waging war

Posted: December 1st, 2011 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , | 12 Comments »

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back,… -Revelation 12:7

We know the war, we feel it in our bellies. Some will say, “Go easy, you’re treading dangerous ground.’ I say, “I will not go easy because I know the ground on which I tread.”

Some want things to be less controversial. The Gospel is controversial. They want the message to be easier to take. The Gospel wears a person out. It’s hard for the brain to stretch for the fit.

The war doesn’t rest. Coddling the status quo is a win for the other team.

Peace between good and evil is an impossibility; the very pretence of it would, in fact, be the triumph of the powers of darkness. -Charles Spurgeon

These things aren’t said to echo for no end. These things are said to wake them up, those who want to nurse at a breast instead of pick up a sword. If it hits home, then do something about it. It’s uncomfortable because it makes religious busy work look like kindergarten finger paintings. Countless broken people are out there and they need to know what has been done on their behalf.

The mother bird pushes her babies out of the comfortable nest to make them fly, not to kill them.

What would you say to the baby bird who clings to the nest and curses the mother? What kind of world would we live in if birds did not fly? They would be trampled by their predator.

What kind of people use His name, but do not know His voice?

“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ -Luke 13:24-27

The ‘narrow door’ is Jesus. It’s so narrow that you cannot fit through it. You can do a lot of work in His name. You can eat and drink in His presence. You can hear His teaching your whole life. You can do all of these things and still not know Him. He’ll say that He doesn’t know from where you come. “Workers of evil.”

Softening this message is like censoring the Cross. Too many people are in their own personal hell and a censored message can’t compare.

A few years ago I was driving home from a Bible Study I taught at my church. A woman in attendance took issue with some things that I taught. I was praying and asked God, “How do I explain you to them?” I was having a hard time because I know what the message sounds like. His response was, “Don’t apologize for me.”

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” -Jesus, Matthew 10:34

A storm rages around an off-course ship. Are you a ‘beacon’ on the shore or are you the storm? A traveler chased a mirage into a scorching desert. Are you a well-keeper or are you a vulture waiting for your next meal? A soldier is wounded on the battle field. Are you going to drag him to the Healer or are you going to finish the enemy’s work with your bayonet?

The sailor finds the beacon only to not be dry enough for the lighthouse keeper’s fancy rug. The parched traveler finds the well only to be too thirsty for the stingy well-keeper. The soldier is too hurt to get out of the way while the others march past him.

Teach the sailor to be a lighthouse keeper, he knows the storm better than anyone. Teach the traveler how to draw from the well. Living Water never runs dry. Help those who fall on your path. They’ll be there to help you when you fall later.

The Gospel is divisive and can’t be divided. It’s divisive in the way the Sword divides flesh from Spirit. It can’t be divided because if you water it down, no one will recognize it. It becomes religious fluff.

“…when we preach the Gospel to every creature, the Gospel makes its own division and Christ’s sheep hear His voice and follow Him.”-Charles Spurgeon, Too Little for the Lamb



12 Comments on “waging war”

  1. 1 melissa newell said at 1:35 pm on December 1st, 2011:

    Again, your writing is full of passion. I love this post and sharing it on my FB page 8)

  2. 2 serenawoods said at 3:23 pm on December 1st, 2011:

    Thanks, Melissa. 🙂

  3. 3 Jared Gryce said at 1:51 pm on December 1st, 2011:

    It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.
    C. S. Lewis


  4. 4 serenawoods said at 3:24 pm on December 1st, 2011:

    I love that. 🙂

  5. 5 Jared Gryce said at 3:33 pm on December 1st, 2011:

    Hey Serena, I just read your article about an hour ago and I am honestly plagued with confusion as to the true meaning behind Luke 13:24-27, and I was hoping you could be the Windex I need to clear up this ignorance I am experiencing. Is this verse suggesting that salvation is not based on belief alone but trying harder and pursing more of him as well? What about people who don’t pursue fervently? Are they hell bound? How do verses like these fit in with the Grace of God that suggests that it not the strength of our efforts or faith, but solely the object of our faith and efforts. Thanks! You are an incredible blessing in my life!

  6. 6 serenawoods said at 4:51 pm on December 1st, 2011:

    No, I don’t believe it’s about trying harder. It’s about the struggle of faith. People have a very hard time with accepting the sovereignty of God (it eliminates their control), they have a hard time believing that Jesus came first in God’s plan for humanity (it creates too many uncomfortable questions about sin), and they can’t figure out the ‘we have free will, but God is in control’ paradox. The truth, Jared, can really mess with people. If you are too scared of it, then you’ll settle for an alternate ‘gospel’ and find enough people who agree with you to make you feel good about it. But, these people still ache. They know there is something more and are unable to tap into it. Like sticking a fish in a plastic bag of water and throwing into the ocean. He’s supposed to be there, but can’t feel the freedom. Most can’t talk about it because people will think something is wrong with his faith. Suffocating in plain site.

