaning my home church building). I love walking into the vestibule where it feels like I’ve just arrived at the home of my best friend; I guess technically I have. Be it a Sunday Service or when I’ve forgotten my computer cord in my classroom and have to go back and fetch it at 9:30 at night, I feel at home. My thoughts are much easier focused on the things of God when I’m in that place, not so when I walk out the door. So many things are vying for my attention and my thoughts are not always godly. As a matter of fact sometimes they scare even me. Why do such thoughts and images pop into our minds? I won’t share them with you for fear you’d know how warped I am… but perhaps you have your own warped mind to deal with. A Word from God for me this morning:

2 Corinthians 10:5 

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

The Captive

I usually have a flee mentality when I get into one of those scary thought moments. I just want to get my mind as far away from that idea as possible by getting into another area of thinking. You know the mode…. Happy thoughts, happy thoughts! But sure enough it won’t be long until those thoughts catch back up to me and I’m in the same boat causing me to wonder if somewhere deep down in the recesses of my mind an evil Shari is waiting to come out. Crazy right? Please tell me I’m not alone.

Satan. He loves exalting himself and having control. Being that I was not raised in a Friday the 13th movie world and I still close my eyes on the commercial for a horror movie I know that these images and ideas have to be fabricated in some other realm for the purpose of getting my eyes off Jesus and causing fear and anxiety with in me. In that condition I’m of little use to God. So how do I become the captor not the captive?

The Captor

To “cast down” is to utterly destroy those imaginations and things that try to get between you and the mind of God. So how can you destroy a thought that you have no control over?

2 Corinthians 10:6

 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

Obedience to the Savior trumps Satan every time! Satan may be able to cause those crazy thoughts to enter our mind, but within us is the Holy Spirit! Rather than fleeing, stand your ground. The Holy Spirit stands ready for us to call upon Him and rescue us out of Satan’s little shop of horrors. SPEAK JESUS! You’re not alone. Don’t just shake that thought off and go on with life, it needs to be taken captive. Take the thought and destroy it through the Word of God by dismantling it one word, one image at a time. Is it true to who you are? No. Is it honest? No, it’s a lie out of the pits of Hell. Is it just, unprejudiced? No, it’s fabricated by Satan. Is it lovely, a good report, worthy of Praise? No? So envision the Holy Spirit locking that up behind bars and refocus your mind on Christ!

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things

My mind needed rescued this morning. The Holy Spirit… my Hero!

The morning after… and the Ignorance of Politics

politics

Politics are Satan’s playground. I’m proud to live in a country where we have the right to vote, I wouldn’t want to live in the dictatorship that many live in persecution under, however, my heart grows weary of the antics of the winners and losers. Satan knows just where to attack and who he can use to tear at the core of Christian faith. He knows if he can discourage us and imprison our thoughts with anger that our focus will be off the gospel of Christ. I write to myself this morning for in the midst of the political nonsense I find myself in need of hearing the encouraging words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:11

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

What better tool can he use than the political realm that stirs up the hearts of men and women with passionate pride for their cause and turns brother and against brother, friend against friend? We are so all consumed with the “pride of our cause” and yet the supposed cause, which is our homes, family and freedom is being cast aside so that we can win a battle of politics. Satan wins, and we are ignorant.

Mine will likely not be a popular opinion this morning because people would rather argue and cast fingers of blame than take responsibility for the mess this country is in. I cannot say that my lips did not turn a little upward when the republicans took back over the Senate, but only because they are the more conservative of the lot, not because they are sin free. I’m disgusted with Washington as a whole, every party on the ticket. I’m just as frustrated on a local level because somewhere along the line it became politically correct to blame the voters for not wanting to give hierarchy carte blanche with finances and poor decision with no accountability. I won’t park there lest I be ignorant.

The same people who are “so concerned” for our children and nation care not that Hell is on the horizon and Satan laughs all the way to the gates because he has them distracted with politics.  A quick glance through Facebook this morning left me weeping on my keyboard at the children and families hurting because of illnesses and brokenness, and yet the next post would be someone cutting to the core family and friends because they disagreed over politics. I so wanted to get on their post and give them a piece of mind… at least what’s left. But then I decided to read more of Paul’s letter…

2 Corinthian 2:7-8

So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.  Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

Paul spoke of a man who had been disciplined by the church for sin. He asked the church to love him back into the fellowship of God with forgiveness, not continue to beat and berate him to the point of breaking his spirit. I see Christians too often taking a road so high that no one could possibly achieve it so that they can continue to “look down” at the sinner as though they were not one themselves, especially in politics.

Here’s a news flash: God’s not in your party.

God is Holy and just and will hold accountable every decision of every decision maker. He will not allow His name to be taken in vain and the sanctity of the family mocked. And when I say “taken His name in vain” I don’t speak of cursing. I speak of people who use God to further their agenda.

