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Battleground

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” ~ Ephesians 6:12 (KJV)

As Christians, we stand with Jesus to usher in His plan of love for the world. We stand with Him as His very name inspires a bend in our knees and awe in our hearts. We stand with Him as vessels to be used to heal, to love, to spread peace. We stand with Him simply to rejoice in His presence. We do all this and so much more. And sometimes, we stand with Him in battle.

As Christians, we do have a constant enemy. We don’t need to fear him necessarily (though he’d like us to!) because in the end Jesus is stronger. But we do need to fight him. His name is Satan and his sole aim is to kill, steal and destroy God’s plan. As stewards of this plan, we are automatically at odds with him. And he will use deception, distraction, literally any means he can come up with to keep us from fully doing our Father’s work.

Now, there are 7 main principalities that we fight, with a powerful demon at the head of each one (keep in mind though, they are not as powerful as Jesus and you can defeat them). These principalities are:

1) Spirit of Witchcraft

2) Spirit of Antichrist

3) Spirit of Infirmity

4) Spirit of Death

5) Spirit of Lying

6) Spirit of Mammon (wealth, provisions, socio-economic status, etc)

7) Spirit of Perversion

Right. Well, now that we have identified these principalities of the enemy, fighting them can seem like a daunting task. But luckily, God gives us examples throughout the Bible and a blueprint of what we need to do do defeat Satan and his minions.

Once such example, and it’s a fabulous one, is the book of Esther (which you can read here). Esther’s story at first seems nice enough, with a brave Jewish girl defeating the odds to save her people. But the more you delve into the book, the more you realize: Esther was a spiritual warrior, tried and true, who defeated the enemy and walked in victory to save her people. Here’s the thing: of those 7 principalities I mentioned above, Esther had to battle 6 of them. Six! All at once, too! Here’s the breakdown of what she was up against:

1) Spirit of Witchcraft: witchcraft was a common part of Persian culture in Esther’s time – spells, healers, divination, the works. King Xerxes himself is widely thought to have been a zoroastrian, a religion that used fire and water in its worship. To be fair, zoroastrianism forbade demon worship and consequently witchcraft, but given the use of the elements in its practice, it was a pretty short jump to make and a lot of sects practiced witchcraft anyway. One of King Xerxes’ advisers, Ostanes, was a magi and considered powerful in occult practice.

2) Spirit of Antichrist: In the book of Esther, Haman (favored by the king) makes all bow down to him to show respect. We bow as a form of worship, making this requirement full-blown idolatry. This, we can surmise, is why Mordecai refused to do so.

3) Spirit of Death: In retaliation against Mordecai, Haman’s wife and then Haman himself wanted to impale him. This escalated until Haman convinced the king to issue a decree to wipe out the entire Jewish population of Persia.

4) Spirit of Lying: This one is subtle. Still, we see a general attitude of mistrust and deception occurring in Persia: for starters, Esther did have to hide her identity, for her safety. We see false loyalties among the palace guards and a plot to overthrow King Xerxes. We see Xerxes’ notorious and borderline paranoid rage, and we see Haman overreacting to Mordecai’s slight.

5) Spirit of Mammon: Hamon wanted to not just kill the Jews, but plunder them. Take all their wealth so that no Jew anywhere would be able to recover it and recirculate it within their faith. Conversely, when the Jews retaliated they (for various reasons) refused to plunder.

6) Spirit of Perversion: This one was all over the place in the book of Esther. Queen Vashti was initially deposed due to not wanting to parade herself unveiled in front of a bunch of drunk men – 7 days drunk, to be exact. At a time when men and women were dining separately at separate banquets, the king’s request that she do this was nothing short of degrading. I applaud her for refusing, but ultimately it cost her the throne. Esther was chosen to be the new queen because of her beauty and virginity – a sort of ‘virgin pageant’. During her preparation for this she lived in a harem with the other maidens. After a night with the king they would then return but live in a different part of the harem – a part for concubines. Read between the lines here: the king of Persia, Esther’s eventual husband, had a different virgin every night. Once Esther was chosen, the king was unfaithful as a husband and even held a second ‘virgin pageant.’ So yes, I think it’s safe to say the spirit of perversion was alive and well in Persia during Esther’s time.

