A different fire burns on Pentecost Sunday



The Bible says our battle isn't against flesh and blood. This is hard to remember when it is flesh and blood screaming at you, threatening you, or confronting you.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

All of life is spiritual, and our battles are ultimately spiritual. Of course, our elected leaders and first responders still have to deal in flesh and blood, no matter what spirit is driving it. It's why we should pray for our leaders, even if we don't like their politics.

I think of what started in Minneapolis and has spread to significant numbers of cities across the nation. We were already in a dry tinder box with frustrations tightly capped from two months of pandemic lockdown, restlessness, and plummeting economy. Then the match was lit and it spread like wildfire, finding fuel in simmering anger, resentment, hurt, and opportunity. (That's a very simple summation.)

Minneapolis is sometimes called "paganistan." You can Google that and read about it yourself; I won't link to anything in particular. It's called this because of its huge pagan culture, and celebration of witches and pagan beliefs. Our battle is spiritual. What spirit has been welcomed there? What spirit has been welcomed in other cities? Spirits of false gods, pride, greed, lies, manipulation, sex, slavery, cruelty--these are princes and powers that reign all over the nation, over cities, and all the way down into our own homes.

We've invited the destroying battle in.

I wonder what we would think if we could, for a moment, see the spiritual battles going on right now in our cities. I am, perhaps, still affected by the visual imagery from reading Frank Peretti's books This Present Darkness and Piercing The Darkness as a teenager, but I can't help but hope that even in all of the dark evil rising up and sinking its claws into people and driving them into a violent and angry writhing mass, lifting up curses and filth to those spirits, that the believers in Christ are lifting up prayers. One minute prayers, five hour prayers, prayers while sweeping up broken window glass, prayers while mowing the lawn, prayers while driving, prayers while standing in a uniform, prayers in front of businesses, prayers huddled in a home as rioters approach, prayers in a prayer closet, paryers in public, eloquent prayers, stumbling prayers, tear-filled prayers, stuttered prayers, prayers in tongues, shouted prayers, prayers of praise. Prayers, our weapons of warfare in this battle.

Not hashtags. Not online argument. Not political donations. Not petitions. Not even peaceful protesting.

Prayers.

Prayers for God to have mercy, to move hearts, to draw people to Christ, to help us show love, to bring peace, to bring true justice, to restore right relationships with Him, to help us forgive the unforgivable, to redeem the wretched. Prayers that God would help His people look to him instead of to elected leaders or society. Prayers that each believer in Christ would be fully awakened from any stupor, that the dry bones would come to life. Prayers that our spiritual leaders would lead with the urgency of a general on the front lines. Prayers for even just one more mighty revival across the world as time winds down for Jesus to return. Prayers that the fire of Pentecost would be rekindled.

I wait expectantly for God to do something amazing, something I can't even envision.

This much earthly turmoil--constant over the years, wrapping its tentacles from Asia to the Middle East to Europe to North America--seeming to explode even more in just a few months' time makes me consider what kind of spiritual war is heating up, what the enemy is reacting to, what God is amassing that is driving the evil spiritual powers into such a frenzy.

Yesterday, I found myself in a kind of daze as I watched two American astronauts launch into space from Florida once again, after all these years. I also watched increasing riots, burning, and destruction in Minneapolis and on into other cities (including Fargo). And oh yes. There is still a pandemic. 

The mind can't really process all of that information and all of those emotions, in one day. It felt like the world was on fire and two guys just got to escape it on a rocket. I was reminded how delicate a balance law and order is, how quickly our economy and security are gone, how fast people turn into destructive and deadly mobs. God has his hand of protection (a kind of common grace even the unbeliever benefits from whether they acknowledge it or not) on this world and when His finger seems to twitch, how everything shakes and falls. Imagine what it will be like when He not only removes it, but turns it to judge the world. 

Today is Pentecost Sunday. We're celebrating the arrival of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus had promised would come. The Holy Spirit arrived to people huddled inside, waiting expectantly, coming on a rushing wind and then a flame of fire on their heads. The Holy Spirit changed everything for believers, igniting a fire, visible on their heads for a moment, and spiritually for the rest of their lives.

For believers, let's pray that the fires born out of anger and the wrong spirit are squelched in a move of spiritual fire from God. For those of you who don't know Jesus Christ, you can be born again and put your trust and hope in him.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't know how much longer we will go on. But I know, dear reader, that if you're putting your hope in the governor or National Guard or government stimulus check or GoFundMe donations or an election, you have no true hope. 

You have to turn to Jesus. Why not make it today, Pentecost Sunday?

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