AVOID ENEMY STRONGHOLDS (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers 21.3)

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When Great Britain and her allies entered World War II, these countries were ill-prepared for a conflict with the German juggernaut that had already carved up most of Western Europe. Adolf Hitler had been marshaling his forces since 1935, assembling and training the mightiest military war machine of the twentieth century. By 1943, the German Army peaked at six and half million soldiers. By the end of WWII, over 13 million, mostly conscripted, German men had served. And worldwide, close to 85 million men, women and children had perished in the deadliest conflict in human history.

The U.S., in particular, needed time to build up its invasion forces. And in war, time is of the essence. Furthermore, having to transport men and equipment overseas, to fight a battle “over there” — to quote the lyrics of George M. Cohan’s popular song — involved great expense and elaborate planning, not to mention still more time. Having been caught “snoozing,” the Good Guys were clearly at a disadvantage.

In contrast, God “never rests or sleeps” (Psalm 121:4 GW); and His spiritual army is always ready and well-equipped to triumph in every situation, and under any circumstances. But the Creator of the Universe does not wage war with our enemy in conventual ways. The Apostle Paul wrote about such spiritual battles, stating “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4 NIV)

Friends, we have a mighty spiritual arsenal at our disposal, which no demonic forces can withstand. Don’t worry about army requisitioning forms filled out in triplicate; and forget about faulty equipment that won’t fire or operate properly! Our divine arms are manufactured by God Himself, and to quote Broadway singer and actress Ethel Waters, “God don’t make no junk!”

But here’s the catch: we can’t use these weapons until we appropriate them. We also need to learn how to use them. All the spiritual weapons in God’s arsenal are at our disposal, including prayer, praise, worship, Bible study, and others — all of which we’ve discussed in various Boot Camp sessions. (Click here to review.)

Unlike the U.S. Forces which had to fight “over there,” our spiritual war is waged right here where we live. In fact, the main battlefield of our conflict is our minds! And before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight: No, Satan CANNOT read our thoughts. Neither can he control them, because God created each of us with a free will. Satan, however, can influence our thinking.

As we discussed previously, we are what we think. Remember, the writer of Proverbs states, “As a man thinks in his heart, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7) So what occupies your thoughts? Be careful: “Garbage in—garbage out.”

A formidable stronghold: WWII bunker embedded into higher ground.

Wrong thinking can lead to strongholds in our lives. In a war, a formidable stronghold is a fortress or tower, a military installation or any fortified position. In WWII, both the Nazi and Japanese forces were masters at fortifying their positions: they would dig into the high ground and set up bunkers. When Allied troops had to storm these enemy bunkers, they were met with a barrage of fire power that slowed their progress and decimated their numbers.

Director Stephen Spielberg captures the horror of confronting these strongholds. In Saving Private Ryan, he depicts the Allies storming Normandy Beach, where the enemy has “dug in” on the higher ground. The slaughter that takes place is horrific and truly hard to watch.

In the spiritual realm, the enemy of our souls also likes to dig in. He sets up strongholds in our lives in an attempt to defeat us. His tactics are intended to slow us down, decimate our faith, family and fortunes, and ultimately destroy our lives. Where does he build these strongholds? The “high ground” of our thoughts.

Friends, if Satan can blast you into the realm of “stinking thinking”: a defeatist attitude; a victim mentality; a self-absorbed mindset that focuses on your problems and challenges, instead of on God, the answer to your every need … then he can wreak havoc in your life and ultimately defeat you. He’ll steal your joy, your enthusiasm and your motivation — leaving you on the battlefield of the mind with a wounded spirit bleeding with fear and doubt, hopelessness and despair.

Next comes deep depression and the death of your dreams and aspirations. So please, don’t make yourself a target! Don’t open the door to anything that is contrary to God’s perfect plan for your life — “to prosper you and not to harm you, …to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

The Apostle Paul writes, “…the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NKJV)

Casting down arguments? If a thought, belief, position, or attitude doesn’t line up with the Word of God/the Bible, then dismiss it! Replace any negative and destructive thinking with a Scriptural principle or a promise from God. This is exactly how Jesus defeated Satan in  wilderness, when our Lord firmly stated: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ …Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Luke 4:4,8 NKJV) And folks, wielding (and relying on) the Word of God is a battle strategy that still works today.

