(Note: all scripture taken from the NIV version of the Bible)
MOVE YOUR VOICE AND STILL YOUR SOUL
When we see scenes from The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, and Star Wars something inside of us gets stirred up. We remember that the spiritual realm is real. But when we wake up on Monday morning and Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning – just walking to the sink to brush our teeth feels like a letdown – the mundane everyday boring in and out of normal life:
Waking up to rain…again; tossing and turning, after a perverted dream or waking up so scared you can’t move from fear or to a crying baby after finally dozing back off again; or maybe you just woke up to the disappointment that you’ve got to get up and go somewhere you don’t want to be. By midday you might be changing your 10th diaper or unloading the dishwasher or perhaps trying to figure out if your child’s headache for the 5th day in a row is from all the pollen or that they just like the taste of children’s Tylenol. Perhaps you’re sitting in a school desk listening to a lecture on Ulysses; or picking up the mail – going through countless bills, answering a 3-year-olds100th question, buying groceries, getting gas, running copies; or maybe you’ve got to get together 147 ft. of 4 in. galvanized victaulic piping and 4/ 90’s fittings, one pressure reducing valve, and 15 hangers; or you’re staring at a computer screen as you try to search your aching brain for ideas for a web page. Maybe you’re trying to survive the up and down behavior of a class room full of 6 year olds; or you’re trying not to go cross eyed reading through a books worth of mechanical engineering lingo to determine if there’s possibly a mistake in the 20,000 word document for a nuclear plant procedure; or perhaps you’re teaching a class of sixteen year olds who are all thinking about what everyone else their age is thinking about them...
And all the while there’s a continual influx of thoughts in your mind about people and situations you care about which often subconsciously, it seems, form into worries and you wonder how you’re supposed to be a mother or father or friend or counselor…
It’s easy to think that the spiritual realm and the natural realm are two completely separate worlds. But if spiritual warfare isn’t consciously being fought in the natural realm, it’s not going to do much good. And if we are trying to fight in the spirit realm with natural weapons, it’s--at best--a waste of time. Several years ago, Frank Peritti published “This Present Darkness.” His story brought the two realms together for many in the church and allowed them to see into two realms at once. His work of fiction was mind blowing---and a relief.
When the church experiences a restoration of a work of the Holy Spirit, extremes will also form as a result of immaturity. In the 1970’s deliverance became an important focus of ministry. In the 1990’s many, like the readers of “This Present Darkness,” began to believe again in the unseen realms of the spirit world. But at the same time, there was the mistaken supposition growing that if something was difficult, it was an attack of the devil. People began to talk about being attacked by the devil because their 20-year-old oven quit working. Sickness was perceived as a demonic attack even though personal health was neglected. These weren’t attacks. They were and are either a result of natural things or personal irresponsibility.
When we avoid, blame, and complain we enable ourselves to remain immature. To develop discernment, we have to grow in relationship with the Lord through daily experiences with Him. That is the only way to learn to discern whether we are under a spiritual attack or if what we are facing is the result of an opening we’ve given the enemy. We need to be able to discern when the enemy gained a foothold through worry or unforgiveness and as a result, our bodies are fighting sickness.
Dealing with the spirit realm without dealing with the mind is like casting out a spirit of bitterness and then sitting up all night crying in self-pity.
Ephes. 4:26 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.
Faith is birthed in the silent darkness of the imagination of the heart. As we grow in relationship with the Lord, our discernment can become more than just a good dose of suspicion. We are at war. The battle is always for the focus of the heart. Worship is choosing to focus on truth in the every stuff: while we work, rest, buy groceries, grade papers. We worship in Spirit and TRUTH. Seeing, speaking, and agreeing with the truth is WORSHIP.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Big question: If we experience God in the heart, why is the mind where we seem to struggle most? The work of discipline it takes to change a thought pattern is a vital part of what it means to be a discipline. Being a disciple is about discipline. Kind of sounds alike, you know? Disciple. Discipline.”
Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
A GOOD CRY OR A BAD TANTRUM
It’s going to hurt when we start to work on strengthening something that’s been damaged. In a recent interview with a wonderful woman in her 80’s, I watched her politely refuse her daughter-in-law’s help as she climbed the stairs to meet with me. Less than three months ago, she had to have hip replacement surgery. She said that most elderly people who have to have a hip replacement end up in a nursing home within a year simply because they won’t do the rehab. It’s painful. It’s hard work. She said that she had to rebuild her strength so that she could return to teaching dance.
