ALL SORTS OF BATTLES In His Light We See Light
C. 2012, Doug Blair
Down to Business in the Trenches
God, I’m not very good at this. I wakened early to the sound of one lark. Imagine…singing in this ghastly place. Sergeant said that this morning we would move out. Comes as a relief after three weeks in this muck and rain and monotony. Some sort of artillery fire will pulverize the field before us for a good two thousand yards. “Jerry” will be given quite a shock. Eight A.M. departure, regardless. Hope that the French boys to the rear get the timing right with their firepower. Hate to be walking under that kind of downpour. I worry about Freddy. Gone last night with two more on recon. Should have been back two hours ago. He had volunteered. Always the optimist. Always the believer. Frequently pulling that little Testament of his and throwing up 1
a prayer request or thanksgiving. Imagine, thanksgiving out here, in this. He had also come from around Brandon, but I had never met him ’til the ship. Something clicked between us. He would just laugh when the boys called him “Parson Fred”. I worry about him, God. Please be his Protector right now. I worry for all our sakes. Our few things packed. Ammo ready. Chaplain will probably say his piece in another forty minutes. God, I hope I am doing this right. Help us. Go before us. Do I dare say this at all when the Huns ahead are your children too? Can’t this all just be over? I know you are there. Hear my prayer…Father, save me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
My Father Will Care for You
The American Civil War had ended and a banker and father of a Union Lieutenant waited for his son's return. He had last heard of one desperate final engagement of the regiment including his son. He knew not of the boy's state, and he waited with bated breath and repeated prayers. This was his only son. A knock finally came at the front door of the stately home and the man raced to open and see the end of his long wait. To his surprise there was another young man in uniform about the same age as his son. The youth introduced himself (we will call him Peter) and stated that he and the banker's son had become fast friends in the closing months of the war. In a pivotal struggle Peter had gotten trapped in the midst of a number of "Rebs" and his friend broke through the lines and carried him away to safety. The son had sustained critical injuries in the rescue. The father could hardly ask his next question, but the youth's expression 2
confirmed his greatest fear. Without a word, Peter handed the old man a letter. It was from the son wishing the father blessings and introducing Peter as a dear friend. It stated that injuries were of a mortal nature and that it was not likely that the son would long survive. Would the father receive Peter back into household and estate in the same fashion as he would have received the son? The father, teary-eyed, took the young visitor into his home and life. All this was done out of love for the son.
Jesus, If Youâ€™re Realâ€Ś
Cindy clicked on the light in the apartment hallway. Crystal clung to her shoulder like a little rag doll. The evening with Sandy and Barb at the Advent service had been just what she had hoped for her child. Lots of colour, music, happy faces, and those wonderful stained glass windows all around. At the coffee shop afterward, Crystal had chattered non-stop about the friendly kids, the little craft project and the story of the shepherds. Down in the parking lot they had thanked their new friends profusely for the outing. Quick the unravelling. Quick the don of nighty. And with the good night kiss, the moaning, mumbled words: "Mom, I wish it wasn't over." Lights out. Cindy settled in the big arm chair in the living room. Shoes kicked off. Lights on the little three foot "snow covered" Christmas tree. All else silent but the echoes of festive hymns registering in her memory. And then Barb's comment about the Christ being "born in us" for the asking. Was it all just sentimentalism? Had she been too tired from work to receive the evening in a balanced way? She couldn't shake the fascination.
In the silence of her litle apartment, she began to have the impression that someone was listening. Her thoughts shifted to the Bible reading, which the elderly gentleman, the retired teacher, had shared: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." How incredible! This baby...Mighty God, Prince of peace, David's throne. For so many years, out of the church, the whole season had been a blur of Bing Crosby, Charles Dickens, coffee shop windows, harried shoppers and a continued sense of missing the big event. But tonight she had met a few people who were honestly and evidently in love with Jesus as a present fact and friend. Alone in her living room, but still sensing a Listener, she began to cry quietly and without tears. "Jesus, if you're real, would you please come to me, help me, forgive me for ignoring you. Get us through this battle." Real business was in process. New life was flickering...
