Are Your Enemies Tough Enough ?

It’s no fun having enemies but who said life was about having fun? Often our enemies make us into giants.

Winston Churchill looked across the channel at the ugly colossus created by Adoph Hitler. Nazi armies had overrun Europe’s best and were pointing their vaunted airforce at England, where the scraggly remains of the army that had opposed them had fled across the English Channel.

Churchill could have led his nation in surrender but the man we didn’t really know until then, grew before the eyes and ears of the people of his time. In early June he thundered before the House of Commons:

“Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

A bit later he challenged his people: “Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”

Dare I suggest that Hitler made Churchill into the Churchill we know?

Growing Through Conflict

The bigger the enemy, the more we’re forced to grow. David never became David until Goliath (and a few lions and bears) caused him stretch into a great king. Gideon was just an unhappy farmer until hordes of Midianites raiders triggered his rise to greatness in God.

If God were to quickly destroy all our enemies and all the obstacles in front of us, it wouldn’t take us long to become pitiful. The Church has done well when the enemy tried to destroy it and we haven’t always done so well when we were powerful and praised. A weak opposition grows no battle muscles.

So, how do we get enemies?

Where To Find Enemies

First let’s say it: the fellow who desires enemies probably has psychological problems. No one in his right mind tries to make enemies.

But, as you launch into God’s will, enemies will step into your path. Hide in your corner, seek popularity with the world, and don’t rock the boat and you may reduce the number of those hostile to you. Unfortunately, you’ll become a pitiful shadow of what God meant you to be. These enemies cause us to grow, cause us to get stronger, cause us to be what we never dreamed we could be. They even help us to see our weaknesses so we can eliminate them.

Honestly, though, if you’re a Christian passionately engaged in serving the Lord, you already have enemies.

“God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. (Eph. 6:10-12. The Message)

Take up these weapons (described in the rest of chapter six), and grow bigger than your enemies in the power of the Lord.

How big are your enemies? Are you growing to meet them?

Hot Flashes From Heaven!

Send me a sign of your favor.
Then those who hate me will be put to shame,
for you, O Lord, help and comfort me.
Psalm 86:17 (NLT)

The sprinter blasted off the starting line and nearly 40 seconds later she finished 100 meters. She won but her time was just a bit off from her world record of a couple of years before.

That seems unremarkable until you realize that the runner is Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins of New Orleans. She took up running at age 100 and recently competed in the 50 and 100 meters dashes at the National Senior games in New Mexico. She’s 103 now.


In an interview with the New York Times she gives standard advice on how to live life—“… stay in shape, just keep active. Keep your weight down and exercise. Have a lot of passions, things that you are interested in. Keep interested in a lot of things to keep you busy and keep your mind busy.”

But then she gives some advice that nearly knocked me off my chair, ““…And look for magic moments. That is something that I have done in my life — think of the things that are magic moments that happen to you, like sunsets and sunrises, rainbows, beautiful birds, music and people’s lovely comments to you. All of those are magic moments and they are free for all. Be sure to keep your eye open for them.”

Magic moments! Heavenly Hot Flashes

My oldest son Steve posted a picture of a bird on Facebook. (see above). He remarked, “This little guy landed on my window as I drove up to work this morning and stayed there while I parked.”

I knew that Steve was going through a tough moment and I really sensed that this little bird was a “messenger pigeon” from the Lord. I felt like God was saying, “I’ve got this.” His mom had a similar reaction and Steve told me that was his first reaction, too.

Magic moments. Hot flashes of wonder that God sends to remind us that He is there. When Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, they were “filled with wonder.” When the lame man at the Beautiful gate of the Temple walked, leaped and praised God after his healing, the people were “filled with wonder.”

“C’mon David. No big deal. Young birds sometimes act weird.”

I know. But, I’ve lived many decades and visited four different continents and I’ve never seen anything like that.

I wonder, though, how many “hot flashes of wonder” God sends, but we’re so preoccupied that we miss them. We want thunder that shakes us, lightning that wakes us. Something BIG! Bodacious.

Maybe this 103 year old sprinter has something to teach us about living a rich life that goes way beyond the number of years she’s been granted.

Flashes: “…sunsets and sunrises, rainbows, beautiful birds, music and people’s lovely comments to you…”

How much richer would we be if we looked for God in common things? I love the BIG blessings. But, 99.9% of life is neither good nor bad. It just is, and how we live it determines if we know God’s joy and peace.

What would life look like if we could say, “Thanks, Lord. Way to go,” for a beautiful sunset or a baby’s smile, instead of waiting for powerful miracles before we say, “Thank you,”?

