The Battle plans of the Enemy (And How We Can Avoid Them)

In (late) observance of Veteran’s Day, I was led to write about the “schemes of the enemy”– otherwise known as satan’s battle plans. Enjoy– and stay close to our Loving Jesus!



 

Do you remember, or have you heard about, the Jonestown Massacre that happened in 1978? Without over-spiritualizing the concept of satan’s devices and plans– and without making it something that merely puts fear into people, rather than soberness, encouragement and power– I read a deeply disturbing article about a survivor of Jim Jones’ cult. This event was something that really struck my heart with its heaviness.

For those of you who may not know about the Jonestown Massacre, a deranged, yet incredibly Charismatic man named Jim Jones led a mass following of some 1400 people in a cult which was called “The Peoples Temple Christian Church.” As the cult turned more and more sinister, he led his faithful following to an isolated existence in the rainforest of Guyana, a country in Southern America. He called the isolated compound, “Jonestown.”

jonestown massacre

As Jim Jones, who was reportedly secretly addicted to amphetamines, continued to lead his cult, he would stage “suicide rehearsals,” telling the people of the compound that “they” (the outside world/American government) were coming to torture and kill Jones’ followers “because [his followers] had chosen the ‘socialist track'” (source). Deceiving and terrorizing the people using even the Bible, Jones coerced his followers into “revolutionary suicide,” by having them drink cyanide-laced kool-aid (an event which created the casual, insensitive phrase, “Don’t drink the kool-aid”). Jones went through with the the mass suicide on November 18th, 1978, when at last someone– Californian congressman Leo Ryan– came to investigate claims that Jones’ followers were held against their will at the compound (source). 900 people, including 276 children, were killed; Congressman Leo Ryan was murdered by those close to Jones, as well (source).

In her book, “Jonestown Lullaby,” Teri Buford O’shea describes her experience within the cult in a collection of photographs and poems. (The Atlantic had a chilling interview with O’shea about her experiences, which I encourage you to read if you want to study more of the Jonestown Massacre.) Reading this article, it dawned on me how incredulous, somber, and diabolically evil Jones’ actions were– and how the enemy works in such a similar way to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).

When the Enemy Attacks

The apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 2:11, said, “…we are not unaware of [the devil’s] schemes,” and Ephesians 6:11 tells us to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (more about the armor of God in this post.) It is important to understand his battle plans, so that Believers do not fall prey. But, what are the enemy’s devices?

Here are some to think about:

  • satan deceives. This is his primary tactic; in fact, Jesus Himself said that “he is the father of lies,” and that lying is his natural way of speaking (John 8:44). Just like Jim Jones, satan deceives people into thinking that they know the truth, when actually, they are believing a lie that could lead them to hell (if they don’t repent and make Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior).
  • satan perverts. In the words of Harold S. Martin, satan constantly “battles for the soul of the sinner and the life of the saint.” satan even uses, twists, and perverts good creation, including the Bible– the Word of God itself– to propagate his own evil plans. We can see him doing this in the life of Jesus, when Jesus was tempted for forty days in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11).
  • satan distracts us. More than ever, we live in a world full of distractions– distractions that can easily lead us away from Christ.
    Mark 4 describes a person that, upon hearing the Gospel, is distracted and taken away by the cares of this life. On a daily basis, satan distracts us from pursuing Jesus and His Kingdom using the same cares of this life: worries about finances, popular thoughts and philosophies, partying, and anything else he can use against us.
  • satan tempts. Just as Jim Jones lured people into the Peoples Temple cult using false promises of a utopia where everyone was equal, satan uses our desires (even good and natural desires!) to tempt us to sin. This is especially true of sexual immorality (having sex outside of God’s plan for marriage between one man, and one woman), but can be true of anything in our lives. After all, I have heard something be said to the effect of sin being “fulfilling God-created desires outside of God’s perfect will and plan for them.”
  • satan accuses. satan has a similar strategy: having led the Believer into temptation, he immediately turns around, heaping guilt and condemnation upon the sinner. satan would LOVE to have Believers continuously falling into temptation, and wallowing in guilt and condemnation for it. But we, as Believers, are not under false guilt and condemnation (Romans 8:1)!
  • satan manipulates & degrades. Using deceit, Jim Jones manipulated his followers into believing that everyone outside of their cult was out to get them. In doing so, he degraded and enslaved his followers to himself. satan would love to do the same, and does all of the time.
  • satan puts evil thoughts in our minds. Speaking lies into our ears, satan is behind many, if not most of the evil thoughts that can come into our minds. I want to be careful here, and say that we have our own sinful nature– not every sinful, wrong, evil, dark thought or action we have is straight from satan himself. However, he can definitely be a driving force behind such things, as Harold S. Martin writes here.
  • satan intimidates us. Jim Jones caused his listeners to become so afraid that many saw no other way out than the suicide he was commanding of them.
    No matter who you are, we are all susceptible to fear at differing degrees. Again, filling our minds with doubt and lies, satan loves to discredit God’s promises to fight for and take care of us. Ultimately, satan wants us bound up and wound up in fear and worry, clinging to fear instead of Christ.
  • satan divides us. Many militias have used the age-old tactic to divide and conquer its enemies. satan absolutely hates those who trust in and follow Jesus, and as such, he spends much of his time trying to divide and pit Christians against one another– and watches in glee as we do it to ourselves.
    He divides us using envy, deceit, gossip, bitterness, unrighteous anger, and especially unforgiveness. The Apostle Paul writes about this in Hebrews: “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many” (Hebrews 12:15, NLT).
    The dividing effects of these sinful actions are why it is SO important to obey God’s Word on loving one another. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
  • satan isolates us. Division and isolation go hand in hand. Like Jim Jones did when he took 1400 of his followers to a compound in Guyana, away from the rest of the world, satan wants us isolated from other Believers. At the core, a person who is isolated from others– especially isolated from other Believers– is easy for satan to destroy, and that is why he employs this strategy. Biblical, Godly community is something ALL Believers need; without it, we are very susceptible to being successfully attacked  by the enemy of our souls.

 

Ultimately, using these devices, and others like them, satan wants us bound; believing lies; steeped in sin; and hopeless beyond repair. In short, he wants us dead. Dead in our sin, dead physically, and deadened in our relationship with God.

The slaughter, much like the mass suicide (murder) of the innocent but gravely misled Peoples’ Temple followers, is heartwrenching. But, we are not defenseless.

Good, Good Leader

Jesus has given us spiritual armor, armor that protects us from the wiles of the enemy– you can read about those in this post. But, reflecting on the Jonestown Massacre, there is one beautiful, comforting truth to remember: in the Jonestown Massacre, those misled followers of Jim Jones had a deranged, selfish, evil “shepherd” to guide them to their deaths.

But it is not so, with us, Believers in Jesus. As said before here, Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). He comes that we might have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10); and when we submit to Him, He leads us into verdant pastures, and by quiet streams, along right paths for His Namesake (Psalm 23:2-3).

The Truth? Jesus and satan are NOT equal in nature or power. Jesus is God; satan is not, no matter how hard he tries to be. satan needs Jesus’ permission to do what he wants in the life of the Believer; and Jesus does not allow anything to happen that He cannot turn around for His Glory, and our Good.

Our God is for us. He is not a lie; all through the darkness, He is in control.

So, be sober and vigilant. But, do not be afraid. For Jesus has said, “… ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'” (Hebrews 13:5).

And for Jesus, our Good, Good Leader, that promise never has been– nor will it ever be– broken.
We can trust our Leader, guys, no matter what the enemy says or does. And our Leader wins in the end. 

May that be a comfort, and an amazing encouragement of victory, for all of us.

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
(Romans 8:37, NLT)



Do you know Jesus?

Therefore Jesus said again, Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.’
(John 10:7-9, NIV)

Jesus is not only good shepherd or leader; He is the Good Shepherd. And He alone is the way to actually know God the Father.