Knowing what she was up against, with 6 major principalities swirling around her, let’s look at what happened for her to fight them:

-First of all, Esther’s title of queen gave her no true power. Remember how easily Queen Vashti was deposed in the beginning. Esther was only chosen for the position because of her beauty – which is a superficial trait, but it’s also one that’s god-given – she was created for such a time as this, and if that meant she needed to be made pretty, well, that’s how God made her.

-Second, Esther was a non-practicing Jew. Think about that. She was hiding her identity from her husband – hiding in her own home. So she wasn’t partaking in the festivals, prayers, and was probably not following any of the dietary restrictions that the Jewish people normally follow. In short, she was doing nothing special to earn God’s favor – that just shows how merciful and faithful He is to those who petition in and stand for His will!

-What she did do, when she heard about Haman’s plot to wipe out her entire population, was to pray and fast for 3 days. She called for all the Jews in Persia to do the same thing. Now at first glance, she was fasting to prepare herself for the task at hand. And she was doing that. But if it was a matter of getting her heart right, maybe after a time of being distant from Him due to hiding who she really was, if that was all it was her time of prayer would have been between her and God. But it wasn’t. She called every Jew in Persia to fast and pray. We know that she had 6 principalities to fight. We know that the fate of her people was at stake. And we know that in Mark 9, Jesus heals someone possessed by demons. When His disciples ask why they couldn’t heal him in that, Jesus answered “that kind only comes out by prayer and fasting”. One more time: prayer and fasting casts out demons. It’s a big, big weapon we use. What was Esther doing? Praying and fasting. What were all the Jews in Persia doing? Praying and fasting. This wasn’t just a time of getting Esther’s focus together – this was a battleground. She was clearing the way, casting out these demons and making a way for God’s will to be done. She may have been in hiding up to this point, but He created her for such a time as this, and when push came to shove, she stood with Him strongly to bring His plan – the saving of the Jewish people – to fruition.

-Ultimately, God prevailed – He is stronger than these principalities and always will be! And we see His victory in the way that Xerxes extended favor to her both times that she approached him – even though her entrance to the throne room could have easily meant her death. We see His victory in how Xerxes not only agreed to listen to her but to dine with her, twice. Finally, we see His victory in Xerxes’ issuing a second decree which allowed the Jews to defend themselves and ultimately saved them. Everything Esther did after her time of prayer and fasting was met with favor – there was no more hiding, no more enemies in the way of God’s will. What a powerful God we serve!

My apologies for the super-long post. But it’s an important topic. And an important message: we were created for such a time as this. As this. You might be feeling on top of the world today – God has a destiny, a plan, and a task for you. You might be feeling like you’re under attack at this very moment – God has a destiny, a plan and a task for you. Stand with Him and you will prevail – “for if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

I invite you today to be intentional in seeking out Jesus’ plan for you. Join Him in intercession and ushering in His plan. Step onto the battleground with Him. Victory awaits – so claim it!

God bless!

Rebekah A

Igniting the Passion

I’ve been noticing lately just how much we do to interact with other people. When it comes to our loved ones, we make time to call or we put things aside to take their calls. We stay in touch via text or Facebook. We send each other stories, memories, pictures that remind us of that person. When we don’t hear from them or haven’t in awhile, we miss them.

And it got me thinking – what would the church look like if we treated God the same way? How would we as individuals look? How would our lives look?

Because honestly, how often do we think like that? How often do you go out of your way to make time to talk to Him? Go out of your way to take His call? Go through your day and see little things throughout that remind you of God or that you want to tell Him about later? If you haven’t talked to Him all day, do you miss Him? Does talking to Him put a smile on your face, or is it just something we do? Do you get giddy with Him the way you would with, say, a crush? Do we talk to Him because we need Him, or because we love Him?

God doesn’t want to be kept at a distance. He doesn’t want to be an afterthought, a crutch, or an obligation. He wants to be everything. He loves us, even to the most minute details of our lives,  He loves us passionately and wants our passionate love in return. Passionate. Love. He is the lover of our souls and as such desires our company and our time – He delights in it. Do we delight in Him?

