Monday, October 18, 2010

Through my Kitchen Window

Angels and Demons Part 2

Demons around us / How to fight spiritual battles

The hospital where my parents worked while in Nigeria was within walking distance of our house. Both of my parents worked since my mother was a nurse as well. On clear days, they walked to and from work. One evening as my parents approached our house while walking home, my father spied something on our front steps. He stopped in his tracks and told my mother to stop as well. There before them on the top step was juju.

Juju was the African form of a curse. The juju on our steps consisted of some African beads along with the bones of a small animal mixed in a clod of dirt with blood, feathers, and feces. Someone had placed a curse on our home! The juju gave my father cause for concern. As he stood still pondering the situation, my mother walked up to the juju and kicked it off of our steps. It broke into pieces as it hit the ground below.

My father was taken back by my mom’s actions. But she looked him directly in the eyes and said emphatically, “Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world! Because of Jesus’ blood shed on the cross for me, I can kick juju right off of my doorstep!”

Fighting Spiritual Battles:

When my mother kicked the juju off of our doorstep, she was employing one of the rules for fighting spiritual battles. These rules include:

1) Know your position.
This is the rule my mother was applying. We serve an awesome God! He has overcome the enemy. He defeated him at the cross. We are on the winning side of the battle. Romans 8:37 tells us, “But in all things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

2) Know the battle you are fighting.
“Our struggle is not with flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, NAS)

3) Arm yourself for battle.
Put on the full armor of God; gird your loins with truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword which is the word of God, and shod your feet with the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:13-17)

4) Stay focused.
According to Hebrews 11:27, Abraham did not fear the king’s anger and was able to persevere because he “saw Him who was invisible”. Who is the invisible one that we are to stay focused on if we are to successfully fight spiritual battles? 1st Timothy1:17 identifies Him as, “…the King Eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God.” (NIV)

5) Fight like the Bible demonstrates.
There are numerous examples of spiritual battles in the Bible. Complying with this “rule” requires a continuous study of God’s word. Two particular examples of spiritual battles come to my mind.
The first can be found in Jude 1:9. This rather unusual verse says, “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" (NIV) Be cognizant of this verse. Like Michael, we too should rely only on the Lord’s power and not our own; but also like Michael, we can call upon the Lord - the only God, the invisible One, King Eternal – to rebuke the enemy for us as well.
The second example is found in Revelation 12:11. This verse is the single best verse for understanding what it takes to fight and win a spiritual battle. It says, “They overcame him (the great dragon, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world, according to Revelation 12:9, NIV) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Through My Kitchen Window

Angels and Demons - Part 1

It’s October – the month when people think of scary, haunting things. So, in keeping with the season, I am posting a two part blog about strange happenings.

Angel Encounter – or was it a dream?

Life for a foreign missionary can be quite challenging. During a particularly difficult time in his mission career, my father grew discouraged to the point of questioning his effectiveness as a missionary. One night, he received an unusual phone call. We had phone service in Nigeria. It was not what one might be accustomed to in the US, but it was phone service of a sort. Our service only connected the missionary houses to each other and to the hospital. An operator at the hospital worked a switch board which allowed Doctors like my father to be reached at home in the case of an emergency.

This particular night, the phone beside my parent’s bed rang and my father answered. But the voice on the other end of the phone was not the hospital operator; it was my grandmother, my father’s deceased mother. The conversation went like this:

“Ma! Is that you??!!”

“Yes, it’s me.”

“Ma! How are you calling me? You are dead!”

“I know, but sometimes God allows us to reach across the gulf to help those we love when they are in need. God has given me permission to call you and to tell you to hold on to Christ.”

Hold on to Christ

This statement had special meaning to my father. When he was a child he had heard the story of Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma, suspended in a well. He had been hoisted up by his thumbs and suspended for hours at a time that way. (I tried to research this fact and only found a passing reference to it in an article by Dr. Jack Van Impe called, “The Judgment Seat of Christ”)

As my father remembered the story, during the time Adoniram Judson was suspended by his thumbs, his wife, Ann stood vigil over him. He cried out to her, complaining that he felt like he was falling. He could not grip the rope tied to his thumbs so he had nothing to hold on to. Ann encouraged him to, “Hold on to Christ.” This story made a huge impression on my father as a child. And now in his own personal struggle, his mother was calling him from heaven to remind him to “Hold on to Christ!”

He asked his mother what heaven was like but she said she was not allowed to tell him that. He kept asking her anyway. Finally, she said, “Heaven is more wonderful than you can ever imagine, but I did not call to tell you about that. I called to tell you to hold on to Christ!”

Then her voice fell silent. My father found himself sitting on the side of his bed with the telephone in his hand. Was this an angel or a dream? It was characteristically different from most dreams in some specific ways. It was oriented to reality where as dreams are often abstract from reality. In this “dream” my father immediately told his mother, “Ma, you are dead.” and she agreed saying, “Yes, I am.” In addition, my father was a physician. He received calls in the middle of the night on a regular basis. He had learned to quickly become awake and alert enough to make decisions about patient’s care – sometimes life and death decisions.

So, was it a dream or an angel? Or was it actually my grandmother reaching across the gulf as she said? We may never know the answers to these questions until we are in heaven. But whatever it was, God sent it for His purposes – to encourage my discouraged father in his work.