Soldier At War

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1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV) – “Pray without ceasing,”

My nephew recently enlisted in the Marine Corps. As we speak, he’s being trained (physically) in the ways of a fighting military soldier ready to defend our nation and our interests at a moment’s notice. He will receive special weapons training; learn to be proficient in hand-to-hand combat. He’ll be taught mental toughness techniques; learn to use his fear as a self-motivating tool to press forward. The military will teach my nephew to become a man ready for war.

My cousin recently made the decision to give his heart completely to the Lord. As we speak, he’s being trained (Spiritually) in the ways of a fighting Christian soldier ready to defend our beliefs and our faith at a moment’s notice. He will receive special weapons training; learn to be proficient in apologetics combat. He’ll be taught mind-renewing toughness techniques; learn to use his own fear as a catalyst to seek the help of the Lord and press forward. Jesus will teach my cousin to become a man ready for war.

I am a Christian soldier. I do not use an assault rifle; I use fervent prayer. My frontline is not a physical land border, but a spiritual realm plane. My sword is not a sharpened blade, reserved for close encounters. It’s my bible, and I use it in daily battle. I’m not trained to push my body to its physical limits through rigorous physical activity. I’m trained to push the physical limits of my aging knees, as I assume the prolonged posture of prayer.

My brothers and sisters in arms are with me–and I with them–as we stand in the gap for those in need, just as our respected veterans stand beside one another in defense of the weak and helpless. Military soldiers muster courage in the face of insurmountable odds. Christian soldiers stand fast in the face of overwhelming hostility. Although our battle is not against flesh and blood enemies–but against rulers of the spiritual realm–we are ready to fight against our adversary at any time.

I am a Christian. I believe Jesus is the son of God. I believe He died on the cross and was resurrected. I believe I am saved by grace through faith in Him. I am a saint of heaven’s army. I am a soldier at war.

 

 

Stephen Was Not My Enemy

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Let me tell you a dirty little secret within the humanity of many Christians. The late Dr. Stephen Hawking infuriated scores of believers with his scientific views and theories. For many of us, we find comfort in our faith. Believing whole-heartedly in the one true God who created the universe, through the Lord Jesus Christ, is a blessing for the believer. But place a microphone into the hands (as it were) of a brilliant scientist, give him a platform and let him speak candidly on his mathematical discoveries of how the earth came to be, and you will soon find out just how many Christians still battle against the sin of judgment.

I know because for years, I was one of them. His theories angered me, because (in my mind) they seemed totally bent on proving the nonexistence of God. In hindsight, my problem was not with Dr. Hawking personally. No. My problem was in my own faith. Did I actually believe in the God of the Bible or not; because, if the scriptures were true—make no mistake, they are—then the LORD is eternal, omnipotent and omnipresent. He is the beginning and the end. No one or nothing will ever change or silence Him. If I can truly believe in that fact, then I would have nothing to fear from man who was created by God in the first place. Science will never disprove the existence of God.

Dr. Hawking was gifted with a brilliant mind. Despite his debilitating disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), he used that gift to study gravity and its affects within black holes, among many other things. His scientific discoveries paved the way and opened the door up for new possibilities within the scientific community. Perhaps someday, his theories will reshape the very ways we travel from point “A” to point “B”.

As daunting and sophisticated as his discoveries were, one fact remains: Dr. Hawking was just a man created by God. His brilliance was a gift from God. His theories and discoveries were postulated, calculated and argued through a mind that ultimately was knit together by Yahweh. In reality, he posed no real threat to Christianity. I believe at the core of his heart, Dr. Hawking wanted to better mankind, and used his mind to try to accomplish this.

We Christians need to pray for the family of the late Dr. Stephen Hawking. His children have lost a father. His disdain for religion and God (in particular) is widely known and will be the continued subject of great debate. I once heard a self-proclaimed Christian boisterously spout, “Stephen Hawking was stricken with that disease, because he spit in the face of God”. That’s not the attitude or heart of true believers, friends. Despite his beliefs against God, he was a man gifted with intelligence and a family. His family is now grieving. They could really use our prayers.

My prayer for Dr. Hawking is that, in his final moments, he found and came to be at peace with the Lord.

