Archive of ‘Spiritual Warfare’ category

Remember Who the Real Enemy Is–Processing World Vision with the Hunger Games

Spoiler Alert: Catching Fire spoilers

I love how deeply God knows me and I love the creative ways He speaks to me. I love how He knows just exactly how to point out my sin in a loving way. I love that He knows that in the past few weeks I’ve watched Catching Fire about a billion times and I love that He’s connected and involved enough in my life to use Catching Fire to speak to me, advice teach me, overweight convict me, and help me process every heartbreaking detail of the World Vision story.

The Hunger Games trilogy is a dystopian story in which the Capital, the center of power, greed, and corruption, orchestrates a yearly event called the Hunger Games. What they do is go around to the 12 districts of Panem (North America) and randomly select a girl and boy tribute from each district who will be forced to participate in the hunger games, which is a fight-to-the-death battle in which one boy or girl comes out as the winning victor. Basically it’s a way to keep all these people, many of whom live in horrible poverty, hopeless, depressed, and compliant.

In Catching Fire, we see Katniss Everdeen, one of the victors of last year’s hunger games, being forced to participate in the hunger games again. An incredibly important scene is one that takes place right as Katniss is about to be sent back in to the hunger games. Her mentor, Haymitch, gives her a last piece of advice with these words: “Katniss, when you’re in the arena, remember who the real enemy is.” 

Later, at the climax of the game, it seems as though everyone has turned against Katniss–the tributes who were her supposed allies have acted in ways that, to Katniss, make clear that they are her enemies. One of these tributes, Finnick, finds Katniss and Katniss raises her bow and arrow and is ready to shoot him. The movie then cuts to the President, named President Snow, who has orchestrated this game and represents the entire corrupt and evil society. He is watching Katniss getting ready to shoot Finnick and he says, “Let it fly, Miss Everdeen. Let. It. Fly.”

When Finnick finally sees Katniss, who is about to shoot him, he yells out these words: “Remember who the real enemy is.” 

And Katniss stops and doesn’t shoot him. Instead, she takes her arrow and shoots the arena, destroying the literal structure that has trapped them in the games and with that, symbolically destroying the structural systems of corruption and opening the way for revolution. And the look on President Snow’s face is one of utter bewilderment and fear.

Katniss believed, up until the moment Finnick said those words, that her enemies were the tributes that were with her in the arena. But the reality is that those tributes are victims of evil, just as she is. She was able to see this bigger picture and turn and fight against the real enemy.

Here is the scene if you want to watch it:

God reminded me that I am often like Katniss–people around me do things that I perceive as threatening and hurtful and wrong and my automatic reaction is to think that they are my enemies and that my fight is against them.

I believe that when I do this, Satan, my actual Enemy, is standing there watching me, just like President Snow, saying, “Yes. Let it fly.” Satan loves for us to believe that people are our enemies and that our fight is against them, that our fight is against flesh and blood.

Last week I wrote, with a really broken heart, about the entire World Vision situation.

Today I found out that the number of kids who were dropped by their sponsors last week was 10,000.

Ten THOUSAND children lost emotional support and connections with their sponsors, financial support for their families and communities, and the sense of security that they are going to have food and medical care and access to education when they wake up tomorrow, all so a group of people could make a point.

Y’all, I feel the us versus them.

The gays against the Christians.

Us against the Evangelicals.

The Evangelicals against them.

God against gays.

Jesus against conservative Christians.

When I read the news about the ten thousand children, I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run in to the temple and flip tables and make everyone leave. I wanted to yell to all the non-believers witnessing this horror, “This isn’t who Jesus is! Don’t believe THEM! They’re clearly don’t know Jesus!”

And Satan looks on saying, “That’s right, Amilia. Let. It. Fly.”

The reality is, that Jesus’ enemies were never the Pharisees. In fact, the Pharisees were His precious children, His creation, and He loves them with just as much love as He has for me. Jesus’ enemy is Satan and I need to be reminded daily that the Enemy, the Accuser, the god of this age, the prince of this world, the father of lies, is my enemy, too. In fact, he is my ONLY enemy. The Enemy. And my battle is, and forever will be, against him until his final defeat at the end of this age.

Remembering that Satan is our real Enemy gives us the ability to truly love everyone. It gives me the strength to start dragging myself down the road of dying to myself and loving those who have so hurt me. It gives me the power to stop regarding people from a worldly point of view and see people as new creations in Christ, to see people as God sees them, with eyes that have the ability to call out their authentic identities, their true holy and precious selves. I believe the most terrifying thing for Satan to experience is what happens when we stop fighting against our own brothers and sisters, against God’s precious and dearly loved children, and start fighting him. This is look I want to put on Satan’s face every single day:

I know so many of us are hurt and broken and crying and angry at everything that has happened with World Vision. I mean, let’s be real, this is what I wrote in my previous post about this whole mess:

Evangelicals, you sent the message loud and clear. Your hatred for gay people triumphs over the command of Christ to serve the least of these. You will stop at nothing to continue this culture war over an issue that Jesus did not say one word about. You will not hesitate to tell your gay brothers and sisters in Christ that the idea of working alongside them to bring God’s kingdom to earth is despicable. To you, the very existence of gay people is enough to stop providing for a sweet child of God.

