July Newsletter

PASTOR TOM’S PERSPECTIVE
It’s very obvious that we live in a very broken world today. Every time we turn on the news, we see people being kidnapped and killed, we see wars tearing apart countries and dividing nations around the world, and we regularly see the persecution and prosecution of Christians both in our country, and around the world. Where did all this ugliness come from? Doesn’t God care about all of these problems? Why doesn’t He stop the pain and hurt?There are no easy answers to these perplexing questions. They are not just questions for 2019, but they are questions that people have wrestled with for thousands of years. Consider how David cried out to the Lord in the midst of his own persecution: Psalm 109:1–5, “1 O God of my praise, Do not be silent! 2 For they have opened the wicked and deceitful mouth against me; They have spoken against me with a lying tongue. 3 They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, And fought against me without cause. 4 In return for my love they act as my accusers; But I am in prayer. 5 Thus they have repaid me evil for good And hatred for my love.” David was being persecuted and hounded for a reason the text does not tell us. Nonetheless, the man after God’s own heart was being pushed to the limit. Sound familiar? Many of us feel pushed to the limit for standing for Christ every day. In all honesty, we can trace most of these issues to a source being: Satan himself. He is a liar (John 8:44), deceiver (Genesis 3:1-15), tempter (Matthew 4:3), accuser (Revelation 12:10), our adversary (1 Peter 5:8), and a murderer (John 8:44). 2 Corinthians 4:4 calls Satan the “god of this world.” Notice the lower case “g” in the text. Satan is not all-powerful as the Lord is. Satan is not all knowing like God is. Satan is not everywhere present as the Spirit of God is. But he is our opponent and does all that he can to get us off track, discouraged, engaged in sin, full of bitterness, and gossiping. His goal is to destroy (Revelation 9:11) and to oppose all that is true, right, loving, holy, and from God. Recently I spent time with someone who was being torn down by others through the sin of gossip. It was heartbreaking to listen to and I struggled to counsel this friend how to move forward in light of it. The best way to see through any challenges, persecutions, slander, gossip and hardships we face is to first identify the source of it. Hopefully through reading this article, you can see Satan’s goal is to get us Christians off track. He has schemes (Ephesians 6:11) and he will use anyone, anything and any person (including well-meaning Christians) to discourage and destroy true followers of Christ. How do we combat Satan’s schemes? How do we stay on track of following Jesus every day in spite of these tactics of our enemy? Let me suggest two things. First, James 4:7 says, “Submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Notice the critical first step: submitting ourselves to God. In the past I’ve tried to resist the devil on my own without first submitting to God. I’ll spare you the details but suffice it to say it ended poorly for Tom. I crashed and burned and had to come to God in humble submission to Him. While Satan is not omnipotent, he does have great power as a fallen angel. One on one, you are I are no match for him. But a Christian, submitted to the will of God and filled with the Holy Spirit, has all of God’s strength to resist the devil’s schemes. Second, put on the armor of God every day. Ephesians 6:10-20 is a passage Heidi and I pray regularly over ourselves, our family, and our church family. Remind yourself daily that we are engaged in spiritual warfare every day and if you don’t have your shield up, your helmet on, and your sword ready to fight, you will be in a compromised position. Daily put on your armor so that when (notice I didn’t say “if”) the attacks from the enemy come, you will be able to defeat them because you are submitted to God and you have the armor in place. As you battle against the enemy, your shepherd, one of our elders, stands ready to support you in whatever way you may need. Please reach out to your shepherd for prayer and support when you need it so that you know you are not facing the spiritual warfare alone.
Peace My Friends,
Pastor Tom