Maybe Paul’s advice to some Christian friends applies to us too, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Phil. 4, the Message)

And look for the hot flashes. There are many more of them than you dreamed.


“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”
― Blaise Pascal

Smile, pardner!

My wife has begun to use almond milk with her cereal. Almond milk! That brings up the big question, “How do you milk an almond?” It’s supposed to be healthy but not as healthy as dragon milk or porcupine milk.

Where do you get draggin’ milk, you ask? From a short-legged cow!

How do you milk a porcupine? you wonder. Very carefully!

Photo by Steve Porter

Do Boomers Have Anything To Say To Millennials?

This Generation Isn’t Going Down the Tubes!

Piling on a few years of age seems to change your brain. I’m not sure if it augments it or addles it, but the years sure confuse it. For instance, here’s something I’ve wondered.

In the 1950s a crooner named Pat Boone warbled, “On a day like today, we pass the time away writing love letters in the sand.”

Then when I was a teenager the Marvellettes were so unhappy that their boyfriend hadn’t written, they sang to the postman,

“So many days you passed me by

You saw the tears standin’ in my eye

You wouldn’t stop to make me feel better

By leavin’ me a card or a letter. *

And the Boxtops didn’t have time for a fast train so they jumped on an airplane because “my baby, done wrote me a letter.” *

My question is: “What do young people today do, to express their everlasting love? No one writes letters anymore.  

If you say they tweet, text or email, we’re in trouble. How can you utter undying devotion in 150 characters or less? Can you say stupid things that you think are romantic on Snapchat? Do you want everyone to see that? Remember, your mama may be lurking in the background.

There you are though. That’s what the world has come to.

Did Cavemen Write Letters?

Wait, though? How did cavemen express their undying love? They didn’t write letters. Maybe they chiseled sweet nothings on the wall of their cave. Or native Americans two thousand years ago? I guess a lot of people have figured out a way to wax mushy without letters.

There is more than one way to get the girl.

Which brings me to another idea. Maybe some of the things that puzzle me about churches today aren’t a matter of right and wrong. It’s just another generation with another way of expressing itself. And if some of the things I see aren’t the best, my generation sure had it share of stuff like that.

I’ll have to confess to saying, “Half the evangelical church is going to be deaf in five years because of the volume of the music.” I’ve joked about a worship leader introducing himself like this: “I’m a worship leader, I write music, I write music, I write music, I write music, I write music, etc.”

Back in ye olden times when a line of music was repeated continually it was because the phonograph needle was stuck in one place. I’ve suspected that some worship leaders needed to be unstuck.

I may also have complained about the hall being so dark I couldn’t find my place, that the worship songs were sung in a key that no one but a professional could sing them, and I might have had a few other complaints. (note: none of these is true of my church, in case my pastors are reading this).

I also complained about the ultra-light scriptural content of some of the songs … until I started looking closely at some of the old hymns and Gospel songs and realized that the good old days weren’t always better. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that the old Southern Gospel song that people liked to cry along with, Precious Memories, didn’t even mention God! Mama, yes, and plenty of nostalgia. Momma and daddy prayed briefly.  

But, God must have been in the verse that got left out.

You know what, though? I’m willing to put up with things I don’t particularly like, if it those songs reach my children and grandchildren. They might not be turned on by, “I’ll Fly Away,” or get teary eyed singing, “Come ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish your mind.” But all of us can be touched by singing,

“What a beautiful Name it is

What a beautiful Name it is

The Name of Jesus Christ my King

What a beautiful Name it is

Nothing compares to this

What a beautiful Name it is

The Name of Jesus.*

I heard a message Sunday morning that I consider prophetic. The pastor spoke of Caleb’s generation. Caleb’s name meant “dog,” but this wasn’t pejorative. It could also translated as faithful, devoted, whole hearted, bold, brave.

He was a warrior dog, meaner than a junkyard dog for those who  stood between him and what God had promised him.

Caleb was itching to fight giants when Moses lead them to the cusp of the Promised Land. But everyone else except his buddy Joshua and their leader Moses trembled before these monsters.  That generation turned from the promise and wandered 40 years in the desert until the cowards had all died and a new generation of desert warriors had grown up. Caleb and Joshua were old but they were still looking for a fight.

One of the first heroes of this desert generation was Caleb’s little brother Othniel. His name meant, “Lion of God.” But, do you know who mentored that lion? That “warrior dog,” Caleb.

