From the monthly archives:

May 2011

The Art of War

May 30, 2011

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.  Matthew 11:12

In every modern military academy from West Point to Kings Point a revered book is studied to learn the art of war.  Around 500 B.C. the military genius, Sun zTu, wrote the most studied book on warfare ever written.  The proof of its value is that the most passionate pacifist can even quote from it.  See if you recognize one of the General’s most famous observations.

“Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”

Military strategists have heeded Sun zTu’s advise and saved lives while winning battles.  Notables who did not did not fair so well… remember Custer’s Last Stand?  Know your enemy, know the one who battles against you and the victory is yours.

So I’ve been asking a question as often as I can recently.

“If the Kingdom of God is suffering violence,
what is the name of the kingdom that is waring against it?”

If we know the enemy we can fight the skirmishes of sin every day without disaster.

What do you think?  What is the name of the kingdom that wars against God’s Kingdom?  Who sits on the throne of the kingdom that keeps the Kingdom at bay in your life?  Most will answer the Kingdom of Darkness and satan and rightfully so. The longest battle in history has been fought against his minions. The only problem is that he is now a defeated foe, a tyrant on a leash.  The keys to this world were taken from him at the cross of our salvation.

The battle over, the snake crushed under the wounded heel of Jesus, the Son of God has entered into the promises of His Father.   So my question again… The name of the kingdom that is waring against “God in you the Hope of Glory”?  Here’s what I think is the answer…
It is the Kingdom of Self.

Don’t mistake my comments for self flagellation of the religious sort.  There is no sense in trying to win this battle through more of the same kind of useless religious activity that got us here in the first place.  But to continue to war against the wrong enemy and to not discern where the real battle lies is to buy into another of the General’s genius tactics.

“All warfare is based on deception.”

All deception originates with satan, mind you, but the object of that deception is you.

It is the Kingdom of Self that interrupts the power of the Spirit so often in the world today.  The kingdom that grasps and controls, that gets only to get more, that lies and deceives to the point where truth is anemic at best and thought to be a lie at worst.

Adam in the Garden was given a kingdom called earth.  From the throne room of Eden, he and Eve were to rule the earth while God ruled over all.  His rulership gained power through his total submission to the call of God on His life which Genesis 1 records.

“Fill the earth… subdue it… rule over every living thing.” Genesis 1:26

Every living thing”, including the creeping deceiver who had found his way into the heart of Adam’s Garden.  Though he was sinless, walked with God and had every need met, self demanded what belonged solely to God.  Through Adam’s fall the Kingdom of Self was established.

The power of self has never been more exalted than in our world today.  The church is choking on the rising tide of self-fulfillment in religion run amuck. The lack of self sacrifice, sacrificial giving, fastings from the flesh, true discipleship and simplicity in worship is staggering.  Yet God will not be mocked.  He is still seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth.

How does one change the course of self?  How do you permanently step off the throne and allow the Holy Spirit to reign?  It is simple.  Every day determine to serve God and no one else.  Read the Word but also do the Word.  Experience the Word.  Put aside your own will and walk the Word of God out in your life.

Paul, as usual, said it best.

No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.  2 Timothy 2:4

Sounds like something an old Chinese general might embrace.  How about you?


His Covenant Forever

May 19, 2011

He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations… “To you I will give the land…” Psalm 105:11

If I walk in His ways, I will walk to my land.

The Jewish nation was always moving from one form of slavery to another.  Beginning as slaves in Egypt, the years of idolatry delivered them to the bondage of Babylon.  A series of oppressors continued with the Greeks which led to the Romans and all along the bondage of the oral tradition as well. On and on until the modern history became the story of a nation without a country.  God’s promise of a homeland was not just a casual remark though, it was a covenant promise which placed His very character and reputation at stake.  If God does not keep His covenant, He ceases to be the God of the Bible.

Covenants are no more that fancy promises today.  Marriages fail, business partners sue, parents abandon children and contracts are made to be broken.  But the bible provides a history of divine covenants that are valid and living today.  They are covenants made and honored by the Creator to this very hour.

For the Jewish nation, the promise made in this covenant was “I will give the land of Canaan,” a vow that God fulfilled on May 14, 1948 when Israel became a sovereign nation.  But the fine print says that this covenant was also made “to a thousand generations” which is to say to you and I who are children of Abraham through Jesus Christ.

“And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.”  Galatians 3:29

So, I’ve been thinking… thinking about the promised lands that I have both received and continue to hope for.  Thinking of the millions of places, both spiritually and physically, that the Lord has destined for His children that remain unrealized.  And this is what I think…  God’s promises are not based on my willingness to receive or the tenacity of my faith.  They are based on His character and covenant which remains as solid as the gold standard of His name.  My part is to choose whether to walk in His ways or my own.  If I will walk in His ways, I will walk to my land.

  • He promises you “a future and a hope.” Don’t stop walking in His ways.
  • He promises you “protection from the devourer.” Don’t stop walking in His ways.
  • He promises you “the hidden wealth of secret places.” Don’t stop walking in His ways.
  • He promises you “a still, small voice saying, this is the way, walk you there in.” Don’t stop walking in His ways.
  • He promises you that “by His stripes we are healed.” Don’t stop walking in His ways.
  • He promises you “the ancient paths wherein lies the good way… where you shall find rest for your souls.” Don’t stop walking in His ways!

A favorite covenant promise of God’s Word goes like this.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down.  For the Lord upholds him with His hand. Proverbs 37:23

Divine order promises a path thoughtfully planned by God and willingly walked out by me.  It takes faith to live life one appointed step at a time.  Mistakes are made, “though he fall...”, but failure only makes God more creative in working out His will in my life.  And so it goes.  Those who commit to God’s long path experience His delight as well as His sustaining approval.

For many years a small scrap of paper has been within reach every day on my desk.  It is showing the wear of the countless times I have held it between my fingers, reading it even though by now it is mostly memorized.  It says this.

God holds the key of all unknown,
And I am glad;
If others hands should hold the key,
Or if He trusted it to me,
I might be sad.
I cannot read His future plans,
But this I know:
I have the smiling of His face,
And the refuge of His grace,
While here below.

We have His covenant, friend. He has promised lands for you and me.  Don’t grow weary in your well doing.   Persevere and faithfully walk out the seemingly mundane daily steps.  He who has promised will not disappoint. If you will walk in His ways, you’ll walk to your land.

After all, it’s His covenant.