Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Good vs. Evil

Good vs. Evil
The Ultimate Battle Beyond Our Understanding

“Lights, Camera, Action and Non-Fiction”

The twentieth century was good to evil. Films brought us closer to the ideas of demons and evil possessions and reminded us on all occasions that they were simply “works of fiction”. After all, it makes good story telling to watch a Priest fight a demon, or a father go from good to bad and back to good again after a famous line of “Luke, I’m your father.” Many films made it okay to be evil. You’ve got to remember that in the movies evil never dies. A run through several common horror films will show us that no matter how many times you kill evil, it just keeps coming back and hacking up more victims. Yes, the twentieth century was good to evil.

However, that goodness toward evil goes beyond our films. It extends into real life. It was the twentieth century that saw mass murderers writing books from the insides of their jail cells. It was this century that saw men rise to power, conquer nations, and kill innocent men, women and children in the claim to help the purity of race. The twentieth century saw the fight to maintain segregation, destroy entire populations, and the rise of the nuclear age with the first weapon capable of destroying entire cities and nations from one, lone aircraft. Yes, the twentieth century was good to evil.

While the twentieth century thrived with evil, it also assisted in dulling our senses to the attack of evil. Flip through any number of newscasts and you’ll find that evil deeds outweigh good. Evil draws more crowds. People flock in droves to see horror movies, trials for killers, and accidents or deaths. Evil has effectively pulled a curtain across the people’s eyes that have transversed the twentieth century and crossed over into the twenty-first century. We as a society expect evil to be around the corner waiting on us.

The worst part is not the fact that evil has drawn a curtain across people’s eyes. The worst part is that we have been warned. We have been warned that we would become calloused to such things. No longer do people see the possibility of evil, but instead they see a psychological problem, a social problem, or a need for an individual to have psychoactive medications to assist him with his problems. There are times for medications, there are psychological problems, and there are social problems. However, to cast them all into the same pot is exactly what evil wants. Because once we are blind, evil binds.

“Bible Fiction?”

Most Americans today profess to believe in the Bible. Many of them profess to believe in Jesus. While this is the important step, they begin to differ on their viewpoints of evil or demons or even the prince himself. Many people have decided that the evil spirits do not exist or that they were simply placed in the Bible to “scare” people into being good. But unfortunately, you cannot “pick and choose” the parts of the Bible you will accept. You cannot say, “Oh, I believe in Colossians, but I don’t accept the book of Acts.” To do this, you would need to tear each individual book out of the Bible and divide them into fiction and non-fiction on your bookshelf. It is hard to imagine someone standing at his or her bookshelf and tearing out Revelation and putting it into the fiction section and then taking the letter Jude and putting it into the non-fiction section. However, when we pick and choose what to believe in the Bible, we are effectively doing this.

As a student of scripture, I’ve heard the arguments. There are several claiming that man wrote the Bible and therefore the Bible is in error. Some of the claims even go as far as to claim that Jesus was a fictional character made up to meet the requirements for a Messiah in the Hebrew text. The arguments claim that there is no one around to dispute the facts now and that had the books been written during the lifetimes of Jesus, or in the case of most of the first few books of the Bible, during the lifetime of Moses, then someone would have called them liars.

Let us say for a moment that the argument that no one is around to dispute the history of the Bible holds water. Let us assume that the Bible is simply a collection of stories to scare children into being good. Now, considering that fact, then we must apply the same criteria to all history, as we know it. Look at the list below and you may be surprised at the number of historical events that you can no longer believe in:
*Evolution: theory initiated by Darwin in the 1800’s (discarded)
*Caesar: Leader of Rome, Gallic Wars, lived between 100 and 44B.C. earliest
history 900A.D. (discarded)
* Pliny: Historian died 100 A.D. earliest writings 1000A.D (all discarded)
* William the Conqueror, Conqueror of England builder of castles, first written history 400 years after his death (discarded)

Having accepted the theory that there was no one to dispute the history as the guide for accepting something written as history, then we must discard a great deal of information that is taught as fact. There was no Caesar, no Pliny and therefore no real history as written by Pliny. You can discard all those castles in England, most are attributed to the reign of William the Conqueror. Now we should consider the New Testament alone, in considering the fate of whether Jesus lived or not. Remember, historical calendars have placed Jesus to have been born at 0 and died around 33A.D. For the purpose of this argument, we will not get into the specific year or theory of a different year for Jesus’ birth, but we will accept the year 0 as the time of His birth. So, the New Testament books mount up as follows:

*Mark: book of Bible focusing on Jesus’ life earliest known 60A.D.
*Matthew: book of Bible focusing on Jesus’ life earliest known 70-80A.D.
*Luke: book of Bible focusing on Jesus’ life earliest known late 80A.D.
*John: book of Bible focusing on Jesus’ life earliest known 50A.D. some written as late as 100A.D.