The pastor said he felt like the Millennial generation (ages 21-38, more or less) was going to be the channel for a great move of God but he cautioned the Baby Boomers (old dudes and dudettes like me), “Some of you have put the baton down. Some of you have dropped it. You need to pick it back up.”

He challenged the Boomers who had seen a move of God to help the Millennials who had heard of what God had done in the past but hadn’t always seen it. Caleb had seen it. He challenged “the Lion of God,” to live it in his generation, to take down that city full of giants.

And the young man did.

Maybe God hasn’t called us to show the younger generations how to dot “i’s” and cross “t’s”. We may never like their music (though if you tone down the bass guitar and drums and turn up the lights just a little, I love a lot of it). But, he has called us to love the generations following us, show them how to pray, show them how to walk in faith, full of the Spirit. God wants us to help them learn to tear down giant strongholds.

Because there sure are a lot of strongholds that need to be torn down. There is an inheritance to claim.

Do You Thoughts Go To the Dogs … or the Cats?

Hoping and Rejoicing When It Hurts (Lam. 3:42- )

Dogs are often social creatures, given to adorning your face with long, drooling licks. Some think these are kisses but it’s probably a dog’s way of slobbering on you without getting punished. Call a dog and get ready. Here comes the calvary.

Cats on the other hand are choosy about responding to summons. “Here kitty, kitty!” works if you’ve got a bowl of his favorite food at your feet. If the only reward that you have for your feline friend is your loving self, though, he may just ignore you.

When he hears, “Here, kitty, kitty,” he acts like Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes—“I hear nothing. I see nothing.”

You persist, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.” You call is greeted by studied aloofness. “HERE, KITTY, KITTY!”

And finally, “Get over here you stupid cat!”

Dog Thoughts, Cat Thoughts

My thoughts are often more like cats than dogs. Instead of running to me with their tongues lolling and a doggy smile on their face, they look my direction as if I were a wandering idiot, then they meander off wherever their heart leads them.

One of the keys to joy in tough times, though, is our thought life. If my thoughts wander around like cats, doing what they wish, I’m not likely to be victorious. Here’s something from a fellow who knew how to control his thought life.

“  and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope…” (Lam. 3:20, 21)

Let’s see what this writer did (probably Jeremiah). He was in a horrible situation, his country ravaged by enemies, but in addition he had faithfully delivered the word of the Lord. And many of his people despised him for it and worked for his downfall.

I like that phrase, “call to mind.” It’s like there’s a thought that’s not present and this fellow summons it.  Joy stands waiting to be called. Or joy attacks us when we call certain truths to mind.

“Come here faith! Come here memories of God’s faithfulness in the past. Come here promises of what God said in His Word. Come here knowledge of the nature of God. Get out of here doubt, fear, selfishness, self-pity.”

Joy is a by-product of faith in the Lord. Trust Him and joy starts licking your face.

Call up those memories of what God is like?

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,

   for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;” (Lam 3:22-25 NIV)

If you remind yourself of these truths constantly faith grows, then hope and joy germinate from our faith.

What Are You Calling To Mind?

What kind of thoughts and memories are you “calling to mind?” God’s love and faithfulness or your weakness? The impossibility of what you see, or the power and care of your God?

C’mon David! Do you remember your failures, or the times God helped you to win? Do you constantly picture defeat and what terrible things might happen, or do you call for those promises of God to fill up your thoughts?

Do you try to measure up to deserve God’s blessings or do you repent for your failures, trust His forgiveness, and expect God to work for you?

What are you putting in your mind?

When you hurt, it’s easy to focus on the pain. When the one who roars like a lion screeches, it’s hard not to allow that to echo through your thoughts.

But we can call things to mind. Call faith! Call the memories of his faithfulness to you. Call your knowledge of how God really is, not how Satan says He is. Trust the Lord Jesus. Even in hard times. Especially in hard times.

“3:31 For no one is cast off

by the Lord forever.

32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,

so great is his unfailing love.

33 For he does not willingly bring affliction

or grief to anyone.”

Armed with these truths we know:

“ it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (3:26, NIV)

“Wait.” We don’t like that, do we? Sometimes we wait a few hours. Sometimes we wait years. Sometimes the prayer is answered in your children’s lifetime and not yours. Be we wait in confidence, knowing He’s got it in control.

One other thing we need to do in hard times: take a hard look at our life and see if we had something to do with these tough times. Then if the answer appears to be, “yes,”repent and change.

“3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them,

and let us return to the LORD.

41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands

to God in heaven, and say:

42 “We have sinned and rebelled

and you have not forgiven.”