The Power In Prayer

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I’m an action/fantasy-movie fan. I love all things Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Matrix involved. When I was 11 years old, I must’ve watched “The Neverending Story” dozens of times. My dad managed to record it on VHS tape. As I sit here writing, I’m thinking about opening a box of Junior Mints and watching the Blu ray now, like I don’t have to get up to go to work in the morning!

C’mon, be honest. I can’t be the only one.

There’s just something about the “fantastic” in the root of fantasy that takes me to another place. I’m a dreamer at heart. Always have been. My head is so far into the clouds, I swear sometimes I dream of flying and the feeling of weightless flight resounds as familiar within my body and soul.

I’m often amazed at how people can quickly accept the power of “The Force”–which is totally made up, by the way–but just as quickly reject the power of the living God. If you don’t know who Luke Skywalker is, you’ve either been in a coma since the early 70’s or you’re an alien visiting from outer space. If you’re an actual alien, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, you don’t truly exist. Everyone knows the fantasy lore of Luke. But, not everyone knows the actual history of Jesus: the only begotten son of God.

What I love most about fantasy is watching characters develop special powers, and then growing mature in the use of those powers. It’s kind of like when a baby Christian learns to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit–totally real life stuff here–and then matures in the use of those powers. Prayer is definitely one of those Spiritual gifts available to everyone.

Christians are often reminded of the “Power of Prayer” but when I think about prayer akin to fantasy movies, I marvel at the very real power in prayer. Prayer is not science fiction or fantasy. It’s very real; very accessible; very attainable and extremely powerful.

There was a time when Jesus sent out his disciples to heal the sick and cast out demons among the people. But they ran into a problem. They encountered a boy possessed by a stubborn demon. They had to go get Jesus to cast the demon. When the task was completed, by the Lord, his disciples asked (in Ennis-vernacular),

“Say man, we heal people and cast out all kinds of demons! How come we couldn’t cast this one out?”

Mark 9:29 (NIV) tells us that Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Now, for my friends who struggle to believe in God, let me tell you that history supports the life and miracles of Jesus Christ as depicted in the scriptures. Yes. Actual history. I can’t make this stuff up. On top of that, I know personally what the power of prayer can do to breathe new life into a troubled marriage. I think prayer gets such a bad wrap when we start to talk about Spiritual things.

“Have you prayed about it?”

“What’s that gonna do?” *Sigh*  “Sure, I’ll give it a try.”

That’s usually how it’s received; as the last resort to problem resolution. What if we were a people who actually believed in the miracle work of prayer before a problem even exists? What if we were a people who prayed for the things we need, believed that God would give them to us, thanked him in advance, and then celebrated when the blessing showed up? I mean…doesn’t that sound like fantasy stuff?!

Except it’s real. It works. It happens all the time among the believing body of Christ.

In this social media saturated age, we are big on chain-challenges. So, I’m going to propose one this morning. I’m daring my readers, friends and family to take this Prayer Challenge. I challenge you to pick one thing–be it a desire, a need or one in the same–and focus on it. Be specific, now. Don’t be lazy about this. For the next 25 days, I challenge you to pray on that thing, need, or desire. Here’s where it gets difficult for some. I want you to set your heart on believing it will be done, in the name of Jesus. I want you to thank him, in advance, for seeing it done. And for 25 days, I want you to simply trust in him to make it happen.

The real power in fantasy, is not that we accept it’s actually real life, but that we choose to buy into its allure temporarily. The real power in prayer is not its temporary fulfillment, but concrete lasting affects in our lives (that’s a-ffects with an “a” scholars). Prayer really works. I dare you to try it. I’d like to hear what happens in your lives at the end of the month.

 

~Always~

 

How’s Life Treating You, Young Brother?

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Dear Mr. Moore,

It’s been awhile, since I reached out to you. I never expect any response because, honestly that’s not my purpose in reaching out anyway. How’s life treating you, young brother? I know that may read as a cliché opening, but think about that question seriously…for just a moment.

As a brother in Christ Jesus, it’s my job and my pleasure to pray for you. That is (after all) what the Body of Christ is supposed to do. If I step on a tack, my brain registers the pain; my muscles spring into action; my fingers work feverishly and fervently to remove the attacking object and then attend to the foot. That’s what the body does. It takes care of itself. The fingers don’t cater to the foot, because they want the feet to take them somewhere in return for their services. They simply act because they are all different parts of the same body. As members of the Body of Christ, we should want to cater to one another, even from afar.