Fellow creators and dreamers, we who battle Satan and his schemes belong to the Spiritual Army of the Lion of the the Tribe of Judah, the Creator of the Universe, the Great “I AM”! We are never ill-equipped or disadvantaged. To the contrary, we are “joint heirs” with Christ Jesus (Romans 8:17); “seated in Heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 2:12)

“If you listen to these commands of the LORD your God … and if you carefully obey them, the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always be on top and never at the bottom.” (Deuteronomy 28:13)

Here’s a prayer written by the Biblical King David, perhaps the greatest warrior of all time. Let it be your prayer, too: “I love you, LORD; you are my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. I called on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and He saved me from my enemies.” (Psalm 18:1-3 NLT)


Click here to all the Boot Camp lessons.

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A Hair-raising Tale? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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I’m not a bad fish — just misunderstood. And look! I’ve got abs! That should count for something!

Forget about Frankenstein’s monster or the Creature from the Black Lagoon! These guys are actually kind of sympathetic characters. Hey, wanna see something really scary?

It’s a cook’s worst nightmare, something no one ever wants to see in real life! Is it that multi-legged cockroach that invaded your kitchen after stowing away in the bag of potatoes you just brought home? Shudder! Is it the trail of ants leading from the window, to that apple pie cooling on the counter, now covered with a seething swarm of hungry insects! Shiver! No, it’s something far more terrifying, something far more insidious. It’s … gulp … a human hair! Found where it’s not supposed to be: curled up on someone’s plate, lurking in a serving dish; peeking out from a casserole! Gahh-rosss!!!!

A stray hair in the kitchen or at the dining room table is not a pretty sight. Which is why chefs take precautions to keep their hair from getting into the food by wearing those cool, pouffy white hats. Cafeteria cooks are often seen wearing hair nets. And in our home, Wilma, who’s got tons of thick long black hair, carefully gathers it back in a ponytail that would make Mister Ed swoon, and ties it off before entering the kitchen — lest she violate a universal law of cooking! Let’s face it, seeing a hair in the food can kill an appetite! Oh, the horror!

Hair. And horror. Two things that got us thinking. Recently, Wilma was encouraging a friend who had some frightful ideas about God. To set the record straight, she had to point out a few facts about our Heavenly Father. First off, God is not a holy terror just waiting for us to make a mistake so He can rain down fire upon us like the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit. Nor is He this strange, distant, impersonal alien entity, who just for kicks decided to create the universe, earth and people, and then abandoned His creation, leaving us to fend for ourselves.

Quite the contrary, the loving God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, who took on human form (in order to better relate to us) and walked the earth as Jesus Christ, cares about each of us deeply. Last week we discussed how God is vigilant to our sufferings. He’s moved by our sorrows, “He collects our tears in a bottle” that He may comfort us in times of trouble.

Furthermore, our Heavenly Father is not a deadbeat dad. He didn’t create us and then walk out the door. “God is not human, that he should lie; not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act?” (Numbers 23:19 NIV) Never!

Indeed, “…God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'” (Hebrews 13:5) And the Psalmist wrote, “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” (Psalm 27:10 NLT)

“If you’re going to cook those, will you PLEASE put on a hair net!”

How close does God hold us? Close enough to gather every tear. How much does God care about you? Enough that He wants to be with you ALL THE TIME, involved in every aspect of your life. God is so observant, so personal, so caring, so concerned, and He values you so much that He even numbers “the hairs on your head”! (Matthew 10:30)

Which brings us back to the beginning of this post: speaking figuratively, with God being this careful about you, you’ll never have to fear a “stray hair” in life. God is watching over you and HE CARES! Cling to His promises. Run to His loving arms! “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)

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