Why I observe Lent

I had been in an emotional and spiritual struggle for years, processing how the Body of Christ could be so defined, so marked, by division, quarrels, and willful ignorance of each other. My spiritual journey had led me right into the middle of some of those painful internal wars, and I hadn’t escaped without getting hurt. (more…)

How to win spiritual battles

In Paul’s ending to his letter to the Ephesians, he talks about how to defeat the powers of evil and darkness. We have take up the whole armor of God.

We have to take it up. Surely the armor of God is a gift, and we would have any of it without God, but Paul says we have to take some initiative. We have appropriate it, practice it, put in on. We have to make the choices to accept the gifts of protection that God has given.

And it’s no coincidence that the metaphor here is a full set of armor, each piece designed to work with the others. Each item is crucial, and with out even one, the whole solider would be compromised. That’s why he says take up the whole armor.

So what is the whole armor of God? Let’s survey these briefly in the order they appear: (more…)

Who are you fighting?

In Paul’s famous passage in Ephesians 6:10-20 on the armor of God, he makes a big deal about letting us know who we’re really fighting when it comes to the battles of the Christian life.

So who are we up against? This is crucial. You’ve got to know your enemy to be able to fight them effectively. Paul tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood (by which he means human beings) but rather “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Spiritual forces of evil, people. In other words, the devil and his demons. In our hyper naturalistic culture this kind of language seems pretty strange, but there’s no way to get around what Paul is saying here. If he’s right (and I believe he is), there are forces at work beyond that which is immediately visible to us.

This has important implications.

It means that as we look at the world, the things we perceive as our enemies are not in an ultimate sense what we are fighting.

It means that ISIS is not ultimately our enemy. Politicians and presidents are not ultimately our enemies.

These are pawns only of greater, spiritual powers that desire violence and oppression not only for Christians, but for anyone they bring under their influence.

I say this because we give much attention to to the terrorists and the kings of this world, but if we only ever deal with the pawns, solving earthly problems with earthly means we will not make significant headway against the evil powers and principalities of the spiritual realm.

What Paul is saying here is that you have to take the battle past what you can see…and start fighting even the things you can’t see. 

Stay tuned for more.

That time my mother-in-law demolished me at paintball

A few years ago Amber’s side of the family decided it would be a great idea to get together around Thanksgiving. And at this family get together, it was decided we would play a rousing game of paintball.

If you have ever played paintball you know it’s really is a lot of fun. Here’s the thing though: paintballs hurt! They’re being shot from a gun, usually powered by compressed gas, at a really high velocity! Well it’s not like I’m a pro paintball player or anything so I wore some grubby clothes and dutifully donned the protective eye mask from the facility. Then I went out to do battle with my inlaws.

[Let me pause here. Some of you have met my mother in law right? I mean, she’s saint. If you know Kristy, you can’t imagine her hurting a fly, am I right?] (more…)

#Lent, @Twitter, and the real meaning of self denial.

Brothers and sisters, we are now solidly into the season of Lent. Lent is that time of the Christian year where we remember own sin, our own deep need for a savior. We remember we’re made of dust, and we’re going to back to being dust. Perhaps you’re giving something up for the Lent this year…

Christianity Today compiled a list of some of the most popular things people are giving up on Twitter.

You know what the number one thing people are giving up for Lent is on Twitter? (more…)