Monday, January 28, 2008


We are at war. Probably not a big news flash. Although, I would like to point out that I'm not talking about Iraq, Afghanistan, terror, or even drugs. Yes, we do have military troops fighting on all of these fronts. However, I'm talking about a spiritual war. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians, "We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against . . . spiritual hosts of wickedness." There is a spiritual battle being raged as we speak, and we are at risk.

I suppose this is kind of an "odd" topic for a Lutheran to be writing about. Usually these kinds of things are saved for folks we want to call "Holy Rollers" or even Pentecostals. The problem is I believe this spiritual war effects us as well. Essentially, I believe, every struggle we face in the church comes down to a spiritual matter.

When we struggle with conflict in our midst, it's often because of a spiritual matter. You see conflict isn't necessarily bad, it can actually help us grow if "done" properly. When spiritual inmaturity creeps in then it becomes ugly and people can get hurt beyond repair.

When we struggle with finances in the church, it's probably not about money at all. It's actually a spiritual issue. Take our congregation here. We just passed a budget of about $400,000 and it felt like a stretch to many people. We stepped forward in faith and passed it, which is a good thing. However, if you take the average income around town and take figure a Biblical tithe of 10% we would have a budget of over $2.8 million. If there is a struggle financially it is a spiritual matter.

When we struggle with finding enough volunteers, it's a spiritual matter. What's the most common thing we hear? "I just don't have enough time" or "I'm so overbooked." Why is that? What is driving your priorities? Is the culture, peer pressure, etc. driving you or are you planning your schedule based on your call to ministry.

Now here's what I think is really tough, this spiritual battle is not usually a real in your face sort of battle. It is filled with all kinds of subtleties. One of the best things I have ever read on this is "The Screw Tape Letters" by C.S. Lewis. He paints a picture of the devil and his cohorts working on us in simple and subtle ways so that we don't recognize it until it is too late. We see it all the time, don't we? It starts with helping out things like your kids basketball team, which leads you to get involved in several other things, which eventually leads you to having no time for helping out with the ministry around the church. Or maybe it happens for you with your finances where you buy something little, then something else, you buy a gas trimmer for the lawn instead of the shears, and before you know you don't have money left over to give to support the ministry that's happening around you.

We are at war. Keep fighting. PRAY! And I pray that when all is said and done you can say, as the Apostle Paul said, that you have fought the good fight!

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