    (I hope my typing isn’t filled with mistakes, I’m typing on my phone)

    Those who can find a way out of their plastic bubble find out pretty quickly that things are not as they seem, not entirely as they’ve been portrayed and it’s more amazing than you can easily articulate. People (old friends) still in the bubbles will worry about them. People they respect won’t always get it. It’s becomes a personal journey, not always lonely, never sad, but intense and geniusly personalized. They lose a lot of themselves along the way and have to endure others when they say something is wrong with them.

    Look at the scripture again. Does it make more sense now?

  7. 7 Jared Gryce said at 12:00 am on December 2nd, 2011:

    I see what you are saying and I completely agree. I was a Pharisee, a legalist – of the worst kind too. Part of my healing involved me not striving, i.e.: Stop playing the elder brother in the story of the prodigal son, stop thinking I’m not as lost as the irreligious and stop thinking my good works will give favour and God will therefore accept a broken turd like me. I found a lot of freedom in being free of that “bubble”. So when I hear the word of God saying, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able”, I turn my head sideways like a confused dog. I’ve talked to God and asked him, “You’ve freed me from the tyranny of the law by not striving to do anything, but to just be (that’s hard for an intense dude), and then I read this verse in Luke about striving? God! What is going on?” Part of me feels I need to rewind through my theology to make sure I have this grace thing right. I’m confused to the nines!

  8. 8 Tawni said at 10:39 am on December 2nd, 2011:

    I think that Serena is pointing out that the narrow door is Jesus–it is faith in Him–not about doing something or being more of something to get through to Jesus. It's a matter of your heart. If you are all about the doing and not about the believing then you miss the boat. God will not know you because your heart was empty. I think this verse is a reminder to keep our hearts in check. It's easy to get lost in the task. The striving comes from having to make a conscious effort to admonish the flesh, the thing that comes so naturally to us humans, and to push towards faith and keeping Jesus in the center of all that we do and say. That is what I strive for in my personal life. Without that foundation, everything else is meaningless.

  9. 9 serenawoods said at 2:05 pm on December 2nd, 2011:

    Tawni, yes!

  10. 10 Jared Gryce said at 4:31 pm on December 2nd, 2011:

    The Message says it like this: 23-25A bystander said, "Master, will only a few be saved?"

    He said, "Whether few or many is none of your business. Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires your total attention. A lot of you are going to assume that you'll sit down to God's salvation banquet just because you've been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you're going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you'll find the door locked and the Master saying, 'Sorry, you're not on my guest list.'

    26-27"You'll protest, 'But we've known you all our lives!' only to be interrupted with his abrupt, 'Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing. You don't know the first thing about me.'

    I think this verse helped me to understand that I have a part to play with the effort I use to get close to him. Jesus is indeed demanding we DO something (the hard work of being in him). It really does suggest effort and I always believed effort is not required. I personally don't make an effort to get close to God because I never had to, it was more of a response. Well, if I am putting effort into being with God then it certainly doesn't feel that way. I was of the mind that I'm in the lambs book of life so I'm going to enjoy the grace and chill out. That's why the verse stumps me. The whole striving and doing things to be in Christ… I hope that makes sense.

  11. 11 Jason said at 3:40 pm on December 1st, 2011:

    Just when I think your writing can't get any stronger, you raise the bar yet again.

    I've had to really explore this theme over the past year. People I know who say they love Jesus compromise the Gospel for the sake of "getting along" with people who don't know Him. They don't want to "offend" anyone and when push comes to shove they either make excuses for God's word or simply agree with the world's position regardless of it's conflict with God.

    But that Spurgeon quote hammers it home. So many are equating "grace" with "peace." If you stand for anything that might offend someone, then you're not showing "grace." If that confusion continues and grows within the church, we're going to be in real trouble.
    My recent post Day 334: When the million dollar preacher tells you to hang on

  12. 12 serenawoods said at 7:56 pm on December 1st, 2011:

    Thanks, Jason. 🙂

    “If that confusion continues and grows within the church, we’re going to be in real trouble.”

    I think there is a huge misunderstanding about what grace is, first of all. I would have to blame that on the loss of Jesus as the focus. I have learned in my few years of writing and having these conversations that people don’t really understand Jesus. They feel like they understand Christianity, but not Jesus. He gets them in, then…. He’s forgotten. It makes me sad and frustrated and determined.

    Check this video out:

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