So yeah…it’s how I feel, but I have been convicted by the Lord that while my feelings are valid, my fight is not. You guys, Satan has already been defeated. His defeat was sealed on the Cross. Why are we letting him reign here on earth? My prayer is that we would be able to pick ourselves up, by God’s grace, dust ourselves off, and take up the weapons that have the power to demolish strongholds, the weapons that help us fight against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. We are supposed to hate the things that God hates, things like hatred, injustice, pain, suffering, starvation, disease, and death. We are supposed to long for justice and liberation for those who are oppressed and lonely and who feel unloved. But we are supposed to love people, and that includes the people that we don’t like. This is integral to what it means to follow Christ and it is such a hard and painful road. But it’s how we bring His Kingdom down, it’s how we bring His reign on earth, it’s how we become His hands and feet.

And so I sit here and say over and over again, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

Who Rules the World? Part 5- Our fight is not against flesh and blood

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This is Part 5 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, web  CLICK HERE.

This is the final post in my Who Rules the World? series. I have really enjoyed writing this series of posts—I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them! This final post is about spiritual warfare. First let me define what I mean about spiritual warfare:

Spiritual warfare is the Biblically supported idea that there are non-human created beings called angels and demons engaged in a battle that is being fought in and around us in the spiritual realm. Angels are those who who love God and are under His authority, population health and demons are former angels who rebelled against God with Satan and are now under Satan’s authority. As followers of Christ, approved we are called to take up arms in this battle and fight the demonic forces that war against us and the advancement of the Kingdom of God. See Ephesians 6:11-12.

The idea of spiritual warfare is talked about in the Bible a whole lot, and yet I think a lot of people of faith have brushed the issue aside or tried to explain it away because it’s weird and hard to understand and we don’t like things that are weird and hard to understand.

But I think understanding and recognizing the reality of spiritual warfare is absolutely crucial in our understanding of so many things, including paramount questions such as: If God is good, why is there so much evil in the world? Why is intercessory prayer necessary? Why does prayer not always work? In this post, I’m not so much trying to prove that spiritual warfare exists- I might focus more on that side of things in a later post. Rather in this post I’m going to be talking about how spiritual warfare affects our world and what it can teach us about prayer.

So let’s start with scripture and see what we can learn about spiritual warfare. 

Daniel 10 gives us a very interesting and telling picture of spiritual warfare. The context of this passage is that Daniel has been given a revelation, a word from the Lord, concerning a great war. He is very distressed by this and so he starts to fast and pray for understanding of the revelation. He fasts for 21 days with no response from the Lord. But finally, after three weeks, he is visited by an angel (many suggest the angel Gabriel), who tells him this:

“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.” -Daniel 10:12-14

This passage tells us a lot of things:

-The angel says that Daniel’s prayer to understand the revelation was heard immediately.

-In response to Daniel’s prayer, this angel was dispatched to come to Daniel to help him understand.

-The angel was delayed for 21 days by the “prince of the Persian kingdom.” This leads us to wonder, how is it that a prince could delay an angel? In the context of this passage, the prince the angel refers to must have been a demonic power. Leon Wood in his commentary on Daniel says this:

The suggestion seems reasonable that Satan often assigns special emissaries to influence governments against the people of God. Certainly this chapter has much to contribute regarding the nature of struggles between the high powers in reference to God’s program on earth.

-The prince of the Persian kingdom was a demon who resisted and battled this angel for 21 days, overpowering him and keeping him from Daniel. It wasn’t until Michael, identified as “one of the chief princes,” arrived to help in this fight that the angel could escape the demon and finally come to Daniel.

-It took the angel 21 days to penetrate the warfare in the heavens with the message that “Your words were heard and I have come in response to your words.”

This last point reveals so much about prayer.

I know that there have been many times where I have prayed for something a few times and after not seeing any results, given up and stopped praying. Daniel didn’t do that. He fasted and prayed until he got an answer- 21 days later. I can’t help but wonder how many promises and miracles from God have gone unfulfilled because we have stopped praying.

I think many people have the view that if God really wanted to heal that person’s cancer, save our friend, set our family members free from depression, He would do it. And so we pray for Him to do it, and when He doesn’t, we assume that it just isn’t His will.

