Tag Archives: spiritual warfare

Zero Toleration of Racism or Regionalism for God’s Family


Differently the same“ . . . For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,

–Ephesians 2:14 NIV

With the increase of immigrants–legal and illegal–into our nation, with the spread of Neo-Nazism, vigilantism, and the rise of separatist churches, the body of Christ needs to address racism.  Not that there is anything wrong with having national borders. God himself established nations and borders.

   “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” (Deuteronomy 32:8, ESV)

But the discerning see Satan moving–in the upswing of Neo-Nazis and skinhead racist activities and in the south in black churches where white people are not welcome and in white churches where black believers are unwelcome.  We see him at work spitting in the face of a Mexican migrant in Texas. As a result, we must be thoughtful about how WE–the Family of God–will respond, when Puerto Ricans, Chinese,  Mexicans, Liberians, or African-Americans begin to attend our lifegroups, worship, and Celebrations.

One Blood

Have you come to realize that, as believers, we no longer are to consider Hispanic, Latino, African-American, or Caucasian blood?  Instead, we see only the blood of Jesus that has reconciled our lives through His blood shed for us and has joined us  to one another through salvation, symbolized as we partake together at the Lord’s Table. So that we are of one blood in the body of Christ. The wall of partition has been broken down.  What a profound thought.

The text above tells us that Christ has “destroyed the barrier.” That is, the barrier in our hearts against others.

When we of many colors and backgrounds gather around the cup of the Lord, we proclaim His death for us all and “drink His blood” (symbolically). In that blood, the nations have been reconciled into ONE family, ONE nation, ONE household in Christ Jesus. You and I are no longer separated by blood. We belong to Him and to one another. Here is no room for prejudice or retribution, anger or vengeance, only thanks-giving.

Zero Toleration In the Churches

In the churches, Father-God wants to bring people from all the Nations into our midst.  We must not tolerate racism or regionalism in ourselves. Your growth in spiritual life requires that you begin to see from God’s perspective (2 Cor. 5:15-16).  You are not your own, you’ve been joined to a new community, a new family (Eph. 2:19-22), a family of the nations.

God wants you to see other born-again Christians as a part of your very own body (1 Cor. 12), no matter what their color or national origin.  As for our enemies, we are to learn to love those who oppose us. As a matter of fact, who do you have more in common with: your white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant neighbor, who bullies his wife and kids, drinks until drunk, and shouts profanities out his window until 2am, or a born-again, Spirit-filled Iraqi or Iranian? In Christ, there is no room for racism.

Are You Connected to Him?

Let’s remember that the precious shedding of Jesus’ blood, connected you to God and to His children . . . ALL His children.  Your future is a life in community, not as white or black or yellow, but as an obedient disciple and a child of a multicultural Family.  Blood counts, but only the Blood of Jesus.  Join me in creating a welcoming, Kingdom-fellowship, the Oikos (household) of God to the Nations (Eph.2:19).

The Real Warfare is Spiritual


Human beings live in an active spiritual war zone. All humans live on enemy held territory. How did this happen?

First, a quick word about “Dualism” so that you do not get confused. Dualism is the view that two equal but opposite intelligent, uncreated powers inhabit our universe and war against one another. In Dualism, one power is good and one equal power is bad. They have been opposed throughout eternity and neither has won. Here and there they have a loss and then a victory over the other. Some people choose the good power and some choose the evil. Though some untaught people believe that this is what Christianity believes, it does not. Dualism is completely foreign and contrary to biblical Christianity.

The biblical Christian knows that the two powers that war against one another are nowhere near equal. One is Creator. That would be God. The other is a created being. That would be satan or the devil (not the cultural devil of red union-suit, pitchfork. horns, and tail fame). Satan was created for a purpose which he chose to abandon. He is far below God in power, authority, and ability. He rebelled against God and drew other angelic powers after himself. They warred in heaven against God’s loyal powers.

The spirit-dimensional beings that fell in rebellion are now demons. Demonic powers are mainly disembodied, though they seek human habitation and animate some humans. Demonized humans are willingly and/or unknowingly used by these powers to wage war both on those who do not serve their cause and on those in fellowship with Christ.

Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul wrote of these supernatural beings:

Ephesians 6:10–13 (ESV)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 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.

We realize that the jihadists are animated by demonic powers. So the real war is against spiritual forces. Only those who are equipped to wage war spiritually will be victorious. The majority of people are clueless. Most of them have allied with Satan. A few serve the true and only King.