I challenge you to work on closing that gap. See how many areas of your life you can include Him on. Not because you have a problem you need to pray about, but because you love Him and want Him around. It’s time to ignite your passion for Him (or grow it, as the case may be). He will meet you every step of the way!

God bless!

~Rebekah A

His Name is Jesus

Those that have been following along on my journey know that I have been on a trip to Asia for the last three weeks. I first went to the Philippines, then to China, and now I am in Taiwan. The Lord has proven Himself faithful to me numerous times throughout this trip. He has opened my eyes to a new dimension in Him.

I have faced spiritual opposition while I’ve been here. I believe it is because the enemy knows the Lord has used this trip for the purpose of planting seeds and for the purpose of growing me. I believe the Lord is not done yet and He will be further magnified before this adventure concludes.

On this trip I have seen the incredible generosity of people who have nothing. I have seen that true happiness does not take a lot of material possessions. I have seen that Jesus Christ is the Light of the world and where He is absent there is spiritual darkness. I have seen that His burden is easy and His yoke is light and where other spirits are worshiped there is a spiritual heaviness. I have seen that He is mighty and powerful in all corners of this earth and that a moment spent crying out to Him can change everything. I have seen that worshipping with brothers and sisters in the Lord is a wonderful blessing even when you’ve never met before and don’t speak the same language or have the same culture.

There is amazing beauty in other cultures, histories, traditions, and even religions…but there is only One God. There is only One King who sits on the throne in heaven. There is only One Savior. His name is Jesus. His name is Jesus!

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

A Dry and Thirsty Land

“Declare His glory among the nations; His wonders among all peoples” -1 Chronicles 16:24

chinese lantern

Every once in awhile we are given the opportunity to get away from our usual surroundings and remember just how blessed we are. It is sometimes challenging to be a Christian in our society because the United States is becoming less and less tolerant of Christianity as time goes on. Despite this, it is still overwhelmingly a Christian nation. It may not seem that way because so few actually serve our Lord (even when they profess to), but we are constantly surrounded by Christian influence. Being in China I am very aware of this lack of influence here.

It has woken up a sense of urgency in me that I haven’t felt since my ex and his friends were in the US for their graduate degrees. Something in me is very aware of the fact that the Lord is coming soon and there are so many who still don’t know Him. In America almost everyone has heard of Jesus even if they choose not to follow Him. But here in China, although Christianity is rapidly spreading, there are still countless people who have never even heard of Jesus.

In Shanghai when I’ve told people I am a Christian, many nod knowingly. Perhaps they don’t understand much about it, but at least they’ve heard of it. They’ve seen the big church in the city center and they’ve watched Christian weddings in Western movies. However, just a few miles outside the city and most people here have no idea what I’m talking about. They have no idea who Jesus is or what He has done for us! They have no idea that there is a way out of their hopelessness. They have no idea that forgiveness of sins available to them and they have no idea that LOVE came down and became our sacrifice so that we could live life eternal with Him.

My very soul cries out for these people! Lord, give me the words! Somehow Lord, that You would make me salt and light. That you would make me an ambassador for You to these souls. Teach me, Jesus. Reveal Yourself to them. Pour Yourself into them. Let Your living water flow in this dry and thirsty land! Open the doors. Open the doors. Open the doors.

In His Love,

Rebekah L

Leaving Tomorrow!

travel-suitcaseI leave tomorrow for Asia. It’s hard to believe almost a year has gone by since I applied for this program. I’m still deciding on last minute things to pack. I should be done, but I keep changing my mind about things. I underestimated the amount of space all the gifts for my host families would take up in the suitcase.

Peoples’ reactions to this trip are interesting. Most assume it’s just a work trip, others assume it’s through my church somehow. Some have told me they can’t picture me traveling so far alone because I’m too timid and quiet. Others have told me they’re surprised I’ve never been. It’s amusing to see how people project things onto you.  People travel everyday, I don’t quite see what all the fuss is about. When I’ve told people I’m going to the Philippines, China, and Taiwan (in that order) for some reason most folks only seem to register China. I’ve been asked over and over again about my trip to China as if that’s the only place that matters. This bothers me. I get it; China’s huge. It’s also the economic powerhouse that people in the US have their eyes on these days. Out of the three, it is the one that Americans tend to know the most about. But still, it is not the only place I’m going to, stop acting as if it is. My other pet peeve? Taiwan is not Thailand! And it’s also not China. People, please go read a book. Oh, okay enough ranting. Moving on.

