Posted in training

destroying strongholds

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Strongholds have a long history. Living in open fields make people vulnerable. Putting up walls around their settlements did the trick. People soon realized that they could launch attacks and retreat to the safety of their walled city. Their point of operation became a “strong hold.” 

Strongholds of ideas operate the same way. Like-minded individuals tend to cluster. Sometimes they form their own stronghold to “protect” themselves from those who threaten their way of thinking. When a stronghold of ideas gains more power, it often demands silent acquiescence. Strongholds cause us to accept as unchangeable something we know is contrary to God’s will. They overwhelm us with hopelessness and cripple our ability to obey God.

But Paul tells us that we “have divine power to destroy strongholds” of ideas that are antithetical to the gospel of the kingdom. What is he talking about? How do we tear down strongholds of ideas? Take a look at the verses surrounding this passage (I’m using The Message version).

  • “I write in the gentle but firm spirit of Christ” (10:1b) = steer conversations in the gentle but firm spirit of Christ
  • “I hear that I’m being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I’m with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters” (10:1c) = brace yourself; you’ll likely be misunderstood 
  • “Please don’t force me to take a hard line when I’m present with you” (10:2) = try to avoid drawing a hard line in the sand with people
  • “You stare and stare at the obvious, but you can’t see the forest for the trees” (10:7a) = work at seeing the big picture
  • “If you’re looking for a clear example of someone on Christ’s side, why do you so quickly cut me out? Believe me, I am quite sure of my standing with Christ” (10:7bc) = side with the gospel of Christ and clothe yourself in Christ
  • “You may think I overstate the authority he gave me, but I’m not backing off. Every bit of my commitment is for the purpose of building you up, after all, not tearing you down” (10:8) = share your convictions in such a way that builds people up, not tears them down
And look for the “divine power” to show up!
Posted in training

refuse to shame bomb

MASK SHAMING. Have you done it? Have you experienced it? It goes both ways. You can shame bomb those who wear masks and those who don’t. You’ve likely seen the clip of the MSNBC masked reporter saying on air, “As you can see, no one is wearing them”— “including the cameraman,” an unmasked passerby butts in, “half your crew’s not wearing them.” The embarrassed reporter had to admit, “There you go, including the cameraman. Yeah.” It’s been viewed more than 2.8 million times.

“That’s what we do as human beings,” said North Carolina State University anthropology professor Nora Haenn. “These are informal ways we try to keep each other in line. Even in the best of times, we certainly shame each other.”

Oh my, there has to be a better way. Let’s look at the best example of shame bombing in the Bible: the woman caught without a mask (John 8:3-10, GW Version).

“We caught this woman without a mask,” the masked men told Jesus. “You know the rules about wearing masks. So what do you say?” They suspected Jesus would tell her that her sins are forgiven—which would mean ignore the rules. Instead Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him with sanitizer gel. He straightened up and said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote in the dirt. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, six feet apart, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin not more.” 

Instead of shame bombing, Jesus takes a risk (some idiot could have picked up a rock!). He doesn’t condemn the masked men or the unmasked woman (which does not mean that masks don’t matter). He wants everyone to humble themselves, refuse mask shaming, and consider the perils of a mask-less lifestyle. 

How about you?