So, let me ask you this: Do you, you yourself, personally know Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Learn more about Jesus Christ– and why He must be your Lord and Savior, for you to know God the Father– here.


Please pray for…

  • Believers all around the world who are currently undergoing spiritual warfare. Please pray that they would be sober and vigilant, and would know the enemy’s schemes against them.
  • Unity in the church. Please pray against the backbiting, the envy, unrighteous anger, gossip, and all other malice. We need each other! Pray this especially over your local fellowship.
  • For those who are fighting in physical war zones… that both their enemy and our army would know Jesus.
  • For, last but definitely not least, the Chibok girls who have not been found. Please pray that the Nigerian military, and anyone else, would be able to free them through negotiations, or however Jesus decides.

 

Thank you for your prayers and support!

Advertisements

Not Against Flesh and Blood: Praying for Boko Haram Members

On the evening of Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, bomb blasts went off in the Golori area, near Mamanti, in Maiduguri, Nigeria. These bombs were attached to two men: members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram. Whether by force or choice, these people were killed instantly by the blast, killing two others with them, and injuring six (source).

While Maiduguri, and Northeastern Nigeria, for that matter, has seen a definite decrease in suicide bombings as of late, the fact that they are still going on– even if they only come to injure one other person– shows that the deceptive ideology of Boko Haram, and, heartbreakingly, of muslims everywhere, is far from being extinguished.

These men, women, and children either make the choice, or are coerced into such self-and-mass destruction. They are usually viewed by non-Boko Haram (BH) members as evil, contemptible, and worthy of their fate. While these people have torn apart the lives of countless innocent people around them, and are extremely evil, it is very important for discerning Believers to also see their true state. These sad, cowardly, disgusting individuals, at their core, are being pitifully– and fatally– deceived by the enemy, by the world, and by themselves. The amount of spiritual deception, darkness, and desperation these people are under is cause for immense, fervent prayer.

Judgment & Mercy

The statement made above is not to be said lightly, without remembering the absolute chaos and murder they have committed. “Don’t these people deserve what they have been ‘dishing out’?” many would ask. Yes, they completely do; that is the Just answer. But, when seen from Christ’s point of view, it becomes clearly evident that while these people need firm judgment, Christ actually longs to give them Mercy.

“‘Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 ‘For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore, repent and live‘” (Ezekiel 18:31-32, NASB). In the midst of fair and upright judgment against the Israelites, God’s cry for their repentance is clear: while they deserved the wrath coming upon them, Christ’s heart for them was to be saved by turning away from their evil ways, and turning towards Him. These profoundly urgent words are the very Words of God, and show His very heart for mankind, even today.

Praying for Boko Haram Members

How are Believers even to begin praying for enemies like Boko Haram, when they have done so much damage, and continue, almost hellbound, in their ways? It is vital that one recognizes the spiritual warfare going on, spurring BH members on in their violence. Ephesians 6 is very clear about the warfare happening for every soul: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For 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” (Ephesians 6:10-12, NIV).

With this in mind, the best fighting is truly done on our knees, in prayer for BH members. Here are some key prayer points to consider, when praying for Boko Haram members. Whether some are common sense or are points you may have not considered yet, it is always good to be reminded of such things.

  1. For the terrorists of Boko Haram to become saved. While this point may seem redundant, it is all too important to leave out.Again, this is not written lightly, or without realizing the complete and utter horror these men have caused. The members of Boko Haram definitely deserve God’s complete wrath, including going to hell.
    But, biblically speaking– and this is said with the utmost care– we are all deserving of God’s wrath, no matter how “good” or “bad” one is. Ephesians 2:1-5 addresses this hard-to-swallow truth.As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
    (Ephesians 2:1-5, NIV)At one time, all Believers– even the most zealous, “good,” law-abiding Believers– deserved the wrath of God, including going to hell. No matter how “good” one is in their own eyes, they need Christ as their Lord and Savior; there is no other way. At the core, the members of BH have never experienced the Love of God, His Forgiveness, or the Freedom He brings. Despite their evil, without being saved, these people– these souls– have no chance at a future spent with the One, True, God of the Universe, who Loves them perfectly and dearly.