Things I’m looking forward to on this trip:

  1. Learning more about the places where we do business.
  2. The opportunity to interact with locals and share culture.
  3. Getting to know more about my co-workers.
  4. Most importantly, hopefully getting the chance to share my testimony and plant seeds for Christ.
  5. The food! 🙂

It’s sort of silly the things I’m worrying about. I should be concerned with safety, translation issues, getting along with my host families, the lessons I’m going to attempt to teach etc. Instead I’m thinking about being fat and coming home to a backlog of work.

Seriously though, I’m trying to gear myself up for the inevitable comments about my weight that I’m sure I’ll hear. It’s just not unusual for Asians to make comments about weight in a way that as Americans, we aren’t used to. It was that way when I first met my ex’s friends.  It was also that way when I was going to Chinese church. In addition, people assume you can’t understand what they are saying so that gives them even more liberty to make comments. There was one woman at Chinese church who made constant comments about my weight. Her and her daughter had numerous full on conversations about it while I was right in front of them. It was partially my fault because I never let on that I had a clue what they were talking about. That was somewhat unfair of me. Later when she found out that I understand a little Mandarin she was a bit upset that she hadn’t been told. But pretending not to understand was my only defense. What would I have said? So I said nothing.

Granted, I’ve lost quite a lot of weight since then, but compared to your average Asian, I’m still huge. Here in America, I’m thrilled to be overweight. You may wonder how anyone could be thrilled to be overweight. Well, when you’ve spent all of your adult life in the obese category, and most of it in the ‘super (morbidly) obese’ category, being merely overweight is a wonderful feeling! but that’s in America. Going to Asia basically means I’m going back to being super obese (in comparison) and I’m not looking forward to that part of it.

I know I’ll hear the comments and it will be the same as it was with my ex’s friends or with the folks at Chinese church; I’ll grin and bear it and act as if I don’t know what they’re saying. It will be partially true since my understanding of Mandarin is so limited. I’ll try to tell myself that I misunderstood, that they aren’t saying what I think they’re saying, that it’s just their culture, that it doesn’t matter…that it doesn’t affect me.

Ahh, but enough of that. I’m not going to waste too much energy thinking about those things. Good things are ahead! I’m going with a spirit of expectation and I can’t wait to see what the Lord is going to do! My prayer is that by the end of this journey I will have a new appreciation for my home country and all the things we so often take for granted. More importantly, I pray that somehow the people we meet will be forever changed because of God’s mercy and love for them.

Since Being Rebekah is a shared blog with a pretty specific focus, I have set up a second, semi-private blog to document my experiences on this trip. I will attempt to write every day and later upload the posts whenever I can find an internet connection. It will not necessarily have a spiritual focus the way this blog does, but will function more as a personal journal for me. Never the less, if you are interested in keeping up with my journey, send me an email at beingrebekahl@gmail.com and I will send you the link.

Next week on my regular day to post on this blog I’ll be in China. I am going to try to post from there, but I’m not really sure if I’ll be able to or not. WordPress is banned in China, but a fellow blogger that lives there has sent me instructions on how to get around that, so we’ll see. Also, my internet availability will be a bit spotty while I’m gone. I’ll have it in some places and not in others so I’m not completely sure if I’ll be able to post on my regularly scheduled day or not. To be sure, I’ll post again when I can. Say a prayer for me.

In His Love,

Rebekah L.

Guest Post: Lindsay “Hunger in Mozambique”

Editor’s Note: Our weekly guest spot is our effort to help our reading community connect with each other. Thank you to Lindsay (who is currently on  a missions trip in Mozambique) for reminding us that sometimes we must become hungry to truly understand being filled.  