How’s life treating you, young brother?

From the perspective of a fan, I’ve seen changes in your public life. There’s no condemnation or judgment here; it’s merely an observation. As the bar of your success continues to rise, things are moving in different directions, as if caught up in the tailspin of hurricane winds. People are upset over you dropping the “Christian Rapper” moniker. People are upset over your website dropping the “unashamed” battle cry. People are upset over your choices in the company you keep as of late. People are upset over your hairstyle. Imagine that. People are upset over your success as an artist. People are upset over your radio interviews; your television interviews; your private interviews. It seems that people are just upset. I’ll tell you what I am. I am…steady.

You may ask, “Steady. What does that mean? What’s that got to do with anything?”

It means, I’m keeping my eye focused on the Lord. It means, no matter what might be happening in the lives of some of my favorite Christian artists and scholars, my faith will never be dependent on them. Man has the capacity to fail at some point. We can never be perfect. But God is the same today, as He was yesterday, as He will be tomorrow. I keep my focus on the Lord, and a distant watchful eye on everyone else. No matter what may happen in the lives of people, I know that as a single part of the entire Body of Christ, God would want me praying for those who are also His followers.

How’s life treating you, young brother?

You’ve come a long way since I first heard of an artist named “Lecrae” almost 10 years ago now. A Christian rapper, with word-play skills to match any of the secular artists of that day, and the music production to rival mainstream hip hop anthems?! I was hooked from “Rebel”. To this day, “Overdose” (off the Rehab: The Overdose album) is still one of my favorite tracks of all time; dude…of all time! Your lyrics were straight pushing Jesus, the Gospel and the Word.

As times changed, so did the music. With each follow up album, the message remained…but something was different. The lyrics began to take on more social issues and a bit less eternal kingdom. At the same time, each new album was increasingly more successful and accepted on the mainstream stage than its predecessor. Now…for the record…I am NOT a professional album critic, nor do I follow the musical charts for a living. In my little corner of the world, I can remember a time when no one knew of the Christian rapper Lecrae. Today, the rapper Lecrae is a household name among the millennials, both inside and outside of the Body of Christ. I would imagine that amount of work takes a toll somewhere. Something eventually has to give.

How’s life treating you, young brother?

Are you doing okay? I know you have responsibilities that I can’t fathom. I know you make decisions knowing someone somewhere is going to be mad at your choices. I know that 37 doesn’t exactly feel like 27 anymore, does it? Rookie. Talk to me when you reach 44. I know that more money inherently brings more problems in some fashion.

But honestly, all that is meaningless. The real question underneath the recurring question is this: is God still your source? Are you finding yourself going deeper in your relationship with Jesus, or are you distracted by the constant challenges of your everyday life? Don’t misunderstand me, brother. This isn’t any type of accusatory piece.

My life is pretty simple. I get up; go to work; provide for the family; play my music; occasionally write; play my games; go to sleep; rinse and repeat. Somewhere in that jumble of everyday monotony, I make time to seek the Lord. But even in my simple life, I still have to take a step back and figure out if I’m actually growing in Christ, or just existing off the past gift of his salvation? Am I living a fruitful life for Him; am I just coasting through one day at a time, stuck on one level; or am I actually slipping back into an old life I vowed never to return to?

By comparison, I see your very public life as insane by my personal standards. The places you visit, the things you see, the millions of people you try to influence, the businesses, the relationships, the professional music and maintain a positive role as husband and dad?! Only by the grace of the Lord, can one maintain such a lifestyle. And there is no way you can carry that spiritual load on your own. You are, after all, one piece of the entire Body of Christ.

That’s why I ask. That’s the purpose behind this letter. A lot of people have written you off as falling away from the faith, based on some of your public decisions and declarations. Personally, I don’t know about that. But what I do know is that, when a brother seems to be in need, the Body of Christ should be there to lift him up. It doesn’t matter if you’re Lecrae the rapper or LaCray, one of the waiters at the drabby corner diner off 76th and MLK Blvd. Both are professing Christians; both are men living in a fallen world; both could use the prayers of the saints from time to time.