Based on the above review, we can conclude that Jesus must have lived. There are fragments being carbon dated all over the world today that fall within the dates as described above. Children who saw Jesus around the years 25A.D. to 30A.D. could have easily still been alive around 80A.D. to argue or dispute information held in scripture. Had this simply been a fictional story, people would have rebuked it during their lifetime.

Turning once again to history, we must conclude that people will not die for fiction. If the Bible is fiction, focusing on the New Testament in particular, then many early Christians who claimed to have seen Jesus died for a fictional story. Human nature is not that strong. Up to the point of Jesus’ arrest, people had seen Jesus perform great deeds and they had heard him teach fantastic ideas. But they were not willing to die with Him and in fact ran away at His arrest. However, that changed when Jesus rose from the dead. People no longer looked at Jesus as a simple teacher, He was real. People do not die for fiction; they die for truth and the facts of that truth. Therefore, we must conclude that the New Testament is true.

Going further, since everyone seems to accept that Caesar lived and that Pliny’s history can be taught in colleges today, then we must assume that the Old Testament and New Testament are true to their histories. As a side view, those who accept evolution as the way the world was created, might want to consider the older “theory” found in the Old Testament. At least it was closer to the event then the current evolution theory.

“Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Say No Evil?”

So, we have established that the Bible contains truth. If you are a Christian, and you profess to believe the Bible as the truth, then you must accept that evil does exist. You cannot go on some “new age” view that says only good is around and only good will come to those who die. The Bible, the foundation of Christian faith, says beyond a shadow of a doubt that good and evil are in a continual battle. As stated before, the twentieth century did a great deal to pull the curtain over everyone’s eyes. Evil, for its part, would want nothing more than to face a room full of blind Christians.

I’ve also heard the argument that demons are not real from Christians. They site the King James Version that has no word demon from front to back. The King James Version of the Bible does call out the word “evil spirits” and it is true that the word demon is not used. However, demon is a combination of a Latin word meaning “spirit” and a Greek word meaning “power”. Therefore a demon is a “spirit power”. Again, people have put the words together and definitions have come together to add the word “evil” to “spirit power”. We can then see that “evil spirits” as found in the King James Version of the Bible are demons. So, as a Christian and believer in the complete Bible, you have no choice, but to accept the fact that demons do exists.

“Hark, who goes there?”

Now that you know that evil spirits or demons are real, you should know that they plan, plot, and prepare for battle against you, your family, your friends, and in fact your very life. Paul says clearly in Ephesians 6:12 that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” In his letter, Paul clearly instructed people that the battle is not of this world. If we were able to battle demons or evil spirits in this world, we could simply shoot them or send our uniformed army after them. However, demons are not of this world. They are the “powers”, the “rulers of darkness” and the “spiritual wickedness”. Make no mistake; the battle between good and evil is raging today, just as it did in Paul’s time. The true concern comes that we appear to be losing this battle by being blindsided. We have allowed, through the twentieth century, the powers to pull the curtain over our eyes.

No warrior would willingly ever step foot onto a battlefield with a blindfold on. There is no “blindfolded” boxing, or “blindfolded” martial arts tournaments. We want to see our opponents; we want to see the enemy. We want to stare into the enemies’ eyes and prepare for battle. The evil of this world knows this. The evil knows that people want to see what’s coming. People want to be prepared. But if we keep the curtain over our eyes, we won’t be able to see what is coming, and we won’t be prepared.

“’We’re doomed, we’re all doomed’ (Dr. Smith, Lost in Space)”

Removing the veil is difficult and it doesn’t happen overnight. Evil has had an eternity to perfect its battle plan. Most of us have had only our short lifetimes to prepare. Make no mistake, the enemy has planed, he has plotted, he has prepared. He has vast resources, powers beyond your wildest dreams, plans to destroy everything you have, known, or will ever know. The evil of this world is ready, he is waiting to pounce, and he is going to get you. No, make no mistake about the battle. In his mind, you are already his for the taking. He has placed a curtain over your eyes and is at this very moment sneaking up on you to destroy your life.

Many of you are likely ready to turn tail and run. Given the kind of odds you face with evil and his preparation for you, you simply do not have a chance. You’re doomed. But wait, there is a way. You have one chance to fight back, you have one chance to turn the tide, and you have one chance to hold onto everything in your life. The only thing that remains is for you to prepare for the battle ahead.