What if an angel was coming with an answer, coming with healing, coming with redemptive freedom, but we had not yet released enough power with our prayers to help angels fight the demonic forces rising against them?

Now please don’t hear me saying that if you aren’t seeing your loved ones healed or you aren’t getting answers from the Lord it’s because you aren’t praying enough, because that’s not at all what I’m saying. Sometimes on this earth, Satan gets the victory—a child dies, a man commits suicide—because Satan is currently the ruler of this world. However, it is crucial that we all understand the heart of our Abba Father. When we are praying intercessory prayers, we are not wrestling with God, trying to convince Him to do what we are asking. Rather, we are fighting alongside him against the powers of darkness.

When we pray for people to be healed, set free, and saved, we are taking up arms and fighting Satan and his demons in order to bring God’s Kingdom to earth.

Persistence in prayer is necessary, but it is not to overcome God’s reluctance. This is vital to know and remember. We are persisting, like Daniel, in order to overcome the demonic.

A very powerful example of the need for persistence is seen in Mark 8:22-25:

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

Did you catch that? Jesus, the Word who became Flesh, the living God, just had to pray again. In this story, it was obviously Jesus’ will, God’s will, to heal this man’s blindness. So why wasn’t he fully healed the first time? I would suggest that it’s because Satan has power over this world and is doing everything he can to prevent the Lord’s Kingdom from advancing, and so he tries to stop miracles from happening. If Jesus had to pray again to overcome the darkness of this world, how much more do we need to persist in our prayers?

Dutch Sheets has an amazing story of the power of persisting in prayer in his book Intercessory Prayer. Here is a summary of his story:

A woman asked Dutch to pray for her sister, Diane, who was in the hospital. What she didn’t tell him was that Diane had been in a coma for a year and a half—the doctors said that there was no hope for her to come out of the coma and even if she did, she would basically be a vegetable because of her extensive brain damage. Not only did Dutch show up and pray for Diane, but he came and prayed for her several times a week for hours at a time. He did this for a year. The entire time the doctors and staff said that he was crazy and that nothing could wake her up. But Dutch heard from the Lord to continue praying for healing for Diane and so he did. After the year of praying, Diane got a severe infection and the doctors informed her family that she would die soon. So, of course, Dutch immediately went to the hospital.

Knowing comatose people can often hear and understand everything happening around them, I spoke much to her… “This nightmare is almost over,” I said with tears streaming down my face. “Nothing can keep us from receiving our miracle. Nothing!” My persistence was rewarded when, three days later, Diane woke up with full restoration to her brain…Every hour and every tear I had invested became worth the wait when I saw Diane awake and heard her speak the words, “Praise the Lord.”

A lack of endurance is one of the greatest causes of defeat especially in prayer. We don’t wait well…So I persisted for a year and as I did my faith grew until I knew deep inside we were going to win.

I am continually challenged by this story to persist in my prayers. I know that the living God is on my side and is standing with me to battle against the “rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  I hope this post encourages you that your Abba Father is always on your side and to never give up fighting for His kingdom and His miracles to come down.

To learn more about intercessory prayer, here are some fantastic resources I would recommend:

Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth by Dutch Sheets – I cannot recommend this book enough. It is Biblically based, informative, and powerful.

-Sermon “God Needs Prayer” by Greg Boyd (Woodland Hills Church).

Who Rules the World? Part 4- Praying God’s Will: the power of intercessory prayer

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This is Part 4 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, contagion  CLICK HERE.

This is the continuation of the last post I wrote on intercessory prayer. I would recommend that you read that before reading this! Click Here to read the first part of this post.

In my last post, symptoms I spoke about the power and need for intercessory prayer and that when we pray, we need to pray according to God’s will. And if we are to pray according to God’s will, it seems as though we would need to know what that will is, which brings us to the important question, what does God will? What is it that He wants to do on this earth, in the lives of His precious children? First of all, I want to acknowledge that I cannot even begin to fathom and understand the will of the Lord God, an issue I’ve addressed in this post.

With that being said, John writes:

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. -1 John 5:14

And I don’t think that God would tell us to pray according to His will without giving us an understanding of what it is that He wills.

Sometimes, like with Elijah, we will receive words from the Lord on what to pray for, what His will is in a certain situation. But I also believe that there are three situations in which we can always know God’s will. This doesn’t mean that we will understand His timing or process, but it does mean we can pray with confidence, knowing that we are praying God’s will and that He desires to work through us to see what we are praying for accomplished.

Those three things are salvation, freedom, and healing.

1. Salvation- in 1 Timothy 2:1-6a, Paul writes:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. -1 Timothy 2:1-6a

In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter writes:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9

We can be absolutely confident that when we pray intercessory prayers for people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Lord, we are absolutely praying the will of God.