Not all tests come as the result of our rebellion or sin, but some do. Have we been unfaithful in how we handle our money? Are we at war with someone else? Have we been unfaithful to our promises? Have we justified sin in our life?

Repent and he will forgive. But it we persist in following a way that’s not his, we live in the land of reaping what we’ve sowed.

Cat People … Dog People

God emphasizes how important it is to come when He calls. Let’s be like dogs and not cats when it comes to responsiveness to the Father.

“Repent at my rebuke!

    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,

    I will make known to you my teachings.

But since you refuse to listen when I call

    and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,

since you disregard all my advice

    and do not accept my rebuke,

I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;

    I will mock when calamity overtakes you—

when calamity overtakes you like a storm,

    when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,

    when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;

    they will look for me but will not find me,

since they hated knowledge

    and did not choose to fear the Lord..”

(Proverbs 28: 23-29, NIV)


Invitation To a Free Concert

When I was a teenager certain letter combinations were magic. Say, “WNOE,” “KEEL,” or “KAAY,” and we all perked up. Those were the call letters of popular radio stations which broadcast into our area and most of the ‘with-it’ young people tuned in. (“With it” is what we wanted everyone to think we were. “Without it” was what most of us were. Who knows what “it” is anyway.

You could only hear WNOE, New Orleans at night. It wasn’t a country music station back then. K ‘double E’ L broadcast from Shreveport and KAAY was in Little Rock.

I’ll admit that one of my greatest joys in life is music. I warble for Phyllis sometimes, “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudly day … what can make me feel this way? My girl.” (She appreciates my singing when I stop. The silence that follows is comforting). I can’t play an instrument to save my life, but I listen to anything from Southern Gospel to Antonio Vivaldi and most points in between. Vestal Goodman or Luciano Pavarotti, Diana Ross or André Rieu, I’m ready for you. (Though if you’re talking Madonna and Katy Perry, I’m out).

You know who my favorite singer is, though? God! You didn’t even know that He’d recorded anything, did you? He has some incredible concerts. And they are free!

Listen to this (and for those who know me, this probably isn’t the first time you’ve read this verse): “

“For the Lord your God is living among you.

He is a mighty savior.

He will take delight in you with gladness.

With his love, he will calm all your fears.

He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

(Zeph. 3:17, NLT)

And this:

“For you are my hiding place;

you protect me from trouble.

You surround me with songs of victory.”

Psalms 32:7

Somehow, singing doesn’t seem dignified enough for God, does it? I can’t imagine the Lord belting out a song on “The Voice” or “America’s Got Talent.”

God loves us so much that He doesn’t worry about dignity. Have you heard Him singing in a hurrying stream, a water fall or the powerful, silent music of a clear mountain night with the stars and moon as His microphone?

You might hear Him in your pain if you hush and listen. He sings a lot, it’s just our radio is rarely turned to the right station. Our hurt causes static and questions and doubts drown out His voice. But, He’s singing all the time. We can’t hush Him.

His voice resonates with the bell-like purity of an opera singer, the soul-moving power of a folk singer and the toe-tapping inspiration of a blue-grass band. Can’t you hear Him?

If I’m whining, pouting, doubting, or shouting at Him, my emotions stop my ears from hearing His voice. A prophet in the Bible had that problem. He looked for God’s voice in an earth-shaking event, in a burning fire and in a powerful wind, but the Lord wasn’t there.

Then a still, small voice penetrated His depression and God touched his soul and healed Him.

God’s singing can heal your past, too. We can’t change what happened, but we can change our understanding of what happened. His beautiful voice gives significance and beauty to even the painful things that rack us.

How can you hear God singing?

We must be intentional about hearing. If I want to listen to a certain radio station, I turn my radio to that station. It’s not a problem of ‘if’ God’s singing. He’s crooning like a songbird. I’ve just got to tune in.

The Bible says if we want to hear His voice, we musn’t harden our hearts. Make you heart sensitive and open to God.

It helps to escape the noise of daily life. Sometimes, a day or two away from the cacophony of daily living helps. Once I tried to sing while an old lady next to me sang off key. Finallly, both of us were off key. To hear the Spirit’s soul-restoring music, we often have to move away a little bit. Take your Bible with you. You might sing a bit to Him.

Quieten your spirit before the Lord. If you can’t, ask Him to do it for you. “”But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” (Psalm 131:2 NIV)

You may have been hurting for a long time. Jesus came to open deaf ears—natural and spiritual ears. Get away a minute, listen. There’s healing in the song you will hear.

He wants to sing for you.

Images: EvgeniT