For a moment, stop reading this. My publisher is likely falling out of his chair at this, but I want you to put this down. That’s right, I want you to stop reading what I have written. I want you to get up, no matter where you are (maybe not if you are driving) and take a walk. Look at the things in your life that are important to you. If you are married, look at your wife, you may have children, watch them for a few moments, or take a look at your home. Look deep, at your job, you bank account, your food, your home, your complete family, your pets, your health, your very life. Look at all the things and people who are important to you. Now, imagine that someone is going to walk in and take all of it away. In a few minutes you will have no family, no kids, no pets, no home, no bank account, no health, and not even your own life. It is all going to be taken away from you. That’s right, gone.

That should have got your attention and hopefully you have returned to this reading now. If you have, you will make my publisher breath a sigh of relief. With your attention on the things and people who are important to you, I’ll going to tell you something. Evil is going to do his best to remove all that from your life. Evil will destroy your marriage, your kids, your pets, your money, your home, your health and if possible your life. Remember, it is prepared for you. It has been around longer and it is, to be honest, far smarter than you are. It knows your weakness. It knows how to get to you, and it is going to use everything it can to grab you and shake you like you have never been shook before.

“’Get up you lousy bum and fight’ (Mickey, Rocky)”

So you have the ultimate problem of figuring out how to fight an enemy whom you cannot see, cannot fight in the physical sense, but who is real and far worse than any enemy you will ever face. You have to be prepared. Unfortunately, you aren’t. You are in no way prepared for the battle that is ahead of you. But, despite all the gloom and doom, there is hope. There is a way around the evil that you can take and then ensure that despite the fact that you have the low ground in the battle, you can still win the war. However, you will not do it alone. You are going to need three very powerful allies in your corner. You must place yourself in the role of a small invaded land with no defense and you must depend on the three super powers to send in their armies and might to defend you.

The super powers that we refer too is the Trinity. The Father, God; the Son, Jesus; and the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, as He is sometimes called. Face the fact, we are weak, pathetic sinners. It the time it has taken you to obtain this to read, start reading, put it down, and come back to it, you have likely committed some sin. If you don’t think so, then run an honest review of your last few days. If you have thought badly about a neighbor, a co-worker, a subordinate at work, a person at school, someone on the road who cut you off, or anyone else for that matter than you have committed a sin. If you have not “loved your neighbor as yourself” then you have committed sin. If you harbor ill thoughts against someone, anyone whether it is a person on the street you meet or the President of the United States, then you have not forgiven. The list of sins can go on, and on, but let us assume that you agree you have committed sin. It is likely by the time you read this, I will have committed several sins. The difference is simple, those under the blood of Jesus, seek forgiveness, try to do better, and admit that they fall very short of the grace of God.

The first of the three super powers that you must solicit to assist you is Jesus. “No man comes to the Father but by me,” Jesus said to his disciples. Therefore, we can know for certain that to get the rest of the super powers on our side, we need Jesus. If you have not done so, you must accept Jesus. You must ask Him to forgive you of your sins and to come into your heart. That is the first step. You will need to ensure that you seek Him, read the New Testament and learn each of the gospel accounts. It is not necessary for you to memorize everything you read, but you should continue your new found truth. If you are already a Christian and believe Jesus, then you have the super powers on your side already.

The second and third super powers come to you when you accept Jesus. Someone once told me that when you accept Jesus then “God is willing to see you now” and it’s true. He is with you, hearing you, helping you, and waiting for the day you will arrive in the kingdom of heaven. Your third super power is someone debated by theologians.

Because the Bible tells us that Jesus promised to send a helper, the disciples had to wait on the Holy Spirit. Paul asked believers if they had received the Holy Spirit. Some churches today teach that when you accept Jesus, then your are automatically filled with the Holy Spirit. There is scriptural truth to this. However, other churches teach that you must seek the Holy Spirit. There is also scriptural truth in that too. Now that you are confused, I’ll try to explain. When you accept Jesus for the first time, you will have a “feeling” of happiness in yourself. You may cry, you may smile, or you may just want to sit alone. Nonetheless, millions of people have been saved and they “joy” they tell others of leads others to Christ. That joy so often talked about by believers is the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches that there are many spirits. It also teaches that there is only one Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is that Holy Spirit and when you accept Jesus, God pushes that Spirit into you. You don’t usually ask for it, it is there. But as we will see later, all spirits want to be feed in their environments. The Spirit of God wants to be glorified, sought after, feed with your praises, you love, and with your adoration for the Son. When you seek after the Holy Spirit, you are feeding Him and in turn He is ensuring you are “filled”. So, when you are saved, the Holy Spirit does come on you. But, you must also seek what Paul calls the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”. That is the filling. When the Holy Spirit baptizes you, He literally washes you from top-to-bottom. He fills you and completes your inner self. Therefore, in a view, both people saying you must seek the Holy Spirit and people saying you have the Holy Spirit when you accept Jesus are right. You have all three super powers on your side. Now you have to decide how to use them.

