I remember growing up watching the movie "Rocky" and all of the sequels. My brothers and I would rap towels around our hands and go back to our rooms and spar with one another until my mom would bust up the games with "Big Whitey" the belt of a giant that was always within reach in our house, or a good busted lip kicked the fighting up too intense. Many of us grew up with Rocky as a hero and would jokingly say, "Yo, Adrienne!" We were inspired to dig down deep and fight our way through anything!
There was an event that happened several years ago that has inspired me to fight even more than Rocky Balboa. There was a young man struggling with drugs and depression that broke into our church one Tuesday while I was away studying at the library. He didn't steal anything or damage anything but the door he forced entry through and was found sitting in the sanctuary playing the piano by the police. He surrendered without contest when confronted with the police dog "option". The police officer asked me if we wanted to press charges for breaking and entering. I wanted to help the young man and show him mercy, yet he was high and not in his right mind which would pose danger to those in the community around the church. I couldn't stand the thought of a mother losing a child in an accident and have to answer why I chose to let the young man go back on the street. So I said press charges to protect him and others.
That Thursday there was an angry group of friends and family that staged a protest at the church around 5pm and called many of the local news outlets. When I drove to the church that evening there were protestors with signs and news crews recording the scene. I sent out a few texts for friends to pray, said a quick prayer and then stepped out of the car.
It seemed to me that when the cameras were rolling the hatred and intensity of the situation would double instantly and it wasn't looking like any good would come of this situation. A young man I was discipling was there already and getting good and worked up with the protestors. I identified myself as the pastor and got the leaders focused attention and verbal attacks immedieately. I began hearing for the first time the lens of their hurt and anger, "That we had the man arrested for praying just because he was hispanic, and that we were all racist."
It was in this moment I really sensed the attack getting personal that I felt God impressing on me to "Just stay down, don't let defending your actions or your ego become the issue." My heart broke for the young man and his family and yet the protest only spiraled more out of control...until we prayed. We got the step father of the man to pray with us for his son, just before I spoke to the fox news . They put the camera over our heads and recorded us praying for this all to work out for the young man's good and for God to somehow be glorified in this situation. Just moments before I was on air they were shouting in my face racist accusations and I had this peace come over me that as long as I stayed down, not one bullet could hit me. It wasn't about me. Aaaaahhhh, the soldier who stays in his bunker can hear the bullets hiss over his head, without taking a single shot.
In a matter of less than 10 minutes after that first prayer somehow the entire group of protestors were willing to gather hands in prayer with us in a big circle of about 25 or 30 people and pray for the young man in jail. The protestors began to weep and ask us and the Lord for forgiveness, in addition to praying for the young man to get the help he needed for his depression and drug problem. There was a love for one another that flooded into the parking lot that day that I will never forget. With the last amen came hugs, tears and petitions for forgiveness. The news crews missed the real story that day, but we had front row seats to watch the one of the most amazing events I have ever witnessed.
As the young man I had been discipling and I were walking back to the church in awe of what we just witnessed, I asked him a question, "Do you know how to fight?" He replied emphatically, "YES!" I asked him again, "Do you know HOW to fight?" His reply was less sure but still, "Yes." I said a third time, "Do you know how to fight and win?" He said, "No, will you tell me?" I said something I was just being taught myself, "When the opposition comes at you high and lifted up, where are they most vulnerable?" His answer came quickly, "Down low." I then said, "Why did you did you try to fight them with your pride and anger meeting them high and puffed up? You must take a low and humble position and sweep the knee if you ever want to fight and win!" Karate kid movie line duely noted, but it seemed to fit!
The man who broke into the church was released from jail eventually, came to church and apologized to the church and even was a regular attender before moving away from the area. I was able to meet with him regularly in discipleship and he continues to be friends today with several in the church. God was glorified that day and we all learned much about the power of God to bring victory even when destruction seems certain.
Fast forward a couple of years to yesterday. I was on the phone with another man in the church I am discipling. He had made great plans for doing ministry Thursday evening in the midst of a heavier than normal workload that day. That was when his boss called and gave him even more work to finish for the day, last minute. My friend tried calling me immediately because he was angry and frustrated that it isn't fair they keep dumping on him when they know he has to be out of there by 6:30 at the latest already. I was on the phone and couldn't take his call. He wresteled a bit and realized he needed to call on the Lord first not man.
I called him back right after he let God put that piece in place in his heart. As soon as he realized that truth, his phone rang as I called him back. He began talking about how he wanted to roll up his sleeves and fight for what was right and be willing to even quit his job if he had to in order to serve the Lord. I reminded him he had been asking God and myself to teach him how to fight. I then said, "I am on my knees waiting for you to shut up so we can start praying, because that is how we fight. We have to get on our knees and let God fight for us!" We began praying it down for God to get all of the glory, for God to work all of this together for good, for God to make a way where there isn't one, and on and on. Even though he couldn't do his work and ministry that day, we called on God to make a way!" It was G-O-O-D and we could really sense God delighting in us delighting in Him.
The moment we said, "Amen," he received a message on his phone that said, "Never mind on that additional job, I got someone else to cover it." My friend was praising God for his faithfulness. He was even more excited to go to the ministry event that night. He understood better the lesson to not try to fight with pride the battle that is meant to be fought on our knees. He was reminded of how able God is to fight for us and His enduring love and patience with us. He even felt God gave him a testimony for his boss to further witness to him and those he was going to minister to how God was making a way for them too. Resting in God's faithfulness and goodness is so much better than stressing and pressing in our own strength.
James 4:6 "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" and yet we hold to our pride filled ways as though they have been the source of our strength instead of weakness.
Heb 4:10 "for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his."
Exodus 14:14 "The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet.”
Yo, Adrienne.....How do you fight?
Lord forgive us of our root sins of pride, self reliance, and unbelief! Oh, we pray that you would raise up an army of praying disciples this year that "know how to fight" on their knees and that we would be granted the joy of being named among them Lord! Let us run to You. Let us rest in You. Let us allow you to go before us and make a way for us. Let us give you room to fight the battle for us while we fall on our knees. Give us a deeper knowledge of who you are, that we could love you with more of our hearts, and walk with greater power in making you known to the world. Let us be quick to pray and let us not be so quick to forget the way of Christ on this earth as the example of unwavering humility and dependant connection to You, His Father. Let us take the time to be filled with your spirit before we walk in the busyness of our day. Let us look back and see people scratching their heads and looking to you Lord in greater belief that you really do love them, because you intersected our lives with theirs! Let it all be done to the praise of Your glorius grace that you have blessed us with in The Beloved, that you lavish on us with all wisdom and understanding. Amen!
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