The Blog

Hi Everybody! I am a christian teen who wishes to share his ideas on the web, and ultimately, create an online christian teen community. This blog is new, but I am hoping that you will be impacted by what I write and become a member of this online community. I have been greatly inspired by Alex and Brett Harris at www.therebelution.com and David Platt at www.radicalthebook.com thank you for reading!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Note For Election Day

Hello everyone! Today is November 6th, Election Day! I sit here keeping an eye on the votes, but things are just getting started. I'm not here to advocate either candidate or go on a political rant. No matter who wins, my #1 Lord is Jesus Christ!

With that being said, I would like to just drop a note here about the elections. Romans 13:1 states: "Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God." So unless our president, whoever he may be, contradicts God, then God wants us to obey. Let me make this clear: if our leader tells us to disobey the Bible, then God always comes first!

So with this being said, I would like to enter this new season for America with open minds and open hearts. I am praying for this country in whatever way it may go, and I ask fellow Americans to the same. God bless you all!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Field Parable

The mind is like a field. You can plant seeds in it. There are many types of unique seeds you can plant, however you only have limited space. Some seeds will require more space than others, yet will yield more fruit. These seeds must be planted and taken care of, or they will die. If you leave your field unattended for too long, then weeds will start to grow. If they are not cut down, they can choke your plants and take all of their nutrients. You should only pick your plants at harvest time, if you do it too early your plant will be undeveloped, if you do it too late then it will be spoilt. The mind is like this true, but the heart even more so.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Vision



  March 24th, 2012. I was at a student conference with my church. God was doing a lot of great things in students that weekend, including me. The lessons and worship were both great.
  I remember one particular service; I was on my knees praying. All of a sudden, a vision entered my mind. I hesitate to call it a vision; it was more of a “video” that popped in my head. I was in a little shed made out of tin in a field. I was leaning against a piece of metal. I was surrounded by rubble and debris in the shed. I don’t remember if there were any windows or doors, but there was a large hole in the wall I was facing, a little smaller than the size of double doors. Someone reached in a grabbed my hand. He pulled me out of the shed and into the sunny field. We were both dressed in military camo. I got the sense that he was my captain or general. He then turned and started walking away, leaving me at the entrance of the shed watching. Then the vision ended.
    I think this is a great picture. It took me a while to interpret it fully. The way I see it, I was surrounded by the rubble of life and sin. The man, Jesus, reached in and saved me from the things of the world, so I could be with Him. Then, He started walking away. It was an unspoken invitation to follow Him and take up my cross. I feel that this is His calling for all Christians. He will help us out of the rubble, but we have a choice to follow Him into the battle (see my article on Spiritual Warfare for help on the actual fight), or stay at the shed.
    Will you follow?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Disciple


Disciple (d -s p l) n.


One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another.


    This is one of the definitions of the word disciple. We’ve all heard this word before, and it usually refers to one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus, or other followers of Jesus. To disciple someone is to make them a disciple of Jesus. What exactly is that?

        In most places today, to become a disciple is to pray this prayer, and then you will be saved. Perhaps there is much more to be done (See “There Must Be More to Life than This” and the book “Radical” by David Platt). To disciple someone isn’t to get them to pray a prayer. It is to help them grow in their spiritual walk as well. As Americans today, we believe in mass-production, trying to save as many as we can as fast as we can do it, which is not a bad thing.

       Our greatest example for how we should model our lives stands in one man: Jesus Christ. Notice that Jesus turned away the crowds, instead investing himself into 12 men, who 11 of which would become some of the greatest speakers of all time. Jesus turned away many, and accepted few. As David Platt put it, Jesus’ mega strategy was just to disciple, not mass produce. It’s not about getting someone to pray a prayer. While that should be done, it shouldn’t be the end. You need to invest yourselves in others, and try to teach them what you can. Let the Spirit guide you, and instead of mass-producing, invest yourself in a few. Do not do assembly-line production and then leave them on their own, invest in them. Imagine the differences between an assembly line and a hand-crafter. Sure, the assembly line gets more, but the hand-crafter gets better.