The fight has only started. Trust that evil knows what you have done. You have robbed the evil one of a soul. When you accepted Jesus, you He sealed the deal. His Holy Spirit is in you, God in heaven is with you, and Jesus is defending you before the throne of God. So you would think the fight is over, but it isn’t. It has only started. Evil may not have you when you die, but it can hurt you while you are alive. When you are not saved, evil has you already. It can make you happy, give you wealth, health, and everything, or it can take it all away from you at a whim. It doesn’t matter because when you don’t have Jesus, you already belong to the evil one. You’re change in the evil one’s pocket, but those who are saved are gold in God’s bank. Evil is no different than any other bank robber. A bank robber doesn’t take money to keep it. He takes money to spend it, to hurt others, to have items and things he wants. It is the same with evil. He can go to the bank and hold it up, take the money, and run, but there is one difference. The money in that bank is already marked. If you rob a bank today, you really can’t keep the money. After all, each bill is numbered and you can bet that the bank knows all the numbers on the money they have. It is the same with God, He knows all the numbers on His money and you are His money. You are His treasure in the bank. But, evil still wants to rob the bank. It knows that no matter what it does with the treasure, God will still get it in the end, but it will do anything it can to distort, hurt, and even destroy that treasure. So be prepared, evil is going to rob the bank. It’s going to take you out, hurt you, test you, and try to destroy you. In the end, it may accomplish its task, but it won’t have your soul, that already belongs to God.

Some Christians have the belief that they can not be influenced or even possessed by evil spirits. I’m not sure where they based this view because the Bible never says that two spirits can not be in a person. In fact, Jesus cast out the “legion” that were many from a man into the swine. Legion means many and since there were many spirits within this man, it is clear that more than one evil spirit can influence or possess a person. I’ve read countless documented reports of Christians having demons or evil spirits cast out of them. However, after the gospel of John, with Acts forward, we see no reports in the Bible of Christians having demons or evil spirits in them. This brings us to “murky” water at best. Whether Christian organizations believe a person can be possessed by an evil sprit and still be a Christian will likely continue to be debated. However, almost all Christians agree, in doctrine at least, that evil spirits can influence Christians. It is after all the battle we face on a daily basis.

There are several forms of evil spirits that can influence a person. The recovered alcoholic is influenced by evil sprits to return to his alcoholic ways. The Christian who has dealt with lust in his or her life will have other battles with lust. It should be no surprise that Jesus was tempted as we are by evil. We know from the Bible that God seeks our adoration, our praise, our love, and our devotion. Jesus asked His disciples, “Do you love me?” Jesus, like the Father, sought people to praise, love, and devote their lives to the Father. So, it should be no surprise that the ultimate temptation by evil was to rule all the kingdoms of the Earth. Jesus, was offered total control of the Earth’s kingdoms. There is no doubt that He would have been adored, worshiped, praised, and loved by those living in those kingdoms. After all, He would have been their king. Jesus faced the evil influence and won. But, even the Bible tells us that the evil went away from Him for “a season”. This “leaving of evil for a season” is the reason the alcoholic faces the battle more than once in his or her life. It is the reason that the person who has faced lust will face it again. It is a Biblical fact that evil will only leave for a season.

The Christian who becomes an alcoholic again, or falls into lust, or falls into greed again after being saved, is not lost. He is influenced, and by some views even possessed, by the evil spirit. Evil may have lost the war when you were saved, but it is still going to ensure that the battle is torture for you.

In 1976, Rocky won the Oscar for best motion picture of the world. It was an honor that would launch a career into high gear for an actor and cause the motion picture industry to launch four more movies based on the fictional character of Rocky. People seeing Rocky for the first time in 1976, must have been surprised when the found out that Rocky lost the fight. The hero was beaten to a pulp by the World Heavyweight Champion, but the hero never gave up. He stayed in the ring until the final bell rung and although he lost the match, he won the war. Rocky became a household name and won the “gold” prize of motion pictures highest award. Everyone knows that in the end Rocky was the true winner. He won a new life, he won the heart of the woman he loved, and he gained fame and influence despite the loss of the match. Christians are no different. Point-for-point you are going to lose the match, but because you have your three super powers on your side, you are going to win the war in the end. In the end, you will win the “gold” prize, only it will be the award from heaven that you win. Even with this knowledge in hand though, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be prepared for the fight. Rocky knew the odds were against him, but he still prepared. You know the odds are against you and you know God will win the battle in the end for you, but you should not go into the ring unprepared. You must prepare for the battle, listen to your super power allies, and give it the best fight you can.