Last night we at Harvest celebrated the fourth of July the only way we knew how–DANCING the night away!  I came home covered in dirt, sweat, and full of laughter.

Today I am heading to village immersion.  I will be staying with one of the mamas in her home for the night and will help her in any way that I can.  Pray for God encounters, I have a very good feeling about this!

Now what I really want to share with you is what God has been speaking to me about over the five weeks I have been here: hunger.  Every Friday I work with 600 children from the village, my team of five does dramas, we give them the Gospel, and we feed each of them a heaping plate of rice and beans.  In all honesty, it can be very difficult.  The kids are very rough and loud and you lose your voice trying to share Jesus with them most of the time, but it gets really crazy when it comes to the rice and beans.

After we give everyone a plate of food many of the children line up for a second plate of food, but since we do not have enough for everyone to have a second plate we often have to turn them away.  When we start turning them away, it gets wild.  The children will beat each other viciously, they steal food from each other, they scream and fight and throw rocks, but they are hungry and I am learning from them.

Two weeks ago we set one plate on a ledge and there were about thirty children gathered around watching the plate.  When the plate fell not one grain of rice, not one bean even hit the ground.  Instantly the kids descended on it and it was completely gone, eaten in less than a second.  I have never seen hunger like this in my entire life.  And yet it is the very thing God wants me to gain from these kids.  A ravenous hunger that waits for one single drop from heaven, waiting, watching, wanting nothing but Jesus.

And yet Jesus has been telling me that in heaven He does not give us just a drop, He is ready to fill us to the brim and He does not turn us away when we come back for seconds because there is always enough.  He died so that there would always be enough.  But we have to be hungry.  Hunger invokes a response from God.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.  If you are hungry you have a promise over your life and you will be filled.

Without hunger, we will not eat, and if we do not eat we will die.  Jesus is inviting us to a feast and we must eat.  Hunger sustains us.  It is the only thing that will keep us alive.

So my challenge to you is this: get hungry.  Get hungry.  Get hungry.  Get hungry.  Get so hungry that your flesh actually cries out for God.  If you have to fast, then fast so you can know hunger.  Know it inside and out and you will know the overwhelming joy of being filled.

Getting hungrier and learning to go lower,

Lindsay

Lindsay has been a missionary since her early teens. She lives in Arizona but is currently in Mozambique with Harvest School (Iris Ministries). Learn more at http://www.irisglobal.org/missions/harvest/

Published by permission of the author. Submit your own post at beingrebekah@outlook.com. 

Below is Like a Fire by Planetshakers.  It’s the song I finally picked as my solo at church last night and it feel so in line with this. Jesus- I’m desperate for You. Jesus- I’m hungry for You. Jesus I’m longing for You. Lord You are, all I want. ~Rebekah M. 

Are You a Goat?

goatAnd before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. […]Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. ~Matt 25:32, 41-46

As I was driving earlier today with my God-sister, we started talking about how our church had such a tendency to focus on some really important truths, but one BIG lacking thing we noticed across the board was reaching out to the needy in our communities.  It is SUCH an integral part of why I want to be a doctor- “I was sick and you visited me.” When I think of how so many churches don’t focus on that it breaks my heart. Where are the soup kitchens? Where are the can drives? Where are the coat drives? To have so many things right but not have any real community outreach just seems so wrong.

There are other churches with the flip side- they have tons of community outreach, but forget fundamentals of salvation or a true Christian walk. They’ll have soup kitchens galore, but people lack daily prayer lives. Anyone who needs an extra coat in winter will find one there, but saints don’t daily read their Bible.  We can become so busy in doing things FOR Christ, we forget HIM.

We’ve got to find a balance. We cannot forsake the foundations of faith and once we have an established daily foundation for our faith we must extend and grow. So my question to all of you (and to myself) is on judgement day, will He find you a goat or a sheep?

Lord Jesus, 

Help us be Your sheep. Help us walk where You lead us. Let us visit those who we should visit and minister unto others as if we are ministering unto You.  May we look into their eyes and see Your reflection there realizing it is a mirror of ourselves when we are allowing YOU to work through us.  Let me be Your hands and Your feet. 

Rebekah M.