Years ago, the Lord spoke to me saying, “You are a Joshua.” This word was confirmed when a Godly mentor heard the Lord call me Joshua a few years later.
Joshua was the commander of Israel’s army who led the people into the Promised Land. His mission was to take enemy territory for God. I believe God has commissioned me specifically for that purpose too. I am to invade the adversary’s terrain and fight for Jesus to take back the “land” of people’s hearts for God.
The Lord gave me an evangelist heart that cries out for the lost to be saved. Because I am a fighting Joshua, I joke that Jesus gives me “the hard cases”. When I was teaching, God put me in an alternative school called New Beginnings (even the name of the school points to my position in Christ). My students were those that had been expelled from high school for discipline problems or habitual truancy. I learned how to love “the hard cases” at this school. Behind the defiance, the foul language, and the swagger were broken souls, orphaned abandoned spirits, and crushed hopes. I knew when I looked into their beautiful eyes that I too would have behaved just as they did if I hadn’t been rescued by adoption. My students’ hunger for the things of God was incredible. There were many days when my kids would beg me to talk about the Bible instead of teach history curriculum, and I spent several lunch hours with students crowded around my desk asking me about my faith. I didn’t just try to minister to students while at New Beginnings. I also tried to reach out to a teacher. My classroom was positioned directly next to Jay Contreras’s, the school’s upperclassman math instructor. Even though Jay grew up in a very Godly household and many of his relatives were actively involved in ministry (including his own children), Jay was an atheist. Because I was in my early twenties, I loved spending time with a much older and often wiser “Mr. C.” and chatting with him about spiritual things. I challenged him gently and asked him hard questions as we munched on our lunch sandwiches and talked about lesson plans. After I left New Beginnings, I became active in youth prison ministry because my heart broke when a few of my students went to jail. Although some might guess that juvenile inmates would be tough to reach, I found that they were so desperate for love and grace that when they found it in Christ, they drank it up as a dehydrated man would gulp down water in a desert. Finally, there are the individual “hard cases” like my neighbor, Amy, that I pray for often. I carry these precious souls with me every. single. day. I hope that I’ll see many of these faces I mention here in heaven one day.
Wherever my foot lands, I see so many who need Jesus. The more I live I realize that we all, MYSELF INCLUDED, are in a life and death struggle between faith and doubt, life and death, good and evil. Because of God’s grace, I have been called to be a minister of light. I belong to Christ, not because of anything I have done, but because of His great mercy. However, those that do not believe in Jesus belong to the evil one. Jesus, our Master says in John 17:
“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.”
I could write an entire entry on this prayer alone, but I’ll only highlight a few ideas. First of all, notice how Jesus makes a distinction between His followers and “the world”. We learn in this prayer that believers enjoy God’s protection. The Good Shepherd watches over us and cares for us. However, anyone who does not believe Christ’s message is part of “the world”. Unbelievers who have rejected Jesus’s message are under the enemy’s jurisdiction. Satan and his minions have free access to those still in the world to keep them blind, bound, suffering, and in sin.
It is my goal to carry Christ into Satan’s domain to rescue unbelievers in the Name of Jesus and pull them into the light with His power (Jude 1:23). However, just like the villains in our legends and stories, the greatest of all adversaries will not go down without a fight.
Ephesians 6:12 reads:
“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.”
Look at that verse again. Let this teaching sink down into your very marrow. Practically, what this passage is saying is that:
- When we have an unbelieving supervisor that seems to “have it out” for us- we aren’t wrestling with our boss, but we are fighting the spirits that guide his/her behavior.
- When we have a wayward child that lives in continual rebellion- we often need to look past our child and the behavior. Instead, we must fight against the principalities that try to hinder his/her faith and obedience.
- When we battle stress, anxiety, depression and other ailments, the enemy is always behind the scenes.
- When we stumble again and again over the same sin- we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against generational iniquity that controls our behavior. We must go to Christ and ask Him to break Satan’s power in our lives.
- When an atheist mocks and ridicules our belief in Christ, we are fighting against the powers that keep him/her bound, blind and deaf.
I’ve mentioned several times now that the Lord has given me the gift of discernment. Let me be clear before I begin to relay personal experiences that I am in no way giving a thorough teaching on spiritual warfare. My blog is to simply recount miracles I have witnessed. So, my purpose here is to simply do just that. In telling my experience in warfare, I want God to get the glory for all He has done! I also hope that what I say will validate someone else out there who is having similar experiences.
From the moment the Spirit baptized me and I saw His fiery image above me in my bedroom (see post called Fire), God has occasionally allowed me to catch glimpses into the spirit realm. In dreams, I have seen lower level demons of anger, lust, and rebellion/witchcraft. Hollywood cannot do true evil justice. Demons are ugly beyond description. They lack any compassion, empathy, are consumed with evil, and are, for lack of a better word, stupid because they can comprehend nothing but bad.
