Wednesday, July 10, 2013

This is war.

In my last post, I discussed the very real nature of every Christian’s spiritual opposition.  This portrait of the unseen struggle between good and evil illuminates my perspective on nearly everything, from marriage, to parenting, to the simple occurrences of everyday life.


Now, let me clarify my stance before we proceed with this exploration.  I do not believe that people are totally controlled by the spiritual realm; we are not merely puppets lacking our own will or motives.  We have the capacity for independent thought and action, and sometimes our actions bring forth consequences that are totally unrelated to some kind of demonic activity.  


A few months ago, I read the book Wild at Heart by John Eldridge, and in this he diagnoses a common and crippling problem for many men.  He says that many husbands wake up decades into their adult lives, drained and totally bored.  Why is this? Eldridge suggests that men have lost their sense of adventure, denying the voice within them that calls out for deeper fulfillment until it fades from their heart’s perception.

  

I agree with this assessment… but what’s the solution?   In the book, he advises people to embrace whatever brings them alive – hobbies, pastimes, and so forth. I believe that the real prescription for this issue is something much greater.  I am convinced that marriage is every man’s greatest and wildest frontier, untamed and rife with danger. If the spiritual realm is filled with struggle, then every home is a battleground beneath the surface.


We find ourselves fading when we lose sight of the very real warfront that takes place within each household.  As a husband, you are leading a charge against the spiritual forces that want to tarnish and destroy every family in your community.   In light of this, each man should be equipped with knowledge, internal fortitude and constant prayer to thwart the enemy’s advances.


This is war. It’s time for men to take up their arms and realize that their home is their ultimate theater of war; it is the most turbulent battlefield imaginable.  If you are married and reading this, I urge you to ask yourself in silent honesty:   


    “What am I doing to defend my marriage against the snares of infidelity?”

Do not be misguided by foolish notions that wish to distract us from the battle at hand.  Common thoughts like “my spouse could never do that” or “he loves me too much” only serve to weaken our defenses. Let us not be guided by naivety, but instead let us be vigilant for the sake of our partner.


I implore you, as a man fractured by his own failures, to consider this seriously.  Fortify your home with prayer, cling to Christ as your lifeline, and remain steadfast in love and devotion to y our spouse, especially during difficulty.  This is every man’s foremost challenge and most perilous voyage.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Contingencies

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
                                                                                          
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life."  (John 10:10)

                                                                   
                There’s no doubt about it – every man faces an unseen oppressor.  There are forces in motion that desire the failure of our marriages and the forfeiture of our deepest held convictions. Despite our best attempts, pretending this adversary doesn’t exist has no bearing on his power in your life.
                So much of my pondering lately focuses on the never-ending battle that wages beneath the veneer of the physical. In fact, I could write volumes about how this spiritual battle relates to my marriage’s journey, but I proceed cautiously, understanding that many people are uncomfortable with so-called “super-spiritual” talk.
 It seems that our society wants to divorce Christianity from its inherently spiritual foundation.  One cannot claim to believe the Christian Bible without embracing the fact that an entire spiritual realm exists, influencing and swaying our world in countless ways. It is the undercurrent that swirls beneath the events we observe in the physical world every day, and yet so many believers want to neuter the faith of its spiritual nature, turning it into a vacuous and outdated self-help program.   You cannot deny the spiritual realm without invalidating the Bible on a large scale.
                With that being said, I believe it’s vital for us to consider supernatural influence when discussing issues of infidelity in marriage. Ephesians 6:10-12 shows us the true gravity of this battle; we do not simply fight against worldly forces, but we also engage a hidden opponent that has been dissolving marriages since the beginning of time itself. To put it explicitly… behind every mistress, wayward glance or flirtatious advance, demonic forces are pulling the strings like ancient puppeteers.
                Think about that. The same aggressor, Satan, that has been fracturing relationships since the Garden of Eden, is doing the best he can to drive a wedge between you and your spouse.  This is a high-stakes scenario, and it deserves more attention than we ever dare to afford it.
                I remember, in my prior life of na├»ve ignorance, thinking of evil and temptation as an abstract annoyance that wants to do nothing greater than simply irritate us.  It wants us to miss Sunday school, forget our bedtime prayer, and smoke cigarettes, I thought. Now, I soberly acknowledge something very different.  As the verse above states, the enemy’s primary goal is death and destruction  
                Without a doubt, I know that our foe’s desire was for my marriage to be dissolved, and for our individual lives to be hopelessly unraveled.  If his assaults did not accomplish this, perhaps the devil would settle for wounding us beyond healing.  If we overcame this advance, he would at least like to keep us silent about our victory.
                We won’t even give him that much. I won’t shut up; I won’t be quiet about the victory that Hannah and I have embraced through Christ over the disaster of my affair.  The enemy can list off all of his contingencies, and I will give him the alternative that he wants the least.  I will illuminate our story as a means to advance the gospel, and he will regret the day he ever tried to split us apart. At the end of my life, Satan will look upon this attack as a mistake, knowing that I surrendered it to God for His good purposes. I believe that.
                The thief has a will, and his primary goal is everlasting misery; anything else is a mere concession.  Today, as you read this, reflect upon the many times where you barely made it out alive from the razor-sharp claws of temptation, and ask yourself what you can do to wave a banner of victory over your circumstances.  The devil wants to shut you up, if nothing else… give him what he least desires.