    Which brings up a second important aspect of praying for BH Members:

  2. For the BH terrorists (and truly, terrorists all over the world) to realize how much Jesus, the One, True, Living God, LOVES them. 1 John 4:10 declares God’s Love for people, perfectly:

    “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
    (1 John 4:10, NIV)

    It’s incredibly important to realize that Christ was pursuing us, His people, long before His people ever started desiring and accepting, much less pursuing, Him. This throws the concept of works-based religion, including Islam, out of the window. Religion tells the adherent to “do,” so that God might accept them as “Holy” or “Righteous” enough; but, “For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8, NIV). When Christ died, He did everything needed for Believers to come to God, being completely saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8). There is nothing one must do– or cannot do, for that matter– to gain this salvation. All they must do is accept the gift of what Jesus did on the cross.Experiencing, and realizing, the Love, Grace, and Goodness of God, and accepting Him as Lord and Savior, is the only thing that can truly transform people, even BH members.

  3. For Christians in and around Northern Nigeria to stand for Christ, and to be a light in the darkness.

    For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!‘”
    (Romans 10:12-15, NIV)

    Christ has called us “the light of the world,” “a town on a hill,” and a “light” that must be put on a stand (Matthew 5:14-16). In such spiritual darkness as the kind that has been fueling Boko Haram, Christians have the One, True, Living God living within them, and can fight back against the darkness through prayer, outreach, and bringing people to Christ. Without being overly focused on spiritual warfare, whenever one tries to be a light in the darkness, there is inevitably “pushback.” The terror, complete desolation, and isolation so many Christian Nigerians are facing (especially those who are refugees) are leaving them vulnerable to any attack, be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. Now, more than ever, those who are Christ’s “soldiers” must put on their spiritual armor, and gather together against the enemy.This is no more true than for those who are closest to BH members: BH captives. Just as Christ, through Paul, brought a guard to Himself while Paul was in prison (Acts 16:22-35), encamped in captivity, with BH members as their guards, Christian Nigerians may be given opportunities by Christ to show their faith in Christ. They are able to testify of Jesus’ Power, Love, Grace, and Mercy– things that some BH members may have never heard of before. Even in suffering, our brothers and sisters can be a bright light, empowered by the Holy Spirit to clash with the darkness around them.

  4. In all, for the Holy Spirit to move these people to come to know Jesus.

    Passages like Revelation 19, John 14, and John 16 clearly describe who the Holy Spirit is, and what He does. “…Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus‘” (Revelation 19:10, NIV). John 14 describes the Holy Spirit as the God who “teaches everything and helps [us] to remember everything that Jesus said,” while John 16 says He will convict the world of sin, and lead Believers into all Truth, telling them what He has heard (from the Father, as read in John 16:8, 13). He will tell us what is yet to come; and, most importantly, will “glorify me [Jesus] because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you” (John 16:14).
    Knowing the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it becomes clear that without being empowered by Jesus, we can do nothing of eternal significance (John 15). This is completely true when sharing the Gospel. Paul says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6, NIV). While Believers may plant the seed in a BH member’s heart, only the Holy Spirit can lead that person to a Saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit would be stirring in their hearts and minds, as we speak!

 

Conclusion

There are countless things that need to be prayed for, when it comes to Boko Haram, including its destruction. But, as we look at the individual, darkened souls that make up Boko Haram, their need for Salvation and Transformation becomes clear. Whatever it takes– be it their physical surrender, or even their deaths– may these men, women, and children come to realize their need for Christ, and accept His gift of Salvation, readily.



Do you know Jesus?

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.‘”
(John 8:12, NIV)

It goes without question, that this entire world is incredibly dark. Whether or not terrorists are ravaging the world you live in, there is always a spiritual battle going on, for the souls of those who don’t know Christ (Ephesians 6:12).