Forgive the purely practical advice but – oh heck – here it is: Take responsibility for your physical health. You don’t have to do a triathlon but we can’t afford to continue talking about exercise and never do anything about it. Exercise can be as simple as walking up and down the stairs for 15 minutes at lunch, or walking 30 minutes a day, or stretching 20 minutes before getting into bed.
We’ve got to stop whining and take responsibility for our physical and spiritual health. Some don’t think that physical well-being is as important as the spiritual but they are entwined – just like Paul said about faith and works. For some physical discipline is a parable, a story, a picture of spiritual discipline and warfare. A weak place has to be strengthened or what we did have will deteriorate quickly. Sometimes sympathy is really only enabling immaturity and ultimately, a spiritual death.
1 Timothy 4:7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
“Some value” doesn’t mean it’s not important. If you don’t take care of your body, it really doesn’t matter how spiritual you are if you’re too sick to have any influence in the world you’re called to be a light in. Exercise, whether it’s a class of Bodyflow, running, swimming, or biking, can be a prophetic picture, a demonstration of the movements of the spirit.
Movement in the physical can also be prophetic like raising a rod across the Red Sea or walking around the walls of a city. Dance in worship is one of the most powerful acts of warfare I’ve ever seen. As a Priest, Prophet, and King, David understood the power of physical movement and music.
My daughter, Anna, was telling me recently that she felt the Lord had been able to direct her into something she loves doing, (cutting hair), because she just began moving in a direction to find direction. Something can’t be adjusted that’s sitting still. Better to move and have the Lord adjust the direction than to be idle and unable to be directed.
DISCERNMENT FOR OUR OWN HEARTS
It’s easy to start looking around at others and to make judgments that we really don’t have the right to make. Only the Spirit knows a person’s heart. What we may think is immaturity may be the final breaking of something that’s been embedded in a family for generations. It’s not a good idea to tell someone else to suck it up. We’ve got enough work to do with ourselves.
Sometimes a good cry is needed. There’s nothing really mature about being able to hold everything in so that no one knows our struggles or hardships. Many have learned to personify an image of having it together. This is often the result of a religious spirit at work. On the other hand, crying day after day over the same thing or over something we’ve been crying about for 20 years is not just a “good cry.” It’s a return to a place of wounding. One way to begin to heal is to give ourselves a “crying time” limit and to back it down over time until we move away from the wound and receive comfort and healing in our hearts and souls. The Lord wants to restore our souls.
We want to comfort those who need comforting. The Lord’s kindness draws us to repentance. This word isn’t about correcting others. It’s about correcting ourselves. We have no idea where someone else may be. The point is to learn to discern when our own crying is whining and to deal with our own hearts.
We need people around us who will enable courage. We need relationship with those who will tell us that us can make it, not those who will only give sympathy and tell us how bad things are. One “you poor thing” goes a long way. We want to stir each other to good works rather than to enable immaturity and be the kind of friend who will say -- Stand your ground-- even if the ground is just a field of beans. If it’s your field of beans, then don’t let the enemy have it. Of course, words need action. If a friend is defending her field, then our place is beside them.
2 Samuel 23:11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel's troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the LORD brought about a great victory.
As we grow together in relationship, we learn to discern and to encourage rather than to criticize. The Lord recently reminded me to pay attention to who I’m listening to. Anyone who has ever been to Meredith Brodnax’s BodyPump class knows what it means to be encouraged to finish well. She doesn’t say that it’s not going to hurt. Meredith just says, “You can do it,” as she snatches up her own weights and works out with you.
Whinny Children Become Whinny Adults
Whining for the children of Israel meant death in the desert. A bad attitude needs to be dealt with. We need to discipline our children for bad attitudes. We don’t need to be overly sympathetic when things are difficult. (I’m NOT talking about getting onto a child because they’re sick or in pain.) Comfort when comfort is needed. It’s always right to love a child but learn to tell the difference between comfort and enabling self-centeredness. Children who are continually allowed to whine will become adults who believe that whining is the way to get attention. What’s worse is that we can easily mistaken empathy in our struggles for an unhealthy sense of love. Honestly, if we are trying to encourage someone who listens but refuses to change, discernment is knowing when we’re taking false responsibility for someone’s sense of self-worth through our attention. Nothing can fulfill that hunger and need but God.