Jesus said:

Matthew 7:13–14 (ESV)

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

In the excellent 2012 movie, “Act of Valor,” one of the Navy Seals presents a toast to his Seal team as they are gathered informally around a fire the night before their deployment. He lifts his glass and says, “To all those who have been downrange. To us and those like us . . . damn few.”

Genuine followers of Jesus Christ, who understand their calling to displace demonic evil,  have been “downrange” in the spiritual warfare. And we are precious few.

I have seen the joy in the face of a woman who was delivered from a demon. Before her deliverance, the demonic spirit caused her eyes to roll back in her head and her body to go stiff as a plank. I have seen the result when I confronted a violent man bent on attacking me. In Jesus’ name, I commanded the violent spirit controlling him to be bound. He and his friend turned from me and couldn’t leave the scene fast enough. The terror of Christ filled them and overpowered that violent spirit animating them. I’ll never forget the look of fear on their faces.

Like it or not, this warfare is real. And we believers have not only authority but the assignment and responsibility to confront and displace demonic powers by the authority of Christ. We are sons of the Kingdom—the “sons of God.” We are with Jesus and we gather with him.

Luke 11:23 (ESV)

23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Revelation 6:15–17 (ESV)

15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Christ, the Lamb of God, will destroy Satan and all the demons that currently traffic with humans. To destroy Satan and his powers is to destroy the spirit of murder and terror.

This is the war we fight. Our spiritual battle is not against people, but against the spirits that animate them and use them to champion evil until Christ returns. We have authority over these demonic beings only because Christ gave it to us (Luke 10.19). It is our assignment to crush them through intercession and the command of Christ as we stand in our authority to displace darkness and the demonic:

Luke 10:17–24, ESV

     The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Followers of Jesus, do not give up. Fight the good fight of the faith  You will be victorious. For nothing can succeed against the Church–the body of Christ. We will sit enthroned with Christ to pass judgment on these beings and send them to their final and ultimate eternal destruction. In Christ we have the victory!

© 2013, David C Alves

Sabbatical: The Missing Link for Churches and Pastor – 4


Part 4 of 4Read Part 1 first

How effective are sabbaticals for pastors?

That depends upon three factors:

  1. Are the pastor & church committed to God’s perspective of Sabbath rest? Some pastors will have to be convinced that they need a sabbatical, especially those who are extreme people-pleasers and Type A’s who push themselves and everyone around them. They need to be loved enough to be held accountable by those who love them.
  2. Are the pastor & church properly prepared? Unless BOTH pastor and church prepare and plan, the sabbatical will not be effective. It could even be a waste of time, money, and resources. The pastor must prepare. The fellowship must prepare.
    1. Pre-sabbatical planning
    2. Post-sabbatical celebration

Because preparation differs for church and pastor, I have split them in two documents which will be available shortly. The titles are “A Sabbatical Primer for the Church” and “A Sabbatical Primer for the Pastor.” Church or pastor can download them from the Maranatha Conference website: MCACC.net [http://mcacc.net/]

3. Are the pastor & church in agreement about the terms?

A. Is the length of time adequate for replenishment and refreshment?

B. Will everyone involved help the pastor to not be in the loop while on sabbatical? Calling in to see how the recent board meeting went is NOT being faithful to the trust of the church. Nor is informing the pastor that Mr. Jones decided to quit because the pastor went on sabbatical. Other leadership (local, conference, or regional) can be called upon and can handle church issues in the pastor’s absence.

CONCLUSION

The problem facing churches and pastors in the 21st Century is complex and widespread, but the solution is simple. If you read and act upon the content of this article, it will positively impact you for increased Kingdom effectiveness and spiritual longevity. By caring for the shepherds, you care for yourselves. Healthy pastors lead healthy churches. By embracing the value of “Sabbath,” both pastors and churches will fulfill their callings, honor Christ, and leave a legacy worthy of God.

Related Reading:

This is the end of a 4 part series. Please share the series with others.

©2012, David C Alves  All rights reserved.

First published by permission in The Witness, Winter 2012 by Advent Christian General Conference USA.

Sabbatical: The Missing Link for Churches and Pastor – 3


Part 3 of 4Read Part 1 first

What can we do to stem the tide?

–understand the nature of ministry

Ministry is like no other job on the face of the planet. Why? Because it’s not a job! It’s a vocation–a calling. God gives to the church gifts of men (Eph. 4.11ff). These people-gifts who hold offices in the body of Christ carry weights like no other vocation. Period.