For centuries, men had been living in darkness, trying to follow the rules and regulations set forth by God, through Moses, perfectly. Through all of our trying, we only become all the more cold in the process, as seen by the Pharisees (Matthew 23). But these rules and regulations were not evil in and of themselves; rather, they were a shadow of the One to come, who would fulfill them all. In the end, the Law shed light on the fact that mankind needed One to do what they could not: obey the law perfectly, and save them from the sin they had committed.

Think about the properties and power of sunlight. Jesus, being God Himself, claimed to be “the Light of the world”– and promised that those who followed Him would not only have light to shine on their life path, but the light to feed, save, guide, heal, and warm them.

Jesus, the Light of the World, has come on the scene. Learn more about, and accept the Only Light of the World, here.


Please be praying with me…

Dear Father God,
We praise You, and we thank You, for who You are.
Thank You for coming down from heaven, into our dark world, and for considering us of so much value that You would die for our sins.

Father God,
We pray over the men, women, and children both held captive by, and actively in, Boko Haram. Even now, Father God, we pray that Your Gospel and Your Salvation would come to the souls of those in Boko Haram. Your Love is Stronger than even the worst hate or sin; Father, we pray that they would accept Your Salvation, and would become free to love You, and love others.

Father God,
We know they don’t deserve it– none of us truly do. But, King Jesus, we pray that You would let these people experience how much You Love them. Through their hardened, darkened hearts and minds, please shine the Light of Your Love, and transform them as only You can do. We pray that they would accept Your Forgiveness, and would be humbled to accept Your Gospel.

Father,
We also pray for our brothers and sisters in Northern Nigeria. We cannot fathom the hurt, the pain, and the terror they must feel. But Father God, we surround them, and come around them, and ask that You would strengthen Your people. Please be their Strength, their Refuge, and their Comfort. Please help them to stand, Oh Father God, together, against the enemy, and please give them opportunities to show even the horrible members of Boko Haram Your Love, in whatever form You will. Please give them the Boldness to do so. Thank You, Father God.

Father God,
Please pour Your Spirit out afresh on Your People in this country, and on all of Your People, all around the world. Please stir the hearts of those in Boko Haram, and show them their deep-seated need to know, and be saved, by You.
Holy Spirit, please help all of us to plant the seeds of Your Gospel– and trust that ultimately, YOU will make them to grow, not us.

Father God,
Please continue to hold, and help, those who have been so wounded by Boko Haram. As refugees, victims, and captives, please bring them spiritual freedom, in You, and show them that You alone are all they need.

We thank You for all of this, Father God!

In Jesus’ Name I pray,

Amen.

When Under Attack: Praying for Maiduguri

They awoke to the sound of explosions. Repelled by the Nigerian army, Boko Haram’s suicide bombers aimed for soft targets: the people of Ajilari Cross area in Maiduguri city, the capitol of Borno State, Nigeria. The aftermath of such an attack was horrendous; amidst “body parts on [homes]” and “people running helter-skelter,” as two survivors put it [1], emergency services and the Nigerian government took in the severely wounded– and there was no end to those who were severely frightened and confused.

Sadly, this was not the first suicide bombing that Maiduguri had experienced. It had been one in a long line of many suicide bombings, which started in mid-May. Since that initial spate of suicide bombings in May, over 300 men, women, and children in Maiduguri have fatally fallen at the hands of BH suicide bombers, with hundreds more injured. It has not been until recently that Nigeria’s army and government have become more diligent in protecting Maiduguri’s citizens, shooting down suicide bombers before they detonated their explosives in large crowds. While lowering the death toll, the amount of fear and instability in Maiduguri has stayed consistently high, with those in the city scared about when the next bomb will go off.