Preparation 101

So you have accepted Jesus, you have your allies and you are ready to go into battle. Not yet you aren’t. You are sealed and ready for heaven, but you still have a ways to go in preparation for the battle.

You have to read, read, read, and when you think you have read all there is, you have to read again. You have to take that little Bible and read everything there is to read in it. You need to read from the creation to the revelation of the last days. But, you need to take it a step further, you need to read and comprehend. Anyone can read the Bible given some basic reading skills and time. You can even set a calendar and read your entire Bible in one year. Unfortunately, some people have the misconception that once they have read the Bible, they are prepared for anything that life throws at them. This can not be further from the truth.

To read is one thing, but to carry that reading to the level of comprehension is another. I can read that God gave his only Son for my sins, but to fully understand what that means, I have to look deeper. I have to comprehend the sacrifice that Jesus made for me through the Passion. I have to come to an understanding that at that moment on the cross when Jesus cried out, “Father why have you forsaken me?” that in essence Jesus have given up everything including the touch of His Father for me. At that moment, God had to turn His back on His Son. That is the most pivotal moment of the entire Passion as we realized that Jesus was never alone until that very moment. That was the moment that He took all sin upon Himself for us. He took so much sin from the past, present, and future that God had to turn His back and ignore His own Son. That is comprehension. That is reading and comprehending what is in the written words.

Mel Gibson’s film recently spawned a turn in film-goers around the nation. People suddenly found themselves confessing to murderous they had committed, people came to Christ, and people around the world changed their views. The reason for these profound changes is comprehension. People had been unable, in our digital age, to comprehend what was written in the Bible, but where they had failed to comprehend the Bible, Mel Gibson’s vision had delivered the Passion story in full scale on a wide screen in a way that no movie buff could ignore. Suddenly the mocking was real, the crown of thorns was real, and the nail holes were real. But there will not always be a Mel Gibson film, as hotly debated as it may be, to help us comprehend the Bible. We must learn to read for comprehension. We must focus on the words of each page, each verse, and each sentence. It is a daunting task, but a task that must be worked on daily in order to prepare you for the enemy. You can bet the enemy knows each page, verse, sentence, and word. He is prepared for you so you had better prepare for him.

I’ve heard the arguments before. “No matter how much I read my Bible, it just doesn’t make sense.” “I don’t have time to read all of it,” “It’s too hard to understand,” and such things as “Why is the old English so hard to understand?” These are all good excuses to set your Bible down and never read it again, that is if we only had a Greek or Hebrew version to start with. But we don’t just have a Greek or Hebrew version. We have the King James, NIV, New King James, New Living Bible, and a thousand more to choose from. We can literally read God’s word in a form that read likes this book you’re reading now. But one thing is common to all the Bibles you will read, they all have a focus of good verses evil.

There are little differences. For example, the King James Version of the Bible does not mention the word “demon”. That is right, you won’t find the word “demon” anywhere in the King James Version of the Bible. However, the New International Version (NIV) has the word “demon” in several places. The difference is that the King James Version uses the words “evil spirit” when referring to demons and the NIV uses the actual word “demon”. This does not make a difference in your preparation. Whether you call them evil spirits or demons, they are real and are part of the Bible. It is that evil that you will prepare for by reading your Bible. The most important step after becoming a Christian is to read the Bible and fill your mind with the words. It won’t happen overnight. You won’t read tonight and be an instant Bible genius in the morning. But, you must stick with a reading plan and you must read the Bible. This is your preparation 101.

“Beyond the Basics”

Once you have started a positive reading adventure of the Bible, you’ll find that it is not only filled with history, examples of how to live and not live, and the directions to salvation, but it is also filled with instructions for gaining a closer relationship with God. Imagine that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and you’ve started reading your Bible and you’re finding all sorts of new things. These things tell you to “pray without ceasing”, put your trust in God, do not fear man, and hundreds of other little instructions. It tells you to love your neighbor and to be forgiving of his or her trespasses against you (it’s there, if you haven’t found it yet, keep reading). What you have is a bridge between yourself and heaven now. It’s up to you how strong that bridge becomes.

Your first bridge is a simple one that Jesus provides. Remember your days of camp or even a commercial for the military where you have people trying to walk a rope bridge. The bridge is passable. It is made of three ropes intertwined with smaller ropes. You have to walk the middle rope while balancing each step with the two upper ropes where you can hang on. The bridge is passable, but there is also a chance you can fall off. That’s what evil wants you to do, fall off. Just like at camp on in a military training, below your bridge is muck, mud, and filth. It’s no different with your bridge to God. Jesus is that bridge, you can reach God by walking your rope bridge. However, it is also easy for you to fall off that bridge. Evil is below, swatting at you, reaching for you, and in general trying to drag you off your bridge. And if it can pull you off the bridge, it knows two important things. Number one, your rope bridge is still there and you can look up follow it’s lead and work your way across the muck to God. But evil also knows number two and it is the more important of the two issues, you won’t be an effective Christian. Your witness will be weak, if it even exist. Your reading of the Bible will slow, if not come to a dust covered end. And your life will have little joy, if any beyond simple little pleasures that may come from time-to-time. See, once you are saved, you’re sealed and evil knows this, but it wants you off that bridge. It wants you to suffer, hurt, cry, and if possible even blame God for your troubles. The rope bridge is yours, it’s there and never leaving once you are sealed, but imagine for a moment how much easier it would be with a larger bridge.

When I first started walking in belief, I fell off my rope bridge more times than I care to count. I fell for evil’s tricks and lures and like a man in the garden, the fruit looked very good too me. I spent a great deal of time in the muck. In fact, evil has never stopped trying to drag me into that muck and mud below. I can’t honestly say that I will never dip into the muck again. I’m human like you. But, I have decided that I want to build a bigger bridge. I want one of those freeway bridges with guard rails, and lights, and dotted lines down the middle. I want one of those bridges that if I fall off, its because I had to work at it. I had to go to the edge, climb the rail, hold onto the light, and jump off into the mud below. When I was a young man in northern Arkansas, I used to drive some of the back roads where bridges were not yet developed. I can remember crossing a creek on one of those gravel roads with no side rails. The bridge was at least twenty feet in the air and made out of lumber. As you drove across it, each board bounced below the car. I always thought it’d be easy for one of the boards to crack and fall through, and indeed some of them did once in a while. In my mind I used to wonder what would happened if several were cracked and fell through. Likely I would plunge the twenty feel or so into the shallow water below. Sometime ago I drove that bridge again and found it had been replaced with asphalt over something (it may be the wood for all I know) and it felt safer. It was simply a better built bridge. I would still have liked a guardrail, but I guess that will come in time. Just like that old bridge, I found that I had to take my rope bridge to God from a basic three rope bridge, to a wooden clapboard bridge, to asphalt, to concrete with guardrails and lights. I feel much safer on my bridge today, just as I do on that bridge crossing that creek some twenty feet in the air.
So, we must go beyond the basics of a rope bridge and find out how to build that stronger bridge. The first step is to seek the filling of the Holy Spirit. When you first became a believer in Christ, He gave you the Holy Spirit. You do not have to seek Him, He is already living in you. However, you do have to seek a filling of the Holy Spirit. If you leave the Holy Spirit to the final blessing in a church meeting, then you will never know the full power that you need to face evil in the life and build your freeway bridge. You must first ask for the Holy Spirit to fill you. Try this prayer below:
“God, I want to thank You for the gift Your Son Jesus Christ has given me. I want to thank You for Your mercy, Your love, and Your guidance. I want to thank Jesus for His sacrifice for my sins, His example, His love, and His guidance. I want to thank You for Your Holy Spirit. I ask that You will fill me with the Holy Spirit until there is such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that others can see Him flowing from me. I humbly ask that You will fill me with the power and might of the Holy Spirit and that He will guide me, lead me, and protect me as I journey for and toward Your great Kingdom.”

It’s a very simple prayer with a very simple request. Remember, at all times you must praise God. Don’t be a Christian who only ask, but remember to praise God. You must praise Him all the time. Even at your lowest point, remember all that God has given you. He has given you the very life in your body. And even if you face overwhelming odds, certain death, and loss of everything, God still has the Kingdom waiting on you. He still loves you, and when you stumble beaten and worn through the gates of His Kingdom, He will still embrace you, mend your wounds, and wipe away your tears. You serve a God who is giving you more than you deserve and even if you lose your life, you can’t lose Him and He won’t lose you.

“Please Don’t Let The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Be A Train”

I once heard someone facing a difficult situation say, “Just when I thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel, it turned out to be a train.” It was almost comical, had it not been the view of so many people today. They come to difficult times and only feel that in the end, the battles they face is nothing compared to the train that is going to “fake” them out and run clean over what’s left. You believe, you read, you pray without ceasing, and you seek the Holy Spirit with all your heart, then suddenly you hear a roar, you see a light, you hear the engine, and you brace yourself. The train is coming and evil is the engineer. There’s horns on the front of the train, there’s demons leaning over the sides, there’s a big red light glowing from the furnace. It’s bearing down on you, about to crush you.

