Saturday, December 13, 2008

Strongholds = Difficult Challenges. Nevertheless...

Yesterday, my blogging friend Jim Leasure of Journaling For Growth sent me (as well as several other Christians) an email with a request to read an accompanying blog post. He then made a request for us (if each individual reader was willing) to send back a response to both.

At the time I read his email and the article, I was excited about this task and just couldn't wait to respond! I sent off a quick reply to Jim and asked:



Would it be best to make it short and to the point? Is it OK to provide additional links to back up what I am saying in my response (plus, give readers the option to read much more)?


The idea was to respond and use the "reply all" button so that everyone could read each person's response. I was ready to write a book! On second thought, people might not read it if it is too long. So, I was thinking that I would make it a short response and just include links to expand upon the points.

I was really excited about responding. This was a topic right up Talk Wisdom's alley!

Because of prior obligations yesterday, I knew that I couldn't type my response right away. But my mind was already filled with several points I wanted to make.

After I read Jim's email and the article link, it was time to close my browser and head out the door to meet a friend for breakfast. After that, I had several errands to do. After that, I had chores at home. After that, I needed to cook dinner. After that, I had to clean up the kitchen. By the time I was done, I was just too exhausted to type up my response last night. I sent Jim an email explaining that I will respond tomorrow. He was gracious and understanding.

This morning, while drinking my coffee I looked at my bookshelf to see what book I wanted to start reading this week. Passed over several of them. Then, I spotted "Facing Your Giants" by Max Lucado.

Have you ever had an argument...well....maybe more like a conversation with yourself in your own mind? I thought, "I have already read that book."

Something (Someone?) told me, "Read it again."

But, I want to start a new book.

"Read it again."

O.K. I will read it again.

When I opened the book, I had a bookmark at chapter 12 entitled, "Strongholds." I thought to myself - yes - this is a chapter that I need to read again! Many people (if the truth be told - ALL people) struggle with strongholds in their lives.

As I read through the chapter, all that I wanted to share in my reply to Jim's email and article link began to fade away. I had found the response that maybe God wanted me to share!

First things first. Here is a copy of Jim's email which includes the link to the article he requested me to read:



If you choose to reply to this, please select "Reply All" as I am sending this communication to all Pastors, Leaders and Teachers of the Church as I have listed in my address book.

In the past year, I have had concerns for the direction the Church is heading and the ever increasing ineffectiveness of our (not all of you) leaders.

Please take a moment to read the article at this link: America - A Christian Nation?

This is just one of many opinions I have read concerning the direction and influence of the Church.

In the past year, I have sent emails to Pastors, teachers and leaders whom I know, personally. In some cases, I received requests to have their names removed from my address book. I was told that what I was submitting to your attention was offensive. In every case I had sent this type of communication, it was to convey information that the media is putting aside, and then, when the Supreme Court decides not to hear a case with highly credible evidence, the media announces that the SCOTUS will not hear the case, as if many really knew of it in the first place!

Some of these Pastors have stated their opinions and request that I not send information in such a way that I have felt shame for even sending information which expressed my concerns. One, threatened to place my email address in his "Junk Mail Folder".

Jim adds:
To clarify what my concern is; I wrote to say Christians are allowing issues of economy, and environment (which are important) to trump those values that are the signature of God's will. And thus, have given their vote to an immoral man who has claimed to be a Christian and is setting a poor example as to what a Christian is by his desire to promote abortion and the homosexual agenda. And our pastors, teachers and leaders are being silent, not wanting to offend anyone by proclaiming what God has said.

Please take a moment to comment and select "reply all".
Sincerely,
James Leasure



I have to agree with Jim on his concerns. Ignoring the abortion issue and Obama's support for the homosexual agenda was, IMHO, an extreme mistake (for all - but especially for Christians). Because of this, our nation will inevitably suffer dire consequences when Obama gets into office and has the power to exert his political will over our country.

Due to the fact that we will have a president who holds a worldview that is as anti-Bible as any atheist, agnostic, or even Marxist/Communist out there, our nation will face being under an anti-Christian stronghold for four years. The havoc that will be unleashed is currently unknown to us now, but when he gets into office and starts placing his far left policies into place, I truly believe that many people will regret voting for this man.

