Posts Tagged ‘spiritual warfare’

God brought a woman named Margaret into my life just before my mother died. He knew I would need the continued encouragement and mentoring of an older woman, a woman who would be an example of faithfulness, kindness, and self-control. In the years after my mother’s death, I was challenged in my vocations of wife, mother, and national president of Lutherans For Life. Margaret could always be counted on to listen, ask questions that helped me to think, and influence—not with her feelings, but with the Word of God.

A few weeks ago, Margaret’s daughter called to tell me that her mother was nearing the end of her earthly life. It was ok. Margaret, nearly 90, was looking forward to leaving this world behind and going home. Satan, however, couldn’t stand the thought of losing one more soul to heaven, so he visited Margaret now and then to see if he could tempt her. “We both know my mom’s faith,” Margaret’s daughter told me, “but I think now would be a good time for you to write her.”

And so, without letting Margaret know her daughter’s request, I spent Friday, December 8 writing the kind of comfortably honest letter she would have written to me.

My dear friend, Margaret…

I miss you! I miss our meaningful discussions about the Lord of our lives and why we must cling to Him. I miss the encouragement we have always given one another.

It has been my deepest desire to come see you and spend another one or two wonderful days together. I’ve wanted to do that ever since our last visit when I was in your area speaking and stayed with you. Now, over two years later, I’m wishing I could quickly drive up to see you, talk with you, and share the love we both have in Christ.

Nine grandchildren keep me on the go. I’ve learned, as you learned before me, how important grandparents are. We can encourage and pass on wisdom in a unique way. Parents can be so overwhelmed with the day-to-day parenting. They need encouragement, too, and it helps them to know that their children have the added strength and guidance of grandparents.

You will probably not be surprised to know that I have started writing a second book. After the first book, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, I was asked by several parents, “So now what? Now that we know why our children are being sexualized, what can we do for them? How can we equip them to live in this world?” Margaret, I did not want to write the first book, let alone a second book! Then it came to me. I didn’t have to write it! There have been more than 50 pastors who have served on the pastors’ panels following my book presentations. Twelve of them accepted my invitation to help write the lessons for this book. I am assisting them… and serving as general editor. God is good to provide me with an assistant editor. You would like her! She is a young wife and mom who understands the need of our society for Titus 2 mentoring of biblical womanhood and manhood. This stay-at-home mom was in the perfect position to say “yes” when I asked her to help with this second book entitled Male and Female by Design: What Does This Mean?

Margaret, you and I talked about the most important message of my first book which is this: our identity in Christ matters! We are far more than sexual beings! With our Baptism, we become heirs and children of God because of what Jesus Christ has done for us! Our identity remains the same, no matter our age, health, or any other circumstance in life. You and I, Margaret, are daughters of God! Always and forever! Through water and Word, the Holy Spirit was given to us and He continues to work in us.

Our baptized identity cannot be snatched away! Our holiness and purity in Christ cannot be snatched away! Satan may deceive us. He may tempt us to believe that he has power over us, but he does not! He is the loser! He is the poor, pitiful creature that Christ has won victory over. You and I have talked about this so many times… and we must continue to remind one another of this truth.

This second book that I’m working on will help parents and their children better understand the importance of our baptized identity. Yes, it will teach what it means to be a boy or a girl. It will teach about biblical manhood and womanhood. But, even more so, it will remind both parent and child that with our Baptism, we have a barricade against Satan. Our Baptism isn’t a one-time “event” that serves no purpose for us as we grow older. Our Baptism makes us part of God’s family and connects us with Jesus Christ!

I so appreciate the book Afraid by Rev. Robert Bennett. He writes about the very real spiritual warfare that we experience on this earth. You and I have talked about this spiritual warfare… and it is something we engage in until we are carried home by Jesus. You and I can THANK GOD that no matter how arrogant or bold Satan might be, we’re the ones who hold power over him! With the life of our Baptism and with forgiveness of sins, Satan has lost his stronghold and peace is found (Acts 26:17-18). Rev. Bennett quotes Dr. Klaus Detlev Shultz, who says that the Sacraments of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Confession/Absolution “ultimately serve as a barricade against the perpetual onslaught of non-Christian elements on the believers.”

You and I both know, Margaret, that we are God’s daughters living in an alien and hostile world. I have seen how the Lord has been faithful to provide for you and help you endure very difficult situations. You have always been very private about your personal life, Margaret, but I know enough to recognize you as a daughter of God who has trusted her Lord and Savior in the toughest of times. You have pointed your children and grandchildren to Christ. You carried them to the Baptismal font and taught them who they are in Christ.

I hope that you are remembering your own Baptism. I hope that you are remembering that your identity is not found in your service to others, your youth, or your good health… but in your connection to Jesus Christ! We do not stop being God’s vessels on this earth. Even if we must move to assisted living or can’t drive our own car or can’t go help everybody else, we are still His instruments and He works through us.

When my big, strong farmer father-in-law was flat on his back and near death with a brain infection, he bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t serve us. I looked him in the eye and said, “But you are serving us! Helpless as you may feel, God is using you to teach us how to serve you and one another. He is teaching me to be less selfish, more patient, and trusting of His will and not my own.”

Oh, my dear Margaret, no matter where you are or what you can or cannot do, never forget that you are God’s own. If I could be sitting there with you, we could talk about Job. We could remind each other of what Job experienced and how God showed His faithfulness to Job in the worst of situations.

Job’s friends were of no comfort to him when he was suffering the loss of wife, family, possessions, and good health. Their ears could not hear and their eyes could not see the Almighty God. But the Almighty God had worked faith in Job that did not fail. When Job questioned His Maker, God said,

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were the bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? … Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? … Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? … Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars … Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?

Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it … Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?
(from Job 38-40).

Margaret, may you and I be like Job who answered: “I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.”

May we continue to entrust one another to God our Father who calls us by name (Isaiah 43:1). May we entrust one another to our Father who bears with us, carries us, and saves us (Isaiah 46:4). May we live confident in our Baptism which makes us daughters of God and connects us to Christ on this earthly journey… and forevermore!

The timing of the letter I had been nudged to write was, well, God’s own. On December 17, Margaret was carried home by her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Driving to her funeral four hours from our home, I asked my husband, “Do you think the letter mattered?” The answer came from Margaret’s daughter. “She read your letter. She called for the pastor she trusted. There was peace.”

There was peace for Margaret in dying and there continues to be peace for me in living. It is the peace of the Lord that passes all understanding for those whom God calls by name.

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???????????????????????????????We recently returned from a week on the northern shore of Lake Superior with our sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren. Paul and I wanted to celebrate 40 years of marriage with the family that matters so much to us. Hundreds of photos testify to the fact that precious memories were made.

We hiked, biked and dove into the cold waters together. We bumped heads and dried tears. We sat at table together. Laughed together. Prayed together. We are three generations not randomly thrown together by chance but purposefully knit together by the God of design.

On Sunday morning, we gathered in the great room of the cabin to read God’s Word, sing, and encourage generational faithfulness. It seemed fitting for me as a grandmother to speak to the eldest of the grandchildren Jaden, Ethan, Andrew and Max because they will always have the privilege of setting examples for their younger brothers and sisters Kate, Leah, Sam and Lane.

To get their attention, I asked: “What do worms, mosquitos, bedbugs and flies have to do with being a Christian and following Jesus?” Then I shared with them the true story of Darlene Diebler.

Darlene was born in Boone, IA. She was raised in a Christian home and knew Jesus Christ as her Savior. Encouraged by parents and pastors, she memorized Scripture and words of hymns. As her love for the Lord grew, so did her desire to become a missionary. When Russell Diebler, an experienced missionary, asked her to marry him, she said “Yes!”

The newlyweds settled in New Guinea before their first anniversary. Darlene was excited by the possibilities of living among people who had never heard of Jesus Christ. But Darlene did not become the kind of missionary she had dreamed of. A world war broke out and, together with other missionaries, she was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Men were put in one camp; women and children in another.

