Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Hey Wonderful Readers! Want to Review My Books?

This is the book from which I took the last series of blog entries on spiritual warfare.  It's about who we are in Christ and how we are the face the evil we see all around us.  It is full of Scripture, to train us up as good soldiers of the Lord's and to more fully understand our mission and position in Christ.  If you would like a more complete overview of the book, go to Amazon.  There is a workbook that accompanies it as well, for personal study or group study.  It is also available on Amazon. 

If you want to know the demonic agenda for the Christian church and the US, you just need to read these emails, sent from a reigning demon to his protege, Wormwood.  Yes, the same Wormwood that you may have read about in The Screwtape Letters.  He has been given a second chance to take on the Western world to prepare the stage for the Kingdom of Darkness' Man of Action.  It's a "novel" approach to understanding the spiritual warfare that is confronting us everyday.  For a more complete overview, go to Amazon. 

OK, readers...I would like to send you a copy of either one of these books, with the promise that you will read it and review it on Amazon.  I just want to get some traction with these books, for I believe the message is important. 

My email address is rcramer@claytoncramer.com
Make sure that you give me your mailing address.    

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Stronghold Starter #8: Childhood Wounds, Physical & Mental Health Challenges: I Am Who They Say I Am

We are exploring how pride is at the core of allowing Satan to start an incursion in  our lives.  He whispers into our darkness, our hidden places, and with his lies, he starts to build his castle in our hearts.  If our pride is operating, that's an open door for him to slither in and start working.

Wait a minute!  My childhood wounds, my physical and mental challenges have no pride component.  

I didn't ask to be sexually abused.  

I didn't ask for M.S.  

I didn't ask for bipolar disorder.  

I wouldn't wish what I have or struggle with on anyone.

Agreed.  This is not about blame.  It's about bondage. 

Take a moment here to consider Paul.  He says in Philippians 3:4-6: "If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless."

To someone on the outside, this looks impressive.  But how much does Paul actually choose?  Circumcision?  No.  To be Jewish?  No.  His tribe?  No. 

What were Paul's actual choices?  To become a Pharisee?  Yes.  Persecuting the church with vigor?  Yes.  Following the Law to the letter?  Yes. 

So Paul is a combination of many things: his past, present and the choices he made with his history in mind.  But, if you had heard Paul before he was knocked off his donkey, his resume would have been recited with pride.  Even though much of his life was not of his choosing, he would have acted as if he was the greatest thing since Pop Tarts. 

But after his list, look what he says, "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith." (Phil. 3:7-9.) [emphasis mine]

Did you catch that?  His life, his past, his choices--all "garbage."  The original word in the Greek is actually "dung."  What do you do with garbage/dung?  Throw it away.  It has no value.  It is the salt that is worthless, only to be thrown out and trampled under foot. 

Whatever defined him, whether of choice or imposed, was equally tossed onto the garbage heap. 

Why?  He is now defined by Christ.  His life, his past his choices: now are for Christ, of Christ and by Christ.  Who he was, who he was called, how he saw himself, is now taken from the life of Christ.  

Look at the next verses: "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  (Phil. 3:10-14) 

His sense of who he is and his purpose of life is to get to know Christ more deeply, more passionately, and to become, in this life, more and more like Him, through His power.   Paul's  humility shines, however; he knows he is not there yet by any stretch, but he presses on.  

What does this have to do with bondage?  Look at some other verses where Paul identifies his adherence to the Law as bondage, full of fear:  "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.  And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Rom. 8:14-17) [emphasis mine] 

Paul is now defined as a child, free, adopted, an intimate with God, heir and co-heir, and beloved participant in His divine plan. 

Wow.  No more garbage.  No more bondage.  No more defining himself.  

Wait, hear comes Satan.  

His whispers are scalding, devious and mocking:  Yeah, OK, Paul.  Fine.  You were a Jew of Jews.  Big whoop.  Not much to leave behind, I suppose.  But, they are all snickering behind your back, though... "Paul the Wacko Christ Follower.  Who'd want to follow a crucified self-proclaimed Messiah anyway? Pharisees get respect, and even the Romans stay out of our way."  OK, take on a new title.  But let's focus on the murder part of your past.  You persecuted the church, not just with words but with stones and blood.  You relished dying followers of that deluded rabbi, and you enjoyed the respect and prestige that such a zealous defender of Judaism received.  But you have blood on your hands, Paul.  Forever.  Yup, you followed the Law all right.  To the point of killing Christians.  No god is that forgiving.  Go tell that to the victims' families.  I can hear it now:  "Hey guys!  I am a Christian now!  You lost your brother, but hey, not my problem now, 'cause I am no longer that guy!"

