Alongside my endeavors in writing and music I volunteer as a youth and worship leader at Crossroads Christian Youth Center in Big Rock, IL. Crossroads is a local non-denominational youth ministry that has two main ministry projects: We provide sports programs for homeschooled students and we host a youth group that meets on Wednesday nights at the converted truck stop on route 30 which is our building. I’ve been blessed by the opportunity to invest my own efforts and gifts in the growth of this very solid ministry and also by the growth I’ve experienced alongside other leaders and students. There is a beautifully genuine focus on and rootedness in the gospel of Jesus at Crossroads which is really a gift of God’s grace to experience and be a part of. It’s hard to trace all of the ways that Crossroads has positively influenced me. There’s something so spiritually wholesome about just being in and around a group of young people who are really all about Jesus and don’t have too much time or attention to spare for any of the peripheral issues that can so easily become idols and substitute identities in the lives of individual believers and in Christian communities. I have been lifted up and encouraged by sweet friendships with people at Crossroads who have helped me see Jesus when I needed it most. All that to say, Crossroads is significant part of my life and a great supplement to the local church community I’ve been blessed with.
Tonight at our youth group meeting a man who’s involved in our ministry (officially, he’s our groundskeeper) shared from a book about spiritual warfare called The Three Battlegrounds by Rev. Francis Frangipane. Not having read the book myself, I can’t vouch for it as a whole, but the passages that were shared with us tonight were really solid. In the course of listening to the message and discussing it afterwards, some lessons about spiritual warfare that I learned were brought back to my mind with more clarity and freshness I’ve enjoyed for a little while.
At the end of last year and the beginning of this year, I got something of an informal, experiential crash course in spiritual warfare. Involved in the story of those two or three months are some of my biggest personal victories and also some of my deepest personal regrets. Much of that story is too personal to broadcast, but there are lessons I learned through the pressures, challenges, successes and failures of that season of life that I want to put into writing. In commencing this series I want to make a few introductory points about my general theological beliefs, how they frame my approach to this subject, and what I do and don’t hope to accomplish in writing about it.
I come from a reformed theological background. I wasn’t really raised in that community but I’ve moved into it as I’ve been convicted by the word of God that the most central ideas in reformed thinking about who God is and what He has done in history and in salvation are biblical. I’ve been going through a period of re-evaluating some of those ideas lately (instigated in large part by the time I’ve spent in the works of C.S. Lewis), but so far that process of re-evaluation has only served to confirm what I previously understood to be true, although I think I’m more aware of the reality and importance of the role of human will than I was before, and also a fair bit more sensitive to the spiritual dangers involved in misunderstanding predestination, providence, and the way God works to save than I was before. The relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom is still very mysterious to me, but as a Trinitarian I already know that I don’t have to fully understand something in order to affirm it as true. In much the same way as I approach other controversial issues that aren’t part of the sum of the saving knowledge of Jesus, I hold my beliefs about how God exercises His sovereignty both in general human events and more specifically in salvation with an open hand, willing to be corrected by anyone who can show me a more perfect way from Scripture. But for the present there are just too many passages of Scripture that are too difficult for me to reconcile with any view other than the Reformed view.
I owe to this theological background the idea that the events in our lives are somehow the unfolding of God’s plan, and also the emphasis on the glory of God that runs through my whole thinking. I don’t think we can make sense of spiritual warfare on the macro level without those fundamental ideas.
Now, as to how I’m going to approach this topic and what I’m going to try to accomplish, there are a couple of things to be said. First, I’m sure that there is a lot of wisdom to be gathered and gained on the subject that I do not have. I’m going to try to be pretty firm on the things that I know for sure and pretty open-ended when it comes to everything else. Second, I am going to try to work my way through the subject with a somewhat decided logical sequence, starting with foundational thoughts about what spiritual warfare is and what its goals are, and moving from there into how spiritual warfare plays out in our daily lives. I will, however, probably not succeed in unfolding my thoughts in perfect logical order. And finally, I’m not going to interrupt the other series I began last week called Songs of His Pursuit in order to make room for this. Both series will run concurrently, perhaps for some time, interspersed by posts about other topics.
Thanks for following, and I hope you enjoy and are edified by what follows on the subject of spiritual warfare.