Darlene spent her days caring for the sick, comforting the fearful, working in the gardens or pig house, and repeatedly shared the hope of God’s Word—even with the camp commander. On the day when he called her into his office to tell her that her husband had died, a strange thing happened. Instead of breaking down in despair, Darlene witnessed to her captor about why her faith in Jesus Christ would sustain her. Her confidence and uncommon behavior caused the man to leave the room, but not before Darlene saw his eyes glisten with tears.

The only personal item not taken from Darlene was her Bible. God’s Word was light in her darkness. When she got mad at God, she read. When she questioned His will, she read. When she felt sorry for herself, she read. We might wonder: Why didn’t she just give up? Why continue fighting for life when all seemed so hopeless? Darlene didn’t give up because God’s Word was life to her! In meditating upon the Word, the Holy Spirit overcame doubt and turned her eyes to the goodness, faithfulness and promise of God. She was reminded that God had already gone before her and yet, at the same time, was right beside her.

Fear rose up again when Darlene was accused of being a spy for the American army. She was taken away by angry men who had no respect for her as a human being. They placed her in solitary confinement and took away her Bible. Her meals consisted of rice infested with worms. There was no way to protect herself from the flies and mosquitos that carried diseases. Bedbugs bit her flesh all night. Soon, Darlene became very ill. Malaria, beriberi, and dysentery ravaged her body and drained her physical strength. At times, words of prayer failed her. But the Holy Spirit was interceding for her with “groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). He brought to mind Words of the Lord she had committed to memory and verses of hymns sung as a child.

When Darlene was feverish and quite possibly near death, a man appeared with a little bit of medicine. She never saw that man again; in fact, no one else saw or knew of him. To this day, she is convinced he was an angel. Within a very short time—and without a doctor—Darlene regained her strength.

All the worms, flies, mosquitos, and bedbugs tortured her body, but they did not kill her. The Japanese soldiers treated her worse than an animal, but they could not remove her identity as a daughter of God or take from her the Holy Spirit who dwelled within her.

What does this story have to do with my grandchildren? I believe that the prince of this world, the devil, and the culture shaped by his deception will pester my grandsons and granddaughters like so many mosquitos and flies. God’s Word is their only defense. Jesus says,

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you . . . your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:19-20).

I believe the names of my grandchildren are written in heaven. As baptized children of God in Jesus Christ, I believe they have power over the enemy. I also believe that when they live their faith, they will have an uncommon effect on the people around them.

Darlene’s faith in Christ had an effect on the Japanese prison commander. When he saw that she was not crushed under her load of suffering but had the strength to speak of Jesus even to him—her enemy, his attitude toward her changed. He became her advocate and, even though she was removed from under his authority into the hands of others, he did everything he could to keep her alive during her time in solitary confinement.

It won’t be easy for my grandchildren to live their faith; to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). Even their friends may taunt them or abandon them for not “fitting in”. But God does not want His children to be common and malleable in the hands of just anybody. He wants them to be uncommon and malleable in His hands and for His purpose.

To help my grandsons and granddaughters, I want to be what my grandmother was to me. She was my encourager. My comfort. My example of faithfulness.

When I think of my grandmother, the words of one of her favorite Scripture passages speak to me. They are also words to a hymn. Because I pray my family will fight the good fight, I asked my husband, sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters to sing it with me:

Fight the good fight with all your might;
Christ is your strength and Christ your right.
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Your joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace;
Lift up your eyes, and seek His face.
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near;
He changes not who holds you dear;
Only believe, and you will see
That Christ is all eternally.

(LSB 664 “Fight the Good Fight” –
Text: John S.B. Monsell – 1 Timothy 6:12)
This post inspired by Darlene Deibler Rose
Evidence Not Seen:
A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II
A Ruth Graham Dienert Book, 1988

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students walking to schoolThere is a lot of concern today about bullying.  I remember being bullied when I was in elementary and middle school.  Most of my friends were bullied in one way or another, too.

But bullying has become a political buzzword used by people with a view of children, marriage, family, education, law, and society that opposes God.