As you face this train, you realize two things. Number one, it’s always been bearing down on you. It’s been coming at you before you were born. Number two, it’s on your bridge and its heading right for you. Now wait just a minute! It’s on your bridge. It’s on the bridge that God gave you to reach Him. You’ve studied your Bible, you’ve prayed, your living a good life, you’re actively seeking the Holy Spirit and maybe have even spoken in tongues or felt that awesome power the Holy Spirit rushes upon you. But now…now you’re facing the train of evil about to run you over. This isn’t right. All this time I’ve told you to accept Jesus, seek God through His Word and Prayer, seek the Holy Spirit and bring His power into your life. You’ve done all that and here comes a crazy looking train on tracks you have tried to avoid.

Well, too bad, you’re doomed. No, just kidding. You know trying to lighten the mood. But I am guessing you didn’t find that too funny because the train is still coming right at you. Okay, here’s the truth. That train is going to keep coming at you. You can cut the rails, step out of the way, even blow it clean off the tracks, but it is still going to keep coming right at you. Evils is going to get back up and come at you again because you are now an official threat. You have gone from being a Christian on a rope that can be knocked off with a good dose of sin, to a Christian who is building a bridge and that is dangerous.

You’re a threat. Let that soak in for a moment. You may be thinking or even looking back and saying, “Wait a minute, you said that evil is ready for me and I can’t win.” You’re right, evil can not be beat alone, but remember that I also said you could win with three powerful allies. God loves you already. You accepted Jesus and opened God’s power box. See, Jesus already defeated evil for you and now the Holy Spirit is living in you and His power in you is growing daily. I guess I should say that you alone are no threat. However, you plus God, plus Jesus, plus the Holy Spirit equals the greatest force in the universe. The Bible tells us that when the devil tempted Jesus and He refused, that the devil went away for a season. This means the devil left Jesus alone for a little while, but it further indicates that the devil was coming back. The devil hit Jesus several times throughout His earthly life. You can expect the same. If you didn’t have God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, you would be no threat. Now that you do, the force living within you is the ultimate threat to the evil.

“’The Force is strong in this one’ (Darth Vader, Star Wars)”

When I first saw Star Wars I had no idea they were preparing to build five more movies around that fantastic space adventure. See, back when I saw it in an old drive in (that’s places where you drive your car in to watch a movie, really) there was no “Episode 4” in the title. The books were named “The Adventures of Luke Skywalker” and everyone was ready for Luke or Han to win Leia’s heart. We had no idea that Darth Vader was Luke’s father or that Leia was Luke’s sister. We didn’t learn that until episodes five and six. But let’s look deeper. The movie could easily be translated into a Christian theme if only we looked at the force as the Holy Spirit.

The ultimate evil in the series was the Emperor. He sought people who were exceptionally strong in the force. He first sought Anakin Skywalker, and then Luke to be his partners. For the Emperor, it was a great accomplishment to turn someone strong in the force away from the good side to the dark side. He did this with Anakin and then wanted to do this with Luke. It was easy to find that the Emperor didn’t care for anyone. After all, he killed his own instructor, let Dooku be killed, and was willing to throw Darth Vader away in exchange for Luke as a new sidekick. The Emperor represented the ultimate evil and that ultimate evil went after those who were strong with the force.

Now, flash out of the movie and see that the real force is the Holy Spirit. The stronger you become with the Holy Spirit, the more evil will see you as a threat. In fact, evil would love nothing more than to tear you down, destroy your dreams and drag you off that bridge you’ve been building. You must resist.

I found it interesting that Luke, in the final movie, took almost a Christian way out. He threw down his conventional weapon and fought the Emperor with something greater. His words were simple, “I won’t join you. I’m a Jedi like my father before me.” That is such a powerful statement in the movie. The example that Luke sets, ultimately wins his father, the wounded Darth Vader, back to the good side of the force. We must do the same thing. We must take the same view when faced with evil’s temptations and threats. We must say, “I won’t join you. I’m a Christian and I below to my Father God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.” In the movie, Luke represented all that the Jedi were. He represented their love of peace, of good, and of honor. In the end, those traits reminded Darth Vader of what he once had and he laid his life down to save his son. The testimony, if you will, of Luke turned someone who had been evil for years back to good. In the end, Luke tells his dying father that he wants to save him and Darth Vader tells Luke that he already has.