What kinds of consideration and compensation should a person receive who:

  • Is on call 24/7.
  • Is the front line for personal tragedy
  • Sees the worst and best of life. Has to bury a child in the morning and be joyful with the newlyweds in the afternoon.
  • Has to study and prepare teaching and messages to equip God’s people
  • Has to protect his family and flock from the spiritual attacks of a supernatural being set upon destroying and ravishing men, women, and children.
  • Walk point against that enemy himself

–demonstrate Appreciation

One solution proposed by Focus on the Family is a congregation’s annual participation in Clergy Appreciation Month, and a habit of affirmation throughout the year.

Pasted from <http://www.parsonage.org/faq/A000000541.cfm>

We just came through annual Pastor Appreciation Month—October. What did you or your church do to demonstrate how much you value the life and love of your pastor(s)? Showing your love in a tangible way honors Christ and your pastoral leaders.

–a Sabbatical

A sabbatical can be the missing link for your church and your pastor. God meant for us to rest from our labor. The sabbatical is not just for church leaders anymore, but it certainly should be practiced by our churches and leaders.

Many resources abound in our age of books, internet, and information. These suggestions may prove helpful:

  • Simply Google “sabbatical” and see what you come up with.
  • Assign someone from the church to thoroughly research what’s available. Beginning with this issue of The Witness, begin to read about how a sabbatical might just meet the needs of your church and leaders.
  • Read some of the suggested materials found at the end of this article
  • Go to the Maranatha Website/Blog and see what you can find there. We’re always adding sabbatical resources.

–a policy of refueling.

“Come Away: Jesus Calls His Sent Ones to Time Alone With Him.”

Even Jesus recognized this and retired often to places in the wilderness or to fishing with friends. He valued and modeled rest and solitude.

Churches can realize that pastors need time to refuel and replenish. Then develop a policy. Answer questions like:

  • How often should we send our pastor on sabbatical? [some say every 5 years, others every 7]
  • How long should a sabbatical be? [in most cases, 3-6 months is sufficient. Any may be time away, but is NOT a sabbatical]
  • What resources will we contribute? What other resources are available?
  • What are our plans for our pastoral staff as they near retirement age? What is that age to be in our church and culture? Is retirement mandatory at our church or is it indefinite? Are we willing to lighten the load of aging pastors rather than relegate them to an old age home (assuming they can afford one)
  • What would honor Jesus in the way we honor our leadership?

–release pastors to fulfill Christ’s expectations, not ours.

The pastor is God’s called, anointed gift to equip the church. Forget this, and you can forget Kingdom effectiveness. You may have a thriving, huge church, but it has no authority or lasting Kingdom fruit unless Jesus has assigned the leaders. The pastor/elder is not an employee of an organization–easily replaceable by calling the seminary or bible college. Where would the church have gone to get a Paul or a Barnabus? What would the job description and pay have been? Who would have evaluated their ministries? Who would have presumed to give them their marching orders and told them what was expected of them? Ridiculous! Yet the church (as an organization) has lost its moorings and has the wrong-headed notion that the Pastor is the manager of the company.

Perhaps requiring pastors to fulfill our varied and often misinformed expectations instead of Christ’s is another reason so many churches are failing and closing across all denominations and among other associations.

Part 4 of 4 in a couple of days.

©2012, David C Alves  All rights reserved.

First published by permission in The Witness, Winter 2012 by Advent Christian General Conference USA.

Sabbatical: The Missing Link for Churches and Pastor – 2


Part 2 of 4Read Part 1 first

How many pastors are leaving the ministry annually?

Info from Focus on the Family, Ministries Today, Charisma Magazine, TNT Ministries, and other respected groups [reported at http://djchuang.com] found:

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America. [emphasis mine]
  • 7,000 churches close each year in America.

Reported from <http://djchuang.com/2010/churches-closing-and-pastors-leaving/>

90% of the minister’s report they feel inadequately trained to meet the demands of the ministry, 70% report having a lower self-image now than when they first started and 50% of the ministers will not even last 5 years!

Pasted from <http://pastoralcareinc.com/MR/Books/EBooks.php>

These figures are staggering. Perhaps one or two or twenty pastors may have neglected their spiritual life in order to be there for everyone else. Or perhaps they have misplaced priorities, but 1,500 a month!?  Fifty percent of ministers will not make it past 5 years? WOW!

What are the blockbuster-issues affecting pastors today?

I believe that the following factors contribute directly or indirectly to the statistics which we’ve just read.

–a decline in respect and appreciation.