     Instead of just praying with someone and leave them on their own, invest into them, teach and guide them. When a gardener plants a seed, does he leave the seed to fend for itself, or does he constantly water it and take care of it? If you have a pet, do you let it fend for itself or take care of its basic needs?

    You take care of them. It’s the same in discipling. Help them grow in Christ and on their Spiritual walk. This doesn’t mean you are “better” than them in any way. As much as they learn from you, you can learn from them. This is the essence of community, helping each other in the Faith and to grow together in Christ Jesus.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Josh's Legacy

A Video In Remembrance of Joshua Hernandez


If you would like to support Josh's family, you can buy a t-shirt here

Or, you can make a donation at www.theheartlandchurch.com


Sunday, April 15, 2012

RIP Joshua Hernandez

One of my good friends, Joshua Hernandez, passed away yesterday in a car accident. He was 18, incredibly athletic, and was one of those people that you can't help but like. He was a faithful, awesome man of God, and was such a light in our youth group, church, and city. He was incredibly inspiring, and a wonderful young man. We love you Josh, and will always remember you.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Old Testament and the Cross

    One thing I have always wondered about in the Old Testament is the violence. Why do so many people die and so many harsh punishments be dealt to people when God is supposed to love us? This is a very difficult question many people struggle with. I am struggling with it myself. I have a book that I am going to read on the subject, but until then, I don’t know what to think.

     I overheard a couple of students the other day talking about this very subject. They said that there are a lot of people killed in the Old Testament, and why did that happen? I thought about it a bit, and I believe that it is because Jesus had not come yet. Remember, the reason that we as Christians go to heaven is not because of our own righteousness, but in Jesus’ sacrifice so that we may live forever with Him. However, the sacrifice wasn’t made until the New Testament, after the Old Testament. The Bible says in Exodus 20:5

“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to [idols], nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God.”

   God says that He is a jealous God, he can share His glory with no other (Do not confuse this with Jesus, who is God). If He did, God would cease to be God (this is pretty confusing, don’t feel bad if you don’t understand it, I don’t understand it). God is also a pure God and a holy God; he cannot stand in the presence of sin. This is why we cannot go the Heaven, because every human on the planet (except for Jesus) has sinned. Even in your entire lifetime if you have sinned only once, then you cannot be with God.

   This is a fundamental truth in the Old Testament. We, as fallible humans, sin. God cannot be with sin. Therefore, we cannot be with God. This paints a pretty bleak picture for us, and humanity as a whole.

   This is where Jesus enters the picture. When Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross, He didn’t only bear the pain of the cross, He also bore the sins of all humanity. Before Jesus was taken by Judas and the Roman soldiers, He wept in the garden, so stressed that He was sweating blood. This can be a bit confusing to some believers, since many Christians have died seemingly worse death and went out singing. Does this mean that Jesus is weaker than His followers?

   We must understand here that Jesus wasn’t stressing about the pain that the people would bring on Him, He was stressed about the pain that God would put on Him. Sins must have consequences, and Jesus took the fall instead of us. The wrath of God at all past sins and all future sins descended on Jesus. They say that God turned away from Jesus on the cross because He couldn’t bear to see His son in pain, but God turned away because He cannot look upon the sin.

     Before Jesus came however, sin must be paid for, for as I said earlier sin must have consequences. This is why, I believe, that there was such a harsh punishment system in the Old Testament, because Jesus had not come and accounted for our sins yet, so people had to face the consequences.

   I do not understand how it all works, and why God chose this system, but this is what I believe to be true.

   “What can wash away our sins/nothing but the blood of Jesus”

Love Your Neighbor (Words with Jesus Part 2)

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'
The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:28-31
   One of my favorite passages in Scripture. Here I want to look at the last verse. “Love Your Neighbor as yourself”. Sounds simple enough. Love my neighbors. This is something we hear all the time. We usually interpret it as “love everybody”. I’ve heard before things like “You don’t have to like everyone, just love them.” I’d like to go a bit deeper into what Jesus is saying here.
   First, the word love. There are many words for love in the Greek and Hebrew, each meaning different things. Jesus chose agapao. This means “To welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly” (1). Jesus is saying to love our neighbors, but not just to love them, but to be fond of them. In essence, He is saying to be kind to them and, basically, just to love them.
   So, now some of us might wonder, what does He mean by neighbor?  Blue Letter Bible puts it like this: “According to Christ, any other man irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet” (2)
  I think this is a very accurate definition of neighbor. Anybody and everybody you meet is your neighbor.
  Now, the last word. Yourself. I think this is one of the most important parts of the verse. You love yourself don’t you? You don’t want yourself to get hurt. You try to please yourself. In fact, most of us care about ourselves more than anyone else. That’s just because it impacts us the most. And here, Jesus is saying to love a stranger as much as you love yourself. Think about that. Loving someone that much? When you think about it, that’s sounds difficult. But it’s biblical. It is said numerous times… love your neighbor as yourself.
    Also, notice the importance of this. Jesus says that this is the most important thing you do, other than loving the Lord, which takes place over anything. He says that this is all you need to follow. Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. If you love your neighbor as yourself, then the rest will fall in place. If you love them that much, you wouldn’t lie. If you love them that much, you wouldn’t hurt them. If you truly love God and everybody, you would follow all of the others!
   But the truth is, since sin has entered the world, we cannot do this. I’m not saying that if you lie to your parents, it doesn’t mean you love them. We will all fall short. What I am saying is that the best thing you can do as a Christian is just love others. Love for strangers isn’t found (much) in the secular world. That is what separates us from the world. We have Christ’s love.
  So, here is a summary of what I’m trying to say. Jesus is saying that all we have to do is love Him more than anything, and fondly love anyone and everyone we meet. Doesn’t mean you have to particularly like them, but it does mean that in a situation where most people would cuss out the other person, we forgive and pray for them.
Footnotes

Friday, March 30, 2012

HOPE

“Our hope is in Christ!”

  A wonderful, well known phrase. However, have you ever wondered about the word hope? When we hope for something, doesn’t that imply a chance of it not happening? We want something to happen, and it might not? And isn’t Jesus a definite?

  Before I go into what this means, let me give a verse. Our hope being in Christ, according to this verse, is actually biblical.

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”-Psalm 25:5 NIV

  I love this verse. But we reach the problem I brought up earlier. Our hope is in God, but God is a definite. This doesn’t make sense!

  In order to understand this, you must look at the original Hebrew. Hope, in this verse, actually means “to wait eagerly for”. In fact, the NASB version phrases it this way:

“Led me in your Truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all the day” –Psalm 25:5 NASB

  In the original Greek, the word for hope is elpiz┼Ź. This word is pretty much the same as the Hebrew one; it means to “wait for salvation with joy and full confidence”.



  So when we say our hope is in Christ, we are saying we are waiting eagerly for Him, with joy and confidence! There are no variables here, God is a constant, and He always keeps His promises! And He has promised us salvation in the form of His own Son that He sent down from Heaven to bear our sins so that our hope is in Him and now we eagerly, joyfully, and full of confidence wait for His return! Amen!

  

Footnotes

Greek and Hebrew references from www.blueletterbible.com

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Sabbath

Exodus 20:8-“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it Holy”. One of the Ten Commandments, God instructs us to keep the Sabbath Holy, and we see many examples in the Bible of men and women refusing to work on the Sabbath. The disciples in Acts alone observed the Sabbath 85 times! Jesus showed how to keep the Sabbath by teaching others in the synagogue. The disciples did this many times, in Acts 17, Acts 13, Acts 16, and 82 other examples! Where did that go? These days we are working on the Sabbath, and it’s the cultural norm now. Is this what God wants us to do? Are we disobeying His commandment by working on the Sabbath? This is something I have been wondering about, so I’m going to dig a little into the Sabbath and how we got to where we are now.
        First the transition from Saturday to Sunday. The Bible says that when the Disciples met on the Sabbath, it was on the Seventh day, which would be Saturday. Where did that come from? The Sabbath is an Old Testament law for the people of Israel, not for the church. In the New Testament, the Sabbath is rarely mentioned. There is a reference to the first day of the week in Acts that say that the Disciples got together, but another verse indicates that what they were doing was a daily occurrence. I think that the Sabbath never actually changed but humans adopted Sunday themselves somehow. Now the Sabbath is considered Sunday (the Jewish Sabbath is actually celebrated from Friday evening to Saturday evening). How did we make this transition? For one, the early church was in a time where the pagans worshiped on Sundays, and they wanted to be separate from the Jews, who were persecuting the Christians at that time. Roman Emperor Constantine decreed a day of rest, Sunday, so over a period of about 300 years, humans slowly transitioned to Sunday. Also, the Church Council of Laodicea, a group of about 30 men and women that met from about 363-364 A.D., ordered that work be done on Saturday and religious practices done on Sunday. Please note that Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday as well, according to Mark 16:9:
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons.
          The beginning of the Sabbath. Believe it or not, there is not a single reference to the Sabbath in the entire book of Genesis, just the Seventh Day that God rested. The first mention is in Exodus 16 23-30, shortly after the Israelites leave Egypt:
 Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a Sabbath observance, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.” So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it. Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none." It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?”See, the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." So the people rested on the seventh day.
 Notice how God explains it. It looks like from the passage that the Sabbath is first introduced here. God’s purpose from this is to show that you can trust in Him, because He preserves the manna on the sixth day instead of letting it rot like the other days so that it is available to Israel for food on the seventh.  
          In Exodus 20:8-11, God lays out the plan for the Sabbath, saying to do no work on that day for God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh. Deuteronomy 5:12-15 also says to not work on the Sabbath, but this time it says that He brought them out of Egypt, so keep the Sabbath holy. Please note that throughout Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, God addresses the Israelites about the Sabbath, telling them to observe it in the Torah and making it’s observation a law.
        Jesus states in Matthew that He is Lord of the Sabbath. And He constantly does things on the Sabbath such as heal and preach. His disciples were even collecting food from the fields (Matthew 12:1-3). Does this mean that Jesus was breaking God’s law? No. Jesus is the Sabbath. We rest in Him, and He takes our burdens from us. We can put anything before Him, nothing is impossible for Jesus, our Sabbath whom we take rest in.
        Colossians 2 11:14-17 states that Jesus is the ultimate reality whether you celebrate the Sabbath or the New Moon, they are just mere shadows:
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

 Galatians 4:8-11 says that the seasonal, monthly, and yearly festivals are weak. That is shocking. These festivals, including the Sabbath, are weak compared to Christ. This is what these two passages are saying. We find rest in Jesus, the Sabbath personified. This doesn’t mean condemn those who follow the true Sabbath. Romans 14:5-6 states that some keep special days sacred and some don’t, but that doesn’t mean that either should condemn the other.
        So that is an unexpected truth. Paul is saying that we find our rest in Jesus, not in any festivals or Sabbaths. However, I do not believe that this means to discount the Sabbath. God designed the Sabbath so that we may rest after a week of work, so it’s for our physical health. The fewer mentions of the Sabbath in the New Testament is interesting, but I do not think that discounts it. We find daily rest in Christ, not just once a week. Jesus was raised on the first day of the week so that we may be free and rest daily in Him.
History of the Sabbath
     In Virginia in 1610 the first of the blue laws was passed. A blue law is a law that places certain restrictions on different things. This law said that anyone who did not follow certain laws on Sunday would be deprived of food allowance for a week, and if he did it again, then he would lose food allowance for a week and be whipped. If he offended again, he would be put to death. This was America. Even George Washington got in trouble for traveling on Sunday to a worship service. Different blue laws were enacted to address different things, among them prohibition of work, recreation, travel, sweeping, making beds, even kissing!  The blue laws also banned the selling of certain things, such as alcohol and housewares like pots and pans. Some of these laws still exist today. The selling of alcohol on Sundays is still prohibited in 14 states.
          The blue laws have been deteriorating. Today, the Sabbath is included as a day of work, not rest. We do go to church, and maybe rest some, but most of us still cook or work or something similar. How can we keep the Sabbath Holy today? It is hard to keep the Sabbath Holy in today’s world. An old movie, Chariots of Fire, has a runner who wishes to race, but the big race falls on Sunday, so he refrains from racing that day. What about our race today? Can we refrain from our hectic race in order to give one day out of seven to the one true God? He is the ultimate Deity, we should give Him all our days, so why is one so hard?
        So the question now is, how can we give the Sabbath to God, besides going to church? We can start with doing as little as possible. Maybe instead of cooking, heat up leftovers, the same concept as when God instructed the Israelites to save extra food on the sixth day. Instead of doing dishes, why don’t we use plastic plates and utensils? Why don’t we get our extra work done on Saturday so we can devote Sunday to God?
      Here it gets a bit fuzzy. Do not think that I am saying that you just play all day because that is not my point. What I am saying is that instead of simply refraining from doing those things that would violate the intent of the Sabbath, use that time to pray and read the Bible and get to know Jesus. That doesn’t mean the rigorous study for 24 hours straight. You can do whatever you do to feel close to God. Some people feel close to God riding horses. Some feel close to God hiking. The point is to spend time with God to get to know Him better, and one of the best ways is to look at His Creation. So you can go ride your bike on Sunday, if that’s how you feel closer to Him. But the point isn’t to have “distractive fun” all day like playing video games or going to a party; it is to clear your day to be with God, one day out of seven for Him, in the ways that bring you closer to know His heart for you. That is the greatest fun that can be found in this world and the next!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dangers of the American Culture (Revisited)

   I walked down the aisle looking for a movie to rent. From among the different titles, a few stuck out to me. The one that stopped me in my tracks was titled “Satanic.”

   Why was a movie called “Satanic”? The more I thought of it, the more it perplexed me. As I continued the aisles of the video rental store, more titles and covers stood out to me. Some of them were inappropriate, some were just plain horrible. I then realized how awful the American media was becoming, and it inspired me to write a three part article on the dangers of American Culture.

    Now, almost a year later, I have decided to revisit the subject. I feel that the American Media is worsening, and teenagers all over the world are being influenced by it, and not for the better.

   I myself have fallen in this trap, as I stated in the first part of the original series. To be completely honest, I have played, and yes I must admit, enjoyed video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Assassin’s Creed. Now, I’m stepping back and looking at what these games actually are. The former is a charade of killing and using various weapons to kill police officers. The latter is a bloody affair that is made up of assassinations and brutal battles.

   Video games and movies can be very bloody. However, there is a couple of other types of dangers found in these too (and sometimes in music as well). Some of these things have crude and inappropriate jokes in them, and sexual themes are common in movies today, even movies directed towards teenagers. Another one is profanity. So much profanity takes place in movies rated higher than PG, it’s shocking.

    These things are found so much in American Culture it is scary. Not only that, but they are found in American teenage culture even more. In fact, there is so much, I feel like we are being desensitized to it.

   My mom likes horses. She grew up with one, and likewise I grew up around horses (even though I live in the city, we went out to the country a lot). Horses can be scared by the silliest things, such as Wal-Mart bags and rambunctious kids. So we do what we call desensitizing. We wave tarps around the horses and do other things, but slowly, building up from shaking a bag a few yards away to flying a tarp over their heads. We do this so that the horse will get used to these items, so when we are riding they barely notice them.

     Teenagers in America today are being desensitized through the media. We are getting used to violence, gore, profanity, and sexual themes.  For example, I was watching a movie that many teenagers enjoy. I had to quit because it was just too inappropriate. I looked it up on Google. One review site said you should be 11 to see it. Some other people said 8 year olds can see it, and that it wasn’t very inappropriate. I was shocked. Are we really so desensitized that this doesn’t seem inappropriate? Has it gotten so bad we don’t even notice these things anymore?  Could these people have voiced what thousands of teenagers all over the country think day by day? Here is what Paul Asay, a Christian movie reviewer, says about the movie:

Dirty jokes and double entendres about intercourse and virginity abound, as do references to sexual body parts. The police captain says he's raising a bisexual son. Suggestive language implies that somebody's watching some sort of cartoon porn on his laptop. Prostitution and pimping are talked about quite a lot… Almost 50 s-words—not counting the expletives embedded in the background music. We also frequently hear such words as "a‑‑," "h‑‑‑," "b‑‑ch" and "d‑‑n," along with misuses of God's name (including one pairing with "d‑‑n").”

            Profanity. Gore. Horror. Sexuality. All of these are so common now. It frightens me. Teenagers are being desensitized to evil and impure things, myself included. Philippians 4:8 says “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praise worthy-think about such things.” Could people assassinating each other be called noble? Is profanity considered pure and lovely? Are inappropriate and sexual things right? Are movies titled “Satanic” true and admirable? There answer to all these is no. And if the American media says that these are true statements, then could it be better to just stay out of the media? Especially for Christian teens all over America?

    Bear with me for a moment. This may sound radical, but due to the evidence I have just given, not only in American teenage culture, but in myself as well, wouldn’t it be reasonable to not indulge in these earthly pleasures? Would it be better to keep your mind pure? For after playing assassin’s creed I find myself thinking about bloody things. We are influenced by what we choose to expose ourselves to. And I have been on both sides (I was a “late bloomer” and wasn’t exposed to profanity or gore or sexual themes, specifically in the media, until I was a bit older) and honestly, I wish I had stayed pure, for I was much happier then. It may be difficult, but could it be better to limit what music we listen too? What video games we play? What movies we see? Instead of desensitizing ourselves to the things of this world so they become normal, what would happen if we chose to turn from them? So when we see it actually happening, instead of being so desensitized that we don’t care, we are shocked and reminded of the evil of the world. Is it too much to ask to limit ourselves?

    The answer many teenagers, and Christian teenagers, give to this question is yes, it is too much to ask. I myself didn’t want to give up these things, until just recently God opened my eyes to them, and I decided to only watch PG movies (and only mild PG-13, If at all), listen to pure music, and play video games that exclude the sexual and gory things. For, just as Philippians 4:8 says, focus your mind on pure things. And after focusing on some impure things, I have found that it is not better for me, and it pollutes my mind. So now, I’m going to take a leap of faith. I am going to focus on pure things that uplift me and bring me closer to God, not things that draw me further from Him. I am going to keep my mind free of toxic pollution.

    Are you ready to take that leap? To trust in God and keep your mind pure? If you are not sure, just try it for a little while, maybe a week or a month. See what happens. If you don’t want to continue, that’s fine. But if you find yourself more pure and you like that way, keep on going. Romans 8:5-6 says this: “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” I’m challenging you to a month of only seeing PG movies, only playing E video games, to not listen to music with profanity and sexual themes. This is what I call housecleaning. Cleansing your mind of impure things, and instead filling it with things that please God.

Are you ready?

   

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spiritual Warfare

       Spiritual warfare is a very real thing, even though many Christians and non-Christians are unaware of it. We are in the middle of a war, and every true Christian on the planet is right alongside us, whether they know it or not. Spiritual warfare refers to the war between angels and demons. This can sound frightening, as it should. The truth is, demons try to persuade us to do wrong and try to keep us from God, and angels fight to turn us to God and open our eyes. Not only do these demons try to influence Christians, they plague non-Christians and try to lead them from Christ until death. So, this article is mainly about how to fight in this spiritual warfare.