In Minnesota, pastors are rallying to speak against a potential “anti-bullying” bill currently under consideration. A close friend of mine is part of this group of men who not only stand upon the wall but, after sounding the alarm, come down to enter the fray.  My friend is a former missionary to Brazil.  He recognizes spiritual warfare.  He serves today as a missionary to former Soviet-occupied countries in Eastern Europe and Russia.  He is aware of manipulative tactics.  My friend knows how societies can collapse upon themselves when evil is not resisted.

What follows is a portion of the letter being sent to pastors in Minnesota.  Would you please take a moment to read it?  I know it matters to me.  Why?  Because my younger son and daughter live in Minnesota with their young family.  Because many young friends of mine have children in the Minnesota public schools.  And because the state now facing an “anti-bullying” law is neither the first nor the last.  Here’s the letter:

We are accustomed to a culture that has historically supported morality and ethics that have flowed out of our Judeo-Christian heritage.  As we are painfully aware these values are crumbling fast. Perhaps out of some discomfort or habit or fear of upsetting some of our members we have remained silent regarding these issues.  Our silence is now being construed as condoning these issues and of having our young students indoctrinated with yet another destructive immorality.

On the morning of January 30, 2014, a group of pastors will gather to become more educated about the “anti-bullying” bill that will come before our legislators in February of 2014. This educational opportunity is designed for our clergy to get first hand knowledge about a proposed law that will directly and profoundly affect our church members as well as our teachers and administrators in both public and private schools.

Many of us were bullied when we were in grade school, middle school and high school. It really didn’t matter if you were tall or short, fat or skinny. Whether you did or did not wear glasses or braces it really didn’t matter. If you were shy or nerdy, pimple faced or buck teethed you were a target for the bully. Most everyone growing up, for one of these reasons or another, was occasionally harassed, intimidated and in other words bullied.

Today, the word bully is the newest political buzzword. Daily, our teachers and school administrators are bombarded with a barrage of a variety of bulling accusations. A new “anti-bullying” bill has already been written and will most likely be brought before our legislators in February of 2014. However, this bill is NOT about stopping bullying. In this legislation it intentionally excludes traditional bullying and only protects those students who are LGBT (an initialism that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender). This proposed “anti-bullying” legislation does little to address the universal problem of bullying. Rather, it is disguised as a protection for your child but in reality is just more pressure from the homosexual community pushing their agenda on our culture. You can go to this website and watch a video that will help you better understand what this bill is really about. http://mnchildprotectionleague.com/activist-central/

I have seen the pictures and held the book, It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robbie H. Harris and Michael Emberley, proposed as a part of a curriculum for K-12. You can find it on amazon.com. It has cartoon pictures of grade school children masturbating, naked pictures of young boys and girls, a couple having sex. Why should a 3rd grade boy or girl be exposed to this pornographic material? A pastor would be dismissed if this material were found on his computer.  Yet, Governor Mark Dayton has already agreed to sign House File 826 (HF 826), the proposed “anti-bullying” legislation. Why? Could it be that his real intention is to redefine bullying and to “transform” our educational system? 

Minnesota law already requires schools to implement anti-bullying policies and we have several laws in place to protect every child in our schools. Teachers do not need    another law to follow. Our teachers already have enough to do in the classroom. This bill will only serve to handcuff teachers more and to pit our parents and students against our teachers. What’s more frightening is that this is all done in secret as the parents are not to be informed when their child has been pulled out of the classroom and disciplined for bulling another student. Can this really be true? Yes. I read the proposed bill and that is exactly what it says.

I’m not a citizen of Minnesota.  I suppose I could say that what happens in Minnesota stays in Minnesota.  But I know better, don’t you?

So, I am speaking up… not against people but against ungodly ideas.  Followers of Christ are not called to change the world, but we are called to resist evil and choose life.  The impact is generational.

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jacob wrestles angel of the LordOften, after leading a Titus 2 Retreat, I am asked if I will say a few encouraging words to the husbands and male members of the sponsoring congregation or group.  This is important to me.  As an ezer, a helper by creation and nature, it is natural for me to want to help and encourage the very men who are so different from me.  It has been said that male and female are the two eyes of the universe.  I believe both are needed for a proper perspective.