First, here is a definition of the term "stronghold":


A "stronghold" is defined as:
1. A fortified place or a fortress.
2. a. A place of survival or refuge: one of the last strongholds of an age-old tradition.
b. An area dominated or occupied by a special group or distinguished by a special quality: a feminist stronghold; a stronghold of democracy.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Let's look at an ancient example of one man who had the courage to stand against the strongholds of his day.

In 2 Samuel 5, we read how many times David had to defeat the Philistines, who, when they heard that David had captured the city came back again and again to take it away.

In "Facing Your Giants," Max Lucado mentions that strongholds are often a tool of Satan.


What is that one weakness, bad habit, rotten attitude? Where does Satan have a stronghold within you? Ahh, there is the fitting word - stronghold: a fortress, citadel, thick walls, tall gates. It's as if the devil staked a claim on one weakness and constructed a rampart around it. "You ain't touching this flaw, " he defies heaven, placing himself squarely between God's help and your

* explosive temper
* fragile self-image
* freezer-size appetite,
* distrust for authority.


He (Satan) won't go away. He lives up to both sides of his compound name: strong enough to grip like a vise and stubborn enough to hold on. He clamps like a bear trap - the harder you shake, the more it hurts.

Strongholds: old, difficult, discouraging challenges.

That's what David faced when he looked at Jerusalem. When you and I think of the city we envision temples and prophets. We picture Jesus teaching, a New Testament church growing. We imagine a thriving, hub-of-history capital.

When David sees Jerusalem in 1000 BC, he sees something else. He sees a millennium-old, cheerless fortress, squatting defiantly on the spine of a ridge of hills. A rugged outcropping elevates her. Tall walls protect her. Jebusites indwell her. No one bothers them. Philistines fight the Amalekites. Amalekites fight the Hebrews. But the Jebusites? They are a coiled rattlesnake in the desert. Everyone leaves them alone.


We could use the description of a "coiled rattlesnake" to emphasize what is happening in America today. How many could you list?

1. The coiled rattlesnake of Atheists Posting Hateful Sign Against Christian Faith

2. The coiled rattlesnake of Homosexual activists destroying traditional marriage. and why it matters that theologically liberal Christians often side with them.

3. The coiled rattlesnake of The abortion myth: It's just a clump of cells crowd.

4. The coiled rattlesnake of the genuine, anti-choice crowd and all of the issues and views that they want to silence and eliminate.

I could list many, many more examples of strongholds in our society that have, unfortunately, captured the minds, hearts, souls and spirits of people...even some self-professing Christians. The "Media of Mass Deception" is highly responsible for this and has caused many people to swallow that blue pill of an alternate reality which is anathema to God and His Word.

Let's continue with David's story in Lucado's book:


Everyone leaves them (the Jebusites) alone. Everyone, that is, except David. The just-crowned king of Israel has his eye on Jerusalem. He's inherited a divided kingdom. The people need, not just a strong leader, but strong headquarters.


Lucado cites 2 Samuel 5:6-9 (NKJV):

2Sa 5:6 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, "You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you," thinking, "David cannot come in here."

2Sa 5:7 Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David).

2Sa 5:8 Now David said on that day, "Whoever climbs up by way of the water shaft and defeats the Jebusites (the lame and the blind, who are hated by David's soul), he shall be chief and captain."* Therefore they say, "The blind and the lame shall not come into the house."

2Sa 5:9 Then David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the City of David. And David built all around from the Millo* and inward.

Lucado continues:


This regrettably brief story tantalizes us with the twofold appearance of the term stronghold. In verse 7, "David took the stronghold," and in verse 9, "David dwelt in the stronghold."

[J]erusalem meets the qualifications of one: an old, difficult, and discouraging fortress. From atop the turrets, Jebusite soldiers have ample time to direct arrows at any would-be wall climbers. And discouraging? Just listen to the way the city-dwellers taunt David. "You'll never get in here...Even the blind and lame could keep you out!" (5:6 NLT).