Young brother, tonight let me ask you sincerely: how’s life treating you? Can I pray for you, for any specific reason? We all pray in general for those we don’t know personally. But when you really want to see God move, trying praying specifically; I’m talking about pinpoint specific. I’m one part of the same body you’re a part of. How can I help through prayer? I’m not hard to find, so reach out and tell me.

 

Your brother in Christ,

Ennis

 

 

Thankful In All Things

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I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) – “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Verse 16 tells us to “be joyful always”: not easy to do, but the joy of the Lord conquers the toughest of trials, if we allow ourselves to trust in him.

Verse 17 tells us to “pray continually”: we’re not talking about constant, deep, time consuming prayers that would eventually impede on your daily life tasks. I think what Paul is talking about is developing a heart and attitude of prayer, where you constantly speak with the Lord throughout the day. Anything from small desires to dire needs can be addressed when we have an attitude of prayer throughout the day. There doesn’t need to be a specified time.

Verse 18 says give thanks in all circumstances. My bible notes make it clear that evil does not come from God. As I said last night, we live in an imperfect world. Evil is everywhere. But, I believe we need to thank God even while we are in the midst of the storm; we should thank him for walking us through the trials. It’s hard to see God when we’re in the middle of a struggle, but know that he is there beside us; guiding our steps and helping us to persevere.

The content of these three verses doesn’t come naturally to us. In fact, we have to diligently practice them. Learning to be thankful in all things teaches us to love and respect the God who created everything.

Point And Pull The Trigger

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Hey Christian, you do realize you’re a soldier in the Lord’s army, do you not? Yeah, that’s right! You are a soldier, fighting among the ranks of the greatest army ever known to creation. Soldiers have a purpose. Soldiers have a task. Soldiers pull weight among their brothers and sisters.

I’m sure we’ve never heard of a soldier training his sights on an enemy combatant, watching that enemy raise his own weapon in the direction of our hero, and the hero stops to think, “Huh, maybe I should pull the trigger before he shoots me…or maybe I’ll just wait to see what happens.”

Idiot, point and pull the trigger! You don’t sit around and wait for the enemy to steal from you; to take your life and possessions freely; to bully and intimidate you without retaliation. That type of soldier is not a hero. He’s a victim. He’s a liability adding dead weight to the unit as a whole.

When put in these terms, doesn’t it seem obvious that this type of person is not fit to serve? And yet, we as Christians behave the same way every day. Here’s what we have a tendency to do.

“Lord, please fix my problem. Amen. Somebody pass me a beer!”

Okay, maybe that example was a bit extreme, but it was meant to convey our attitude toward the Lord. Some of us will toss a single, simple prayer up to God and expect him to pull a miraculous blessing for us. That’s not even the worse part. That single prayer, is the only prayer we throw at the problem; no bible reading; no meditation on the word; no diligent and fervent prayer; no increased church attendance; no fasting; just that single simple prayer. We sit on our blessed assurances, waiting on the Lord to come knock on our door to deliver the miracle.

~ KNOCK KNOCK ~

“Hey, how’s it going? I have a delivery here, from God. Can you just sign at the bottom? Who’s winning the game by the way?”

“The Lions. Thanks chief. Give my regards to the Lord for me, will ya?”

Do you know what the word “fervent” means? The dictionary defines it as, “having or displaying a passionate intensity.” James 5:16 (NKJV) says, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another that you might be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Now, in the context we’re discussing, healing and trespasses aren’t on the table. But, what I really wanted to point out is the latter portion of this scripture: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Family, we cannot expect God to act on our behalf if we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do. Studying scripture and fervent prayer are the basics for developing a relationship with the Lord. If you are not partaking in those two very basic activities, you’re nothing more than a dead-weight soldier carrying a gun around the battlefield for show. Point and pull the trigger! The enemy is firing at you, and you’re literally standing around waiting to be killed. Soft prayer and random bible reading does nothing for the kingdom. You’re going to have to get deep down in the mire of prayer life; in the thick jungles of the bible’s environment.

It’s a new year. It’s a new month. It’s a new day. Make today the day you step up your action plan for your walk through the Christian faith. You are a soldier! Strap on your boots, get off the sideline, pick up your weapon (the word), and start firing consistently at the enemy! When you get behind God, I guarantee He’s going to get behind your needs.