Category Archives: Spiritual Warfare

Cabin 19: Footprints in the Snow

The wind was steady and the snow was blinding. I could barely see my own outstretched hand as I shuffled through the deepening snow. My bare legs were now numb from the cold as I plowed through drifts nearly up to my waist.

Jesus’ footprints were barely visible and disappearing quickly. I had to keep moving. I found myself running, stumbling, falling, getting back up — again and again.

My numb shins began to burn and itch from the prolonged exposure. My eye lids were nearly frozen shut. I had to keep peeling off the frosted flakes in order to keep my eyes on the trail Jesus was blazing.

Worse than the cold wind and blinding snow, was the deafening silence I was experiencing. Snow has an insulating effect, a way of dampening the sounds of around you, until all you can hear is your own breathing and your own thoughts.

And the last thing I wanted in the world right now was to be left alone with my own thoughts.

“Jesus!?” I had been yelling out continuously, but I hadn’t heard his voice for probably 30 minutes — which felt more like 30 hours.

In the ripe silence my thoughts grew louder. Have you ever listened closely enough to your thoughts to discern they often take on different tones? At one moment they had the voice of a scared child crying out for help:

Where is he leading me? How much further? I’m cold. I want to go home. Please slow down, Jesus. I can’t keep up.

The next moment my thoughts had the sneering tone of the Accuser:

This is all your fault! You brought this upon yourself! You should just lay down, close your eyes and fall asleep into peaceful oblivion. 

Then the voice of truth again:

No, follow Jesus’ footprints! That’s all I need to do. He will guide me through this.

But the snow only increased and the tracks were beginning to disappear. A huge blast of wind came suddenly, and I found myself stumbling forward, face first into a drift. In the few seconds it took to gather myself, I had somehow lost my sense of direction. Which way was I heading? My cold, numb muscles struggled to pull me to my feet.

When I finally stood up and looked around, the footprints had completely vanished.

Continue reading Cabin 19: Footprints in the Snow

Halloween and the Sexualization of Evil

DAILY ILLUMINATION | Reports from the intersection of faith & everyday life.

Here’s a repost from many years back. -JB

“Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14).

Christians have always had a tough time with Halloween. The danger usually associated with the message of Halloween was its association with the occult — the glorification and celebration of evil, death, Satan, witchcraft, blood-sucking vampires and the like.

Clearly the people called to “live in the light as he is in the light” (1 John 1:7) have no business dabbling in this sort of darkness. Christians living in the bright new day of the Resurrected Son are called to “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:12).

I have always appreciated C. S. Lewis’ balanced approach to the topic of Satan and the forces of darkness, warning that: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the…

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GOLF & GOD (6): The Mind Game

Mental-Side-of-Golf-CoverEvery golfer knows that what goes on between the ears is just as critical for success as all the other mechanics that go into a golfer’s game.  In fact, long after you have mastered the mechanics of a smooth, skillful golf swing, the mental game continues to be the greatest obstacle for the advanced golfer.

Tiger Woods and every other professional golfer is most haunted by the subtle attacks of the mind. These guys have mastered the swing techniques and skills of the game. But one bad shot or one poorly played hole can set off a chain reaction and downward spiral into mental weakness and lack of confidence.  A short 15 inch putt that typically gives us no problem can suddenly become worrisome and anxiety-inducing.  The cup gets smaller and smaller in our mind’s eye.  We get caught up in what we call a “mind game” and end up choking. Continue reading GOLF & GOD (6): The Mind Game

GOLF & GOD (5): Water Hazards

Don’t be intimidated by the 15,000 sq. ft. putting surface as it beckons your challenge, quietly floating 150 yards off the lakeshore. Confidence is your key to success. Board the Putter Boat shuttle, and enjoy the short ride over to finish the most unforgettable island golf green in the world. Don’t misread your putt… remember, everything breaks towards the water.

The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course of Idaho is the proud home of the world’s first floating green — an intimidating target with water on all sides.  But remember, “everything breaks towards the water.”  Ka-plunk! Splash!  Ever have one of those rounds where it seems as though if there’s water to be found, your ball will find it?  My dad seems to be one of those unfortunate ones.

picDiversWhile the OB stakes try to keep your ball on playable ground and sand traps merely slow your game down a bit, water hazards are placed on the course with a more sinister purpose of swallowing up as many victims as possible.  Yes, underneath those blue, sparkling innocent-looking waters lies a cold, sunken graveyard of every kind of golf ball .  All golfers agree: Water hazards are evil. Continue reading GOLF & GOD (5): Water Hazards

The Red Dragon in the Nativity

Gather around little boys and girls. It’s time for our annual reading of the Christmas story — this time with a twist.