2. Freedom– Our God desires us to be free from sin, free from the chains that burden us, free from depression, eating disorders, anxiety, all other mental disorders, and demonic attacks and strongholds.

We see that time and time again, our Lord Jesus sets people who are in bondage free. Just one example of this is found Mark 9 when a father brings his son, who is being tormented by a demon, to Jesus.

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit.
“You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. -Mark 9:25-27

He frees this boy from demonic attack.

When the teachers of the law and the Pharisees throw down a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus, he says:

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. -John 8:7-11a

He frees this woman from shame.

In Psalm 107, the psalmist writes these words:

Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin;
You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time.
He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death.
So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;
Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what he’s done—sing it out! -Psalm 107:17-22, The Message

He frees us from eating disorders. From depression. From bondage.

In Galatians 5:1, Paul writes:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Christ has set us free. He sets us free. He will set us free.

When we pray for people to be set free, we are praying the will of our loving Father.

3. Healing– We never see Jesus turn away a sick person who asks for healing.

When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases. -Matthew 8:16-17

“Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment. -Matthew 9:22

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you,” and their sight was restored. -Matthew 9:29

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. -Matthew 9:35

And these are just some examples from Matthew 8 and 9!

In Mark 8:22-25, we see another instances where Jesus heals:

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

(Remember this passage…I’m going to be talking about it in the next post as well).

When it comes to healing, we often may not understand the process. In this case, Jesus spit in the man’s eyes to heal his blindness. Umm? But although we may not understand the how, I believe that when we pray for someone to be healed of a disease or injury, we are always praying God’s will to earth.

One last point I want to bring up that I think is important when talking about intercessory prayer is the idea that Jesus is the only intercessor for Paul writes:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men- the testimony given in its proper time. -1 Timothy 2:5

So if there is only one intercessor, one mediator, how is it that we intercede for people? How can we pray these prayers of intercession?

Dutch Sheets explains this really well in his book Intercessory Prayer. He points out that our prayers of intercession are always and only an extension of Christ’s work of intercession. When Jesus came to earth, He bridged the gap between the Lord’s Kingdom and this earth- Jesus has interceded for all people. We don’t deliver anyone, we don’t reconcile anyone to God, we don’t defeat the enemy. The work is already done. And yet me must ask for the release and application of these things.

Our prayers of intercession release Christ’s finished work of intercession. His work empowers my prayers- our prayers release his work. -Dutch Sheets

To read the next post, Part 5, click HERE.

To learn more about intercessory prayer, here are some fantastic resources I would recommend:

Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth by Dutch Sheets – I cannot recommend this book enough. It is Biblically based, informative, and powerful.

-Sermon “God Needs Prayer” by Greg Boyd (Woodland Hills Church).

Who Rules the World? Part 3- Calling the Kingdom Down: The Power of Intercessory Prayer

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This is Part 2 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, sovaldi sale CLICK HERE.

In my last post, Who rules the world? Why the answer changes everything- Part 1, I referenced four different Bible passages in which Jesus and Paul say that Satan is the ruler, prince, and god of this world. In that post I talked about how Satan’s defeat is sealed, but until the time when he is finally defeated, he still reigns as the ruler over this world.

So where does God fit in to this equation? How is it that Satan can have authority and power over God’s creation? What does this mean about the sovereignty and power of the Lord? I don’t pretend to have all the answers to these questions, but if we go back to Eden and read about creation in the book of Genesis, we might start to find some answers.

God created Eden, a beautiful paradise, for His greatest creations- Adam and Eve. In Eden, they lived in harmony with all of creation, with each other, and with their Heavenly Father. One of the first commands God gives Adam and Eve is to “subdue the earth” and to “rule over” the animals. I believe that in this moment, God gives Adam and Eve authority over the earth and the rest of creation. From the very beginning, God wanted Adam and Eve to be His link to the earth and God wanted to work through them and with them in a perfect partnership.

God also gives Adam and Eve freewill—He tells them that they should not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but, as we soon figure out, Adam and Eve have the power and ability to go against God’s command and His desire for their lives.

So we know that Adam and Eve have authority over the earth and creation and they have the freewill to do God’s will or to reject Him. In Luke 4:5-8, when Satan says that he has authority over the kingdoms of the earth for it has been given to him, I believe that Adam and Eve were the ones who gave him this authority in the Garden when they chose to listen to and trust him over the Lord.

Dutch Sheets says:

Humans were forever to be God’s link to authority and activity here on earth. God had to become human to regain what Adam gave away. God chose, from the time of Creation, to work on the earth through humans, not independent of them. He always has and always will, even at the cost of becoming one.