The Jebusites pour scorn on David like Satan dumps buckets of discouragement on you:

* "You'll never overcome your bad habits."
* "Born white trash; gonna die white trash."
* "Think you can overcome your addictions? Think again."


In Lucado's book, he discusses the individual strongholds that can ruin our lives if we let the enemy of our souls build a stronghold there. I have only listed just a few of the strongholds (above) that can overtake our lives and lead us away from facing that giant of unrepentant sin in our lives; which, in turn, may hinder us from salvation through Jesus Christ.

I ask you. Is "just getting along" and "not sharing the need for repentance" and "staying silent on social and moral issues" which are in direct defiance of God's Holy Word what Jesus would have us do?

No. Of course not!

Lucado:


If you've heard the mocking David heard, your story needs the word David's has. Did you see it? Most hurry past it. Let's not. Pull out a pen and underline this twelve-letter masterpiece.

Nevertheless.

"Nevertheless David took the stronghold..."

Granted, the city was old. The walls were difficult. The voices were discouraging...Nevertheless David took the stronghold.


The voices were discouraging (both of our enemies and our liberal left media)... Nevertheless, LIBERTY took the stronghold.


David turns a deaf ear to old voices. Those mockers strutting on the wall tops? David ignores them. He dismisses their words and goes about his work.

That's a true sign of a great leader...



Wouldn't you love God to write a nevertheless in your biography?


We all need a nevertheless. And God has plenty to go around. Strongholds mean nothing to him. Remember Paul's words? "We use God's mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the Devil's strongholds" (2 Cor. 10:4 NLT)


Lucado:

Remember Nehemiah? Five hundred years later, he headed up a building program to restore the fortifications after Jerusalem was in ruins and many people were in captivity. Critics tell him to stop. They plan to interfere with his work. They list all the reasons the stones can't and shouldn't be re stacked. But Nehemiah won't listen to them. Nehemiah knew how to press the "mute button" on his dissenters. (see Neh. 6:3)



What about the individual, personal strongholds in your own life?

Lucado:


Two types of thoughts continually vie for your attention. One proclaims God's strengths; the other lists your failures.

Why listen to the mockers...when you can, with the same ear, listen to the voice of God?

I know many victorious Christians who overcame some deep and difficult strongholds within their own lives! Alcohol, drugs, illicit sex, pornography...you name it.

Just like David, they found fresh hope in God through His strength!

The Person of Jesus Christ indwelling within the soul of the believer has the power to overcome any stronghold in your life...if you allow Him to work within you through the power of the Holy Spirit!

What a promise we have in Jesus Christ!!

Eph 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

Eph 1:14 who* is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Eph 1:15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,

Eph 1:16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:

Eph 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,

Eph 1:18 the eyes of your understanding* being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

Eph 1:19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power

Eph 1:20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

Eph 1:21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Eph 1:22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,

Eph 1:23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Footnotes:
1:10 NU-Text and M-Text omit both.
1:14 NU-Text reads which.
1:18 NU-Text and M-Text read hearts.

Lucado:


Who knows, you may be a prayer away from a nevertheless. God loves to give them.


Source: Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado; W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006, pp.

*******

HT's:

Jim Leasure: Journaling For Growth

GOP USA

America - A Christian Nation?

Matrix Philosphy - Blue or Red Pill?

4 Simpsons: Eternity Matters

13 comments:

Ted said...

The consequences of the Supreme Court declining to address the US Constitution’s “natural born citizen” clause on the morning of Monday 12/15/08 — thereafter enabling the College of Electors to transform the crisis from “law” to “political and Congressional”, leading to the ‘inauguration’ of Mr. Obama, are nothing less than catastrophic. Lawsuits by members of the military challenging his ‘commander in chief’ status are INEVITABLE. And a military takeover to oust the “usurper” may be inevitable as well. Where is the media? This is no “tin foil hat” joke.

jeleasure said...