According to one survey, the occupation of pastor ranks near the bottom of the most-respected professions, just above “car salesman.”

Reported from <http://pastoralcareinc.com/MR/Books/EBooks.php>

Some congregations view their pastors as hired employees or hired hands. Such a view is simply unbiblical and dishonoring to Christ, who gives pastors to the church.

As one source said, “the congregation wrongly believes that it is the pastor’s job to evangelize the community and pull the strays back in.”

Reported from <http://djchuang.com/2010/churches-closing-and-pastors-leaving/>

In reality, according to Ephesians, pastors hold one of the five-fold offices in the church. Theirs is a calling, a vocation, and they are not expendable. They are gifts to the Bride from Jesus himself. They are to be honored and valued.

–long hours and “battle fatigue” leading to exhaustion

Some in the church believe that a leader walking in the Holy Spirit, and in dependence upon Jesus, will never tire or be worn out. Of course this view is short-sighted and ill-informed. But these super-spiritual church members apply simplistic answers to complex conditions.  Then they err again by plucking biblical verses out of context without taking into account the whole counsel of Scripture.

They really have no idea the intensity of spiritual warfare and burden many pastoral couples labor under. Some pastoral leaders don’t even recognize the source of their distress.

Focus on the Family’s resident Pastor’s pastor, H.B. London, said recently:

“Many well-meaning Christians in their congregations ignored the signs of “battle fatigue.” Instead, congregations overwhelmed my pastor friends with unrealistic expectations, negative criticism and misplaced anger. Some congregations even assumed the perfect pastor was “out there,” so their fallible pastor was terminated.”

http://www.parsonage.org/faq/A000000541.cfm

Is termination a valid choice for our war-weary troops on the battle front in Afghanistan or Iraq? Those who have withstood the frontal assaults in battle are moved for a time to the rear to recover and retool before redeploying again to the front. Why would we expose those who watch over our souls to years of intense ministry without much more than a few weeks of vacation a year? School teachers get the entire summer off annually. Pastors, elders, and other spiritual leaders operating in modern culture are under so much more than their predecessors of earlier times. But even in those earlier times, spiritual fatigue and exhaustion took its toll.

Jesus knew what it was to be weary. The Apostle Paul understood the weight of ministry and spiritual concern–compassion fatigue is real. Exhaustion is the body responding to the load of spiritual warfare and pastoral care. God constructed our bodies for a slower pace than modern life dishes out.

–low pay

Have you ever considered whether you could go through years of preparation for ministry, years of schooling and graduate studies (if a M.Div. is required for ordination as it is in most denominations) and survive on what the average local church pays its pastor?

It is estimated that about 75% of all ministers live close to the poverty level. . . Many expect the pastor and his/her family to have a higher set of standards than they [themselves] do and unfortunately, having [sic]to “live by faith” more in providing for their provision.

Reported from <http://pastoralcareinc.com/MR/Books/EBooks.php>

Pastors are intentionally and unintentionally kept poor. Very few at the same level of education, experience, and responsibility would work for what the pastor receives. And once the pastor’s effectiveness has been drained, the church simply replaces the pastoral family without much more thought, never mind a substantial severance package. Some church goers feel that the pastor who buys into the modern ideas of 401K’s, severance packages, and housing allowances is unspiritual. These folks argue that the early apostles and Jesus didn’t have any of these things so why should their pastor? But how many of them hold that same standard for themselves?

Perhaps we reap in our lives spiritually what we sow into our leaders’ lives financially (cf. 1 Cor. 9:14; Gal. 6.6; 1 Tim. 5.17-18; esp. Lk. 6:38). Greediness is never applauded by God. Nor is it one of his attributes. Generosity and a giving spirit is what He demonstrates and expects from us, especially toward those men and women whom God has given to the churches. We are never rewarded for keeping our leaders poor.

Part 3 of 4 in a couple of days.

©2012, David C Alves  All rights reserved.

First published by permission in The Witness, Winter 2012 by Advent Christian General Conference USA.

The Real Book Spy

Full coverage of all your favorite thriller authors, and their characters, unlike anywhere else on the web! 

WordPress.com Apps

Apps for any screen

CA Feeney

Random reflections, wanderings, and ponderings..

Christian House Sitters

Posts about House Sitting, Our charity work and general articles of interest. Lots of variety.

jeannie's Cross Road

Stuck in the Muck of life? Be “Free to Walk” God’s Purpose and Plan for Your Life! www.crossroadschristianlifecoaching.com

%d bloggers like this: