Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Presence-Driven Church Is Minimalist

(Cancun - 2/25/19)

Pastors should do two things.

First, they should focus on their own ongoing connectedness to Jesus. They should live the abiding life.

Second, they should teach their people how to do this, how to be branches living in connection with Jesus, the Vine.

As you and your people do this, discernment will come. Your lives will bear much fruit.

That's it. No more steps. No "50 rules of leadership" to follow. No strategizing, just discerning.

Just...  follow... the Holy Spirit. Put all your theological eggs into this basket.

This is "The Lord is my shepherd." This is "He leadeth me."

This is minimalist leadership, minimalist theology. 

I pay a monthly fee to be able to access and listen to every music cd that exists. I listen to multiple genres of music. One of them is minimalism. I listen to Steve Reich and Philip Glass and Brian Eno and their like.

I like minimalist repetition. I like the breathing room it gives me. Mostly, I do not care for over-production. I have a musical suspicion of over-production, and tend to see it as a cover-up for poor musicianship.

The apostle Paul was a minimalist. As Paul traveled from church to church across the first-century Roman Empire, he was not dragging a production team with him. In First  Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul says he did not come to visit the Jesus-followers in Corinth with fog machines, black lights, powerful preaching, great intellectual arguments, stacks of Marshall amps, perfectly timed studio production, quality music, a fair trade coffee bar, tight jeans, stage lighting, creative videos, clocks, and full color glossy programs.

Instead, Paul came minimally, so that God might be worshiped maximally. He writes:

When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.


Paul came with two things:
  1. Proclamation
  2. Demonstration
Paul showed up with 1) his testimony about God; and 2) a demonstration of the Spirit's power. Nothing else. Because anything more would subtract. Because crowd-pleasing techniques would compete with Christ and him crucified. People might rest their faith on the coffee bar and the jeans and the fog and the volume rather than God's power.

In a Presence-Driven Church there is no need to "put on our best" for the visitors, because God always brings his best whenever two or more are gathered. If God leads you to bring out the special drama, or the kids choir, or the pancake breakfast, then do it out of obedience. Otherwise, God's earth-shattering presence will be more than enough.

Do church as usual. Worship, preach, and pray. Recently at Redeemer I preached about knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection. We prayed for sick people who were there. As far as I can tell, the man who came with the hip out of his socket, which caused him a lot of pain, experienced a healing. As someone told me afterward, "Did you see the smile on his face as the pain had left him? Did you see him walking, carrying his cane but not using it?"

Presence-driven churches are minimalist in these ways:
  • They worship
  • They experience God
  • The gifts of the Spirit are manifested
  • God demonstrates his power
  • Everyone gets to participate
  • Every Sunday is Easter
Beyond that, what more could there be?

***
I develop Theological Minimalism in my two books:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Friday, February 28, 2020

Judgmentalism and Making Judgments

(Oval Beach, Douglas, Michigan)

A belief is a judgment that something is true, that a certain state of affairs obtains. Beliefs are expressed in statements. A statement is a sentence that is either true or false. A statement makes a claim that a certain state of affairs obtains, or does not obtain.

If a statement is true, it is true for everyone. In logic there is no such thing as subjective truth. To think that something is "true for you" but "false for me" is to fall into the rabbit hole of irrationality. 


Consider, e.g., the statement The lights in this room are now on. That is a belief, expressed in a statement. The statement is either true or false. If it is true (= the expressed state of affairs, viz., the lights being on, obtains) then it is true for everyone.


Of course there are things that are relative to persons. For example, John thinks sushi is good, but Jim thinks sushi is bad. But note this. When these two states of affairs are expressed in statements, the statements themselves, if true, are true for everyone.


Because everyone has beliefs, everyone makes judgments. This is unavoidable. Because every judgment is either T or F, every judgment (statement) marginalizes. If the statement The lights in this room are now on is true, then if I think the statement is false I am wrong. All statements make truth claims. All statements either embrace or exclude. 


Some people (many, I think) mistake the making of judgments with an attitude of judgmentalism. Let's say, for example, that X thinks There is nothing wrong with doing heroin. But I think It is wrong to do heroin. These two statements express beliefs X and I have. Both cannot be right. One of us is wrong. In fact, I think X is wrong about their belief. To say this is not to be "judgmental" or some kind of "judging person." It is only to make a judgment. Judgment-making is unavoidable and necessary and helpful in navigating through life.


Let's say X does heroin and asks me, "What do you think about doing heroin?"


I respond (here comes a statement): It is wrong to do heroin.


X feels angry and tells me, "Stop judging me! You are so judgmental!" 


No, that can't be right. I only expressed a belief, only made a judgment. X has committed the mistake of confusing the making of a judgment with a judgmental attitude. This now becomes a problem with X, not me. In fact, when X says, You are so judgmental, they have made a judgment about me which, in this case, is false.


Judgment-making is unavoidable and necessary to live this life. But judgment-making is not equivalent to being judgmental. The first is a matter of logic, the second is a matter of attitude.



***

My book on prayer is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (May 2016)

My book on leadership is Leading the Presence-Driven Church

I'm now working on...

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart

Technology and Spiritual Formation

I'm editing a book I'm now calling Encounters with the Holy Spirit.

After the dust clears, Linda and I plan to write our book onRelationships.

Pastors Are Unnecessary in Three Ways

Chicago

I am a pastor. I am thankful God called me to this. It is instructive to understand what I am not called to; viz., I am not called to be a custodian of the prevailing culture.

Pastors, writes 
Eugene Peterson, are "countercultural servants of Jesus Christ." He writes: "We want to be free of the Egyptian slavery to the culture and free to serve our wilderness world in Jesus' name." (Peterson and Dawn, The Unnecessary Pastor: Rediscovering the Call, Kindle Location 70)

Pastors, writes Peterson, are "unnecessary," in three ways.

1. "We are unnecessary to what the culture presumes is important: as paragons of goodness and niceness." (Ib.)

There's a man in my community who is a leader. He's not a follower of Jesus. Whenever he sees me he calls me "Reverend." I have asked him not to do this. "Just call me John," I say. He has a hard time complying with my request.

When he calls me this he reduces me to something kindly and benevolent. He puts me in a box. He doesn't understand that, while kindness and niceness can be good, I am called to subvert and overthrow his thoughtless secularism. He doesn't realize it, but I don't fit into his happy world. Or, he does realize it, sees me as a threat, and imprisons me as the benign "Reverend." Or, he mindlessly accepts the label which insulates him from me. 

As a pastor my world is about the realities of life and death, freedom and bondage, meaningfulness and meaninglessness, love and hate, hope and despair. My calling is address and clarify these existential realities, not to fit some role culture assigns to me.

2. "We are... unnecessary to what we ourselves feel is essential: as the linchpin holding a congregation together." (Ib.)

When I assign pastors to pray I request they leave their cell phones behind, because God wants to break them of the illusion of their indispensability. It is important for them to grasp the fact that none of us are indispensable. God doesn't need us. God loves us, and wants to use us for his kingdom's sake. But his redemptive activity does not rise or fall with us.

Peterson writes: "We have important work to do, but if we don't do it God can always find someone else - and probably not a pastor."

3. "We are unnecessary to what congregations insist that we must do and be: as the experts who help them stay ahead of the competition."

Peterson writes:

Congregations "want pastors who lead. They want pastors the way the Israelites wanted a king - to make hash of the Philistines. Congregations get their ideas of what makes a pastor from the culture, not from the Scriptures: they want a winner; they want their needs met; they want to be part of something zesty and glamorous...

With hardly an exception they don't want pastors at all - they want managers of their religious company. They want a pastor they can follow so they won't have to bother with following Jesus anymore." 

My fellow pastors, let us embrace the counterculture, the alternative kingdom of Jesus.

I'm working on:
How God Changes the Human Heart
Technology and Spiritual Formation

I'm almost done editing Encounters With the Holy Spirit.

Linda and I then plan to write our book on Relationships

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Normal Churches Pray for the Sick, with Expectation


Image result for john piippo praying
(Praying for someone at Redeemer)

If your loved one was sick, would you pray for them? If so, what would you pray? Perhaps, for them to get better?

At Redeemer we pray for sick people to get better. 

We view healing as comprehensive, and in this way very Hebraic. 

This comprehensiveness is seen in how Eugene Peterson translates Isaiah 53:3 in The Message:

 The fact is, it was our pains he carried —    
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

"All the things wrong with us." The atoning sacrifice of Christ has covered all our bases. The Atonement covers sin, yes, and so much more (a lot of which is the logical outcome of our sin). 

This affects how "church" is supposed to happen. Since God cares for the whole person - body/soul/spirit - he gives the church spiritual gifts that edify the whole person, individually and corporately.

What should a church look like? Is there a model, a paradigm, for "church?" I believe there is. It is seen in the book of Acts, and the letters of Paul, the book of Hebrews, etc. If there has ever been a normal church, it is the early church. If a church measures itself against anything, it is the early church.

Much of the American Church seems far from this. It is beset with abnormalities. Many American churches feel like going to a tennis match, expecting to see racquets and fuzzy yellow balls and a court bisected by a net, but instead seeing people standing around reading essays about tennis. 

A Jesus-follower in the first century would go to church expecting prayers for the sick, demons being cast out, the spiritual gifts manifesting, and maybe even a dead person brought back to life. What they would see in many American churches today bears no resemblance to that. 

Why would such things normally be expected? Because...
  • Jesus did these kind of things
  • Jesus said his followers would do these kind of things
  • The Church was birthed in these things
  • These things were understood in relation to the Atonement, in which "all the wrong things with us" were borne, by Christ, on the cross.
If a Church does not experience miracles, signs, spiritual gifts, deliverance from demonic oppression, and wonders, then it is abnormal, in terms of the original template. Something is missing.

Theologian Roger Olson writes:

"Most contemporary American evangelical Christians only pay lip service to the supernatural whereas the Bible is saturated with it. To a very large extent we American evangelicals...   have absorbed the worldview of modernity by relegating the supernatural, miracles, scientifically unexplainable interventions of God, to the past (“Bible times”) and elsewhere (“the mission fields”)." ("Embarrased By the Spirit?")

Last Sunday we prayed for sick people to be well. I talked with a number of people who told me they had pain, and after praying for them the pain was gone. People were smiling, saying that chronic pain had been taken away. They were praising God for what only he can do!

I think this is good, don't you? This kind of thing should happen in church, right? How weird to be in a church where expectation is low, even nonexistent, even to be avoided, and there are no expectant, faith-filled prayers for sick people who are there. 

How bizarre if a church is embarrassed by doing this. What if, horror upon horror, we bring a friend to church and they see people praying for the sick, and are freaked out by it! Or, attracted by it?

Olson writes:

"We [in the American Church] pray for the sick—that God will comfort them and “be with them” in their misery. We pray that God will give their doctors skill as they treat them. But we avoid asking God to heal them. We avoid any mention of demons or demonic possession and strictly shun exorcism as primitive and superstitious—except when Jesus did it. We look down on churches that anoint the sick with oil and pray for their physical healing. We suspect they are “cultic” and probably encourage ill people not to seek medical treatment. We (perhaps rightly) make fun of evangelists who claim to have prayed for God to re-route hurricanes but never ourselves pray for God to save people from natural disasters. We have gradually adopted the idea that “Prayer doesn’t change things; it changes me” and, like Friedrich Schleiermacher, regard petitionary prayer as something for children."

I experience cognitive dissonance when 1) I read stories of the first century church in the Bible; and then 2) I am in churches where virtually nothing about the first-century church happens and, more than this, is dismissed as dangerous and "weird." Which is weird, to me.

Last weekend, during our worship experience, someone spoke in tongues, followed by an interpretation. As a young Jesus-follower, who had never read the New Testament, some people told me that things like speaking in tongues and prophesying and engaging demons were bizarre. This put me in a strange position, since the Bible I was reading said tongues and prophecy and healing were given to the church, by the Holy Spirit, for its edification. I concluded that the cessationists were wrong. I went one night, alone, into the sanctuary of the Lutheran church I was raised in, knelt at the altar, and prayed, "God, I want everything you have for me, including the spiritual gifts you have given to us."

Olson writes:

"My experience is that the richer and more educated we evangelicals... become the less likely we are to really believe in and expect miracles. We relegate the supernatural to the inner work of persons believing that God can change people's hearts, but we do not really believe God intervenes in the physical world. Yet the Bible is full of examples of God's interventions in the physical world, it commands us to pray for such, and evangelical (and Catholic) Christians in the Global South almost all believe in and pray for God's miraculous interventions - especially in healing the sick."

Many American Christians have given in - unconsciously - to a reductionist, anti-supernaturalist worldview. They say they live by biblical truths, while practically denying how those truths played out in the early church. Why? Not because of intellectual reasoning, but because they want their religion to be "respectable."

Are there abuses by Christian pastors on TV? Of course. But the following reasoning fails:

1) There are abuses by people who believe in the spiritual gifts.
2) Therefore, the spiritual gifts are to be avoided, or are even non-existent.

That is irrational. The baby is thrown out with the bathwater.

Next Sunday morning at Redeemer we'll pray for the sick. Underscore the word we. This is our "normal." The expectation level will be  high. 

The reality of God showing up in love and power feels biblical to me. It's beautiful. It's better than words alone. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power. (See here.)

The Bible Is About Knowing God by Experience

Wood ducks in my back yard

I now see my coffee cup. I hold it in my hand. Lifting it to my mouth, I taste the java. I feel it slip-sliding down my throat. I sense the effects of the caffeine. How shall I describe this, in words? 

The experience of the coffee and the cup is epistemically superior to any poem I might write, or any essay I might pen, about the coffee encounter. In the end, if you really want to know, you must see my cup, hold it, and taste for yourself that the coffee is good. 

Religious experience is the same. To know God, we must experience God. Taste, not theorize, and see that the Lord is good.

We fall short of understanding the stories in the Bible if we lack the kind of experiences those stories describe. “Religion,” writes Wayne Proudfoot, “has always been an experiential matter. It is not just a set of creedal statements or a collection of rites.” 

The entire Bible is about knowing God by experience. God promises experiential knowledge to those who abide in Jesus, and follow.

- From John Piippo, Leading the Presence-Driven Church (Kindle Locations 157-167). WestBow Press. Kindle Edition

- On a correct, experiential interpretation of the Scriptures, see Craig Keener, Spirit Hermeneutics: Reading Scripture in Light of Pentecost.

Grief - Some Resources

(Sterling State Park - Lake Erie)

Here are some posts I have written about grief and loss.


Grieving the Loss of a Child






Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Those Who Have Been Forgiven Much, Worship Much


Image result for john piippo worship
Worship at Redeemer
This morning I read the story of the prostitute who anointed and kissed the feet of Jesus. It happened at the home of a Pharisee named Simon. It made me think of the worship at Redeemer


As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.


This troubles Simon. He chastises Jesus for allowing her to do this. Jesus responds, saying, "Simon, I have something to tell you."


“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”


On Sunday mornings I look at our people, my friends, my sisters and brothers. Some are crying. Hands and hearts are open. Some are smiling and rejoicing. How beautiful this is! 

Why these responses? Because whoever has been forgiven much, worships much. But whoever has been forgiven little, worships little. True worship is in direct proportion to one's experience of forgiveness. Were Simon the Pharisee at Redeemer, he would be troubled by what he sees.

During worship I often think of how much I know I have been forgiven of. I also think of the unknown I have been forgiven of. To forgive is to have a debt cancelled. I don't have to pay any more. To forgive is to bring back into relationship. By the blood of Jesus, I find forgiveness. Atonement. Release. Forgiven, I am a captive set free. This moves me to tell God how much I love him, to say how thankful I am, and to worship him.

To worship.

προσκυνέω,v  \{pros-koo-neh'-o}
1) to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence  2) among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and  touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound  reverence  3) in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make  obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication  3a) used of homage shown to men and beings of superior rank  3a1) to the Jewish high priests  3a2) to God  3a3) to Christ  3a4) to heavenly beings  3a5) to demons

To kiss.

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

To realize this is the beginning of worship.


***
My two books are:

If God Made the Universe, Who Made God?


I have been asked, "If God made the universe, then who made God?"

My response is: this is a nonsense question. It's like asking, "How much does blue weigh?" 

The Christian God, the theistic Being, is understood to necessarily exist. That is, God cannot not-exist. If God cannot not-exist, then God has eternally existed. God never began to exist. If something never began to exist, it never came into being, hence it has no cause. 

This is similar to the question, "If God is all-powerful, then can God make a stone so heavy he cannot lift?" This is another nonsense question. Here's why, in some detail. 

I'm drawing upon former University of Michigan philosopher George Mavrodes's "Some Puzzles Concerning Omnipotence" (in Peterson, Hasker, Reichenbach, and Basinger, Philosophy of Religion). I heard Mavrodes speak years ago at a philosophy conference at Wheaton College (I took two independent studies with Wheaton philosopher Arthur Holmes). And once, while strolling the halls of U-M's superb philosophy department, I walked into Mavrodes's office as his door was open. He was very gracious, and we talked a bit.

If God is "omnipotent," does this mean God can do anything? Can God create a stone too heavy for him to lift?

It's generally understood that the doctrine of omnipotence refers to the ability to do anything that is logically possible. So, e.g., God cannot make a "square circle," simply because such a thing is logically incoherent. 

While "square circle" "seems plainly to involve a contradiction..., [the statement that] "x is able to make a thing too heavy for x to lift" does not." (141-142) I could, e.g., make a boat too heavy for me to lift. Why, then, could not God make a stone too heavy for him to lift? At least, it's not obvious that such a thing is logically incoherent, in the sense of being self-contradictory or even meaningless. 

With this in mind, Mavrodes argues that the stone-idea is self-contradictory in the same was as is "square circle." Here's how this works.

God is either omnipotent or he is not. If he is not omnipotent, then the phrase "stone too heavy for God to lift" may not be self-contradictory. It follows that if God can make such a stone, then he is not omnipotent. But if we assume that God is omnipotent, then the phrase "stone too heavy for God to lift" becomes self-contradictory. "For it becomes 'a stone which cannot be lifted by Him whose power is sufficient for lifting anything'. But the "thing" described by a self-contradictory phrase is absolutely impossible and hence has nothing to do with the doctrine of omnipotence."  (142) "The very omnipotence of God... makes the existence of such a stone absolutely impossible, while it is the fact that I am finite in power... makes it possible for me to make a boat too heavy for me to lift." (142)

But what if someone objects and claims that "stone too heavy for God to lift" is not self-contradictory, and therefore describes an absolutely possible object?" (142) If that is correct, than our answer will be, "Yes, God can create such a stone." The existence of such a stone will then be compatible with the omnipotence of God. "Therefore, from the possibility of God's creating such a stone it cannot be concluded that God is not omnipotent... The conclusion which [the objector] wishes to draw from such an affirmative answer to the original question is itself the required proof that the descriptive phrase which appears there is self-contradictory." (142) 

To the question, "Can God make a stone too heavy for Himself to lift?" the objector wants us to answer, "Yes." But if we answer "Yes," the objector will think our answer to be absurd, since the idea of a stone too heavy for God to lift is logically absurd. This is because, once we grant omnipotence to God, plus non-self-contradictoriness to the "stone too heavy for God to lift," we are involved in a logical absurdity which denies what we have granted to God. Mavrodes says: "It is more appropriate to say that such things cannot be done, than that God cannot do them." (Ib.)

***
For some lighter reading...

My book on prayer is Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

My book on leadership is Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

I'm now working on...

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart

Technology and Spiritual Formation

After the dust clears, Linda and I plan to write our book on Relationships.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Trading My Comfort Zone for the Joy of the Lord


I'm trading my comfort zone for the joy of the Lord.

When revival and awakening come to our churches it will not look like something we have come up with. This is because God is infinitely more creative than we are. God's ways are not our ways, his thoughts being vastly higher than our thoughts.

We need something new, something different, if America is to be healed of its sickness. That sickness is not economic or political, but spiritual and moral. And it is in our churches.

As A. W. Tozer said:

"If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference."


A change is coming.

People get ready. 

All will not welcome it.

It means giving up control and power over people in the church.

The coming Move of God will shake the foundations of the Church.

It will propel the followers of Jesus out of their comfort zones.

This must happen, if America is to be saved from its unspiritual amorality.

As Hebrews 11:6 tells us:



30 LETTERS TO MY CHURCH on DISCIPLESHIP - LETTER 30


LETTER 30 - DISCIPLES OF JESUS FINISH WELL

Dear Redeemer Family,

Disciples of Jesus never retire.

We never graduate from the School of Jesus this side of heaven. 

Linda and I had parents who followed and served Jesus until the day they died. My parents' church had a large outdoor concert amphitheater that sat 3000 people. During the summer months famous Christian musicians came and did concerts. After the concerts were over the place was littered with waste paper. My parents, who were in their seventies, and other elderly couples, would stay and pick up all the trash. They were great servants!

Linda's father lived with us for seven years. He was in his eighties. Every Saturday morning I would drop him off at the local mall. He would stay in the food court, and approach people to tell them about Jesus. The mall managers heard of this, and asked him not to bother people any more. But Linda's dad was not to be stopped! 

He had a t-shirt made, with the words on it: "Let's talk about Jesus." He kept going to the mall on Saturday mornings, wearing the new t-shirt. After he died we had it made into a pillow. Here it is.




When I enlisted in the Army National Guard, I signed up for six years. I kept my commitment. When I said my vows to Linda on our wedding day, we signed up for life, until death separates us. We have kept our vows.

When I was twenty years old and said "yes" to Jesus, I Told Him I would be His disciple for the rest of my life, and into eternity. This spring I will celebrate fifty years of discipleship.

The Bible presents life as a race, where people run to a finish line that has a prize. Linda and I not only plan on finishing, but finishing well.

Discipleship, like a marriage, is a life commitment. Disciples don't retire from the great race.

You are Jesus' disciples. May you run well, and finish strong!

Love,

PJ


DECLARATIONS

I am running with Jesus, stronger than ever!

I have placed the cross before me, and the world behind me.

I love You, Lord, and I'll never stop loving You.

I thank God that He has not asked me to retire from following and serving Him!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

30 LETTERS TO MY CHURCH on DISCIPLESHIP - LETTER 29



LETTER 29 - DISCIPLES OF CHRIST UNDERSTAND THEY ARE IN A SPIRITUAL BATTLE

Dear Redeemer Family,

I was once physically attacked by a demon.

It happened in 1970. I was a twenty-one, and a brand new follower of Jesus. I had become the youth leader in my Lutheran church. 

I was asked to come to a meeting with our pastor, a few church leaders, and a husband and wife who were long-time church members.

The husband and wife shared they had experienced something new to them. They wanted to share it with us. They had begun to pray in tongues.

I didn't know what the manifestation of tongues was about, but was interested.

As the meeting went on, the atmosphere felt tense. This had never happened in our church. I could see that the leadership was not going to allow this. The pastor said we should stop and pray about this.

That's when a demon attacked me.

I had never felt anything like this in my life. It was as if something evil was inside me. I was sitting in this meeting, head bowed, eyes closed, praying, "Help me Jesus! Help me Jesus!" I had no training for this. What was going on inside me?

The prayer time, and the meeting, ended. I went to a phone and called Linda. I was crying. "Pray for me. I don't know what's going on. I think I've been attacked by a demon."

Since that time I've learned more about spiritual beings like demons. I concluded that, yes, I was under a demonic assault in that meeting. Over a spiritual gift. Can you believe it?

I read my Bible and saw that Jesus was confronting satan and demons, all the time. My Teacher believed in demons, and engaged in battle against them.

As an apprentice in the School of Jesus I have been taught that my true enemies are not people, but are demons. I am not to wage war against flesh and blood, but against the dark spiritual agents who are against Jesus.

In my Lutheran church we sang Luther's worship song "A Mighty Fortress." I still love this song! Look what the lyrics say.


For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;

His craft and pow'r are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
And though this world, with devils filled, 
should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed 
His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
This song was in my DNA years before I became a disciple. When that happened, the words took on rich, new meanings.

My dear brothers and sisters, we are in a spiritual battle.

Love,

PJ


DECLARATIONS

I do not see people as my true enemies.

Today I am engaging the enemy.

I defeat the enemy using weapons of righteousness, such as love, and truth.

I am a spiritual force that sets captives free.

My mission is to tear down strongholds the enemy has erected in the hearts of people.

The enemy has been defeated! Sin and death have lost their power!