End Time Bullies

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There was a boy who was being bullied. Everyday the neighborhood kids would taunt and tease him. And everyday the little boy would come home with bruises and tears.

There was one particular bully who seemed like a giant in the boy’s eyes. He was the meanest bully of them all. Now this giant of a bully would incite the other children to throw rocks at the boy, push him down, and call him names. He would spread lies about the little boy and no one would question if the lies were true; even the most outrageous lies.

The boy tried to ignore the bullying and be nice to the bullies, for he thought if he were nice to them then maybe they would like him and stop terrorizing him. So the boy would offer gifts to them. But the bullies took his gifts, scoffed at him, pushed him down, then demanded more gifts. No matter how nice he was, or how many he gifts he gave them, it was never enough.

Soon the little boy stopped going outside. He stayed in his room, scared, sad, and alone.

His father, wanting to help his young son, enrolled him in self defense classes.

“Son, I don’t want you to go around looking for fights, because the fights will come to you.” The father said. “But I don’t want you to be afraid or defenseless to stand your ground. When you stand strong, most bullies will run away. Sometimes you will come across a giant of a bully and you will have to rise up and face him.”

In the class the little boy met other boys and they became friends. As he grew in courage and wisdom he no longer felt defenseless.

It wasn’t too long after,  the little boy had to put into practice what he learned. One day the boy rounded a corner and came face to face with the giant of a bully and his gang.

“Get out of my way!” The giant of a bully demanded.

But the little boy stood his ground.

“Are you deaf? I said get out of the way!” The bully sneered with a shove to the boy.

Yet, the little boy held his ground.

“Are you blind, too?” The bully mocked. “Can’t you see my gang with me? You are out numbered!”

Still the boy did not back down.

The bully’s gang began to get nervous at the newfound boldness of the little boy. Some joined in with jeering the boy and some ran away.

Soon other children started to gather and stood beside the boy. Even though the bully continued to scream threats, the boy and his friends were not intimidated. With each threat the bully uttered, the boy and his friends took a step forward, pushing the bully back.

The little boy was no longer afraid to stand his ground, even if it meant bumps and bruises. If he had stayed hidden alone he would have never known there were other kids who would stand beside him to face the bullies down and send them running. He could stand  and not give up any ground. He could advance and take the bully’s ground from him. He just had to be courageous and put into practice all he had learned.

In many ways we are like this little boy. We are bullied everyday. Though it may not be a bully in the form of boy on the street throwing rocks at us, but the adversary we face is very real.

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The Bible says our adversary is the devil and he is very sneaky and stealth in his attack. Sometimes his attack is so blatant we doubt we are seeing what we are seeing. He knows our weak spots and he aims to hit it hard. When his frontal attacks don’t work he tries to come in through the backdoor to disqualify us; through temptations, attacking our marriages and our family, our finances, our health. He will use people, things, our past, and our minds against us. He is a dirty fighter.

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.] After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be]. 

1 Peter 5:8-10

He will hit, hit, hit us until we are too weary to even fight back. His fancy foot work exhausts us and we just want to get out of the fight and go to sleep. But, my friends, this is not the time to sleep. Edmund-Burke-Quote-The-only-thing-necessary-for-the-triumph-of

Jesus knew the battle we are in. He warned us, if the world hates you, remember it hated Him first. “Listen carefully: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves [have no self-serving agenda]”. Matthew 10:16

It is difficult, I get it, to not feel the suffocating presence of evil around us. Ten years ago we would have never imagined the blatant attacks against our Christian faith as we are experiencing. We must remember it is a spiritual war and the attack is against Christ, His Truth, and His elect. It is a battle for souls.

When the world seems to want to hurry up and get to hell, we must put on our battle clothes and fight! We don’t fight like the world. Their battle plan is to destroy, wreak havoc, create confusion and chaos. The world uses intimidation tactics.

The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.  We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ,  being ready to punish every act of disobedience, when your own obedience [as a church] is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6

I don’t know about you, but I will admit that sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I get angry and I want to lash out and just slap some sense in people. Even in writing this post I had to delete some of what I wrote (well… because it was me talking and being very carnal).  It is difficult to not get caught up in the politics of the world. Sin abounds, but His grace, my friends, His grace abounds even more.

How did Jesus turn the world upside down? His love! He spoke the truth and it stepped on people’s toes. He knew His purpose, He knew He was going to the cross, He even knew who was going to betray Him, yet He loved. He was bold and not afraid of “popular opinion,” because only Truth is able to set the captives free.