But Paul is no longer identified with what he did--zealot, murderer, high and mighty teacher--he is now identified with Christ.  His chains are gone.  He is free in Christ. 

Paul's identity, once given to him by his heritage, his actions and his life, is now given to him by Christ.  

So, our diagnosis, our past, our challenges are not who we are if we know Christ.

Do we press on?  Yes.  

Will we need help along the way?  Yes.  

Will God use counselors, friends, pastors, medications and His love to help us heal?  Yes.

Will Satan try to derail us in our progress?  Yes.  Count on it.  

Will pride try to tell us we are who we are, and we should take identity in that?  Yes.  

Will pride tell us we are survivors?  Yes.  

Will pride tell us it's the society that is messed up and not us?  Yes.  

Will pride tell us we should not have to change to some outdated biblical standard?  Yes.

As our pride speaks, in slithers Satan, and we start to blame others for our deep pain.  Then the bondage begins.

But, let us counter our pride and Satan's incursion with Paul's declaration of freedom: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." (Rom. 8:1)

Emphasis mine and amen!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Stronghold Starter #7: Doubt & Confusion: "Did God Really Say..." (Gen. 3:1)

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’” (Gen. 3:1) [my emphasis] 

Can you hear it?  A subtle whisper, an insinuating comment, a moment when, surrounded by God’s good creation and loving provision, Eve heard evil…  She had never seen it, heard it or experienced its potent sting.  But there it was, coming from a fascinating creature, slithering in the dappled sunlight around a branch.  Or perhaps he was moving smoothly along the ground, in control and mesmerizing to watch.

Isn’t that sin at its “best”?  Fascinating, potent, acting in control and smooth.  

Isn’t that Satan at his “best”? 

Confusion was the result of this encounter.  Because Eve has not hid the words of God in her heart so she might not sin against God  (Ps. 119:11), she opened herself to another gospel, if you will.  Look what Paul says and apply them to Eve (with my commentary):

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: (Why are you listening to this creature?  How could his words have any merit?  He is a creature, not the Creator.)  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. (Unless the words fall from the Creator’s lips, they are suspect.  Anything other God’s very words are to be avoided.)  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Even if Adam gets it wrong or a lovely snake entices you to ponder his seemingly innocent words, God is not to be doubted.  Look around you Eve:  All you see is the result of God’s love for you.  Why would God then speak falsely?)  As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Run, Eve, run!)  For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (You can’t be in fellowship with anyone or anything that mocks or insinuates that God is not truthful.  Light and dark were separated at creation; God wants it to stay that way, whether in the heavens or in your heart.)  But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. (You have direct access to God, Eve, in this Garden. Go to Him to clarify and understand His words.)
 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Adam was taught by God Himself and you have God Himself for fellowship as well.  I say it again, Eve:  RUN!) (Gal. 1:6-12)

We have God’s Word as well.  We have the fellowship of God in our hearts, because of His Son’s sacrifice.  The Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s truth. Satan loves to still sow the seed of doubt, which leads to confusion. 

Have you eve watch a squirrel cross a busy road?  From the curb, the road looked safe.  Or that tree on the other side is so enticing that a confidence in speed will overcome fear.  So, out it goes.  The reality of cars strike doubt into the squirrel, and now with its heart racing, it is confused as to whether to continue crossing or run back to its starting point. 

Now, if it makes it back to the curb, it will be emboldened to try this again, at a later date.  Nothing happened to dissuade the squirrel from its quest this time.

If it doesn’t, the magpies gratefully come down and dine on its carcass. 

We are squirrels in this fallen world.  But Jesus promises us His presence to navigate this world: “ I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  (John 14:18).  

So, with Jesus’ presence, we have the very Truth of God.  So, when Satan insinuates to us about God’s capacity to lie, counter that with:

“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?
    Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19)

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor. 4:4)

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.” (2 Peter 2:1)

There’s the progression of the satanic quest to disparage God’s character:

1.  Claim God lies or misrepresents truth.

2.  Deceive people to serve another “god” whom appears more reliable.

3.  Seek out those teachers who think now like you do, who are in fact perpetuating the lie.

Away we go down an ever-darkening road.  We trade the light for darkness, the truth for a lie and pride for peace.  

But, we are children of the Light.  Flee from the darkness and cling, without reservation, to the Light, to His Word and the to hope that is within you.    