Before I encourage the men to be the good stewards and defenders of life that God calls them to be, I apologize to them for the folly of women.  The feminist movement baptizes in the name of humanistic narcissism.  It pits women against men and places children in harm’s way.  But Christianity baptizes in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It clothes even an infant girl in the righteous robe of Christ, washes away sin, begins to work a good conscience, and makes her an heir of The Promise.  Daughters of God in Christ do not have to demean or compete with men in order to be persons of influence.

Radical feminism has done great harm, in particular, to boys.  Insisting that “equal means being the same” has left girls more vulnerable and boys deprived of godly manhood.  To deny that boys learn, process and respond differently than girls weakens society and hurts us all.  It shows in the modern classroom.  Almost twice as many boys as girls struggle with completing regular schoolwork and behaving in the way school systems want them to behave.  Boys are almost twice as likely to repeat kindergarten as girls and more than twice as likely to be suspended.  The majority of school dropouts are boys. (1) In my lifetime, I have witnessed powerful advocacy for girls but little desire to understand or respect what boys need to thrive.

Most disappointing to me is the Christian community.  Barna surveys found that a higher proportion of adolescent boys and men are leaving or not participating in church life compared to girls and women.  Sunday school, day school and catechism classes seem to have forgotten (or dismissed) that boys and girls learn and grow differently.  In his book Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow documents that boys and men don’t really think the church has anything to offer them.  I have observed that the more contemporary worship services have become, the more men seem to drift away.  Why?  If God’s divine service to us is diminished by attention to our praise of Him, time in God’s House may become insignificant by men who are wired very differently from women.  Women may be “moved” by praise songs and emotional presentations, but are men?

Not long ago, following Vacation Bible School, I overheard one of the teachers say that the boys came to life when singing “Onward Christian Soldiers”.  Their lips moved during the rhyming and repetitive praise songs, but their voices raised and their feet marched when singing about spiritual warfare, gallantry and defense of all things noble and good.

In Raising Boys By Design, authors Gregory L. Jantz, PhD and Michael Gurian write,

For faith to be relevant, boys and men need to see it as a part of their action-oriented heroic quest — a wholehearted, sold-out-to-Jesus continual submission of the will to one greater than self.  Boys seek a valiant spiritual quest, fraught with challenge and filled with purpose, sacrifice, achievement, and honor.  Males want to connect with a God who is experiential, to have a personal encounter with Jesus that is so compelling they will grab hold of faith and hang on tight as their lives go forward.  Through such faith they will find their true identity, not just as a man but as a Christian man. (2)

Jantz and Gurian speak about a faith that must be muscular.  As the mother of sons, this resonates with me.  I wanted my sons to respect and defend women, but not become one of us.  Just as I am uplifted by the support and wisdom of other women, so men are strengthened by their healthy band of brothers in work, study, play or service.  From boyhood, men need to engage in problem solving, decision-making and wrestling with the tough issues of life on behalf of the women and children they are called by God to defend.  If you remember, Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord (Genesis 32).  Jacob’s hip was put out of joint during the encounter.  Martin Luther said that through faith, in the struggle of the cross, one learns to recognize and experience God rightly.  A man learns, through times of difficulty as well as times of blessings, that God’s Word is living and active; it can be trusted in all circumstances.

God calls boys to guard the purity of girls.  He calls men to defend the lives of women and children.  It is likely, in this sinful world, that boys and men will be bruised when they do battle for the lives of others and to the glory of God.  It is for this reason, I believe, that men (like women) need the Divine Service.  The literal catechesis in the Divine Service, week after week, prepares a young man not to be passive, but to be engaged in the real world.  It allows him to confess his sins, receive absolution and remember the cleansing work of his baptism.  It speaks the timeless Word of God in Christ.  It renews him with the strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

The Divine Service is not the boy or man doing something for God, but God doing something for boy and man so that they, in turn, may do something good for girls and women.

