Where Do You Turn When Tested?

Ray Lueck

What Do You Keep In your Head? Where do you turn when tested?

The week before this last EMB my daily devotional took me to II Chronicles 20 where I read about the battle fought by King Jehoshaphat. The king had quite a task before him.

He was up against 3 other armies and was greatly outnumbered. Let’s walk through this chapter and look at the lessons we can apply to the Every Day Battles that we fight.

Vs.1 Jehoshaphat is a target conspired against and attacked. You and I also have our enemies (supernatural and of the flesh) and we are conspired against and attacked on a daily basis. Satan wants to destroy us. The proliferates of smut want to attack and steal our money, and those tempting people in our lives that flirt with us are out to conquer and consume us sexually or emotionally.

Vs.2 Jehoshaphat had people who reported to him and warned him of the attack. Apparently, this wasn’t just an attack, but a huge overwhelming assault. The good news is that Jehoshaphat was not alone. He had a support system. He had people who were concerned and involved. We can’t fight our battle alone. We have to be tied in to others. We have to let others be our eyes and ears and tell us things that we may not see on our own. Like him, this is not just a little skirmish. This is a life altering battle. If we don’t succeed today, life will never be the same again.

Vs.3 Jehoshaphat freaked out, but wisely turned toward God rather than toward idols. He rallied his support system, by proclaiming a fast through out the land. It’s good to be in touch with our emotions. Whether fear or anger, we need to be aware and expressive. Like Jehoshaphat we can take action in a positive direction. We can fast and pray and ask others to do the same.

Vs.4 The battle didn’t only affect Jehoshaphat, but the whole nation, his whole community. Our battle and our decisions affect countless lives and even generations that are yet to come. Many will be influenced on the basis of our response.

Vs.5 ‘ 12 Jehoshaphat prays. As I look at his prayer, it strikes me that he is using prayer as a means of reinforcing his faith and that of those around him. He is recalling the character, the corroboration and the promises of God to the children of Israel. He isn’t telling God anything He doesn’t already know, he is reminding himself of things he needs to be aware of so that he can walk with deep faith with the one who alone can win the battle. Do our prayers focus on the character of God and the recollection of His hand upon our lives? Are we just praying ‘give me’ prayers, or are we building our faith as we reflect upon Him and commune with God on a personal level?

Vs.12 Jehoshaphat admits, ‘We are powerless’and we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on Thee.’ We can’t win the battle in our own strength, but as long as we keep our focus on Christ He will direct us and lead us in victory.

Vs.13 The whole nation (community) was standing before the Lord; men, women, children and infants. Grandparents, parents, friends, brothers, children and babies surround us. We have the eyes of many upon us. We influence many in our sphere of activity.

Vs. 14 ‘ 17 A prophet of the Lord speaks and tells them ‘The Battle is not yours, but the Lord’s’ Do not fear them or be dismayed’for the Lord is with you.’ We all got to hear words of truth and encouragement at our EMB weekends. We exposed ourselves to the teaching of God’s word and our lives were changed.

Vs.18 ‘ 19 Jehoshaphat and his community bowed to pray and rose to praise the God of creation. They listened to the preaching of the word, took it to heart, and were changed and convicted to follow God in faith, confidence and joy.

Vs. 20 ’22 Jehoshaphat and his community acted in faith. They went forward into the battle with the instructions to put their trust in the Lord. He appointed singers to praise God saying, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for His loving-kindness is everlasting.’ They rose early and obediently to follow God’s directives. They filled their minds and hearts with songs of praise to God. They worshiped together and reinforced one another’s convictions.

Vs. 22 ‘ 23 As they sang and praised the Lord, God set ambushes and turned Jehoshaphat’s attackers against each other, so that they destroyed themselves. Wow, what a beautiful picture. As we focus on God, as we praise Him, He rises to rout the enemy for us. We can’t win this battle on our own. Only He can do it. What a blessing that this battle that we fight gives us the opportunity to learn to trust God and enables us to see His power at work within our lives.

Vs. 24 ‘ 26 Not one of the enemy survived. The people of Judah spend four days picking up all the booty, treasures and weapons of their invaders. It was more than they could carry. When God fights our battles for us. He destroys the enemy and gives us more blessings than we can fully enjoy.

Vs. 27 ‘ 28 They returned to the city of Jerusalem rejoicing together with music. Music played a role in the Preparation, the Battle itself, and in the Aftermath. Their minds and hearts were filled with songs of praise and adoration for the Lord. Their lives were changed and blessed and filled with joy and celebration. What a triumph is ours to enjoy as well.