God is absolutely sovereign and all-powerful. He is the I am, the beginning and the end, the Creator, complete goodness, complete love. And He could have created this world however He wanted to, but we see that He chose to create a world in which His power and authority were limited.

God’s authority was limited because He shared it with Adam and Eve and entrusted them with ruling of His creation. So complete was the authority that He gave them that they had the power to then give their authority away to another.

God’s control is limited because He chose to allow creation to have freewill. Adam and Eve were able to do something against God’s plan, against His will, against His desire. God’s control is also limited because He desires to have partnership with His children and wants to work through them to bring His glory to the earth.

When we realize that God has limited His own power, right to rule, and authority over the earth, we start to be able to understand how it is that Satan could possibly be the ruler of the world that God created. But how can God limit Himself? I’m not sure, but I think when we look at Jesus we start to understand. The night that Jesus was betrayed, a crowd of people came to Gethsemane to seize and arrest Him.

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” -Matthew 26:50-53

Jesus limited His power, His right to sovereignty and control, and was led like a lamb to slaughter. And if we believe Jesus when He says, “if you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him,” (John 14:7) it’s not hard to know that Jesus limiting His power, giving up the control He had every right to have, gives us a picture of our Heavenly Father.

The implications of these assertions are widespread.

James writes “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

John writes, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

Every good and perfect gift…there is no darkness in Him at all.

We know that everything good we experience on earth stems from the Lord’s goodness- the beauty we witness, the love we feel for each other, moments of pure and inexplicable joy…those are all from God. And it seems that many people think that if we give God glory and credit for all the good things we experience, we also have to give Him the blame for the bad things we encounter. The bad things like pain, disease, mental disorders, loss, hopelessness…those are all part of God’s will and plan as well.

And we would have to give God the credit for these dark things if He was in control of everything that happens on earth. But what if, in fact, when Jesus says that Satan is the ruler of the earth, He is telling us something profound about our world? What if He’s saying that Satan is active and working on this earth, carrying a shroud of darkness, bringing with him disease and chains that hold people in bondage? If there is no darkness in God, who do we look to as the source for the darkness we face? Maybe it’s time for us to look towards our Enemy, instead of our Lord.

To read the next post, Part 3, click HERE.
who rules the world 1

This is Part 1 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, visit
CLICK HERE.

Several years ago, when I was in high school, I was home alone and someone rang the doorbell. I looked to see who it was and saw an older woman and a young child (I’m assuming her daughter). I opened the door and, without introducing herself, saying hello, or anything, she help up a pamphlet that had this scary apocalyptic picture on it with the question, “Who rules the world?” written on it. The woman asked me, “How would you answer this question?”

I was, naturally, thrown off guard– remember, she didn’t say hi or anything, she just asked this question right away. So here I am, a straight-A, perfectionist scrambling for an answer. I decided to go with the classic Sunday school technique- if you don’t know the answer to a question, just say, “Jesus” and you’re probably right. So I said, “Umm…God?” And her response was, “You would think so, but no! It’s Satan!” And I thought, “Drat! I knew that!”

This incident has stuck with me, first of all, because it was a truly bizarre experience. But also because it illustrates a really important theological issue that, I believe, most Christians get wrong just as I did in that moment standing in my doorway years ago. When asked the question, “Who rules the world? Who has authority here?” most Christians, in my experience at least, answer “God.” But the interesting thing is that Jesus tells us something very different, and what he says forces us to change the way we think about the world we live in.

 In John 12:31, Jesus says, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.”

In John 14:30, he says, “the ruler of this world is coming.”

In John 16:11, he says, “the prince of this world now stands condemned.”

In all three verses, Jesus is talking about Satan, the Devil, and calls him the prince and ruler of the world. The word that is translated as “prince” and “ruler” in these verses is the same Greek word “archon,” which means “ruler, commander, chief, leader.”

In the Believer’s Bible Commentary, William MacDonald says about John 12:31:

The world was about to crucify the Lord of life and glory. In doing so, it would condemn itself. Sentence would be passed upon it for its awful rejection of Christ. The ruler of this world is Satan. In a very real sense, Satan was utterly defeated at Calvary. He thought he had succeeded in doing away with the Lord Jesus once for all. Instead, the Savior had provided a way of salvation for men, and at the same time had defeated Satan and all his hosts. The sentence has not yet been carried out on the devil, but his doom has been sealed. He is still going through the world carrying on his evil business, but it is just a matter of time before he will be cast into the lake of fire.

MacDonald draws a good clarification- Satan’s ultimate defeat was sealed by the Cross, yet that doesn’t mean that he stops being the ruler of the world until the time of his ultimate judgment. This is seen when Paul, years after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, writes in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

Paul says that Satan is the “god of this age.” This is true even after Calvary and will continue to be true until Satan is defeated for all time, as described in the book of Revelation (12:11 and 20:7-10).