As for me, I will continue to resist the foolishness of some women.  I have no reason to desire the place of a man or covet the responsibilities he has been given.  I do, however, have my own role to play.  It is my belief that I can best help men defend the sanctity of life, protect women and children and, ultimately serve God by loving their neighbor as themselves when I encourage my husband, sons, grandsons and brothers to put on their armor.  To grip the Sword of the Spirit.  To stay alert.  To gather with all the saints and persevere.

War rages.  It is not against flesh and blood but powers and principalities.  It is a spiritual war for our very souls.  I, for one, need the courage and commitment of men who are prepared for such battle.  Men who do more than praise God, but receive from Him training in righteousness… zeal for good works… and the power of self-control.  Divinely served by a mighty God and with marching orders in hand, a man is equipped to bring order out of the chaos of sin.

(1) Gregory L. Jantz, PhD, and Michael Gurian, Raising Boys By Design (Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press, 2013), 12-13.
(2) Jantz and Gurian, Raising Boys By Design, 195.

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Thanks, Alicia, for reminding me of The Word that stands… no matter what.

“Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide, for round us falls the eventide. O let Your Word, that saving light, shine forth undimmed into the night.

In these last days of great distress grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness that we keep pure till life is spent, Your holy Word and Sacrament.

To hope grown dim, to hearts turned cold, speak tongues of fire and make us bold to shine Your Word of saving grace into each dark and loveless place.

May glorious truths that we have heard, the bright sword of Your mighty Word, spurn Satan that Your Church be strong, bold, unified in act and song.

Restrain, O Lord, the human pride that seeks to thrust Your truth aside or with some man-made thoughts or things would dim the words Your Spirit sings.

Stay with us, Lord, and keep us true; preserve our faith our whole life through – Your Word alone our heart’s defense, The Church’s glorious confidence.”

Lutheran Service Book, 585

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Christ says that the devil is the prince of this world (John 14:30; 16:11); and he is a murderer from the beginning and a liar (John 8:44).  If, then, we would live upon earth, we must realize that we are guests and lodge in an inn with a knave as host and with a sign over the door that reads THE HOUSE OF MURDER or THE HOUSE OF LIES.  Satan is a murderer for killing the body, a liar for misleading the soul.  That is the devil’s trade and his work; that is the way he keeps house; that is how business is carried on in this inn.  Whoever belongs to his followers must lend him a helping hand.  But whoever is his guest must expect and risk experiencing rough treatment.  (Martin Luther)   Q: What does this say to you as a Biblical, pro-life Christian?  How do you respond?

The devil, too, can quote Scripture and deceive us with it.  But his use of Scripture is defective.  He does not quote it completely but only so much of it as serves his purpose.  The rest he silently omits.  (Luther)   Q: What does this mean for pro-life Christians and caring pregnancy centers that seek to work with churches, pastors, and youth groups?

The fable is told that when God made man out of a clod of earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life so that man became a living soul, the devil wanted to imitate God and also took a clod of earth in order to make a man of it; but it turned out to be a toad.  (Luther)   Q: What does this say to you?  (Now, sing a hymn of praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — out loud!  Our evil foe cannot endure the Word in music!) 

At all hours the devil is seeking to kill us all.  After you have been baptized, he will not let you have any rest.  If he could kill you in your mother’s body, he would do it.  (Luther)  The devil does not despise God so much as he despises the humans that God so dearly loves.  For it is to us that God gives dominion over Satan.    Q: What does this tell us about the intensity of the pro-life/pro-abortion debate?  Do you think most Christians recognize legalized abortion as spiritual warfare?

All sadness is of the devil, for he is the lord of death.  But, God does not sadden, or terrify, or kill.  He is the God of the living.  This is why He also sent His only-begotten Son, not to terrify but to console.  Christ also died in order to be Lord of death and to give us life and destroy death.  “Rejoice, be confident, be glad.  I have overcome the world and death” (Jesus in John 16:33).   The devil gives heaven before sins have been committed and despair afterwards; Christ does the opposite and gives heaven after the sins.  (Luther)   Q: How does this Truth set caring pregnancy centers and post-abortion ministry apart from Planned Parenthood?