I don’t want to be ignorant of Satan’s devices.  He’ll use me as well as anyone to get someone’s mind off of what matters. Eternity. If your candidate or cause went down, it may or may not be a bad thing. But if a soul goes down into the pits of Hell, and is separated for all eternity from their family and friends. Nothing is worse. Hell is real… but it’s not a playground.

Avoiding Transgression at the Election Polls

your vote

“Then Came Amalek.” A sermon that I heard preached over ten years ago and I can’t for the life of me remember the preacher; but I can remember the sermon because it made such an impact on my life. It’s heavy on my heart as I prepare to go to the polls of Election 2014. Every single box that I check has implications on my future. Somehow America has forgotten that they are the ones held accountable for who is elected. There are times when we in good conscience elect an idiot, usually because we don’t have all the fact or they’re a great deceiver. It never ceases to amaze me when they get reelected.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

We may forget transgressions, God however does not.

The Amalekite’s transgression:

Deuteronomy 25:17-19

Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.

The Amalekites were the first ones to attack Israel as they left Egypt and they attacked them from behind where the feeble and defenseless of the Israelites were located. God could have wiped them from the face of the earth that day, but he waited for an appointed time. When the children of Israel had been at rest for some time this would become a test of obedience for Saul.

In 2 Samuel 15:3-5 Saul has been given the final go ahead by God to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites.

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.  And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.

Saul failed. He didn’t utterly destroy the Amalekites, he kept back the elite and allowed his men to keep the best of the best from the Amalekite property. And judgment came.

22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

Here’s the Word I received on Election Day 2014

When the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon occurred it wasn’t necessarily on the feeble but it was on innocent lives that had nothing to do with a battle field. And I believe that America for a few days acknowledged the power of God and His sovereignty over our Nation. We did repent… but not utterly. Our leadership kept some of the spoils and we who elect them allowed those who dishonor God to continue to be in office.

Deciding who to vote for isn’t easy. Israel wanted a King because the rest of the world had one. Saul looked like a king but when push came to shove he sided with the world. He kept the pretty people and the pretty stuff. Those on the ballot may look the part, but what about their hearts. Finding someone who “utterly destroys Amalekitian thinking” and refuses to go against godly principles is tough… if not impossible.  (I know Amalekitian is not a word, but for effect it works)

A few automatic red flags for me is:

  • If they supported abortion, they’ll have no support from me.
  • If they campaigned on Sunday, they lost me there too.
  • If the proof’s not been in the puddin’ for their last term as an incumbent. They won’t likely do a better job next time around.
  • I’ll support my community, I will not however support mismanagement.
  • I’ll pray for wisdom for me and for my community. I’ll love them… democrat, republican, libertarian, mountain or constitution party.
  • I have but one King. His name is Jesus.

Stolen Hope

image

It happened because of an act of obedience by me during the ladies retreat yesterday. I know right? I was shocked too! I was mostly shocked by my obedience, not that God showed up and did something in a miraculous way. While studying for my session God had laid it on my heart to speak on testifying (which is great!) But then God went one step further and asked me to ask for testimonies.

That is a completely different story. That puts my session out of my control and into the control of who only knows that might stand up. Don’t hate me for saying that… you know that we’ve all been in one of those meetin’s where somebody stood up to testify and 40 minutes later you were praying that God would shut them up. Well that was my fear. But this wasn’t about me, it was about God, so reluctantly I agreed. Well when that time came and the words came out of my mouth and my stomach roller over… Heaven came down. Two of the sweetest testimonies ever and not a dry eye in the house.

it all stemmed from the thought “If I don’t testify, I very well could rob somebody of hope.” Powerful, is it not?

So me and my briggety ways had told God before I went to bed last night that I was gonna rest my mind a few days after this ladies retreat… I felt as though I had just come out of skillet and it wasn’t sunny side up. So when my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, my email notification also buzzed with a devotion series that I have sent there. My weary eyes slid my iPhone open and I read the scripture from Philippians 1:14 “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”

And God said write…

Obedience to testimony time is not always easy. We put restraints on the service times and wonder if what we have to say really needs to be said. But Apostle Paul said in this scripture that because of his afflictions in prison his friends were BOLDY proclaiming the Word of God. Because they could see how God was bringing Paul through his trials and blessing him at the same time they were compelled to tell someone about Christ. Paul had given them hope.

As we go to church today.. don’t deny a friend hope through disobedience.

God also told me to sing the song “Testify” by the Talley Trio during my session. For days I argued with God that I had other songs that I could sing better and that I hadn’t practiced that one enough. I could have spent the time rehearsing and been prepared in stead of arguing. In even greater reluctance I sang the song. And it was just what was needed to get people fired up to testify! Who knew? God! So when I flubbed up a line in the song I could almost hear God say… you should have practiced like I told you. 🙂

Don’t deny hope.