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Monday, January 17, 2011

The Necessity of Accountability

For a little over a week, I have been working at getting rid of some weight. In order to be healthier, I needed to drop about 95 pounds. The first thing I did was not to figure out an eating plan or exercise regimen. One of the first things I did was to start spreading the news that I was wanting to lose weight. Why in world would I do that? It's simple. The more people know that I'm trying to drop the pounds, the less likely I am to be making unhealthy choices.
Whenever you set a goal, accountability is crucial. If you are trying to overcome an addiction, you need someone to help strengthen you. If you are trying to beat debt, being in a class will help encourage you. If you are trying to lose weight. you need someone to push you along during the difficult times.
In the Bible, especially in the New Testament, you rarely see someone acting alone. Jesus had His apostles, and He sent them in groups. Paul almost always had a companion, whether it was Barnabas, Silas, Luke, or Apollos.
The writer of Ecclesiastes had it right. "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him--a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (4:9-12, ESV).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Prince of Darkness Grim, We Tremble Not For Him

This post's title comes from the classic hymn "A Mighty Fortress," penned by leader of the Protestant Reformation Martin Luther. In this hymn, Luther reminds us that we have no reason to fear the wiles of Satan and his minions. In the more recnt worship song, "He Reigns," made popular by the band the Newsboys, we are reminded that the leader of all those who oppose God tremble at the prasing of El-Shaddai.
Some of you may wonder why I'm speaking on this particular subject. It's very simple. It seems that we have forgotten who the dominant force in our lives is. Those of us who are among the people of God, those who have trusted in Christ, we have a form of schizophrenia. According to author and seminary professor Steve Brown, one out of three men in the church are addicted to some sort of pornography. We walk about as though everything is just peachy, and forgetting that Satan "prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Pet. 5:8, ESV).
Luke gives an interesting story in the book of Acts regarding spiritual warfare. In Acts 19, Paul was preaching and healing diseases and exorcising demons in the city of Ephesus, in modern day Turkey. Seven men, whose father was Sceva, the Jewish high priest, saw that Paul was commanding spirits in the name of Jesus. These men decided to try this, and so they approached a demoniac, and declared "I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims" (v. 13). The demon inhabiting this one man responded by giving these seven fools a major league butt-kicking.
In the epistle written by James, we are told to submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee. But in order for Satan to flee, we must first submit to God. We must acknowledge God's lordship in our lives. Once we've done that, we must resist the devil. Only then will Satan flee