This year, I started writing a monthly article (okay you sticklers, I did miss one) for the IronMen Ministries
website. It's a blessing for me because the people who've allowed this have given me the discretion to write about
anything that my little heart desires. It's given me an opportunity to “stretch the muscles” of my God given gift to
write in diverse ways. Admittedly, the majority of the topics that I've written about so far have been heavily
influenced by the current political … I'll be polite and use the term “situation” … that has (temporarily, thank
God) captivated nearly every aspect of our very way of life.
Not this month.
This month's subject, as the title implies, is about spiritual warfare. To the uninitiated, the term may evoke images from movies like The Exorcist or The Omen or Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. When I mention spiritual warfare amongst men who don't know me well, occasionally, they'll look at me like I just admitted to being a Martian. Clearly, it's a topic that not everyone gives a lot of thought to. But, let me assure you that spiritual warfare is real, it's intense, it's dangerous and if you don't think that you've ever experienced it, you're probably wrong.
Let's get right to the meat of it. A good friend of mine used a phrase that is very helpful in explaining how spiritual warfare works: “Don't believe everything you think.”
Sounds almost like a riddle, doesn't it? It's not. The enemy can and will use your thoughts against you. One of the surest ways to identify whether you're in the midst of a spiritual battle is if your thoughts become irrational. Here's the definition of irrational:
-Not logical or reasonable.
-Not endowed with reason or understanding.
In layman's terms: when your thoughts become so messed up that your scare yourself thinking them; when you think about hurting yourself or others, it's probably spiritual warfare. Does this mean that Satan or his demons can read your thoughts? No. But they are creatures who are more intelligent, discerning, crafty and evil than most of us can imagine, so they can easily “push our buttons” more effectively than our spouses or even our closest siblings.
This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart because I suffer spiritual warfare quite a bit. Why? Because the enemy knows that I'm weak and an easy target.
I did grow up in a Christian household … but just barely. Being born into a Catholic family, we went to church every week (and it was a chore … we didn't know anyone in the church because we moved around so much and we only stayed in the building long enough to take Holy Communion and then duck out before the end of Mass to avoid the throng of people making the mad dash to the parking lot) but we never read from the Bible, prayed together as a family or even talked about God or our Savior, Jesus Christ. We never said Grace before a meal except on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that duty was relegated to me because I was the youngest (as if that made any sense). My father told us many stories about being an altar boy as a child (not the horrific kind that are all over the tabloids and even the mainstream news today) and the hypocritical attitudes of the priests concerning church doctrine, that would be enough to turn anybody off from being a church goer. But we still went because it was expected. Oh, I knew who Jesus was and I knew that he was my Savior and I called myself a Christian believer, but that simple knowledge and acknowledgement was as far as it went for me.
James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” (NIV)
As you can imagine, this did little to prepare me for the challenges that would confront me when I entered manhood. But, they really didn't become much of an issue until about ten years ago. From my late teens to my early forties, I never did anything about my “faith”. Then I found the Men's Ministry at First Baptist Church, Centerville Georgia. That, and I had just experienced the worst seven years of my life. I had no idea what a church family was. I had no idea that there were men out there who would listen to me without judging me, help me, pray for me and teach me what it is to be a Christian. And oh boy, did things get better!
See, when we're complacent, even as believers, Satan doesn't have to do much to keep us quiet about our faith. But we are commanded to “… go and make disciples of all nations …” Matthew 28:19 (NIV). When we are obedient and start “doing” for God, that's when … pardon my brashness … all Hell breaks loose. Satan isn't happy with us when we start doing the things that bring honor and glory to God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. That's when he attacks. And, to be fair, when you get active for God, it's kinda like saying, “Bring it on, Satan!” So we have to prepare ourselves. We have to surround ourselves with other believers, both men and women, who will lift us up when the onslaught begins. We can't do it alone and we're not supposed to! We are the church! We are the children of the Most High God! Satan will not hesitate to gang up on us; to use demons, the lost and ourselves against us. Why in the world we ever even try to face all that he will throw at us alone? When there are men and women around us who will face these challenges with us, we are strong in Christ and can present more of a “moving target”. In return, we can help our brothers and sisters face their challenges. Because we are a family, brothers and sisters in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Who can stand against us?
G. J. Fortier is a member of Ironmen Ministries and First Baptist Church, Centerville, GA. Look for his novels on Amazon on Kindle and paperback. Or visit his website at www.GerardFortier.com