Vs. 29 ‘ 30 The surrounding nations took notice and had total respect for God and what He did for Jehoshaphat and Judah. They had peace on all sides. As people see God fight our battles, they will respect Him and know that it was God that changed us. God blesses us with peaceful relationships when we live in compliance to His will.

Vs. 31 ‘ 37 Jehoshaphat formed an alliance with the ungodly King of Israel. He disobeyed God in doing this, and the project they worked on together was destroyed. We cannot form any unholy alliances. The Lord will not bless them. Winning one victory does not mean we can never be defeated. Each day is a new battle. Each day we need to put on our armor. Each day we need to trust God, listen to His direction, and make decisions, which are pleasing in His sight. As we do this, we will continue to walk in victory. When we fail to do so, we will experience defeat.

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED:

1). Trouble and temptation are ever present seeking to destroy us.

2). When testing appears, we should turn to God, pray, listen to His word and teachers.

3). We should arm ourselves with praise and use songs of worship to fight our battles.

4). We can’t fight it alone. We need a community. Remember, we affect the lives of many.

5). We are powerless, but when we put our faith in God and thank Him for His mercies, we will see Him rout our enemies and give us more blessings than we can handle.

6). As we obey God, we will have peace in our relationships; but if we form ungodly alliances, God will not bless them and we will experience defeat.

Many of us struggle with Scripture memory. Many of us fill our minds and bodies with things that are not good for us. What kind of music are we listening to? If you have trouble memorizing scripture, try putting it to music, or just singing praise songs that teach scriptural truths. Jehoshaphat fasted. He didn’t use food or liquor to numb his emotions and deny the reality of the problem. We need to be honest and emotionally expressive about the issues and problems we face. He turned to others; he got the rest he needed; he rose early in the morning; he obeyed the teaching of the Lord. He didn’t try to do it on his own, and he didn’t turn to things that couldn’t help him. He did it the right way and God blessed him for it. You can do it the right way too. You have the tools and the training. The battle is not yours; it is the Lord’s. Now go and do it the right way.

For more help please see Every Man’s Battle.

Battle Strategies for Real Soldiers: Why Accountability Is Important

Dante Poole MA, NCC

“Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)

Accountability. It’s one of the words that bring the same reaction as cod liver oil or enema. You know it’s good for you but it doesn’t feel good. For most men isolation is comfortable and hiding is convenient. We are so use to living in isolation and so use to hiding that the thought of letting others into our sick world causes an adverse reaction. It’s as if we were allergic to being vulnerable, having real connection and living honestly.

When we are driven by fear of exposure, we continue to assume the posture and attitude of Adam that began in the Garden of Eden’hiding and ashamed. All the while God is calling for us. Adam where are you? Why are you hiding? Because God knows the true condition of our hearts He calls us back to Himself through meaningful relationships with other believers. It is through these godly relationships that we begin to experience the love of our Heavenly Father.

God understands the importance of connection. The power and source of sustained victory lies in our willingness to connect with others in the realm of truth. Without this connection our faith in achieving long lasting victory looses its grip and we are left adrift clinging to our old sinful ways of coping with ourselves. It is a dangerous and miserable state to be left to ourselves. A reprobate mind is how the bible describes this state. After many attempts to convince us to do it His way, God allows us to experience life on our own self seeking terms. What a mess we are in when we get everything we desire!

We must make a choice to live life on God’s terms as a soldier or on our own terms as a victim. Being a soldier is much more desirable than playing the victim. There is the potential for spoils, honor, and strength for soldiers. Victims always get the short end of the stick. Playing the victim also means others become our victims and eventually casualties of war.

“One who isolates himself pursues [selfish] desires; he rebels against all sound judgment.” Proverbs 18:1 (HCSB)

A rebel dressed up in victims clothing!

Whenever we choose not to connect with others we rebel against the mandate of community. Once a choice has been made to engage in the Battle for purity as a soldier certain strategies must be utilized as a necessity for survival. One such strategy is accountability. Success in the battle requires, no demands, community. We must choose to fight and fight together!

If this battle were just about managing our sexuality then we would have found a quick easy solution by now. But there is something much more. Much greater than staying away from lustful pleasures of the flesh. There is something about this battle that calls to a place deep within us. At the very core of our being there is a desperate longing to be a man. Ever noticed how men are drawn to movies and activities that involve danger, a damsel in distress and victory to the underdog!

In every man there is a desire to shed his thin skinned boyhood in exchange for thick, leathery manhood; Unashamed and unafraid. Commingled with this desire is a plea to be in the company of other men engaged in the battle. This company provides a place for three things:

A. The challenge to become extraordinary

B. The opportunity to help create change

C. The freedom to develop real connections

This is real accountability. Not some watch dog sent to protect me from myself, but a ‘band of brothers’ who offer refuge, responsibility and respect. It is within the safety of this network that divine surgery takes place transforming wounds into testimonial weaponry.