      I won’t give you weapons, the Bible does. I will only explain the weapons to the best of my God-given ability-I hope. The following verses are some of my favorite verses and are quite famous, but we hardly ever listen to the deep meaning behind these words.



        10Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. 11Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil's tricks. 12We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. 13So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day [a] comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.

Ephesians 6:10-13

Contemporary English Version

     This passage is in context with the armor of God, which we will discuss next. Look at the first verse in the passage above. Notice how it says the mighty strength of the Lord. This means that you will be strong, but only if you rely on God. There is no strength other than Him. Now look at the next verse. It says to put on all the armor that God (remember, it’s His armor) gives, so you can defend…against the devil’s tricks. Take this verse extremely seriously. While you may think that we are fighting worldly persecution, we are actually warring with the devil himself, who tries to tempt us into temptation and sin. Humans are capable of sin on their own, but demons capitalize on it. The next verse goes to reinforce this clearly: we are not fighting humans, but “dark powers” of the spiritual war. I love the last verse. If you put on God’s armor, then you may be able to fight in the battle, and when the fight ends, you will be standing firm. That is a promise.

       So, now we need to familiarize ourselves with the armor. This spiritual armor is often taken for granted, or called “good qualities”. But the Bible clearly says here that these pieces of armor are weapons against the enemy, and can be used to defeat him.



      14Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God's justice protect you like armor. 15Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. 16Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Let God's saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God's message that comes from the Spirit.



Ephesians 6:14-17



Contemporary English version



     Ok, so here are the weapons that we can use against the devil. The first one is the belt of Truth. Truth means to not deceive or lie, which are the devil’s weapons. Truth also could mean the Truth of Jesus, for He says that He is the “way, the TRUTH, and the life” (added capitalization mine). So, a weapon is telling the truth, but also sharing The Truth with everyone we can.

     God’s justice will protect you, for He is the ultimate Judge. This isn’t mentioned much in “classical” talks about the armor, but it is an important part of your armor. Because you have been made right with Him, God’s justice will protect you, “So there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1

     The third weapon is the shoes of peace. Do not fight with earthy forces, instead use peace. Try to avoid fighting, and when persecution comes your way, love your enemies instead of throwing fists.

     Next is the shield of Faith. Always have faith in God, even when times get rough. He is always here for you and God is in control. The devil tries to destroy your faith, so build it into a tower, and protect it from the devil, for he despises faith.

      The helmet of Salvation, God’s saving power. Salvation will help keep the enemy at bay, for you will have the Holy Spirit to help guide you and Jesus in your heart. If you have Jesus in you, then it is impossible for a demon to possess you. (And while demons can still attack you, you have the power to cast them away in Jesus’s name)

      The Sword of the Spirit. This is a sword, meaning it is a powerful weapon. The devil hates the Bible, and good knowledge of it will make the enemy shiver in fear. But even if you do not have a good knowledge of it, you can still use it against him. Read it, believe it, and do it. These are the steps to take to use this “sword” to its potential.

       The final weapon is prayer.

     

18Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God's people. 19Pray that I (Paul) will be given the message to speak and that I may fearlessly explain the mystery about the good news. 20I was sent to do this work, and that's the reason I am in jail. So pray that I will be brave and will speak as I should.



Ephesians 6.18-20



NIV Version



     Prayer is what destroys the enemy. Prayer is the most powerful weapon, for God does hear prayers. We should pray for healing, for ourselves and for others. We should also pray for help or guidance, like if you are about to take a big test or go to a job interview. Another form of prayer that we often times forget to do is what I call “Praise Prayer”. This is praise to God in a form of a prayer. Praise Prayer can be anything from saying how great God is to humbling yourself before Him.



    I hope this article has helped your understanding of spiritual warfare and how to fight in it. I recommend the “Screwtape Letters” By C.S. Lewis and “Lord Foulgrin’s Letters” by Randy Alcorn; both books concerned with helping readers understand the devil’s schemes.