I am frightened and I swore I’d never fear. I am frightened because Jesus Christ is near. He has overcome my works; He has shown anointed power. Does he not know that this age is Satan’s hour? Just today, he and disciples set afloat, And by chance Christ fell asleep upon the boat. I attacked with wind and waves; Awesome thunderings were heard; He awoke and calmed the tempest with his Word! Once ashore, in the land of Gadarenes, That young lad with schizophrenia was seen. I had long deprived his brain; Christ just set it back in line, Casting out my demon spirits into swine. All the people of the village came to see, Evidence of that perverted youth set free. 5
He had kept them all in fear, Lurking naked from the graves. Now he thrills to spread the message, “Jesus saves!” Next, returning to the port from whence he came, Christ was met by crowds pressed close, praising his name. An old rabbi begged his help: “Heal my dying child,” he said. Then Christ prayed for her and raised her from the dead! This has been a devastating day for me. He has taught of how God’s Holy Word sets free. If they realize this truth, If they stand on what’s been told, They will reap from faith seeds planted hundredfold! I have not seen such authority in life, Since before I deposed Adam and his wife. Once they walked in full dominion, ‘Til I praised the fruit forbidden, And I duped them into sickness, death and strife. It is clear his mission here is from the Lord. How I fear this Jesus’ words won’t be ignored! If his efforts in the earth Spread the Holy Spirit’s power, It is finished! I am come to my last hour! 1 JOHN 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Al-Anon Meets the Book
The old man sat in the coffee shop, Bible in hand, reflecting on the Advent church service just concluded. Call him Charlie. He sat alone, but delighted to "watch the race", as he put it (the human race). Happy people, in the main, sipping hot drinks and talking of exciting holiday plans. Two tables to his right there were two men, one middle-aged, the other twenty-something in denim, tattoos and pony-tail. The subject of their conversation was the younger one's girlfriend. Obviously a drinking problem. Totally unpredictable. And there was a baby involved. At times the young woman could not be trusted at all with the child's care. What was to be done? Obviously the middle-aged man was a seasoned Al-Anon member, and this was a scheduled session of comfort and guidance. The eaves-dropping elder heard words like "unconditional love, patience mixed with firmness, being there for her, especially at this Season". The encouragement was commendable. But as with all sessions with this organization, no reference to Jesus. This presumably was to avoid fences and boundary lines. After about fifteen minutes, Charlie felt the urge. He opened to Habakkuk 2:15: 15Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! 16Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD's right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory. Charlie sidled over to the other table. "Might I share something with you fellows?" "Yeah, sure," said the young man. Charlie read the portion of scripture. "What do you think God's attitude is toward those who cause others trouble with booze?" "Not too good, I guess."
"Do you think that his power is available to kick the thing?" "Yeah, I would hope so." "Do you think that He would come to the aid of any of his creatures on this, or just to those who have made a commitment?" "I dunno." "Neither do I, son, but I'll tell you...in the forty years since I accepted Jesus as my Lord, I have never found God to leave me in the lurch without good reason." (Charlie did not testify as to his drunken times. The failures in self-help. The weekends in the clink. The jobs lost. The first wife gone. All long ago. He wanted to focus on the sympathy and power of God, and not upon the grim resolve of men.) The old man thanked the two for hearing him out. He slid a small pocket Testament of John's Gospel to the one: "Son my name and phone number are on the inside jacket. You are welcome to call...if you like." He tucked in his scarf as he headed toward the door.
19 Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? 20 Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible. 21 He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. 22 He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. 23 The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield.
24 He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. 25 He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
Ordnance for Tough Times
ord路nance 1. cannon or artillery. 2. military weapons with their equipment, ammunition, etc. 3. the branch of an army that procures, stores, and issues, weapons, munitions, and combat vehicles and maintains arsenals for their development and testing. So many times in the Christian walk, when testing comes, it will seem that the best strength and preparation is found in Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians. A run down on the chapters might read something like this: 1. Comfort 2. Conviction 3. Rules 4. Liberty 5. Reconciliation 6. Paradox 7. Repentance 8. Liberality 9. Bounty 10. Credentials 9
11. Infirmities 12. Humiliation 13. Examination If I might centre out just one verse as exceptional help, it would be the following from the 5th chapter: 21For he (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Does this not bring backbone and hope to the struggling believer? When Satan's attack comes with the inevitable condemnation for some past stumbling, we can tell him that we have been made righteous. Sounds crazy? Just as crazy as loading all the consequences of evil upon the shoulders of the all-righteous One. The marvelous exchange of the Ages!