I’ve seen many a nativity scenes and Christmas pageants over the years with wooden stables, sheep and goats, ox and ass, and Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus surrounded by shepherds and wise men. Interestingly, the Bible hasn’t a word about animals being present at Christ’s birth; but it does mention something far more dangerous than a rowdy sheep. Still, I have yet to see a Christmas pageant or nativity set with a giant, ill-tempered, seven-headed red dragon lurking in the distance waiting to attack.

The Book of Revelation includes its own lesser known apocalyptic styled version of the Christmas story and this one is probably not appropriate for small children. John of Patmos begins his story — or series of wild visions — in chapter 12. Grab a cup of egg nog, put the kids to bed and pull up a chair as we go through it together.  Open your Bible to Revelation 12:1.

1A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Continue reading The Red Dragon in the Nativity

Being Sifted (Dick Karman)

I’m in the process of being sifted these days. Have you been through this painful process? -JB

Satan Desires to Sift us Like Wheat by Dick Karman

God has warned us about Satan in the Bible. One probably most threatening and graphic passage is 1 Peter 5:8 where God tells us that the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (Seldom do we look at the verse directly before where it saysCasting all your care upon [The Lord]; for he cares for you. Or the commandment to be sober, and to be vigilant, earlier in the chapter.)

The imagery that Satan is warring against us is a distant, far away concept, especially to our children who are sheltered and protected in Christian homes. But if you look at the teaching in God’s word you realize how real it is. In Mark 4, Jesus is explaining the parable about the sower and the seed. He tells us the Satan comes immediately and takes away God’s word that is sown in the hearts of men. (This is a great verse to use when your memorization isn’t going too well.) It is quite clear in Mark 8:33 that Satan does not savor the things that are of God, but rather the things that are of men.

When I was growing up I had no concept of lions literally eating people. And in North America at least, seeds were being planted by machine not indiscriminately sown on unprepared soil. But one verse did cause me to consider my position in the Lord and Satan’s war against me. It was Luke 22:31 and following: And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan desires to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, you will strengthen your fellow believers.

Sifting like wheat today is not a good illustration. Our children may think of sifting flour, the soft fluffy substance used in baking. But when God was talking about sifting wheat he was referring to a very violent action used to separate the grain (wheat berry) from the stalk and the chaff. It meant literally tearing the wheat apart.

I understood this. In my youth, one of my family’s annual traditions was to go to an “old fashioned” threshing bee. This was a country gathering where antique, steam-powered threshing machines would compete against one another. A threshing machine is similar to half of a combine on today’s wheat farms. (It was one of the things that was combined, thus the name.) I always remember the name because threshing was not that far away from thrashing and that’s what it did. It beat and bent and thrashed the wheat stalks until the grain had fallen out and had been separated. It separated the valuable portion from the worthless portion.

It was very violent. I once remember seeing a shirt, which was hung on a pitchfork, thrown into a threshing machine by mistake. By the time it came out of the other end its seams were torn, its buttons were missing, and the fabric of the shirt itself was worn through in places.

Satan desired to have Peter to sift him like wheat. Satan desires to sift us like wheat; to separate us from God’s goodness and His way. He wants to snatch God’s word out of our hearts and minds. Satan wants to pull on the seams which join our families together. He wants to wear thin the fabric of our faith. His approach is not as straight forward as a threshing machine, but it is pervasive. It is in the workplace, in the products we buy, in the programs on television, and in the books we read. But there is a way of escape.

Just like Peter, Christ, our intercessor, is praying for us, that our faith will not fail. We are being protected just like the saints of old. God has not allowed Satan to tear us apart at the seams and wear holes in our very fabric. In fact, He gives us every opportunity to strengthen the fabric of our faith by studying His word, fellowshipping with other believers, and gathering together to worship Him. Parents, be mindful that Satan desires us and our children. Also remember the promises in God’s word that He will protect us from our adversary the Devil. Don’t overlook any opportunity to teach these truths to your children and to show them by example. God protects us from the ways of the Devil if we are in Christ. Gather together with other believers. Encourage one another to good works. Teach our children by example that we do not have to be sifted like wheat.