Christine,
Thanks for including my conviction to call accountability to the leaders of the church in your study of 'strong holds'. It is amazing how cowardly people become when having to confront 'strong holds' which are in direct defiance to what God would have us do. But, instead, to the neglect of that relationship with God, those people who call themselves ministers of The Gospel of Jesus Christ cowar to the minority (immoral, marginal and nominative Christians) rather than teach them, what "Thus sayith The Lord".
In our case, speaking out against the delinquency of our church leaders, you and I are the minority. Among many, there should have been a sense of urgency to comment and give an account for their zeal. But, there is an absence since they did not choose to boast their live's for the Lord.
Some may have not seen the email I sent. However, to those who did read my email, they chose to be cowards, shunning an opportunity to stand up for Christ. For whatever side they are on, they faild to give a defense for their zeal or their deliquency.

rebecca said...

it's pretty clear that with the election of NOBAMA, the united states has gone from world defender of democracy to the world's leading communist power. also a MUSLIM power, as much as the PC media wants to cover this up. so the goals of OSAMA, the comrade of NOBAMA, have been met, just 7 years after 9/11!

The USA just became the world's largest Al-Qaeda stronghold. We Christians need to stand firm in the strongholds of FAITH and fight back against this antichrist!

rebecca said...

I have to agree with Ted about the need for military intervention to save this country from the SOROS-backed fraud. It has long been the goal of the Left to destroy America... or so we thought. THE ANSWER MAY BE WORSE. I now believe the LEFT wants to infect America like a VIRUs, take it over, and use the strength and power of AMERICA to conquer the WORLD! Yes I believe it is NOBAMA's goal to invade and conquer the Conservative govt in Canada, the conservatives of France, Germany, Austria, Russia. I believe before his term is through Barack the Beast of Prophecy will drop 10-20 nuke bombs on Holy Israel!

Hitler/Lenin got there starts the same way... there is no difference between NOBAMA and Hitler/Stalin/Mao!

Christinewjc said...

Ted,

I am still holding out hope that Obama will be revealed as one of the corrupt, "Chicago political machine" politicians that he really is - and thus, may not be inaugurated on Jan. 20th. There is still a long month ahead of us, and I am still praying that the "checks and balances" of our Republic will come through for the American people.

I sincerely hope that it doesn't come down to military type intervention.

Perhaps this Blago scandal will eventually reveal what Obama is REALLY all about - and that will be to the detriment of his aspirations for the presidency.

With Rezko singing to the Feds, Blago is sure to follow suit in order to escape the harsher ramifications for his (Blago's) crimes. I think that both will turn on Obama if they need to. It's a dog eat dog world in Chicago politics.

Ted, do you know whether or not any lawyer might be pursuing a different angle against Obama - i.e. investigating his involvement in the Blago scandal? I think that the "natural born citizen" route is not going to be the vehicle to bring down Obama. But maybe the Blago scandal and his links to it might be?

Christinewjc said...

Hi Jim,

You are most welcome. Thank YOU for being willing to share your email and the blog link here on Talk Wisdom. Those who do come here to read will get a lot out of the questions raised - as well they should!

We must remind ourselves how Jesus countered the temptations and suggestions of Satan when Jesus walked the earth. He used SCRIPTURE - each and every time!

Scripture is the plumb line that Christians should NEVER FORSAKE when it comes to social, moral, political, ethical, or spiritual questions.

Those who would either ignore or twist Scripture to agree with their own beliefs, prejudices, sense of morality or the like - do so at their own peril.

For the Christian believer, God's Word is the last and final word on any subject. Adherence to God's written word - the Bible; and God's Living Word - Jesus Christ, is the only way to avoid error, heresy, and apostasy.

Unfortunately, those who want their "ears tickled" will ignore such warnings - to their own detriment, I might add.

Christinewjc said...

Rebecca,

Over the past two years, while Obama was campaigning, many conservatives and/or Christians tried to sound the alarm bells about Obama and his radical associations. Unfortunately, an ignorant electorate either didn't hear such warnings (because the media of mass deception refused to vet the left's "messiah figure") or heard them and ignored them.

It is true that radical Islam wants to invade our nation - both from the outside and from within our government. I don't know if Obama is "one of them" or not. But many indications of his youth tell us that he studied Islam.

Obama's has claimed to be a Christian. I have my sincere doubts about that. Wrote about it here.