Though we’re still talking about a city that, for many reading, is a world away with its differences, the city of Maiduguri is like many of the cities we live in. With a population of over 600,000 people counted in 1991, and a growth rate of 12.0%, it is estimated that Maiduguri reached a population of over 1 million people in 2009 (source). Maiduguri is, as one can imagine, a city with compact, small homes and roads in historic Yerwa, newer developments dated to the 1970’s and fringe settlements farther from the inner city of Yerwa, and more rural, undeveloped land in the outermost parts of the city [2]. While the city may be home to many different religions, islam is “the religion of most of the inhabitants of [Borno] state,” the state Maiduguri inhabits (source). This city is the biggest and most developed city in Borno state, while being the 7th largest city in Nigeria. But for being such a “fortified city,” this city is in major need of help, both spiritually and physically.

Every single person in this hugely populated city faces a battle– and it’s not just one of spent bullets. Whether knowingly or not, all people have a spiritual enemy– who, not unlike Boko Haram, is “looking for every opportunity to hit back” (source). This is why Paul soberly warns Christians to “put on the whole armor of God, that [one] may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11, ESV). The fight is real, but it shouldn’t be overemphasized fanatically, as it sometimes is. Christ has sealed His children with His Holy Spirit, making it completely impossible to be “possessed” by an evil spirit, or the devil himself (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 John 4:4; John 14:16). If Christ’s Holy Spirit lives in and forever seals the Christian, there is no room for any other spirit to live in them.

While a Christian cannot be inhabited by an evil spirit, they can be harassed by one. Often times, the enemy will use tricky schemes to attack and harm unsuspecting Christians. It is important, therefore, to remind oneself and other Christians that 1) there is a real enemy, and 2) there a real God, who is not equal with the enemy, but completely in control over the enemy (as proven in Job 1:1-12). It is because of these two facts that Christians can engage in spiritual warfare, without becoming hysterical, afraid, or feeling insufficient (after all, Christians have been given a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind– not fear [ 2 Timothy 1:7]). The apostle Paul expounds on the spiritual protection Christians have in Ephesians 6:13-18.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…”

The same book of Ephesians tells the Christian to “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). What does this mean, exactly? It means that, as a Christian, one can put on a “new self” that glorifies and relies on Jesus Christ. Every facet of the Christian’s spiritual armor, therefore, exemplifies and relies completely upon Jesus Christ.

1) The belt of truth, which holds a place for a sword and holds the armor together, is Christ, as Jesus Himself is “The Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). 2) The breastplate of righteousness protects the vital organs from attacks, especially the heart; this is of the utmost importance, as Christians are called to “Above all else, guard [their] hearts, for everything [one does] flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). Thankfully, this breastplate is not made of a person’s own righteousness (our own righteous acts are like dirty rags [Isaiah 54:6]); instead, it is made of Christ’s righteousness, which is put on Christians when they accept Christ as their Lord and Savior (Philippians 3:8-9). 3) The shoes of readiness given by the gospel of peace are the shoes one wears into battle, “being prepared to give an answer and reason for the hope we have” in the Gospel (1 Peter 3:15). The Gospel is “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). At the core, Jesus is the Gospel, or good news. 4) The shield of faith, as Paul describes, extinguish[es] all the flaming darts of the evil one,” saving the Christian from unforeseen attacks. At the time Paul wrote this, Roman soldiers’ shields covered their entire bodies length-and-width wise, and when coupled together, created impenetrable walls. Faith in Christ and remembering His sovereign faithfulness makes the believer to stand firm against the enemy’s lies. 5) The helmet of salvation combats the enemy’s lies on a different level. satan is the father of lies– and as such, is constantly whispering lies into people’s minds. They are lies that, if left unchecked, leave people in deep bondage. Christ Himself is the helmet of salvation (Acts 4:10-12), and the defense against the enemy’s many lies; this is why Paul tells us one must “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:5-6, ESV). While Paul is talking about bringing others to Christ by the Holy Spirit’s power in this passage, there is application for our own minds. In the words of John Piper, “if anything is out of sync with Paul’s teaching, we should let it be destroyed.” Ultimately, one can find if any thought or idea is “out of sync” with Paul’s teaching by asking the Holy Spirit to speak to them through His Word, the bible– also known as 6) the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). Truly, “Paul’s teaching” in the Bible is truly God’s Word– God wrote it through men, by His Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). The bible describes itself this way. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). With such an amazing weapon in a person’s spiritual arsenal, one cannot afford to not make regular use of it, by reading it and “meditat[ing] on it, day and night” (Joshua 1:8). What’s more, God’s Word proclaims that Jesus is the Word Himself. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. …And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-5, 14, ESV). In all, Christians must clothe themselves with Christ constantly if one ever wants victory over the enemy.

