Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Warning! Attack Imminent! Expect Many Losses!

On August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina stormed through Gulfport and Biloxi. The storm surge that it brought overstressed the levee system protecting the city of New Orleans. When two of the levees breached, it caused major flooding damage to over 80% of the city, most of which is below sea level. If you have ever been to New Orleans you know that in order to get there, an elevated Interstate 10 crossing over vast swamplands or the causeway bridge over Lake Ponchartrain are the only ways in or out of the city. Major storm damage to both of these roadways was sustained by the hurricane. This severed the city's supply line for food. The water supply, electrical systems and telephone services were all interrupted by the rising flood waters. Backup generators were eventually drowned out by the same. Those people who did not leave the city when they could or because they couldn't, faced a deluge that has claimed many lives and the body count is in progress even now. Thousands of pets had to be left at home and many perished. The entire city eventually had to be evacuated and thousands of people lost everything and are now living in the surrounding areas. Baton Rouge, the capital of Lousiana two hours northwest of New Orleans, doubled its population overnight. Displaced persons affected by the flood are scrounging for places to stay all across northern Lousiana and Texas.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) main responsibility is the oversight for such disasters. They are supposedly poised and ready to step in when the scale of a disaster cannot be adequately managed at the state level. They have contingency plans for just such a scenario as Katrina, but for some as yet unexplained reason, were not able to respond adequately to the victims of the floods in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. The focus for FEMA over the past few years has been to prepare for an attack by terrorists, but evidently while they were looking the other way, Katrina hit. The amount of devastation caused by the hurricane, while in the playbook, was not something the authorities were paying enough attention to.

We're told by Peter that our enemy is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking a victim. Someone whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8); someone looking the other way, not expecting an attack. If he were to appear to our physical eyes as a lion, I'm sure most of us would turn and head the other direction. But that, of course, is not his ploy. His subtlety does not usually employ someone scarey and/or unfamiliar to us. Sometimes Hollywood wants us to see the devil as pale children whose eyes glow or whose heads turn around backwards and then they vomit green goo all over the floor. This, of course, is fiction and perhaps even a further subtlety to pull the proverbial wool over our eyes. The real devil, in the meantime, slips out the door unnoticed after successfully reeking havoc. No, rather than strangers, his plan is to influence the hearts of friends and lovers. Or worse, he gets to our own heart and uses our mouth and our actions to carry out his perverse plans of hatred and division. He sets us against one another and before you know it, the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3) has been shattered; replaced by division and violent vindictiveness.

How can this happen? How can those saved by grace and washed in the blood turn on each other with such ferocity? It is clear that the modern church is not the only place where such ironical behavior has occurred. The writings of the New Testament are filled with admonitions and warnings for the saints of the first century, exhorting them to watch out for this problem. Much blame is given to the devil and rightly so, but I think the issue is closer to home. The devil is to blame, but as believers we have been given the tools to defeat him. If he is successful in his divisiveness, it is because we let him do it. Human nature (aka the "Flesh") is very powerful and does not give up its control over us easily. But as powerful as it may be, the flesh is controlled by us, not the devil. Saying, "the devil made me do it!" is no excuse.

Peter's take on the problem in the 5th chapter of 1 Peter begins with "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert." (NASB) This word "sober" is the Greek word "nepho" and does mean to refrain from too much wine. But used metaphorically, the word appears six times in the New Testament. Each time it contrasts a mind of impared judgment affected by alchohol with a mind finely tuned and focused. Thayer says this word means "to be calm and collected in spirit or to be temperate, dispassionate and circumspect." It is coupled in the 1 Peter passage with the admonition "to be on the alert." This is the word "gregoreuo" meaning to stand watch as a guard.

For all Christian believers attack is imminent. The entire sixth chapter of Ephesians is dedicated to addressing this problem. Spiritual warfare is not an "if," it is a "when." Why some Christians remain unprepared is a mystery. When the attack comes, it is bad, but for those not ready, it is devastating. What can be done? Focus must be given to this issue. A plan must be devised and readiness practiced.

Scriptually speaking the first line of defense is the Word of God. By this I do not mean scripture memory. Studying the Bible is of the utmost importance, but without the enlightening living word of God delivered by the Holy Spirit, it is nothing but paper and ink. Unlike the movies, Satan is not threatened by "what is written." He speaks those "words" fluently. Scripture by itself is a matter of interpretation.

This is illustrated beautifully by Jesus' encounter with the devil in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11) The devil quotes scripture and uses logic to make his points just as any scholar of the Bible would. However, the true Word of God is a message of life. It carries with it the joy and excitement and the virtue of the Creator. In describing it, the scripture says it is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword." (Hebrews 4:12) John confesses clearly in his gospel that Jesus is the Word. (John 1:1-14) To be used as an effective tool against the Prince of Darkness, the Word of God must be down in our hearts not just on the tip of our tongues. The enemy will only respect the Lord Himself and if He reigns in our hearts, He will be able to rebuke the attacks that occur there. This can only happen as we truly yield our will to His. He is Lord over the hearts of those who have made Him Lord. It does not automatically happen when we become Christians. That event is only the beginning of submission to His will and walking in His ways. Quoting scripture and $1.00 won't even buy a cup of coffee these days. But coupled with faith we're told we can move mountains in the name of Jesus.


Blogger Ayoye said...

Big Brother 6: The final two
There are only two left. One won Head of Household. One was evicted. Only one of the two remaining will win.
I recycle my old stuff here Antiquités maybe you should too

11:59 AM  

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