When the Priest Comes Near
(Memorable entry in Our Daily Homily by F. B. Meyer) When ye draw nigh unto the battle, the priest shall approach - Deuteronomy 20:2 When Abraham returned from the slaughter of the kings, the priest of the Most High appeared to welcome him, and to prepare him for the still more subtle encounter which awaited him with the king of Sodom. As Abraham drew nigh to that battle the priest approached. Whenever a battle is imminent, look out for the Priest. - Do not go to the war at your own charges, you cannot stand against the mighty power of your arch-adversary. Look around, and see the Priest stand. What Priest? The Apostle and High Priest of your confession. He will offer prayer for you, and anoint your shield with the precious oil, and put His hand upon your hand as you feebly draw the bow. "What makes you so bold, my lad?" the captain asked of a stripling as he went into the fight. And the answer came quickly, "My mother put her hands 10
on my head and blessed me ere I left our home." Whenever the Priest has been near, anticipate a battle. - The best hours come to prepare us for the worst. The dove descends that we may be able to stand for forty days against the devil. Do not be surprised at this. And whenever some experience of unusual radiance and helpfulness has visited you, say to yourself, "This is God's sweet way of preparing me against coming trial. Let me walk warily, for danger is near. The Priest has been with me; I am drawing nigh to the battle. I know not what lies before me: but He is acquainted with the difficulties I have to face and the fierceness of the adversary I have to encounter. He alone can equip me for the fight." Note: The picture shows a shofar. Hebrew musical instrument made from a ram's horn. Always blown by the priest before the Camp moves, enters into battle, gets called to a meeting.
In the battle of Thermopylae (Hot Gates) in the Second Persian Invasion of Greece (480 BC) three hundred Spartans under King Leonidis distinguished themselves by holding off the massive armies of King Xerxes for two full days while a larger Greek Army of united city states re-grouped for the ultimate rebuff of the enemy. The defensive coup had been made possible by virtue of the extraordinary battle capabilities of the Spartans and the strategic advantage of holding a narrow mountain pass by the sea. Ultimately the three hundred were destroyed. In the recent film starring Gerard Butler and about a dozen others in the midst of thousands of computer generated images, the Spartans are given almost super-human capabilities. The audience thrill to panoramic views of rugged crashing coast-line, immense armies on the march and skies 11
darkened with storms of arrows. Today I thought of the spiritual parallels. We wage a war against unbelief, oppression, lust, confusion, self-doubt, deprivation, death and deceit. We are told that in this world we must travel cautiously in consideration of myriads of wicked spiritual powers. They are the true enemies, enslaving the ones described in Ephesians as "strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world". But we have a tight place from which to battle with strategic advantage. It is the cleft in the rock and beneath God's hand. Remember Moses as God's glory passed by in Exodus 33: 21, 22? We have all heard the expression "one believer plus God equals a majority". I would also have us take a second look at the numbers. There is that "chariots of fire" story in 2 Kings 6 when the prophet Elisha was facing the forces of the King of Syria: 15And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. 18And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. Add to this the encouragement which John the beloved gives in his first letter: 1 John 4: 3And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is 12
not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. I am trying to build confidence here for us. I am aware of the impact of fretful deliverance ministries that suggest a wicked spirit behind every tree, and prescribe prayers, scripture tid-bits, incantations, "bindings and loosings" and meditations for defense. Much of this material is based on the personal experience of high-profile teachers and not the foundation of scripture. I remind all listeners. God has given us the "fighting chance", with His presence, His Word of courage, his Spirit of comfort and his ministering angels. Now, let us get on with living for Christ. Being the comforters, the peacemakers and the Good News carriers.