Maiduguri city, as big and prominent as it may be, is not immune from Boko Haram’s attacks. In fact, it is because of Maiduguri’s prominence that so many of Boko Haram’s attacks have been aimed there. If one is unaware of the enemy’s attacks (and therefore, unprepared), it can leave a whole city in ruins. This is why we must pray for Maiduguri and its people– because, underneath it all, the battle Maiduguri is facing from this radical islamic group is not just physical– it is deeply spiritual.


Do you know Jesus?

When writing about the “breastplate of righteousness,” the piece of armor that protects the heart, one thing becomes clear: only Jesus and His righteousness can truly protect and guard the heart.

When talking about the heart, the bible says something contrary to much of what today’s society thinks: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV). Yet, despite our evil, sinful hearts, Jesus died for our sins– so that we would never have to go through this life, or the spiritual battle, alone.

Learn more about the God who wants to be not only our spiritual armor, but our Savior– and how He accomplished both– by clicking here.



Please pray for…

The people, particularly the churches, in Maiduguri, Nigeria. 

The Nigerian army, and their fight against Boko Haram, physically.

The victims of each suicide bombing and attack, as well as their families.

The government, and President Buhari— that they would come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, and would be given wisdom in this fight.

The men of Boko Haram— that they would come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior, too.

Boko Haram’s captives— that we would not lose hope in finding them, and that President Buhari would be moved by Jesus to find the captives, including the Chibok girls. Read, sign, and share the petition to do this very thing, here.


[1] Source
[2] Source: Waziri, Muhammad. Spatial Pattern of Maiduguri City. Researchers’ Guide. No 123 Mangwarori Street, Sabon Titin Mandawari, Kano City, Kano State: ADAMU JOJI PUBLISHERS, 2009. Academia. 21 October 2015. Page 12. 

Victory!

There is a darkness all around us. Whether one senses it or not, a spirit of sorrow– of fear, of loneliness, of hopelessness– reigns in the hearts and minds of countless people all over the globe. Daily, we read articles of heartwrenching violence abroad, while locally, the day’s headlines include senseless tragedies, marring the day with disheartening, sober pensiveness.

In nations like Nigeria, Iraq, and inumerable european countries all across the East, this darkness is both strikingly felt and incomprehensibly heavy. With events such as a child suicide bombing committed by a girl as young as seven years old in Nigeria, to the kidnapping of close to 90 christian Assyrians in Syria, the incessant persecution and violence found in these nations are a cause for deep terror in the hearts and minds of people caught in the crossfire. And while the Boko Haram insurgency found in Nigeria and its surrounding nations is being fought back against by a heavy-handed AU Army, the warfare found in Nigeria– as well as across the middle east– is only a symptom, a physical manifestation, of the spiritual warfare occuring all over the planet, every moment of our lives. Continue reading

By the Holy Spirit’s Power: Defeating Fear & Boko Haram

They are the many unsung, unseen forces in the Nigerian military. Women– mothers, daughters, respected leaders in Nigerian society– have given their safety and comfort to fight the evil that is the Boko Haram insurgency. Though almost unheard of when speaking about the military, women make up a good amount of the country’s militia and are an active part of the fight against terrorism. Yet, in an attitude of apprehension and even slight panic, Nigeria has decided to remove more than 200 of its women soldiers from the frontlines of Maiduguri city to the country’s capitol, Abuja. Continue reading

The Nigerian Military: Rest & Strength in Jesus Christ

The Nigerian military has been through much as of late. On January 5th, 2015, it was reported that the Northeastern Nigerian town of Baga was invaded and ransacked by the Boko Haram on Saturday, in which the town’s military base was overran and raided. This base homes a multinational task force for Nigeria and its surrounding countries, and Nigerian soldiers are housed there. This assault left hundreds injured and many dead as men, women and children tried their hardest to escape Boko Haram’s clutches. Continue reading

Quick Post: Rest.

