Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Greater is He

God breathed, and Satan coiled.
God spoke, and Satan deceived.
God was exalted and lifted up on high.
Satan exalted himself and tumbled low
God cursed Satan
Satan cursed man

In a darkest Africa, dark not from primitivism or from poverty, but from spiritual oppression, Satan held an African village in his clutches. The people worshiped him. They worshiped in fear and in pain, in self mutilation and physical sacrifice, clutching artifacts of rock and wood and bone. Their fear had made them crazed. Their faith had stripped all hope. Their religion was one of blood and death.

Then God intervened. With an all powerful hand, He touched their hearts. With an all knowing mind, he prepared their minds. And he sent in a messenger, one to preach the truth to the glory of God.

The people repented. That night, the death wail transformed into a song of praise. Men and women tore off the fetishes that had held them in bondage and thrust them into the fire. The air grew sticky and sweet from the scent of medicine bags ablaze. The darkness lifted.

The witchdoctor was furious. His livelihood was gone. He snuck onto the mission compound and cursed the missionary. He braided the leaves of a palm tree indicating the presence of the curse. When the missionary discovered it the following day, he climbed the tree and cut down the braided branches. He threw them in the garbage pit, covered them with gasoline, and set them on fire. All the while, the people screamed and wailed in fear.

That’s where the story ends in the telling but it has not ended. God was victorious in that small African village. And while He is victorious still today, indications of the presence of that curse have followed that missionary everywhere he has gone since.

There is no doubt that Satan is powerful. He is mightier than I. His deceptions are lies that I fall for time and time again. His tricks are clever. His servants have triumphed over Christians all throughout history from the first martyrs to the Christians who are still persecuted today (and not just outside American borders). And I am terrified of him. Praise God “greater is He that is in me.” God is more powerful than he, but I am not. I fear we often miss just how terrible our foe really is. We poke fun and laugh and minimize the adversary. But would you alone take on a roaring lion?

This is a sensitive topic in our circles. We are aware of spiritual warfare, but we don’t speak of it. Perhaps we fear we will sound charismatic. Perhaps we don’t want to encourage man’s twisted mind that actually seeks this kind of encounter or finds a thrill in it. I did not write this post to feed imaginations or for self praise but to share an account of just how powerful I have seen God. If we see Satan for how terribly powerful he truly is, how much more powerful must God be?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Really Knowing God

You don't really know God until God has been unkind to you. And you still don't really know Him when he's been unkind to you once or twice, but when He's been unkind to you three and four and even five times. That's when you begin to know God.

You really begin to know Him when you have done everything right and God doesn't intervene. I won't say fails to intervene because everyone knows that God doesn't fail. But when He refuses to intervene.

Anyone can say God is good when circumstances are good. But when you say God is good through tears--tears of saying God doesn't feel good. That's when you begin to know that God is good.

When you can no longer see the proof or the evidence of His goodness. When your ears are closed by pain and you can't hear His voice. That's when you begin to know God. That's when you begin to know that He is good, not because it makes sense, but because He is.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Impatient Rose

Once upon a time, within the stone wall of the castle keep, a garden blossomed into every color imaginable. Roses of yellow, etched in shades of red and gold competed with the sunrise for its glory. Deep reds, pure whites, gentle lavenders grew in abundance. Every shade of pink was present, from the soft pink of a kiss to the deep passion of fuchsia. Tiny forget-me-nots begged to be noticed peeking through a thin covering of green. Morning glories climbed the crevices of the stone wall, pointing their trumpets to the sun in jubilation.

Every day, the royal gardener came and tended the plants. He offered water, trimmed and pruned where needed. And sometimes he sang. Always, he sang about the sun. And when the flowers heard his voice, they raised their heads a little higher sharing the warm rays of the sun.

But in one corner of the garden, a rose had not bloomed. Half hidden by leaves, camouflaged in a green cocoon, the tiny bud waited to be seen. If only the gardener would notice me, thought the little flower as she looked with envy at the other roses on her vine. If only he could help me shed this confining cocoon, then I could be all that I was meant to be.

The gardener did come. He gave water; he trimmed and pruned; he pointed the little bud toward the sun, but the little bud would not open. The little bud showed no color. Ashamed, she hid her face from the sun.

A few more days passed, and still the rose had not opened. She tried. She tried hold her breath till she was nearly purple, but the leaves of her enclosure held fast. She tried stretching and straining and wiggling with all her might. Nothing. So as always, ashamed that the sun would notice she hadn’t bloomed, she hid her face under the leaves. She would not look at the sun.

I can’t do it, the rose cried that night. I just can’t change. And as she fell asleep looking at the other roses in full bloom, she made a plan. I will ask the gardener for help. Then together, we can separate these leaves. And finally I’ll see the color I know is in me somewhere. Finally, I’ll be able to look at the sun without shame.

And so she did. In the morning she made her request. It was humbling to admit she couldn’t do it on her own. The little bud felt as if the thorns on her vine were piercing through to her heart. The gardener will understand. She was certain. Surely, he would help her. And then he would sing about the sun as he always did.

But the gardener refused.
“What?!” asked the little rose in confusion. “Why won’t you help me? Can’s you see I can’t do this on my own?”
The gardener smiled. “Of course you can’t. You weren’t meant to.”
Anger flared in the little rose.
But the gardener continued, “I can’t change you from the a bud to rose any more than you can. If I were to pull apart those leaves, I would tear your petals. You would be small and fragile. You would never grow, and you would soon die.”
Tears filled in the eyes of the tiny rose. It was hopeless.
The gardener smiled, “Only the sun will make you what He intended for you to be. I can water. I can trim and prune. I can point you in the right direction, but only the sun will change you.

And so the gardener did. He watered; he trimmed; he pruned; he pointed the little flower toward the sun. But that was all he did. Soon, the little rose began to bloom. She wasn’t beautiful yet. She wasn’t in full bloom. But slowly she was changing.

Everything Pink

Check out the new new blog on my blog list. "Everythink Pink" is for my niece who insists that pink is the best color despite me tellling her that pink is gross and yucky. She'll be six soon. Check out what she has to say.