I have read that a man who could have no peace because of the devil made the sign of the cross on his chest and said, “The Word was made flesh,” or, what amounts to the same thing: I am a Christian.  Then, the devil was defeated and chased away, and the man had peace . . . One does not gain much ground against the devil with a lengthy disputation but with brief words and replies, such as: I am a Christian, of the same flesh and blood as is my Lord Christ, the Son of God.  Settle your account with Him.  (Then the devil does not stay long.)  (Luther)   Q: What does this say to you as a Christian living in this world?

When the devil comes during the night to plague me, I give him this answer: Devil, I must sleep now; for this is God’s command: Work during the day, sleep at night.  If the devil persists, and now accuses me of more sins, I reply: Satan, I have heard the record, but I have committed still more sins which don’t even stand in your record.  Put them down, too.  (Luther)  Also, say to the devil: Just by reminding me that I am a poor, miserable sinner, you are placing a sword and weapon into my hand with which I can decisively overcome you  . . . if you tell me I am a sinner, I can tell you that Christ died for sinners.  To Him I direct you.”  (Luther)   Q: How does this affect the way you parent, mentor, witness, teach, serve others, and stand “for life” in this world  — Satan’s “house of murder and lies”? 

With appreciation to What Luther Says,
Concordia Publishing House, 1959 

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The Christian proclaims that Jesus Christ has won the victory.

Victory?  Doesn’t that imply involvement in some sort of competition, skirmish, or battle?

The Christian proclaims that Jesus Christ won the victory over sin, death, and the grip of satan.  Yet, because I am still earthbound, I struggle against the enemy of my life who prowls about seeking to deceive and devour me.

Both God and satan want me, but what they will do after they have me is as different as heaven and hell.

So here I am, in the midst of battle.  Daily warfare.  Satan, the world and my own flesh are fighting against me.  There is no truce, no compromise.  Some attacks are bold, others sly and subtle.   The goal for my enemy remains the same: stir up doubt.  Then remove all hope.

The tempter of my soul has but one question: “Did God really say . . . ?”  And, in my moment of doubt, my own feelings betray me.  My focus is distracted from God’s Word and Promise.  I detour into dangerous territory: the land of Me.  Attitude, choices, and behavior are affected.  So are the people in relationship with me.

In the battle, I need all the help I can get.  I need Sunday mornings where God divinely serves me.  Where I’m reminded of what He’s done and is doing for me more than what I can do for Him.   Admittedly, I’m not fond of old German tunes.  “Did God really say . . . you must sing such awkward melodies with notes too high?”  But, I must confess.  Once the Spirit adjusts my attitude, I am emptied out to be filled with the power of God’s Word captured in the lyrics.  Once my attitude is adjusted, I can better visualize soldiers all around me.  The company of saints. Warriors victorious before me.  Now in glory.

If I knew that tomorrow the men of my family were going to war, I would be left weepy, weak and vulnerable singing a contemporary praise song led by an entertaining band.   I need holiness — whether my men are going to war against an enemy we can see or I am engaged in battle against an enemy I can’t see.  I don’t need a flurry of sight and sound that will momentarily lift my mood.  I need Christ the Cornerstone.  I don’t need distractions of stage and screen.  I need Divine Order.  Divine Holiness.  Divine Service.  I need to get out of myself and be unstrapped from my feelings to trust the Commander-in-Chief.

Victory?  Jesus won the victory that gives me eternal life.  But, while I’m earthbound, I’m engaged in a war between ideas.  Between good and evil.  Between Truth and deception.  Between God and self.  In this present darkness, my enemy schemes against me.

So, God help me stand firm.  Do not let me slip into the attire of frivolity but strap on the armor of battle.  Whether I am at home, in the community, or in worship, bind me with the belt of truth.  Cover me with the breastplate of righteousness and shield of faith so no flaming darts will pierce my soul.   In my hand, secure the Sword of the Spirit.

Keep me alert.  Help me persevere — to victory.

(Ephesians 6:10-18)

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