At the beginning of Luke 4, Jesus is “led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2). And this is what Satan says to him:

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
-Luke 4:5-8

Did you catch that? Satan says that he has authority over all the kingdoms of the world- that authority has been given to him. And does Jesus dispute this claim? No, he does not.

Dutch Sheets writes in his book Intercessory Prayer:

God created Adam and Eve in his own image, in his own likeness, and gave them authority over the earth. They were to represent God on earth, to govern and manage the Earth. So complete and final was their authority over the earth that they, not just God, had the ability to give it away to another.

This is absolutely crucial- the Bible clearly tells us that Satan, the Adversary, the Devil has authority over this world- he is the god of this world, he is the ruler, he is the prince. This truth needs to impact our theology, the way we view this world, and the way we view God, and it reveals three important things:

1.  It challenges the view that God is in control/wills everything that happens on earth.

2.  It teaches us about the need for prayer, especially intercessory prayer.

3.  It tells us about the spiritual warfare that is happening around us and leads us to pick up arms and fight.

In the next three blog posts, I will address and expand upon these three points in the hopes that we will start to have a better understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ so that we can better live out our lives as ambassadors of Christ and bring His kingdom to earth.

So what are your thoughts? How would you answer the question I was asked? Have you ever thought about these Bible passages in this way?

To read the next post, Part 2, click HERE.
who rules the world 3

This is Part 3 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, more
CLICK HERE.

This is the third post of my “Who Rules the World?” series. Calling this string of related blog posts a “series” makes me feel much more official and legit. It’s funny how, Sildenafil
quite often, pastors create sermon series and say that it has 3 parts or 5 parts to it, but somehow it always seems to happen that weeks later you’re sitting in church listening to part 7 of the series because, let’s face it, it’s hard to be concise and condense things when you’re talking about the all-consuming living Author of Life. All this to say, I originally said that my “series” had 4 parts and now I’ve stretched it out to 5 because, as it turns out, intercessory prayer is rather a large topic. I was writing this post in a word document and once I got to page 6 I thought it might be a good idea to save some for another post if I had hopes of people actually making it to the end. All that to say, here is part 3 out of my 5-part-but-who-knows-how-long-it-will-be series. Before you read this post I would recommend that you read Part 1 and Part 2 because they really lead up and set the theological foundation for this post and the next.

In my last post, I proposed the idea that God is not in control over everything that happens in the world because He has given us freewill and also because He wants to work through us to bring His kingdom to earth, not independent of us. And this brings us to, what I believe, is one of the most crucial aspects of the Christian faith- intercessory prayer.

What is intercessory prayer? Simply put, it is to pray to God on the behalf of someone else for something to change- for people to be healed, saved, set free. An intercessor is a mediator, someone who goes between.

I love this quote by E.M. Bounds:

God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil…the prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock of heaven by which God carries on His great work upon the earth. God conditions the very life and prosperity of His cause on prayer.

Wow. Let those words sink in. Prayer is the way God carries His great work upon the earth. The life and prosperity of God’s cause depends on us and our prayers. I believe the powerful ideas expressed in this quote are absolutely backed up by the Bible. One  example is found in the book of 1 Kings.

The context of this passage is that the prophet Elijah had previously prayed for there to be a drought in the land and there had indeed been a drought for 3 years. This is where the passage picks up:

After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” -1 Kings 18:1

In this verse, the Lord comes to Elijah and says that He is going to send rain. I think it’s crucial to note that Elijah was not the one requesting rain, but rather the Lord reveals that it’s His will to bring the rain.

Later on in this chapter, Elijah says to Ahab:

“Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. -1 Kings 18:41-42

Elijah knows that the Lord has promised rain and that the Lord Himself desires the rain to come. So what Elijah does in response to this is quite interesting- he tells Ahab to eat because he knows that they will have to leave Mount Carmel to escape the heavy rains, and then he goes to the top of the mountain, gets on the ground, and puts his face between his knees. Elijah is praying for rain.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”            -1 Kings 18:43-44

Elijah prayed fervently and persistently- he prayed seven times for the Lord to fulfill His word. In the New Testament, James talks about Elijah’s actions and confirms that it was indeed Elijah’s prayers that brought the rain:

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:17-18

I believe this story is absolutely crucial to understanding the fact that God has chosen to work through people. Even when it is the Lord Himself initiating something, earnestly desiring to do it, He still needs us to ask.

I love this quote from Andrew Murray:

God’s giving is inseparably connected with our asking…Only by intercession can that power be brought down from heaven which will enable to church to conquer the world.

His giving and His power coming down is connected inseparably with our asking.

