Category Archives: Spiritual Warfare

The Courage of a Young Lion

IMG_0414.JPG

Watercolor artwork by Dylan Pierce (another one of my young lions!)

__________________

Over the past few years I’ve featured a “lion’s share” segment on my blog, providing a platform for the ‘young lions’ I’ve been privileged to mentor and father spiritually.

Today I share with you, my beloved readers, one of the great young men of his generation. Shawn Buck has been with me in the pride for a bit over a year and will soon be moving on from the den as God has called him away from us. Lord willing, Shawn will be leaving for Cape Town, South Africa for a two-year (or life-long?) commitment with the Ubuntu Football Academy.

I’m honored to serve on Shawn’s board but even more blessed to call him a son of the faith. This dude is as real as they come! In this post, Shawn bravely shares his greatest fight and offers hope in overcoming addiction to pornography. As the guys and I have discussed on numerous occasions, we don’t affix the slang “porn” too often because that has become a designation that makes it a culturally acceptable norm. To call it what it is – pornography – paints it in a more ‘graphic’ light, relegating it to it’s more insidious and self-destructive nature.

Thank you, Shawn, my son, for listening to Wisdom’s call and learning to pass by the “forbidden woman’s” house on the other side (Proverbs 7:4,5). I love you, courageous lion of God.

__________________

IMG_0500.JPG

When I was 13 years old, I came across pornography for the first time. It led me down a destructive road of getting deeper and deeper into the world of porn, of continuously lusting after girls and after self-gratification. It led to incredible shame, gut-wrenching guilt, and loss of self worth. It destroyed relationships and it built a dependence on something that doesn’t satisfy. It led me to lie constantly to cover my tracks. It consistently brought me into a world I never dreamt I would be a part of.

It changed my life.

Lust and porn is a cruel drug. That isn’t just some saying. It acts the same way as cocaine by releasing large amounts of dopamine into your brain. The fact that it is so easy to get can make it more dangerous than cocaine, because you can keep your brain doped up for hours (fightthenewdrug.org). It truly is one of the most dangerous things on this earth.

Have you ever heard of a healthy marriage where either the husband or wife wishes they would have slept with more people or watched more porn?

No.

Lust and porn are damaging to our future relationships. There will be images you can’t get out of your mind, unfair expectations you will put on your spouse and even damage done to your own confidence.

I pray that people realize just how destructive lust and porn are. This isn’t just some harmless thing that everybody does. One, it is so degrading to women. Women are amazing and deserve to be held up and shown so much more respect than porn. It truly does alter your view of them subconsciously and starts to paint them as objects in your mind. Two, it plays a large role in human trafficking. Chuck Norris actually wrote an incredible article about that here (http://www.wnd.com/2013/11/porns-part-in-sex-trafficking/). And three, it ultimately hurts you by making you think that that’s what it should be like: by bringing down your confidence, and by taking something so beautiful as sex and making it a cheap, non-committal and perverse action between two random people.

I say all of this not to judge you, be pessimistic or throw hatred on you, but to convince some of you that this is not some cute pet to keep around and play with. It is a dangerous destructive lion just waiting to destroy you completely.

I wish so badly that I could sit here today and tell you that it is something that I’m free of and have victory over, but it’s not. I still have a sexual addiction that I struggle with daily. I have seen significant, positive change in my life with this sexual addiction, though, and that is the only reason I am able to open up enough to write this blog and share my story with you.

I want you to know that you aren’t the only one dealing with this. You haven’t gone too far and or done something too awful. You aren’t defined by your addiction and you can see freedom from it. I have tried every cure/fix there is: accountability partners, Internet filters, multi-step programs, books, and everything else under the sun, and can I tell you the only thing that has made a lick of change in my life? Honestly, Jesus.

I know that is going to turn someone off and I hope you continue to read because I’m going to tell you the difference between all of the things I’ve tried and Him.

He knows you’re going to mess up. He doesn’t guarantee that everything will be fixed after 5 easy payments. He understands exactly, let me say again, exactly what you are going through. Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t happy you are failing like this, and yet he takes you back anyways. You will never go too far, mess up too much or be too unworthy of his acceptance. He loves you and delights when you realize that you can do nothing but lean on HIM. That’s called dependence, and when you start to depend on something that can truly satisfy instead of the false hope of pornography, that is when you will start to see change.

That is my story. Here it is for the world to see and know about. I hope that one day you can open up about your struggles and share your story with people.

If you don’t know whom you can tell, my email is scbuck27@gmail.com. I would love to listen and help in anyway I can.

Thank you so much for listening to my story!

H/T to Karlye – one of our lionesses! – over at flower roots.com. Her layout is way better than mine anyhow. And more pictures.

Advertisements

IT’S STILL WORTH IT

20140608-174356-63836468.jpg

My wife and I are bereaved parents of a 24-year old son we buried nearly six months ago. In the wake of our beautiful ache, we both maintain the indicatives of this and my prior post. God remains good even in this, and it’s still worth any trial we must go through if we can but know Jesus more fully and intimately. Selah.

_____________________________________________

My previous post (hopefully) encouraged the saints that in whatever circumstance of suffering or degree of disappointment, hardship, brokenness and despair you may find yourself in, IT’S STILL TRUE:

God is eternally Good to His own,

and is fiercely jealous of His own,

and eternally protective of His own.

That is unassailable Truth.

20140607-203447-74087566.jpg

Now I’d like to take it to the next level (as if there could be a higher level!) and leave you with this pinnacled truth: whatever bad business you’ve endured or are enduring, whatever mischief of hell cast against you, because of His promises, IT’S STILL WORTH IT!

(1) Because of His nature to love and guard His own, IT’S STILL TRUE: He is good.

(2) Because of the promises He folds into His new creation, IT’S STILL WORTH IT: I can go on. I won’t give up.

I can be strong in my trial because there is One who fights for me, wins my battles and makes me a (constant) overcomer in this life. I can endure because He will make my suffering worthwhile in an eternity bedecked with glories everlasting.

_______________________________________________

IF GOD BE FOR US, WHO OR WHAT CAN BE AGAINST US?

____________________________________________________________

Steven Curtis Chapman sang a bold anthem, “Bring It On” and a year later, his son backed their car over their newly adopted little girl.

Bring it on
Let the trouble come, let the hard rain fall
Let it make me strong
Bring it on

Now, maybe you’re thinkin’ I’m crazy
And maybe I need to explain some things
‘Cause I know I’ve got an enemy waiting
Who wants to bring me pain

But what he never seems to remember
What he means for evil, God works for good
So I will not retreat or surrender

Bring it on
Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll
Let the storm winds blow!

Now…I’m not advocating our throwing down the gauntlet and taunting the adversary but there is a blessed promise that we can boastfully claim. Nothing – absolutely NOTHING – the enemy brings against us will overcome and destroy us.

What does the intrinsic force of verse 31 do for you???

_________________________________________________

Paul said it minimizes his trials. What they work FOR HIM is great and glorious, but what they do TO HIM is minimal compared to the greater work. Rom 8:18.

_______________________________________________________

― C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, illuminated this truth in an imaginative way:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

But please take note:

It is not suffering itself, but my voluntary acceptance, submission and praise of it. To come under it, be trained by it (see Heb 12:11) that produces greater glory within.

Rom 8:17 gives further light. Not just any suffering, but suffering “with Him.”

“But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.” CEB

To VOLUNTARY ENDURE suffering is proof that we belong to the Age to Come…it is the hostility of THIS age that works against us (and is the doorway into future glory!).

But, look – LOOK! – saints, at the glorious promises that make our renovations, remodels, additions and painful constructions worth it!

(1) Our REVEAL as eternal sons and daughters (v19)

Creation – sun, stars, mountains, oceans, beasts of the field, fish of the sea, birds of the air, trees and flowers in the fields, the sunrise and sunset – even angels! – all wait with eager expectation for the revealing of the sons of God. For our wedding day to the Son, for God Himself to make His Home in His people.

Creation was not designed to frustrate man, but to serve him and reflect his glory. Gardens were to produce fruits not weeds, the animal kingdom was not fearsome to man, but friendly; his body was free from disease and sickness, the night was not terror-filled and the climate was calm and favorable.

In the curse, creation was subjected to decay and corruption and not friendly dispositioned to man but rebellious. But this is not the DNA of nature and creation. It knows it’s under bondage and will remain so until the saints are glorified.

If you’ve wondered at the aggression of climate and nature you only have to know these point to the increasing of birth pangs as creation’s convulsions are getting closer together in anticipation of the revealing of the sons.

(2) Renewed PURPOSE (v20)

“Futility” translates ματαιοτησ,
‘nothingness’, ‘pointless’ and ‘worthless because so twisted and faulty’

Man was made in God’s image but through the Fall and Death, perpetuated Adam’s image (Gen 5:3). Through new birth, we are again bearers of the image of God! No longer pointless, worthless, vessels of destruction, but with glorious new purpose and destiny!
__________________________

I am moved by the words of Sara Groves in her song “Why It Matters”. The lyrics were inspired by Vedran Smajlović, a former cellist in the Sarajevo String Quartet.

During the Siege of Sarajevo, he played his cello in the bombed out buildings and on the streets where mortars had killed his neighbors and friends. He called this “a protest of the darkness” and spoke of his cello as a weapon.

Like the statue in the park
Of this war-torn town
And it’s protest of the darkness
And the chaos all around
With its beauty,
how it matters,

How it matters.

________________________________

The redemptive work of our own suffering is a “protest” against darkness, letting in light to those around who are lost and blind and shielded from Truth. I posit there’s no greater evangelical “tool” than for the unsaved to encounter a saintly broken vessel that lets the Light of Christ shine into the darkness!

(3) Infectious HOPE for the earth’s redemption (vv20b-22)

The Greek for corruption is the opposite of ζωη αιωνιοσ (eternal life). So we should relish the pains of our redemption – the “gospel of weakness” – because they are the merits that point to a glorious rebirth for the earth!

(4) the REMOVAL of every last curse of the Fall against us, taking us into eternal life – THE life, unended, that we were created for way back in Genesis 1 and 2 (see Rom 8:23)

Revelation alert:

Have you seen that Romans 8 is taking us back to our intended purpose: no condemnation, adopted sons, glory, a submitted creation, reigning in Life with the Father, uninterrupted fellowship, conquering and ruling?

What we have access to, what Adam and Eve could not partake in, is the Tree of Life. They had innocence conditionally – so long as they didn’t eat off the wrong tree of self-rule, but we have His Life permanently within.

Their judgment shut them away from the Tree of Life.

Our salvation has His Tree-Life growing in us!

So, to wrap up:

It’s worth it because:

(1) I’m assured of Finished Glory – that my future state will be as the Glory of the sun, moon and stars in Glory

(2) I have a purpose that is eternal – a unique role I’m called to perform throughout eternity, that only I can do, and that will add Glory to the Godhead

(3) A glorious environment is being prepared for me.

(In Genesis, the environment was first prepared, but in the New Creation, God prepares His Man and Woman, then prepares a place worthy of the Glory they’ll share with the Son!)

(4) The Joy and Glory of Eternity is endless and exponential – that the afflictions of this lifetime will determine the affluence of my eternity and the pains I endure here will reciprocate to pleasures compounded daily for eternity

Say it with me:

It’s worth it.

I can go on.

I will go on.

By grace.

Through faith.

In victory.

And a song.

For His glory.

Amen and amen.

Praying Your Prodigal Home

20140309-210916.jpg

In light of my most recent posts, I thought it might be beneficial to re-share this from not so very long ago. While there’s some age to this material, no doubt its insights and encouragement are timeless. I pray it will be as meaningful to you as it has been to Sandy and me. Our prayers are with you as you wait on the front doorstep for your miracle.

Peace.

HOW I LEARNED TO PRAY FOR THE LOST

“This is the result of my search for the right way of praying for the unsaved. I have found it to produce amazing results in a very short time.

After more than 20 years of fruitless praying, it seemed that there was no possible chance for my loved ones to ever return to the faith. But after only a few weeks of the type of praying that I have outlined here, I have seen them studying the Bible by the hour and attending every church service possible. Also, their whole attitude toward Christianity has changed, and all resistance seems to be gone.

I have taken my place of authority in Christ and am using it against enemy. I have not looked at myself to see if I am fit or not; I have just taken my place of authority in Christ and have prayed that the Holy Spirit may do His convicting work. If each and every member of the Body of Christ would do this, what a change would be made in this world!

Believers everywhere are burdened for the unsaved or backsliding loved ones. However, many are praying in the spirit of fear and worry instead of faith.