It’s easy to become addicted to the need for another person’s affirmation (again – a religious spirit that feeds on insecurity). When Jesus knew death was imminent, he was in such intense stress that he sweated blood. And yet he didn’t react from hurt when Judas betrayed him with a kiss. He didn’t just disciple others – He faced hardship and chose to focus on the joy that he could see coming as a result of his obedience.
FOR OUR EXAMPLE
Matthew 3:16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
The Father affirms Jesus as His beloved Son “in whom He is well pleased” although Jesus hasn’t actually done anything we’d call a miracle yet. His being water baptized was like a prophetic declaration of what he would do. He would literally lay down his life and be resurrected.
Matt. 4:3 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
Satan is challenging the last thing God said to Jesus. “If you are the Son of God” alter matter and everyone will know you’re God. Jesus certainly could have done it. He knows the frequency that a wall vibrates and can alter the matter and walk through it. After his resurrection – that’s exactly what he did – sort of freaked out the disciples. Why didn’t he respond to Satan? Because Jesus wasn’t going to do anything in response to Satan’s words; he only responded to the Father’s voice.
Matt. 4:4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'
How did Jesus engage in spiritual warfare? Even when Satan was talking to him, He was listening for the Father’s voice in the situation. He was living by the word that would come from His Father’s mouth.
Matt. 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6"If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" 7Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'
The pinnacle of the temple was the highest point of the religious structure in the Kidron Valley. It’s recorded in history that this is where at least two false “Messiahs” jumped to prove they had supernatural power. It didn’t work out too well for them. Satan was trying to draw Jesus into trying to prove who he was through some crazy act so that everyone would trust him.
The children of Israel continually chose to forget what God had done for them. They wanted one more miracle. They wanted God to prove he could be trusted by doing something to convince their minds so they wouldn’t have to blindly trust him. Jesus didn’t go for the defying gravity thing in the desert. Instead, he talks about worship because worship is the ultimate act of trust.
Exodus 17:1-7 When...the sons of Israel...camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water that we may drink." And Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?" But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, "Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" ...And he named the place Massah [which means "test"] and Meribah [which means "quarrel"] because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us, or not?"
Matt. 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "If you will bow down and worship me." 10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" 11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
IT’S ultimately ALWAYS ABOUT WORSHIP. We worship what we love. We worship with our attention, what we think on, with our passion.
JESUS WAS ALWAYS AWARE OF THE SPIRIT REALM. He was aware that angels are always near. Many are afraid to even think about angels being around because of those who focus on angels rather than on the Lord. But instead of keeping us in balance, ignorance only works to keep us in blindness. The word says that we will rule over angels in the age to come. They are real beings and are here as messengers under God’s authority. That should in the least be a comfort to us.
Matt. 26:52"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?
Everything that happened to Israel was recorded so that we could learn from it. More people were lost because of whining than for worshiping a golden calf. Except for Joshua and Caleb, the whole generation of people who choice to focus on the hardships rather than on God’s ability to keep them died in the wilderness.
Romans 15:4, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."
1 Corinthians 6:10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
RELEASING THE SONG OF AGREEMENT:
Psalms 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God;
One of the meanings for the Hebrew word for “still” in Psalms 46:10 literally means to drop it. It’s the same word that’s used in the verse that tells us to cast our cares on the Lord. We’re told to throw them down. Being still doesn’t mean doing nothing. The last thing we need is to get alone with ourselves. Doing nothing is just being idle. But throwing down deception about God’s trustworthiness is spiritual warfare. It’s like stopping bullets in midair. It’s knowing that He is God.
The way we move our spirit and yet still the soul is by agreeing with what the Lord is saying. When the angel came to Mary with a prophetic word from God, she said, (Luke 1:38) "I am the Lord's servant…May it be to me as you have said." When she goes to her cousin, Elizabeth, she says to her “Blessed is the one who has believed…” And then Mary begins to sing a song of worship and agreement.
Luke 1:46 And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers."