I would go so far as to say that if you believe that everything is controlled by God, there’s no point to praying intercessory prayers. If what God wills is going to happen on earth, there is no point for us to pray fervently and persistently for His will to come. And yet this is precisely what Jesus tells us to pray:

This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. -Matthew 6:9-10

We need to pray for God’s will to be done- this implies that God’s will is not currently being done on earth.

If you truly believe prayer is important, that things truly hang in the balance, you will pray with urgency. When we understand that the living God of the universe wants and needs us to bring His will, His work, His kingdom to this earth, it transforms the way we view prayer.

So this brings us to the important question, what is it that God wills? What is it that He wants to do on this earth, in the lives of His precious children? And this is where I will pick off in the next post!

To read the next post, Part 4, click HERE.

To learn more about intercessory prayer, here are some fantastic resources I would recommend:

Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth by Dutch Sheets – I cannot recommend this book enough. It is Biblically based, informative, and powerful.

-Sermon “God Needs Prayer” by Greg Boyd (Woodland Hills Church).
who rules the world 3

This is Part 3 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, story
CLICK HERE.

This is the third post of my “Who Rules the World?” series. Calling this string of related blog posts a “series” makes me feel much more official and legit. It’s funny how, quite often, pastors create sermon series and say that it has 3 parts or 5 parts to it, but somehow it always seems to happen that weeks later you’re sitting in church listening to part 7 of the series because, let’s face it, it’s hard to be concise and condense things when you’re talking about the all-consuming living Author of Life. All this to say, I originally said that my “series” had 4 parts and now I’ve stretched it out to 5 because, as it turns out, intercessory prayer is rather a large topic. I was writing this post in a word document and once I got to page 6 I thought it might be a good idea to save some for another post if I had hopes of people actually making it to the end. All that to say, here is part 3 out of my 5-part-but-who-knows-how-long-it-will-be series. Before you read this post I would recommend that you read Part 1 and Part 2 because they really lead up and set the theological foundation for this post and the next.

In my last post, I proposed the idea that God is not in control over everything that happens in the world because He has given us freewill and also because He wants to work through us to bring His kingdom to earth, not independent of us. And this brings us to, what I believe, is one of the most crucial aspects of the Christian faith- intercessory prayer.

What is intercessory prayer? Simply put, it is to pray to God on the behalf of someone else for something to change- for people to be healed, saved, set free. An intercessor is a mediator, someone who goes between.

I love this quote by E.M. Bounds:

God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil…the prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock of heaven by which God carries on His great work upon the earth. God conditions the very life and prosperity of His cause on prayer.

Wow. Let those words sink in. Prayer is the way God carries His great work upon the earth. The life and prosperity of God’s cause depends on us and our prayers. I believe the powerful ideas expressed in this quote are absolutely backed up by the Bible. One  example is found in the book of 1 Kings.

The context of this passage is that the prophet Elijah had previously prayed for there to be a drought in the land and there had indeed been a drought for 3 years. This is where the passage picks up:

After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” -1 Kings 18:1

In this verse, the Lord comes to Elijah and says that He is going to send rain. I think it’s crucial to note that Elijah was not the one requesting rain, but rather the Lord reveals that it’s His will to bring the rain.

Later on in this chapter, Elijah says to Ahab:

“Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. -1 Kings 18:41-42

Elijah knows that the Lord has promised rain and that the Lord Himself desires the rain to come. So what Elijah does in response to this is quite interesting- he tells Ahab to eat because he knows that they will have to leave Mount Carmel to escape the heavy rains, and then he goes to the top of the mountain, gets on the ground, and puts his face between his knees. Elijah is praying for rain.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”            -1 Kings 18:43-44

Elijah prayed fervently and persistently- he prayed seven times for the Lord to fulfill His word. In the New Testament, James talks about Elijah’s actions and confirms that it was indeed Elijah’s prayers that brought the rain:

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:17-18

I believe this story is absolutely crucial to understanding the fact that God has chosen to work through people. Even when it is the Lord Himself initiating something, earnestly desiring to do it, He still needs us to ask.

I love this quote from Andrew Murray:

God’s giving is inseparably connected with our asking…Only by intercession can that power be brought down from heaven which will enable to church to conquer the world.

His giving and His power coming down is connected inseparably with our asking.

I would go so far as to say that if you believe that everything is controlled by God, there’s no point to praying intercessory prayers. If what God wills is going to happen on earth, there is no point for us to pray fervently and persistently for His will to come. And yet this is precisely what Jesus tells us to pray:

This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. -Matthew 6:9-10

We need to pray for God’s will to be done- this implies that God’s will is not currently being done on earth.