Imagine that you face the ultimate evil. Imagine that horrible train is tearing down your bridge toward you. Imagine the demons are laughing at you and taunting you to join them in the muck and the mud. The world is watching you, you’re on the biggest screen of all. Take a breath, look evil directly in the face and say, “I won’t join you, you won’t drag me down. I’m standing up. I belong to God. I belong to Jesus. I belong to the Holy Spirit. I rebuke you in the name of Jesus Christ. Leave in His Holy Name.” When you do this, when you take this awesome stand three things will happen.

The first thing that will happen is simple. You will be left alone for a season because you have evoked the power of your allies. Jesus rebuked the devil and the devil had to leave him for a season. When you tell evil to leave you in the name of Jesus Christ, it has no choice but to leave you. It may try to stay, it may haunt you some, or bother you on its way out, but it will leave.

The second thing that will happen is you will clear your bridge again and build it stronger. You’ll add a new light post or a new coat of paint to the middle lane strip. You get stronger when you stand in faith. It’s funny in a way, faith begets faith. The more faith you show, the stronger your faith becomes. It feeds off o your faith and becomes stronger. You’ll have more confidence, you’ll be happier, and you’ll have a fuller life. You’ll also be a harder target when the new season comes and evil decides to come at you again.

The third thing that will happen is you will set an example. Christians and non-Christians will take notice. Christians will say, “I want to be like that. I want to get that strong in the faith.” Non-Christians will say, “I want what they have. I want that kind of power.” You may find yourself answering questions like, “What do I do to have that kind of power?”, “How can I stand up to the challenges of my life like you do?” or “I want that kind of power in my life, what is the first step?” These are all important questions. By your example, others see Jesus. They see the “force” if you will that is the Holy Spirit pouring out of your life. It’s like a fountain, once that “force” or power has started flowing so much that it flows out of you, others are going to clamor around you cups and attempt to catch it. That’s when you make your move because they will never simply “catch” the power flowing out of you. You must tell them how to take the fight back. You must tell them about the battle between good and evil. You must tell them that they will not win the fight. You must tell them that they are destined to lose the fight and the battle. Then, when all hope is lost, when they truly see how hopeless the battle is, you must tell them that you lose some battles still. You must tell them that even though you lose some battles, you know how to win the war and they can win the war too. Tell them how to think like a strategic general. A good general gathers his strongest allies before going into battle. Although that general may lose a few battles along the way, he knows that with the stronger allies, it’s only a matter of time before good beats the evil and the war is won. Keep your eyes on the prize and fight the good fight, and like Paul, your example will shine.

Gifts for a King

When I get to Heaven, I want to be able to give. There are times on this earth when everyone feels defeat. You may not have enough money, you may not have enough to eat, you may not have enough education, or the best job, or the best family, but you may have treasure in Heaven. The Bible tells us to store up our treasures in Heaven. In the battle between good and evil you will have a chance to store up treasures in Heaven.

You are going to walk a bridge through life with your faith in Jesus Christ. Hopefully it will be a strong bridge and you won’t fall off many times. You’re going to dodge that evil train several times that is going to try to knock you off your bridge. You’re going to fight that good fight. When you get to Heaven you’re going to find your ultimate treasure. You’re going to find souls of people you may have influenced to be saved, you’re going to find a list of your good deeds to others, you’re going to find the people who were saved but helped by your love. These are your treasures in Heaven. Hopefully when the battle is finished and you are called before the throne the medals you receive as a general in the battles (your treasures) will be a great list that takes a long, long time to read out.

Once that list is read, the angels are going to cheer, People are going to cheer, the Holy Spirit, Jesus and God are going to cheer, but you have one final thing in the war to complete. When the allies came home from World War II they handed the peace treaties over to the people. They gave those treaties and honors to the people they had served through the war. Your final act in the war is to give those treasures to their rightful owner. You lay all your treasures at the feet of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. You tell them the truth before Heaven and all witnesses. You tell them that you give this all to them and thank them and praise them for what they have done for you. Remember, without God, you would not have breathed. Without Jesus, you never would have had a bridge. And without the Holy Spirit, you never would have built that bridge for the battle ahead. You owe it all to them. Remember, it is not your glory you are working for, but His. If you keep this goal in mind and make this your aim, you will win the fight between good and evil. You will have treasure worth all the kingdoms of the world and more to give to your King. May God always bless you.

End Notes

Lost in Space and characters associated with the movie is copyrighted and trade marked by Muze Inc. and Muze UK Ltd.

Rocky and characters associated with the movie is copyrighted and trade marked by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Star Wars and characters associated with the movie is copyrighted and trade marked by Lucasfilm Ltd.

The Holy Bible is copyrighted by God.

©2005 Clinton Thomas, Th.D.