3 Keys to Winning a Spiritual Battle Every Time

3 Keys to Winning a Spiritual Battle Every Time

Light SaberThis week I received an emotional letter from a new reader; “I’ve been through a life-long journey of spiritual warfare since I can remember.” She then described one spiritual battle after another involving her personal experience with God, her marriage, her character development, and more. She’s worn out, afraid, and worried that she and those she cares about won’t be saved in the end. I felt tired for her as I read about all she is dealing with. (And I wrote my new friend back with some suggestions.)

Yes, we are in the middle of a war. And this war is much more dangerous and often feels more confusing than any involving terrorism. Sometimes we fight and struggle and worry until we are completely spent in body, mind, and soul. And sometimes we give up in either small or large ways for periods of time; we’re not winning, so why keep trying? The hopelessness and weariness overwhelm us until the fear or guilt whip our fragmented souls into flinging around a sword once more in a futile attempt to defeat what we cannot see but believe must be there.

Is that the picture of spiritual warfare we are doomed to live with?

If that’s the way you feel, I want to plead with you right now – STOP IT ALREADY!

I’ve seen and heard from too many frustrated, worn out, defeated, discouraged believers who feel duty bound to keep fighting but experience no victory. I’ve spent sad periods of my own life that way in the past also.

And I know there’s a better way!

How NOT to Fight a Spiritual Battle

Some teaching on spiritual warfare has done us a disservice. If fighting a spiritual battle is all about an individual believer, or a group of believers, discovering or mustering up some superior spiritual weapon to go out swashbuckling against the devil, then you and I are sunk!

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Why you SHOULD Sweat the Small Stuff

Why you SHOULD Sweat the Small Stuff

It’s probably happened to you. Your life is going along relatively OK. There are bumps in the road, but you’re still moving forward – even if it’s slower than you wish. Sure, life could be better, but you’ve come to some sort of compromise with your dreams. Maybe this is as good as it’s going to get.

And then WHAM! Something totally disrupts your imperfect-but-known way of life. A flood or tornado or fire wipes out all your earthly possessions. The marriage you thought would last forever ends in a flurry of betrayal and trauma. You get a call that your loved one has been taken to the hospital after a serious accident.

And suddenly the things that mattered so much yesterday don’t matter at all today.

Nothing brings life into perspective like trouble. It happened for me with the death of my beloved husband Al in February. It’s not that I didn’t expect this time of loss and grief; I knew when we married that barring a miracle or Jesus’ imminent return I would be facing life as a widow one day, though Al’s death came sooner than we expected. I truthfully had my priorities about right. But still the stark reality of death has taken what I knew to be true and broadcast it in front of my face in 3-D neon technicolor and shouted it in my ears with the volume of a jet engine.

I don’t look back now; I look forward. And that changes the way everything looks. From the perspective of eternity, everything here and now becomes unimportant – while at the same time becoming supremely important.

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How to Know God as your Husband

How to Know God as your Husband

There’s that Scripture you know should mean more to you: “Your Maker is your husband.” (Isaiah 54:5) But you’re just not feeling it. You’re single, and you desperately want to feel some “skin in the game,” not some nebulous spiritual platitude. Or you’re married, and if God is anything like your husband you’ll pass, Thank you very much.

God blessed me with over seven years of a loving marriage. I wrote about what it means to find God as your Husband a couple years ago, and my marriage certainly helped me understand some new dimensions of God’s love. Now that I’m single again after my husband’s death the reality of God as my Husband has taken on a new depth once more. And it’s got nothing to do with some nebulous spiritual platitude.

For all the ways in which modern Western society has allowed women to take care of themselves (and that’s a good thing), there’s a part of us that still needs a man. Or at least some of us think we do. Some of us rush from one relationship to the next, unconsciously (or consciously) desperate to find the one who will finally make us OK. Others of us refuse to pretend to need a man, ratcheting up our independence, certain that we’ll be misused or betrayed or at least disappointed – again – if we let our heart risk allowing a member of the male species inside. We may parade our independence in front of our friends, or we may relentlessly complain about how the man we ended up with is making us miserable.

Some of us are miserable without a man. Some of us are miserable with the man we chose. Remember, if you’re out there looking for Mr. Right, there are a lot of married women who be happy to give him to you! Ladies, this ought not to be!

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What Would Jesus Say to an LGBT Person?

What Would Jesus Say to an LGBT Person?

HandsContemporary culture in our country and much of the world has seemed to place same-sex relationships on a par with opposite-sex relationships. Gender and sexuality are supposedly seen as fluid and changeable. If you disagree you are made out to be bigoted, hateful, and out of touch with reality. Traditional Christianity has viewed same-sex relationships as sinful and unacceptable. If you are an LGBT person or support such relationships, much of Christianity has seemed to relegate you to hell.

What a contrast! But what’s right? Do we “give in” to progressive contemporary culture and support same-sex relationships out of love and tolerance? Do we cloister ourselves in our conservative churches and condemn homosexuals as hopeless sinners?

I don’t believe Jesus would do either.

This article is in response to your questions. I had not planned on ever writing about this issue, but in our most recent survey several of you asked me to address this question. It’s something you are wrestling with, and I want to wrestle with it along with you. One article cannot address all aspects of this issue, but I think the question is a good place to start: What would Jesus say to an LGBT person?

So that you know where I’m coming from, I have had patients, colleagues, bosses, employees, students, and extended family members who are LGBT. Sometimes those relationships have been positive and other times they have not. Sometimes I’ve responded to these fellow human beings in ways I know God would be pleased with, and other times I have not. These issues are challenging for all of us.

Several weeks ago I visited a church I had not known previously and on arrival discovered the morning’s sermon was about how God deals with LGBT persons. Several individuals told their story as part of the service. What struck me was the way this particular church was walking with these persons through a process of spiritual growth, loving them as individuals while calling them to an entirely different life in Christ. It was obvious this church made LGBT persons feel welcomed while at the same time clearly naming same-sex behavior as sinful. Is this church doing it right? I don’t know. It was the first time I had seen the topic handled this openly and in their unique way.

I’m not going to address a theology of sex here, or discuss what the Bible says about homosexuality specifically. For an in-depth treatment of the whole topic, one resource I can recommend is Homosexuality: The Use of Scientific Research in the Church’s Moral Debate. My position is that sex is a God-given gift to be enjoyed exclusively between one man and one woman within marriage, and I believe that is the position that is supported by Scripture.

One important thing to note;

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What To Do When Someone You Love Keeps on Sinning

What To Do When Someone You Love Keeps on Sinning

Your spouse, your child, your parent, a close friend is bent on destroying themselves. Oh, they probably don’t see it that way, but you do. They keep on doing something you know will cause them pain – in this life, and possibly eternally. They’re sinning, and it hurts you to see it more than it hurts them – at least for now.

Some have taken Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1 out of context: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Jesus is talking here about the heart. Only God knows what is going on in your loved one’s mind and soul, what hurts they may be trying to ease or what needs they may be trying to fill. But you and I can see behavior, and we can often see what continuing that behavior will lead to.

There’s a big difference between saying to someone, “You’re sinning, you’re evil, and you’re going to hell,” and saying, “I care about you too much to let you continue destroying yourself. There is a better way!” Jesus also said that there is a time to confront your brother when he sins. (See Matthew 18:15, Luke 17:3) That’s certainly not politically correct, but it may be something you have to deal with.

Those around Jesus knew that absolutely no sin would be tolerated, but they also knew that they did not have to clean themselves up before coming to Him. Jesus’ only requirement was that those who followed Him do just that – follow Him. That meant listening, obeying, being transformed in His presence. No one was too bad, too religious, too sick, too poor, too rich, or too anything as long as they were willing to follow.

When someone you care about keeps on sinning, it may be that God has put you in their life – in part – to help them find a better way. Your own continuing transformation into Christ’s likeness must come first, but there will be times God does call on you to say something. Some of us are only too eager to point out other’s sins in a way that only drives them farther from God. But many more of us are too reluctant to confront our fellow believers in the way Jesus asked us too.

If your loved one keeps on sinning, here are three questions to ask yourself before speaking to them.

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