If you truly believe prayer is important, that things truly hang in the balance, you will pray with urgency. When we understand that the living God of the universe wants and needs us to bring His will, His work, His kingdom to this earth, it transforms the way we view prayer.

So this brings us to the important question, what is it that God wills? What is it that He wants to do on this earth, in the lives of His precious children? And this is where I will pick off in the next post!

To read the next post, Part 4, click HERE.

To learn more about intercessory prayer, here are some fantastic resources I would recommend:

Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth by Dutch Sheets – I cannot recommend this book enough. It is Biblically based, informative, and powerful.

-Sermon “God Needs Prayer” by Greg Boyd (Woodland Hills Church).

Who Rules the World? Part 2- The Sovereign Lord and a Freewill Creation

who rules the world 2

This is Part 2 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, sovaldi sale CLICK HERE.

In my last post, Who rules the world? Why the answer changes everything- Part 1, I referenced four different Bible passages in which Jesus and Paul say that Satan is the ruler, prince, and god of this world. In that post I talked about how Satan’s defeat is sealed, but until the time when he is finally defeated, he still reigns as the ruler over this world.

So where does God fit in to this equation? How is it that Satan can have authority and power over God’s creation? What does this mean about the sovereignty and power of the Lord? I don’t pretend to have all the answers to these questions, but if we go back to Eden and read about creation in the book of Genesis, we might start to find some answers.

God created Eden, a beautiful paradise, for His greatest creations- Adam and Eve. In Eden, they lived in harmony with all of creation, with each other, and with their Heavenly Father. One of the first commands God gives Adam and Eve is to “subdue the earth” and to “rule over” the animals. I believe that in this moment, God gives Adam and Eve authority over the earth and the rest of creation. From the very beginning, God wanted Adam and Eve to be His link to the earth and God wanted to work through them and with them in a perfect partnership.

God also gives Adam and Eve freewill—He tells them that they should not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, but, as we soon figure out, Adam and Eve have the power and ability to go against God’s command and His desire for their lives.

So we know that Adam and Eve have authority over the earth and creation and they have the freewill to do God’s will or to reject Him. In Luke 4:5-8, when Satan says that he has authority over the kingdoms of the earth for it has been given to him, I believe that Adam and Eve were the ones who gave him this authority in the Garden when they chose to listen to and trust him over the Lord.

Dutch Sheets says:

Humans were forever to be God’s link to authority and activity here on earth. God had to become human to regain what Adam gave away. God chose, from the time of Creation, to work on the earth through humans, not independent of them. He always has and always will, even at the cost of becoming one.

God is absolutely sovereign and all-powerful. He is the I am, the beginning and the end, the Creator, complete goodness, complete love. And He could have created this world however He wanted to, but we see that He chose to create a world in which His power and authority were limited.

God’s authority was limited because He shared it with Adam and Eve and entrusted them with ruling of His creation. So complete was the authority that He gave them that they had the power to then give their authority away to another.

God’s control is limited because He chose to allow creation to have freewill. Adam and Eve were able to do something against God’s plan, against His will, against His desire. God’s control is also limited because He desires to have partnership with His children and wants to work through them to bring His glory to the earth.

When we realize that God has limited His own power, right to rule, and authority over the earth, we start to be able to understand how it is that Satan could possibly be the ruler of the world that God created. But how can God limit Himself? I’m not sure, but I think when we look at Jesus we start to understand. The night that Jesus was betrayed, a crowd of people came to Gethsemane to seize and arrest Him.

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” -Matthew 26:50-53

Jesus limited His power, His right to sovereignty and control, and was led like a lamb to slaughter. And if we believe Jesus when He says, “if you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him,” (John 14:7) it’s not hard to know that Jesus limiting His power, giving up the control He had every right to have, gives us a picture of our Heavenly Father.

The implications of these assertions are widespread.

James writes “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

John writes, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

Every good and perfect gift…there is no darkness in Him at all.

We know that everything good we experience on earth stems from the Lord’s goodness- the beauty we witness, the love we feel for each other, moments of pure and inexplicable joy…those are all from God. And it seems that many people think that if we give God glory and credit for all the good things we experience, we also have to give Him the blame for the bad things we encounter. The bad things like pain, disease, mental disorders, loss, hopelessness…those are all part of God’s will and plan as well.

And we would have to give God the credit for these dark things if He was in control of everything that happens on earth. But what if, in fact, when Jesus says that Satan is the ruler of the earth, He is telling us something profound about our world? What if He’s saying that Satan is active and working on this earth, carrying a shroud of darkness, bringing with him disease and chains that hold people in bondage? If there is no darkness in God, who do we look to as the source for the darkness we face? Maybe it’s time for us to look towards our Enemy, instead of our Lord.

To read the next post, Part 3, click HERE.

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