The angel didn’t stop Mary from singing because she was off key. Her song wasn’t about entertaining her cousin, Elizabeth. WORSHIP and moving the atmosphere with a song of agreement is not about skill. Ray Hughes wrote a book a few years ago called “Sound of Heaven, Symphony of Earth.” In it he talks about how he believes that with the beginning of the recording industry in the 1920’s, a self-promoting spirit began to replace the personal song—the song of the heart. Today shows like American Idol have turned the song into a competition—We pick who’s the best and then let their song sing for us. Listening to them has made the common song in our day seem insignificant. Although there is a need for leaders who are gifted to lead, their gifting is to encourage us to release our own song. It’s the same with the 5-fold ministry. The Pastor alone wasn’t meant to do the work of the ministry but to build up the saints for the work of the ministry.
The Song is about agreement and movement. IT’S HOW WE ARE TO STAND. When I was in Yellowstone a few weeks ago, the Lord spoke to me to hear and agree with the song in the trees and the mountains. I felt my spirit move across the mountains and cliffs. I sang a simple song. No one heard but creation and God as I agreed with the worship that is in the creation in Yellowstone.
Moses last act was a song to the heavens and earth. Isaiah sang to the heavens. David’s last two recorded songs are believed by some like Ray Hughes to be a mathematical progression of worship.
Romans 8:19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
Isaiah 44:23 Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.
Psalm 149:1 Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints. 2 Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. 3 Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp. 4 For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. 5 Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds.
6 May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, 7 to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, 8 to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, 9 to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD.
Psalms 150:1 Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. 2 Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. 3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, 4 praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, 5 praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
THE OLDEST TACTIC OF WARFARE
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
The point is that we are to take a stand in this war. Deal with our thoughts, disciplines, attitudes and responses. We are at war. His salvation is our protection for the mind. It’s a different way of thinking. The breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, and the shoes that cover our steps as we go with a message of peace are all ways we turn the focus of the heart toward truth. We’re being shot at continually with darts of deception. The shield of faith is for our protection. We’ve been given a sword of truth not only to stand our ground but when the Lord calls us to take ground, to go for it. The Matrix doesn’t hold a light to the kind of stuff the sword of truth can do. Of course it’s not enough to just protect ourselves. We’ve here for one another. We are called into a formation that won’t break rank but guards those who the Lord has put next to us.
Deception is as old as the Garden of Eden. From Adam and Eve to the present time, Satan has purposed to deceive us into questioning the Father’s love for us. The Greeks used a Trojan Horse to deceive the Trojans. Less than 50 miles from the place where the Midianites were destroyed by Gideon’s army, the British used light and sound to led a successful night raid against the Turks in 1918 during WWI. In 1944 in WWII, the Allies carried out what was called “Operation Fortitude.” They deceived the Germans into thinking that the Allies would land in Calais, France with radio messages from imaginary troops. When they landed at Normandy, Hitler was so deceived by Operation Fortitude that he was convinced it was a diversion from the real attack that would be coming to Calais.
Deception is always about what we believe about the Lord. According to the word, belief happens in the heart, not the mind. When we fall into distrust, our heart falls into the bondage of deception. It’s always about the heart. The enemy’s plan is simple. He will continually try to trick us into believing a lie, to convince us to question God’s heart. It’s time for us to stop enabling ourselves by doubting God’s heart. We’ve seen Him move hell and heaven on our behalf over and over again. Does He need to be crucified again for us to believe?
The period of time God chose to send his Son into required Jesus to do a lot of walking from one town to the next. He couldn’t close himself off in a car and fly through without human contact. The Father didn’t send Jesus into a time when we could just read his books, listen to his C.D’s, or watch him on Christian television. Evangelism wasn’t about attending a conference or seminar and watching him on the stage. Discipleship was about relationship. What Jesus said had to be told to others face to face. We need encouragement from one another – to hear the truth about the Lord’s heart. We need to tell each other we can make it.
Just because something is hard doesn’t mean that the Lord has forsaken us or that we’re under a demonic attack. We are always at war with the Kingdom of darkness but we need to grow in our relationship with the Lord so that we can have sharp discernment. We want to deal with the lies of the enemy by focusing on the truth and use the spontaneous song to agree with the Lord – to set truth in motion – and to encourage one another as we stand side by side on the fields of battle.
Teri R. Williams