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Stronghold Starter #6 Lust: I Deserve to Get My Needs Met, No Matter The Cost

I know, I know.  We all think of sex when it come to lust.  But, if you check the word in Greek, you will get:  “to set one’s heart upon.”  You desire it.  You long for it.  You can also long for something forbidden.  (Strong’s)

We are all familiar with the words of Jesus: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt. 5:28)  Obviously, Jesus rightly discerned how what we think in our minds can quickly come to fruition and become action. 

But He also looked deeper into the human heart and saw how our longings can become our consumings, to coin a word.

Of course, we can be tempted to long for sex.  We think that another relationship, another encounter, another kind of experience will fill that deep void in us once and for all.  There’s the rub: lust is the one appetite that is never satiated.  We moderns call it “sex addiction.”  Addiction, by definition, is an never-ending pursuit of that high.  Why?  That high, for now, makes us forget our lives.

But, let’s look at the deeper picture.  "Lust” in Greek can be translated in different ways, although it’s the same word:

“For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”  (Matt. 13:17)

“And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15)
Do you see it? This word carries a meaning of a heart deeply immersed in longing, desiring, wanting; clearly, this can be seen in a positive way.  Jesus told His disciples that the prophets of old wanted desperately to see what they then saw: the Messiah, the Deliverer of God’s people, the very Son of David, whose kingdom is forever.

Jesus used the word of Himself; He knew His days were numbered.  He wanted to share a meal that represented deliverance and His impending death would do just that for His disciples and the world. 

But the darker side of longing, blended with our pride that puts us at the center, creates a longing that moves us as far way from God as we can get: 

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Gal. 5:17)

So, with our flesh in the lead, the longing for God gets derailed into a longing for anything but Him; we are trapped by our longings, because they will never satisfy us.  Ever.  Why?  We were made for God, pure and simple.  No one or nothing else will fill the God-shaped void in our heart.  

So, how to maneuver this choice between longing for the dark and longing for the light? 

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers.
Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    turn from it and go on your way.
For they cannot rest until they do evil;
    they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.       
                                                                                  (Prov. 4:14-16)

Don’t get into the arena of sin in the first place.  If I don’t want to go three rounds with Mike Tyson and get pummeled to a pulp, I don’t climb into the ring in the first place.  If he pounds me on the street, that’s assault and battery.  But if he pounds me in the ring, that’s a sporting event carried on national television and the winner gets a prize and prestige. 

My task?  Again, look at the advice Proverbs gives:

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.      
                                                                                      (Prov. 4: 23-27)

Ultimately, because of pride, we will rationalize our sin as meeting a need (regardless of the cost) because we deserve it:

Hey, it’s online!  It’s not like I am having an affair or anything!

When I  verb of choice,  I feel better.  Don’t deny me that.  I have earned it. 

I have been good for  fill in the amount of time,  so I deserve a break to indulge a little.  I promise it’s only a little.

Who are you to judge?  You don’t know the struggles I face.

God may help you, but He’s checked out on me.  Guess I will try to overcome this myself.

I can still hang out with my ex- fill in the addiction  friends.   Yeah, they tempt me, but I gotta stand strong.  If I fail, God is there to forgive me. 

At the core of these statements is, I will get my needs met—now.  The consequences?  I am not worried about that now, just get me to Distraction Junction as soon as possible, so I can board that train and forget my life for a while. 

Lust in us is longing, yet the road we are on distracts us from our true calling--residing in Christ--and drives us deeper and deeper into sin.  

Trust in Him, however, is true fulfillment.

God will fill every corner of our hearts, if we allow it.

This is key.  Jesus will not trespass.  He must be invited in.  If you leave a door locked, with your  guilty pleasure tucked inside, He won’t break the door down.  But Satan will, and will add more and more pleasure and guilt for you to hide in that locked room.  He loves the dark corners of your heart, and blackmail you with shame and guilt.

Guilt says, (with Satan’s voiceover) What you did was bad. You can't help yourself.  Others do the same thing and get away with it.  Just forget about it.  

Shame says, (with Satan’s booming voiceover) You are bad. You were born that way.  You are who you are.  Take pride in it, 'cause that's all you've got.  Make the best of it.  

But what does God say to those who accept His Son, with guilt and shame washing over their hearts in drowning waves of emptiness and hopelessness: 

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

You are chosen in Christ, arrayed in His robe of righteousness and a bride, inestimably loved.

You are a priest, allowed to walk into the very throne room of God, arrayed in Christ and speaking to the Father without fear.

You are part of a holy nation, made up of those who walk in Christ, not in their own power, but in His.

You are special, held in His hands, never to be let go. Ever.

You are His messenger. You tell of the Light as you walk in the light and you announce to the Darkness that you are free in Him. Whoever is free in Him is free indeed.

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