A Distant War No Longer

Until 9/11/2001, America had no memory of fighting a war on its own soil. All the wars that we have fought in the last century (going back to the Civil War) have been fought overseas. World War I (aka, The Great War) brought America face to face with a growing threat from Germany. World War II brought us face to face with Germany and Japan, two fronts on a massive scale. Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan have all been places where American troops have fought and died (I’ve probably left out a few). In our generation, only Iraq and wars since have given us firsthand memories. And all we really know of them is what we see on CNN. We get a view of the war when it is sensational. Otherwise it moves quietly forward (unless you are part of the armed forces or have a loved one in the armed forces).

In the same way that most American citizens have been “at war” with evil regimes and terrorists, American Christians have been “at war” spiritually. We have lived as though the battle was not on our soil. Churches have sought to make people more comfortable in the lives they are already leading.

The apostle Paul describes the war that the Christian fights,

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. (Eph 6:12)

It is very real but Christians in America (not all, but most) have not been much concerned about it. When something sensational happens elsewhere, like a good missionary story, we pay attention. Otherwise we go about our lives as though nothing is really going on.

Things are changing…

But I think things are changing. This spiritual battle is coming to us. Over the past few months I have felt more and more that Cornerstone is a battleground. Several of you have felt it too.

On the one hand it seems God is about to move in our midst in a big way. In Luke 10, the disciples of Jesus are sent out two-by-two to all the towns that Jesus is about to visit. They are to proclaim that the “Kingdom of God has come near!” It feels like we are like one of those places where those words are being spoken. It seems that God is about to come near to us in a significant way. (Now I’m not a prophet in the sense of the Old Testament, so don’t stone me if my “sense” doesn’t materialize in some clear way.) It seems that God is speaking to us, moving us to become more of an outgoing church, engaged in the work of His mission. It started last year with Project 9:36 (which invited us to see people as Jesus did – with compassion, and ask God to raise up laborers from among us), and has since brought to our attention Embers to a Flame, a maturing mercy ministry and deaconate, and a renewed interest in team evangelism (at least with me).

On the other hand, I have felt the darkness fighting back. I have watched relationships damaged in ways I would never have expected. I have seen attacks on health in life threatening ways, loss of jobs, grumbling and discontent.  Nathan and I have personally felt weary of ministry, quite independently. I can feel the spiritual battle raging. It has been difficult at times.

There is a bright side, however.  We are beginning to feel a truth that we’ve been told is true – that we are on the frontlines in the battle for souls. I don’t think this battle is limited to Cornerstone either. I sense it happening in other churches across America. I’ve heard from other pastors in Katy, in our Presbytery, and elsewhere. No longer can we be the country engaged in a way outside of our borders (spiritually speaking, that is).

So what does this all mean? I think it is God’s way of moving us to our vision for God’s mission. I think Embers to a Flame, a maturing mercy ministry, Do-it-Yourself Summer camp, and a fall focus on Evangelism Explosion and Financial Peace is all connected to getting us in spiritual shape, ready for battle. Please be in prayer for the following:

  • That God would use the Embers to a Flame conference to help unify our leadership (and congregation) around the direction God is taking us.
  • That God would shape us into a Praying Church, strategically praying for the direction and needs of Cornerstone in the Spiritual battle that we face.
  • That God would renew our teamwork Evangelism to Katy.

In Christ,

Carter

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