Distractions: weapons against you

“We are not ignorant of the devil’s devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Or are we?

When you’re distracted, your attention changes. Your focus  shifts. Suddenly you’re side tracked, off target.

This doesn’t just mean an annoyance; if you’re a soldier in a for-real war, a distraction can be fatal. Wounded or dead, distractions prevent your objectives from being accomplished.

Enemies use distractions like slick magicians, but the result isn’t just a laugh or two, the result is death. Think suicide bombers dressed like pregnant women. Think Trojan War. Distraction is a well-known, well-used warfare strategy. (See below.) How is it that the church at large isn’t recognizing that fact?

If he can’t kill you outright, the devil will try to nullify your faith, thus your effectiveness. An attractive con man, Satan can be an enemy spy in the camp (i.e. the church, or in the mind of an individual). He’s pretty good at it.

Too many Christians seem to have forgotten we’re in a real shooting war. There’s a real enemy who has thousands of years of experience in destroying humans. (But our commander-in-chief has way more experience in combating the enemy!)

Right now the enemy is using distractions across the body of Christ as effective weapons. Some distractions that I see across the globe right now include:

  • Offense. Feelings hurt. Self-pity. Rights violated. Poor me. Bad you!
  • Pride. Self-righteousness. I’m right, he’s wrong. I have to tell him that he’s wrong. Gossip. Social media!
  • Deceptions. Fake news. Half-truths. Exaggerations. Believing a lie. Not believing the truth.
  • “Discussions” of politics and religion. Smart alecky comments degenerate into bad manners. Rudeness. Spite.
  • Busyness. Laziness. Ignorance. Schedules packed too full of non-essentials.
  • Disagreements leading to arguments. Strife. Church splits. Denomination splits. Family splits.
  • Worry. Anxiety. Depression. Lay-offs. Poverty. Hunger. Homelessness.
  • Disease. Pain. Cancer. Stroke. Heart attack. Accidents.
  • Troubles in family and friends.
  • Fear. Paranoia. Crime. Terrorists. Human trafficking. Children stolen.
  • Technology. Hacking. Stolen identity. Smart phones. Reckless driving.
  • Too much stress. Alcohol. Drugs. Pornography. Spending. Movies, magazines, television, sports. Anything to take my mind off my troubles.
  • Apathy. Spiritual fatigue. Doubt. Unbelief. Nothing does any good, why try.

What happens when all these distractions are going on? Rather, what is NOT going on? Our personal assignment is not getting done. Our personal mission is not being accomplished.

What to do? Open your eyes! Pray for gifts of discerning of spirits, so you can see what’s really happening – this is a spiritual battle, this is a real war, and these are real dangers.

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Distraction in warfare

  • Fake targets:
    • In open field with mass military strategy, sometimes a contingent of troops distracts the enemy army to expose their flank, or to draw them away from a key point or fortification.
    • Flares can divert enemy soldiers’ gaze.

Distraction was a key battle strategy in tales from the Trojan War. According to the legend, the Greeks seemed to have retreated by pretending to sail away. In their stead, they left a large wooden horse, which the Trojans then chose to bring back within their walls in order to celebrate their supposed victory. The Greeks used the Trojans’ pride as a distraction, as they actually hid men within the Trojan Horse in order to let the rest of the army in during the cover of night. The Greeks then entered and destroyed the city of Troy, effectively ending the 10-year standoff that was the Trojan War.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distraction#In_warfare

 

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It’s time for urgent worship

SoldiersFieryPraise and worship are not the same thing.

Praise is telling God how you feel about him and what he’s done for you, how wonderful he is and how grateful you are, all wrapped up in a song somebody else wrote.

Worship is deeper, more intimate, more personal. It’s like singing a love song to the object of your adoration.

Of course, you’re still using a song somebody else wrote. And when you’re through praising God and worshiping, you give money to the church, hear a sermon from the preacher, request prayer if you need it, then go home.

That’s what I thought for years, until I researched original language for myself.

The English word worship comes from the old root word “worth-ship.” How much someone is worth, in respect, honor, position, wealth.

The New Testament Greek word carries a similar idea, but is used of a servant’s attitude towards his master – not exclaiming how great he thinks his master is, but being in submission, reverent, waiting for the master’s instructions.

The servant doesn’t inform the master of his own plans for the day. He doesn’t have any plans of his own. He doesn’t do anything until his master tells him what to do.

Jesus told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well something about the future. He said, “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)

Just physically singing in a church service is not what he meant.