This has caused me to seek for definite light on how to pray, feeling the need of praying the right prayer and also the need for a definite promise or word from God on which to base my faith when praying for the unsaved. Praise God — He never fails to give such needed help!

Perhaps because the salvation of some seemed to be an impossibility, the first verse of scripture that was given to me was Mark 10:27 – “With God all things are possible.”

The next scripture verse had occupied my attention for some time, but it took on a new meaning: “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations [speculations] and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4,5). This shows the mighty power of our spiritual weapons. We must pray that all this will be accomplished in the ones for whom we are concerned; that is, that the works of the enemy will be torn down.

Finally, I was given the solid foundation for my prayers — the basis of redemption. In reality, Christ’s redemption purchased all mankind, so that we may say that each one is actually God’s purchased possession, although he is still held by the enemy. We must, through the prayer of faith, claim and take for God in the name of the Lord Jesus that which is rightfully His. This can be done only on the basis of redemption. This is not meant to imply that, because all persons have been purchased by God through redemption, they are automatically saved. They must believe and accept the Gospel for themselves; our intercession enables them to do this.

To pray in the name of the Lord Jesus is to ask for, or to claim, the things which the blood of Christ has secured. Therefore, each individual for whom prayer is made should be claimed by name as God’s purchased possession, in the name of the Lord Jesus and on the basis of His shed blood.

We should claim the tearing down of all the works of satan, such as false doctrine, unbelief, atheistic teaching and hatred, which the enemy may have built up in their thinking. We must pray that their very thoughts will be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

With the authority of the name of the Lord Jesus, we must claim their deliverance from the power and persuasion of the evil one and from the love of the world and the lust of the flesh. We should also pray that their conscience may be convicted, that they may listen and believe as they hear or read the Word of God. Our prayer must be that God’s will and purposes may be accomplished in and through them.

Intercession must be persistent — not to persuade God, for redemption is by God, but because of the enemy. Our prayer and resistance are against the enemy — the awful powers and rulers of darkness. It is our duty before God to fight for the souls for whom Christ died. Just as some must preach to them the good news of redemption, others must fight the powers of darkness on their behalf through prayer. Satan yields only what and when he must, and he renews his attacks in subtle ways. Therefore, prayer must be definite and persistent, even long after definite results are seen. And we must pray for the new Christian even after he begins to be established in the faith.

We will find that as we pray, the Holy Spirit will give new directions. At one time I was interceding for a soul and began to feel that my prayers were largely ineffective. Then the Holy Spirit inspired me to begin presenting that person to God in the name of the Lord Jesus. As I obeyed this leading, praying, ‘I present so-and-so to God in the name of the Lord Jesus,’ I felt that my prayers were gradually becoming more effective. It seemed that I was drawing that person from deep within the very camp of the enemy. Then I was able to proceed as usual, claiming every detail of that life for God, using the power of the blood against the enemy. This is true warfare in the spiritual realm. Thank God that our spiritual weapons are mighty and that our authority in Christ is far above all the authority of the rulers, powers and forces of darkness, so that the Enemy must yield. But it takes faith and patience and persistence.

Missionaries on foreign and home fields can resist the enemy in their districts, communities and schools by using the power of the blood of Jesus against the powers of darkness, sin and unbelief. With the authority of the name of the Lord Jesus they can demand the enemy retreat. Note that ‘it is the spirit that quickeneth the flesh profiteth nothing’ (John 6:63) and that ‘the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life’ (II Cor. 3:6). Therefore, we must constantly seek the motivation of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, in our faith, in our prayer and in our testimony. It is most important also that we confess our own sins and have them forgiven.

The enemy will use every possible means to silence our intercession and to block our attack against him. We must not only understand our enemy, our authority in Christ and how to use our spiritual weapons but also how to wear the armor that God has provided for our protection. Thus equipped and protected, we need not have any fear. But let us always remember that we have no power and no authority other than that of Christ.

‘Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ’ (II Cor. 2:14)

‘Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world’ (I John 4:4)

— L.M.
(The writer has asked her name be withheld)

_____________________________________

A final note. Our heartfelt thanks to Carey Childrey, a long-time friend and mentor, for sharing a copy of this marvelous message with us. Within weeks of posting this – knowing others needed its encouragement also – the Father ran to meet our own prodigal and welcomed him Home.

Can’t wait to share in the fatted calf with you, son.

Advertisements