Joshua said ‘choose you this day whom you will serve’ (Joshua 24:15). I echo his challenge to you. Choose. Either become a soldier and join an army ready to fight or die as an isolated victim. Join a band of men, soldiers even, and learn the art of war. Let them hold you responsible for carrying your load. Let them help you when the load is difficult to bear. Learn to fight in unity with others to keep from dying in isolation.

Live on fellow soldiers, live on!

For help in the battle for integrity see Every Man’s Battle.

Recovery Resistance

Jeffery Baker

There are several behaviors, which sexually compulsive people habitually practice, that make their pathological sexual characteristics resistant to healing. One such unconscious behavior is the isolation practiced in their closest relationships. The need to protect mood-altering sexualization is the same as a cocaine addict hiding their ‘stash’. This can be any type of material, memory, or thought, which is used for inappropriate erotic arousal for escaping the painful life that they have designed.

In addition are the behaviors used to seek out sexual stimuli and recover from the shame based ‘hangovers’.

Isolation hides the true nature of intimate relationships. The confederate is selected for hiswillingness to practice a superficial appearance driven connection. The relationship must focus on its public image. Both addict and the partner mutually and tacitly agree to conceal all the painful shame, anger, and despair caused by lives spinning out of control. The credo of the Saturday Night Live show ‘Looking marvelous is better than being marvelous’ is the marching order of the day. The representation of healthy Christianity is sacrosanct, not the essence.

The result of isolation produces two dysfunctional tenets, which maintain the painful union. The first is replacing intensity for intimacy so the focus becomes the stimulation of the powerful emotions of fear, anger, and eroticism. One can get lost in these strong feelings and never process the content of the problems that are choking the life out of them. The distracting nature of these feelings serves an important purpose which keeps the addiction safe and hidden, and the relational dance intact. The second tenet is the practice of compulsive and obsessive overcontrol instead of a caring emotional connection. The isolation has a ‘no talk, no sharing’ rule which helps keep the separate existence preserved. Power struggles emerge from a climate where two people try to control one another and are obsessed with mistrust and mind reading. This becomes the fodder for all kinds of insane conflict, none of which address the real problem and issues they live with everyday. A caring emotional bond produces security. The overcontrol produces the inability to predict what the other is going to do when they are outside one’s direct grasp. This fact is the basis for many wasted hours of speculation and worry.

Because an emotional and spiritual bond does not unite them, they do not calculate very well how the other will react if they would take the ultimate risk and become honest. A great deal of distorted perceptions grows out of the ignorance that never gets a chance to be checked by the reality test of an actual intimate relationship.

An essential requirement to healing is being emotionally connected and living an open and honest life before God and man. Making this step is daunting for any addict due to the multiple levels of relational change for them and those coupled to them. Often the first level of change comes when a person is ‘busted’ and is faced with consequences that cause terrible shame and anguish. The change begins when one of God’s servants ministers grace and mercy to the busted perpetrator. This powerful supernatural and unnatural exchange between the sexually compulsive person and a true minister of grace begins a slow and developmental process of disclosure. Strangely and spectacularly, isolation and secrets give way to the acceptance and caring bond of confessional and priest. The ensuing battle will be against the established lifestyle and all its potent rewards and the new found freedom discovered in the acknowledgement of sin. The process is life giving but at the same time will feel very threatening.

The opportunity for a human to represent Christ’s love to another eventually leads the recipient to reach upwards to the Great Healer.

This act of hope results in another developmental process of transformation. This will challenge an additional set of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that have kept the enslaved Christian practicing an empty religious front. The religious veneer must fall to expose the true need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Such a process in time will become foundational in their recovery but in the beginning, it will feel intimidating and odd.

While these two levels of change occur another level is clamoring for attention and usually is the most difficult to transform. This is because it involves other people and sometimes a network of people. They invest in things remaining the same but for very different reasons than the addict. They have been involved with the addict because many things about their sick and exterior focused relationship works for them as well. They may find that being open and honest with these people does not result in grace and acceptance but in rejection and shaming.

During this process of change, the addict finds the more he grows in God the more tension it creates with those who resist recovery. This tension must be seen as a gift, because it is through the conflict and how it is managed God can influence change. The vital key is how the addict engages the conflicts and yet builds an emotional bond with those relationships. The final antidote for isolation is the committed emotional bond developed by open honest intimacy with God and man.

For help in the battle for integrity please see Every Man’s Battle.