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The early church were revolutionaries! They were imprisoned, stoned to death, crucified, beheaded, and scattered. Yet, they didn’t take to the streets and burn the cities down. They didn’t go on a smear tactic campaign.  They continued in Christ and boldly proclaimed the Gospel message.

For Jews demand signs (attesting miracles), and Greeks pursue [worldly] wisdom and philosophy,  but we preach Christ crucified, [a message which is] to Jews a stumbling block [that provokes their opposition], and to Gentiles foolishness [just utter nonsense],  but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles), Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.  [This is] because the foolishness of God [is not foolishness at all and] is wiser than men [far beyond human comprehension], and the weakness of God is stronger than men [far beyond the limits of human effort]. 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

I ask God, how can I make a difference? I feel inadequate. I feel outnumbered.

I (and you) make a difference with Christ in us. He has already equip us with all we need to be victorious! We have His Holy Spirit. We can do ALL things through Christ Who strengthens us! He is not setting us up for failures. He is for us!

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Just look at your own calling, believers; not many [of you were considered] wise according to human standards, not many powerful or influential, not many of high and noble birth.  But God has selected [for His purpose] the foolish things of the world to shame the wise [revealing their ignorance], and God has selected [for His purpose] the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong [revealing their frailty].  God has selected [for His purpose] the insignificant (base) things of the world, and the things that are despised and treated with contempt, [even] the things that are nothing, so that He might reduce to nothing the things that are,  so that no one may [be able to] boast in the presence of God.  But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God [revealing His plan of salvation], and righteousness [making us acceptable to God], and sanctification [making us holy and setting us apart for God], and redemption [providing our ransom from the penalty for sin], so then, as it is written [in Scripture], “He who boasts and glories, let him boast and glory in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

What are we to do? 

First, we get on our knees before Him:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

We seek Him:

In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way]. -Proverbs 3:6

We ask: 

Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. Philippians 4:6

We listen and obey: 

If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.  But he must ask [for wisdom] in faith, without doubting [God’s willingness to help], for the one who doubts is like a billowing surge of the sea that is blown about and tossed by the wind. James 1 

Remember the boy in the story? He did not stand against the bullies alone.

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We must come together, as true followers of Christ, in one mind, unity, encourage and pray for each other. We must stand in agreement. Remain in battle formation, watching out for each other, covering each others blind spot, and remember each other always in our prayers. Because it is not about us, it is about souls and His glory! If we truly love Him, then we love each other and we will be about His business in sharing His love and His truth to a lost and dying world. Live a life worthy of the calling, do not compromise, do not fear, and do not back down. Stand!

This is how I fight my battles!

Be Free & Stay Free

Does God Know You?

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There are many who claim they know God. Jesus, Himself, said in Matthew 7  Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’

How do you know if you love Him? Jesus saidIf anyone [really] loves Me, he will keep My word (teaching); and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling place with him.  One who does not [really] love Me does not keep My words. And the word (teaching) which you hear is not Mine, but is the Father’s who sent Me.”

We are known by love. Do you love? Does His heart beat in you? Do you care for the widows and the orphans?  Do you love even when they hate you? Can you lay yourself down for the sake of the Gospel? Are you burdened for souls? When you look at people, do you see them as souls, someone Jesus thought worthy of dying for? Are you more concerned about being right, rather than loving someone? With all the knowledge we think we have, if we do not have love, we have NOTHING.

I ask you, does God know you?

But if anyone loves God [with awe-filled reverence, obedience and gratitude], he is known by Him [as His very own and is greatly loved]. 1 Corinthians 8:3

I plead with you, do nothing else until you know God knows you and then Go and introduce Him to others through your love. Let every good word and deed point others to Him, the Christ in you.

Be Free & Stay Free

Who is God the Father to you?

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If I ask you, who is God the Father to you, you may have different answers and may even find it easy to answer.  But, if I ask you who are you to God the Father, I think, maybe, we would hear some crickets.

We see the greatness of God, we read His Word and  believe every word to be true (as we should). Yet, some of us struggle when it comes to believing His love for us personally.

Unless we can fully accept and believe His unconditional love for us, His children, then we will always try to perform, we will never feel worthy enough, and we will be motivated by fear.

I have been editing my manuscript, it is a fictional story about a young run-a-way’s journey to salvation. I want to share with you a part of a conversation between the young girl and another character in the story. Just a little background, the girl is a run-a-way, she came from an abusive father. Most of her young life she has been running and scared, always wanting to be loved and accepted, but never knowing the safety of real love.

I think most of us have struggled with the very question this young girl has. It is easier to believe God created the world, parted the red sea, raised the dead, even died on the cross for us, but to believe He loves “me,” well, now that is asking a lot…

If we can fully believe Him, find security in His perfect love, then we would not worry or be anxious for the things we are worried and anxious for. We would fully believe Him when He says, it will all work together for our good.