I still worship with songs other people wrote, but sometimes it’s not songs at all, it’s paragraphs, sentences or phrases, sometimes just feelings. Whatever it is, it’s not complete unless followed by listening for the Master’s instructions.

Recently the Holy Spirit said to me, It’s time for urgent worship.

What does that mean, I asked? What is it, and why is it time?

True worship begins with focused attention, he said. Not contaminated with distractions like other people singing. Not drowned out by the static of worry over what is going on in your life, your own thoughts.

True worship is hard, I had to acknowledge. I wasn’t very good at it. Trying to concentrate doesn’t wipe out all the distractions. My elbows hurt. My fingers seem stiff. Time for Tylenol?

I find my mind wandering, thinking about the people I love and their troubles. Concerned about the state of the world.

Worship too easily transitions over to praying for something. Praying is not bad in itself, but it’s not focusing on the worth-ship of God and listening to his voice, his instructions.

Without the critical element of true worship, I may not hear his instructions instantly or clearly enough to respond with confidence when he needs me to.

I was worried that I just can’t do it, no matter how hard I try. Then he reminded me of how I learned to play the piano, how I learned to type: practice.

Practice urgent worship. Focus on the Master and he will strip away all your unnecessary distractions. Don’t worry that you’re not perfect, just practice.

Okay, I said.

But why? I wasn’t sure if he would tell me, but he did.

Because a day is coming when he will speak a critical word. We must be able to recognize his voice and respond, perhaps in an instant.

Urgent worship will prepare his people to hear him clearly, when that day comes.

Originally published in 2010. That day may be sooner than we think.

Under cover of darkness

FireworksIowaJimaMonumentIn recent weeks I have experienced a peculiar sadness, an unexplained grief in my spirit off and on.

No matter what else I was doing – housework, grocery shopping, reading – I would begin to feel grief-stricken, as though something really bad had happened somewhere, or was getting ready to.

I was 14 the first time this happened, June 16, 1957 when my great grandmother Mary Emily Dunnahoe Springs died. I didn’t know her really, had only visited her once or twice with my grandmother. I knew she’d been bedridden because of a broken hip for years, but had no idea she was sick otherwise.

Spending the summer at my grandparents’ farm in Effingham, I had just gone to bed when suddenly a horrible sadness come over me for no reason. I was wondering what on earth was wrong with me when the phone rang and my grandmother Mimi went to answer it. Mimi was upset and tearful when she came to tell me that her mother had just died. All I knew to do was pray.

Over the years that negative sensation has occasionally washed over me without any known cause. I’ve learned to pray whenever it comes, pray until the feeling subsides. Soon afterwards I usually learn that something bad or sad has happened, sometimes to a person I’m close to, sometimes not. Sometimes I never hear of anything bad happening, nothing I can point to, anyway.

This time, July the 4th kept popping up in my thoughts. The closer it got to that day, the stronger the sad feelings got. Each time I asked the Lord to show me who and what to pray for, and as they came to mind I’d intercede for those people, places and things.

The morning of the 4th the grief was still there. It was like waiting for another shoe to fall. The news on television and online wasn’t much different than in recent days. Middle East turmoil. Protests about illegal immigrants in California. Bad weather, like  Hurricane Arthur that was traveling up the eastern seaboard.

As the unsettled, grief-struck emotions rose and fell during the morning, I considered it a call to intercession. I prayed for every person, every situation that came to mind, from the President to the Israeli government to my own family. I included the hurricane.

Then — just after 2:30 PM eastern time, the grief instantly vanished, as if it had never been there. It didn’t just die down, diminish and eventually disappear. It was just gone.

What’s going on, Lord, I asked. Has something dreadful happened? In my family or among my friends? Something else, somewhere in the United States? In the Middle East? Or — perhaps was something dreadful prevented from happening, by the prayers of your people?

Doing an online search of national and international media this morning (both secular and Christian), I found no mention of a disaster or tragedy that was particularly unusual.

Wondering if anyone else (or how many others) had perceived the same sort of sadness in the spirit, I did an online search for “prophetic warnings.”

It didn’t take long to discover a wide variety of websites and blog posts. Some Christians are feeling quite positive and upbeat, despite the usual “bad news” in the nation and the world. They believe a revival is just ahead for the United States, and that everything is soon going to be okay, politically, economically, and spiritually.

Some are confident that their personal prayers are about to be answered for themselves and their family, about their health, financial situations, marital problems, you name it.

I also found some who like me have felt a sense of grief. They agree that a worldwide revival has already begun (and it has), that an outpouring of the Holy Spirit is imminent for America, but that a tragedy is also very likely ahead for the United States. They are calling for continued intercession, that the Lord will intervene and show mercy to America.

