Are You Dying for a Piece of Cake?

photo courtesy https://www.army.mil/birthday/

Last Sunday, while visiting a congregation of God’s people in Columbus, Georgia, I met a soldier–a brother in Christ– with a remarkable story. It seems that, while he was stationed in the Middle East, the United States Army’s birthday (June 14th) rolled around and several units were assembling at an undisclosed location to have a festive morale-building celebration in honor of the occasion. A giant cake was ordered for this birthday party and it fell the duty of this soldier to go and pick up the cake. So he got in his assigned vehicle, a Hummer, and made the trip to retrieve the biggest cake he’d ever seen.

All was well until he found himself under enemy fire on the return trip. Panic struck this soldier as deadly missiles were barely missing the Hummer. In the seat beside him where his partner was supposed to be sitting, armed and ready…in the place where the weaponry to defend his very life was normally positioned was… cake–a giant cake.

Thankfully, this brother, after a couple of very near misses, escaped the fire and made it safely back to his battalion. The party began and the cake was cut. Thus, my opportunity on Sunday to meet him.  But this big, brave and  brawny soldier almost died for a large piece of birthday cake.

It occurs to me that we sometimes take great spiritual risks for pieces of cake. The devil is attacking and sometimes we let our guards down. Sometimes in the place of spiritual ammunition gained from study of the Word, we have worldly pleasure and entertainment. Sometimes in the seat of conviction, we have  the religion of convenience. Sometimes our spiritual lives are risked for something as small as a night of fun with friends or a date with a guy who is fun, but not holy. Sometimes we risk our chances to make it home safely for wealth or prestige. I know that, even if a man should gain the whole world in exchange for his soul, it would be a very poor trade indeed (Matthew 16:26). But I fear that, very often, many are selling out for so much less. We go spiritually bankrupt for a piece of cake. We are destroyed by enemy fire because we let the cheap “cake” of this world get in the “seat” where the tools of our spiritual warfare should be. When we do this, unlike the soldier, we will not make it safely home.

Maybe it’s time to rearrange priorities and put the important, eternal things back in the place where they belong.

 

Sister to Sister: “We Have Contained Them…”

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 12: French troops patrol around the Eifel Tower on January 12, 2015 in Paris, France. France is set to deploy 10,000 troops to boost security following last week's deadly attacks while also mobilizing thousands of police to patrol Jewish schools and synagogues. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images) 

The U.S. quote of the week has to be “We have contained them”.  It was President Barack Obama speaking with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. The subject of this containment? ISIS. And this statement was made only a few hours prior to the multiple attacks and carnage that awakened Paris to the horrific reality that 128 innocent citizens had been killed by ISIS terrorists and scores of others wounded.

This is not a political post, but ISIS did not look “contained” as it lit up the city with ambulance and police vehicle lights and as civilians who could still mobilize literally ran for their lives to places they only hoped would be safe from the carefully planned and executed destruction last Friday night in Paris.

That’s the way it is with our spiritual enemy Satan. He is not the kind of enemy we can, with one blast of spiritual energy, soundly defeat and bury forever. Sometimes we think we’ve “contained” him and, if we do, that’s the very time he is able to do the most damage to us…claim the most spiritual carnage. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). If it was flesh and blood, we could kill it and win. It’s principalities and powers. It’s rulers of the darkness of this world. It’s spiritual wickedness in high places. Fighting the devil is a lot like fighting ISIS, only on a massively huge scale. He’s an enemy that we can’t pin down, in this lifetime. In fact, even more resilient than ISIS, the devil is always seeking whom he may devour.(I Peter 5:8). I can never, in this world, say “The devil is contained. He is no longer a problem for me.” In fact, when I begin to feel smug in his containment and in my abilities, that’s when He’s more likely to attack.  Thus Paul’s warning in I Corinthians 10:12: “Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” He (Paul) knew that even he, the chosen apostle, had to wrestle constantly to contain Satan—to keep him from reducing the fighting soldier to a “castaway” (I Corinthians 9:27).

Maybe the scariest part about the attacks in Paris for those of us who live on this side of the Atlantic is the statement often found on ISIS-related sites: “American blood tastes the best and we will taste it soon.”  I do not want to ever give an ISIS terrorist the satisfaction or impetus that comes with knowing that  Americans are fearful. But the obvious mood of America must now be, in spite of any words about containment, one of great trepidation. We are an obvious target and we pray that our leaders will find ways to protect U.S citizens from this evil.

The spiritual parallel is glaring. Christians are the target of our enemy, the devil. He is not spending his resources and time trying to tempt those who are already under his power. He wants the blood that is best. He wants those who have the blood of his arch enemy, Jesus Christ.

He wants you and me. He wants our marriages. He wants our children. He wants our money. He wants our time. In fact, he wants me to be routinely going about my life—to the soccer matches, to the restaurants, to the concerts—and even to worship. He wants my ears to be dulled to his blasts and my senses to be secure thinking his attacks are just “part of the noise” that is my everyday routine—until I am a part of the eternal carnage…until my life is done and his destruction has no reversal.

I do not know that the powers-that-be in America are always wise enough to recognize and deter the destructive power of ISIS and other terrorist organizations. But I DO know that my spiritual leader is wise and strong enough to have already ultimately defeated His enemy, Satan. The devil will not take down the kingdom of Christ. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:16). But Satan can still destroy people who are in that kingdom and he would like to sift us a wheat (Luke 22:31). It’s important to remember if you are in the kingdom, you are targeted by the devil. You have the blood that tastes best to his diabolical senses. Yes, he is powerful Yes, he is unthinkably evil. Yes, he is that roaring lion. But your Lion, the Lion of Judah  (Revelation 5:5) is stronger and has already won the war on terror with the Devil. So don’t be a casualty in a war that’s already been decided. Be strong and courageous. He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and discipline (II Timothy 1:7). Soldier on!