Other Christian believers have chastized me for claiming to "know whether or not Obama is a genuine Christian" because it is supposed to be "between the individual person and God."

But Jesus told us, "by their fruits, you shall know them."

So, according to the rotten fruit of Obama's immoral political views and his incorrect use of Scripture, it is plain to see where he stands.

Like I shared with Ted, I am still praying and hoping that something will prevent Obama from ascending to the presidency. Our nation deserves so much better than a hooligan who came up from the ranks of that evil George Soros and the corrupt Chicago political machine.

rebecca said...

Dear Christine,

Did you read about the horror of the burning of the Wasilla Bible Church, home church of our Sarah Palin? I was in tears reading about it! The lengths that the LOONY LEFT will go to terrorize and humilate the REASONABLE RIGHT shock me more and more! I beleive this crime is a message from NOBAMA and his gangster Chicago friends that anyone who stands up to him and calls him out for the TERRORIST that he is will be destroyed. You know the difference between OSAMA and OBAMA is? Just ONE letter. Maybe they are brothers? We won't know without your BIRTH CERTIFICATE Barack Hussein you LIAR!

We need Sarah so badly! In all my years of watching politics she is the ONLY one who excites young people and gets them to open their hearts to the gospel! I pray that her church gets the funds it needs to rebuild and that the criminals that attacked it are exposed and punished harshly like savage animals!

Christinewjc said...

Rebecca,

I heard a little about her church being attacked in some way. What I didn't know was that it was burned!! How awful!

I never even thought of that - but now that you mention the Obama hooligans - I wouldn't put it past them. His campaign sent over 30 "investigators" to find out any kind of dirt or scandal in order to destroy her while she was on the campaign trail. And, when they couldn't find anything but the "trooper-gate" thing (by which she was exonerated from) - they made up stories about her, Trig, and her pregnant teen daughter.

It makes sense that the ObamaTHUGS would send such a "message" and cause some kind of revenge against Gov. Palin for speaking out about Obama's terrible, evil, and corrupt associations. Perhaps attacking the church she attends was done by the Chicago goons.

AWFUL!!

Lord God, Father in heaven, I PRAY that you take action to prevent this usurper and his thugs from getting into office!!

rebecca said...

I'm scared to think that MY church will be targeted next becuase I have spoken out against this imposter fake thug NOBAMA. Probably he will go after all the Christian churches. Wasilla is just the first step -- soon NOBAMA and BIDEN plan to shut down all preachers of Orthodox christianity - the only churches left "open for business" will be the liberal "black liberation" churches -- the temples of the NOBAMA cult! Sodomy, abortion, and marijuana will all be a part of the worship!

Soon no doubt he will close even these false "Christian churches" and force the free people of this country to convert to Islam or face the sword! I fear that we will shall see the day when the Capitol of this land is converted into a Mosque and a statue of the NOBAMA's "Martyr" comrade OSAMA erected on the remains of Ground Zero!

God save America!

Christinewjc said...

There was a segment on Fox News about the Wasilla Church being burned. They suspect arson. So far, no leads on the perpetrators.

They did mention that Palin's church was verbally attacked before the election by gay activists. The reason for the hatred towards the church and congregation was precisely because the Wasilla church leaders conduct ministry to help homosexuals overcome same-sex attraction for those who desire to leave the lifestyle. Now, since Prop. 8 passed in CA, the gay activists are terrorizing church congregations (including the Mormon churches) because they are so angry about losing that ballot measure.

We could add gay activists as one more possible suspect and motive for the Wasilla church arson.

I heard that it caused 1 million dollars of damage.

AWFUL!

jeleasure said...

Hey Christine,
I posted a new blog item this evening on this topic.
Journaling For Growth.
Thanks for getting the word out on the issue of morality in the church.
Jim

jeleasure said...

Hi Christine,
I want to share my latest post with you. It is controversial. My understanding of 'works' is always controversial, however, I have not been pursuaded to change my opinion.
At Journaling For Growth; 'On Works and Salvation', I wrote what my understanding is of works. In the post, you will see evidence that my church is beginning to change.