Okay Lord, I asked, who is right? Here’s what he showed me.

Under cover of celebration last night, while spectacular fireworks were being admired from coast to coast, explosions of a spiritual sort were taking place in cities from Washington to L.A., Chicago to Houston, Seattle to Miami.

A nationwide spiritual battle has been joined. Under cover of apathy, complacency, distraction and spiritual ignorance, the enemy of Christ is flooding in. They are arriving in greater numbers than ever before, spreading to infiltrate every corner of American society.

They are not invisible to the Lord. “We are not ignorant of his devices,” the apostle Paul said. The Holy Spirit sees what he is up to. He will inform God’s warriors that their fervent prayers are needed.

Sometimes that call to intercession is perceived like grief, he said, sometimes like desperation, sometimes like rage. It won’t feel pleasant when it comes, but intercession will be needed more and more in the days ahead, if America is to be rescued. God’s desire is to rescue our nation.

One more warning:  It’s going to take American churches filled with prayer warriors equipping themselves with God’s armor, instead of spiritual toddlers taking naps – spiritual boot camps, not kindergartens.

 

Dream warnings, revisited

I had another dream about war last night. This time, the war was coming to our own city of Florence.

I was with several other people, serving as watchmen in a tall building overlooking what may have been East Palmetto Street. Down below us, the street was completely closed to all incoming traffic.

What was blocking it? Huge broken-up strips and chunks of pavement. The street had been deliberately demolished by chopping wide, long and deep holes into it.

No vehicle could drive more than a few feet before encountering a large hole, or pile of debris.


Off to the side in the near distance I could see trucks moving – pickup trucks, dump trucks and flatbeds, old and new.

They were carrying huge squares of concrete and chucks of metal that would be used to close off the side streets. Anyone who got through our blockades would have to be on foot.

Something – or someone – was coming to fight against us right here in Florence, but we weren’t fleeing. We were barricading the main highways into town. We were planning to make a stand.

That’s when I awoke, not frightened, just aware. The battle has already started in the spirit world, the battle for the hearts and souls of freedom-loving Americans. Apathy. Distractions. Economics. Troubles of many kinds. “Don’t worry, be happy.” Or maybe, “Don’t pray, be happy”?

Some people think praying is for sissies, or that it doesn’t do any good. I’m not one of those. But how to pray for our country in the days ahead, that is the question.

Mercy, Father, please have mercy on us! America’s utmost need is God’s Mercy.

War is planned.

War is planned.

I was thinking about all the wars and rumors of wars in the news the other day. Then as I listened to Christmas carols and thought about the Bethlehem story, the Lord began talking to me.

Men speak peace but they plan war.

Don’t pray for world peace. The angels at Bethlehem didn’t declare peace on earth – they declared peace on earth to men of good will – i.e., men of God’s choosing.

Peace happens in pockets. As one individual at a time is offered terms of peace, he himself must accept those terms, must declare peace between himself and God. As the evidence and benefits of the obtained peace become obvious to others, they may seek peace with God also. On God’s terms, of course, not theirs.

The problem isn’t that God declared war on mankind. Mankind’s beautiful false friend planned war the moment Adam was created. Satan planned it, declared it, and conscripted humans into his ranks to wage it. But he cannot win; God is too skilled a warrior to lose this battle.

Winning the war isn’t the enemy’s only goal, however. It’s his ultimate goal, perhaps, but in the interim corrupting humanity will do, one man at a time. Weaken his faith, strengthen his doubt, neutralize his fighting ability and there’s one less warrior to worry about.

Oh yes, war is planned. It’s a major occupation of the tempter to plan it and plant it in the minds of susceptible human beings.

Whether in little skirmishes or horrific battles, men attempt to gain something by other than honorable means. What is it they want? Control. Power and authority. Godship of themselves and others.

A primary temptation from the beginning of time, this is the first of the ten commandments. Have no other gods before me, the Lord said. Being your own god, making your own rules, ruling your own life and that of other people is so attractive! That’s why war will exist for at least a thousand more years.

Daniel learned about warfare from the angel Gabriel, and he wrote about battles between nations that would happen far into the future from his own time.

He also learned about battles raging even then, fierce enough to delay delivery of a message from an angel (Daniel 10:12-13). The book of Daniel offers fascinating insights into what goes on around us unseen to the human eye, yet affecting us both personally and politically.

So, rather than praying the usual generic, seasonal prayer for world peace, let’s pray for peace between God and individuals; that kind is actually possible.