Tonight, looking at news updates on the ceasefire deal announced Friday (and the violence that has continued on since then, jeopardizing the deal), I became tired. Weary. Frustrated. Skeptical. Worried.

What are we, as believers in the words and promises of God, to do when everything around us seems to ask why God is so fickle?– or, on a more sickening, cynical, unbelieving level, why God is so cruel?

I’ve had a longer, more polished post drawn up for a few days now, and I’ve been struggling with finishing it. It’s called, “6 Months Later: A Reason For Hope.”

I know what my reason for hope is. I know where– and who in– my hope is found. Yet, the words don’t seem to come. And the thoughts of worry, of doubt, of inadequacy, of fear, linger and creep in, making my heart flutter, haunting the words I mean to say and trying to silence me.

But you know what? I refuse to let the enemy kill my joy. I refuse to let him take over what should be a blessing and an encouragement, making it stressful and tiring.
Tonight, in the midst of the utter chaos that surrounds these abducted girls,
In the midst of the pain that comes with knowing that these beautiful young girls and women need to spend one more night away from their families and loved ones,
In the midst of the weariness that comes with not knowing when this pain will end,

I will trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6).
I will go into His temple. I will meditate on His love for me (Psalm 48:9).
I will meditate on how he’s lifted me out of every miry pit I’ve ever fallen into– or dug myself, inviting in (Psalm 40:2).
I will think on these things. And, in the midst of such love, such peace, such grace,
I will believe with all my heart that He is never slow or careless when it comes to fulfilling His promises (2 Peter 3:9).
I will praise my God, whose love is unfailing (Psalm 36:5-7; Psalm 56:9-13).

Lord Jesus, I praise you for releasing the 50 some girls that have escaped from the Boko Haram so far.
I praise you for strengthening them according to your steadfast love.
I love you and thank you for providing these girls with people to share their stories with. For providing them with just enough food and water to survive. With just enough strength and determination to reach a refuge. For always being their refuge, even among their pain and suffering.
I thank you for choosing me. For choosing me, for choosing this young child, to hear your heart for these girls. To hear your voice speak these bold promises, full of love and redemption and hope, over such a hopeless situation. Forgive me for being unfaithful in doing what you’ve called me to do– to devote myself to prayer for these girls, and to proclaim these promises to others as well, asking them to join in prayer and support for the abducted girls, for Norther Nigeria, and for Nigeria as a whole. I praise you for being faithful even when I am unfaithful. And I thank you for keeping your watchful eye on these beautiful girls, showing them such favor as to start negotiations, strengthening the Nigerian army to fight against the darkness that holds them, and to cause your people to cry out to you for them.

You are strong and mighty to save.

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV)

Your promises for these girls ring true, everywhere in your word.

“Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.” (Proverbs 11:21, NIV)

I can rely upon Your Word and Your Promises.

“Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89, NIV)
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, NIV)

Tonight, I will rest in the fact that He is God. Period.
That, no matter what, He is good. Loving. Beautiful.
That redemption and salvation are coming, and it will be glorious.

Tonight, let’s praise, hope, and rest in our God, praying that He grants us the blessing of seeing these girls free soon. Pray for their continued protection; pray for their favor under the rule of the Boko Haram. Continue to pray for the BH leader, Shekau: that He would believe in Christ Jesus and know Christ’s peace that surpasses every understanding there is. Pray that the people of Nigeria would run back to the Lord. That they’d find rest in the shadow of His wings as they trust in Him as their Lord and Savior (Psalm 56:13).

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2, NIV)

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3, ESV)