I submit to you this short conversation. Do you see yourself here?  Have you asked the same question this young girl has asked?

 

“You call God… Father? This is where I struggle.” Sarah said. “I can believe He created the world, I can even believe the story about Him parting the sea, but to think of Him as Father…”

Ruth understood what Sarah was saying. In the short time Sarah has been here, she has shared just enough to know that she and Ruth had come from similar backgrounds. This questioning Sarah had about God as Father, was the same thing Ruth struggled with.

“Sarah, I understand. I had a hard time seeing God as my Father, too.” Ruth said. “Because my own father was not a good father to me. I wasn’t always a Christian. You see, I didn’t really accept Gods love until after I met Paul, it was through Paul God showed me what perfect love is. Before I could fully receive, I was just going through the motions. I was going to church and doing all the Christianly things, but I didn’t truly have an intimate relationship with Jesus. And because I worked so hard at being a good Christian, I just kept failing and beating myself up. I felt like the worlds biggest phony.”

Ruth paused for a moment and then reached over and took the Bible off the nightstand, opened it to 1 John 4:18, then handed it to Sarah. “Will you read this out loud, please?” Ruth asked.

“There is no fear in love.” Sarah began. “But perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, so the one who is afraid is not perfected in love.”

“Do you understand what this means?”

“No.”  Sarah shrugged, handing the Bible back to Ruth.

“It took me a long time to understand what this meant, even though I quoted it a hundred times.” Ruth said. “Our love is conditional, Sarah, sometimes what we call love isn’t love at all. We have learned, from our experiences starting at childhood, to perform for love. We think maybe if I do this, or say that, or look like this, or you fill in the blank, I will be loved. To us, love takes on the face of the one we want to love us the most and when we are rejected by them, or if the person, your father for example, is a hurt angry person, we are in a constant state of waiting for the other foot to drop. We carry this with us throughout our lives and into other relationships and this is how we begin to view ourselves; as someone who is not worthy of love, even though we want it.”

Waiting for the other foot to drop was definitely something Sarah understood. She was in a constant state of fear and anxiety with her father. She wanted to please him, but no matter what she would do to earn his approval,  he seemed to always be disappointed in her. Then the rare times when things were peaceful in her home, something would happen and her fathers temper would explode like a volcano, sending everyone running for shelter.  Ruth was right, no matter how much distance Sarah put between her and her father, she always felt fearful and anxious.

“Here’s the thing, Sarah,” Ruth continued. “God’s love for us is perfect. He wants only good for us, in fact, all good things come from Him. He doesn’t stand in the shadows waiting for us to screw up so He can punish us.  He doesn’t judge us or condemn us. When we accept His Son, we become His family, His children, and He is a good Father, Sarah. A good Father may chasten us, but He never rejects us, or turns His back on us,or withhold any good thing. There is nothing we can do or say that will make Him love us more, or love us less, He loves us fully, completely, unconditionally. When He looks at us, He sees His Son, He does not hold our past against us, He gives us a bright future. When we can accept and believe how much He loves us, then we will not be fearful anymore. Because we will trust Him and know, no matter what happens, He will never leave us. His love is constant. Then when we truly know this, deep in our bellies, we stop performing and trying to earn His love and approval, because we know He loves us and we have no reason to be fearful. We can be free to be vulnerable and allow His Spirit to heal us from the inside out, without fear. Because He knows us and there is nothing we can hide from Him, but if we give it all to Him, He promises to turn it into something good.”

The conversation left Sarah with much to ponder. As Ruth talked, Sarah could feel a heaviness lifting, almost as if a light bulb was coming on. Through Ruth’s words, it was as if real truth was coming alive and Sarah’s heart began to open a little more. It was as if a door was being opened and she was putting a foot over the threshold.

Later that evening, Sarah lay in bed thinking about what Ruth had said; she could feel the truth in it. Despite all the bad things that have happened, Sarah began to see the good in it. As her mind began to reflect on her past and the people she met, she began to see Gods hand in it all.

“Father.” She whispered. She held her breath and listened carefully; for what, she was not sure. “Father?” She whispered again. She liked the thought of having a Father to look after her. And with that thought she whispered thank you and then drifted off to sleep. 

 

Dear Reader, do you know how loved you are by Him? Is it more than just words and a Bible verse to you? Do you have it deep in your belly and do you believe it? He does love you and He calls you by name. He sees you and He knows you. You are His. You belong.

Be Free & Stay Free