When I was active on an online Christian forum, I made an acquaintance with an older gentleman named Larry. One night I had a dream. I saw Larry and his wife getting into a backyard swimming in a pool for a leisurely dip. Suddenly, ravenous crocodiles emerged in the water to destroy them. The scene changed. A demon was coming toward me. The demon morphed into Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones. A final scene: I frantically called Larry to warn him about the crocodiles. Larry’s phone rang, but he did not pick up. I called and called but could never reach him.
The next day, I knew I was supposed to tell Larry about the dream. Because I was afraid of offending, I started off slowly by simply asking him about the music he had been listening to lately in a private message on the forum. Larry wrote me back with a stunning response. It was something like, “It’s funny you should ask. For the first time in years, I started listening to some Cat Stevens a couple days ago. I listened to him when I was younger and really enjoyed hearing some old tunes. In fact, I was on the computer all night downloading a bunch of oldies songs!” After reading his private message, I did a bit of research on Cat Stevens. While his music is peaceful sounding and he is widely known as a philanthropist, Cat is a Muslim. God warns us to have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). Obviously the Lord was not honored by Cat’s music and much of the other “tunes” from the 60’s and 70’s Larry had been listening to. (Incidentally, Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones, who, if I had to guess, were probably included on Larry’s new playlist, were one of the greatest musical offenders of this era. For example, Jagger plays the devil in Pleased to Meet You. Mick literally sings this demonic song as if he were a channel for the enemy to speak to the public. To the world this kind of activity might seem like a harmless game of pretend. However, to Jesus and His followers, it should be both heartbreaking and appalling for a man, made in God’s image, to intentionally imitate the adversary even for a moment.) Obviously, Larry had been swimming in dangerous waters by filling his head with Satan’s music just as I saw in the dream.
I wrote Larry back with a stern warning. I told him what I saw in the dream and explained the effect listening to evil music would have – that it literally opened both him and his wife up to attacks from the evil one. Husbands are to cover and protect their wives, and he had done just the opposite by opening the door for Satan to come into his home. Unfortunately, Larry would not receive what I was saying. Just like I couldn’t reach him by phone in my dream, I couldn’t reach him in reality. Larry refused to believe he was doing anything wrong at all. I was astounded by his response. I mean, seriously! I had no way of knowing in the natural world that he had just spent all night downloading music, yet the Lord told me! If the situation were reversed, I would have been freaked out. Pure terror would have moved me to instant obedience! Every song I had downloaded would have been deleted immediately. Not so with Larry. He simply would not listen.
I want to take a moment to say a few things at this juncture. There have been a few other instances in my life when Jesus has given me a message of rebuke or warning to deliver to a friend or loved one. First of all, I don’t enjoy bringing a message of reproof. It requires great faith to metaphorically read aloud a hidden page from someone’s diary when you have never read that diary! I proceed with these types of communications with great caution and trembling always praying that I’ve heard Jesus correctly. Secondly, I am a born encourager, and I want to be the bearer of good news (doesn’t everyone?). It’s not fun to be a downer for a friend, so a difficult word from God is… well, difficult. However, I have come to understand that a message of chastisement is just as wonderful as a word of encouragement. God disciplines those He loves, and when we hear, “Don’t! Beware! Stop it!” it should be heard as loving words from a Father who has our best interests at heart. Proverbs 12:1 says it very bluntly, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Secondly, I think God has chosen to ask me to give occasional rebukes because He knows that I will never deliver it from a place of judgment but from a place of love. Believe me when I say I need more grace than anybody! Finally, and most importantly, the Lord will almost always confront individuals first before asking me or anyone else to correct them. If they ignore His rebuke by ignoring the conviction of the Holy Spirit or instructions in His Word, sometimes, in His infinite grace, He will ask one of His servants to deliver the message. Remember how David sinned greatly by committing adultery with Bathsheba and then murdering her husband, Uriah when she got pregnant? David knew what he was doing was wrong, but he chose not to listen to the warning bells and alarms going off in his head and heart. So, God sent the prophet, Nathan, to rebuke David. David, being the great man of God that he was, received the rebuke and repented in dust and ashes. Just like in David’s case, I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit was convicting Larry telling him to cease listening to ungodly music. Larry blazed past those warnings. It was only then that God spoke to me regarding his situation. Unfortunately, unlike David, Larry did not listen to me either. I wish Larry had because I am certain the ramifications of his decision to ignore God’s advice were not good.
God’s Word says that, “Satan masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) Cat Stephens sounds like a peaceful dude, but there are lying deceitful messages hidden in small truths and sweet words. The devil is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). He will try and trick us with great deception to ensnare and enslave us. I once had a dream where I saw a beautiful angel. He had bright blond hair, brilliant blue eyes, and he stood about nine feet tall. When I saw him, even though he was absolutely dazzling, I felt in my spirit that something wasn’t right. So, I tested the spirit as 1 John 4:1 instructs. As soon as I said the name Jesus, the spirit morphed into an ugly hideous creature. God’s Word sternly warns us in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” Paul gave this warning because he knew, through God’s guidance, that angels would come to deceive many. Many of the world’s religions were started when a man had a vision of a supernatural being. For example, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, saw an angel named “Moroni”. Moroni was the guardian of “golden plates” that contained the source material for the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith did not test Moroni to see if he came from God. Moroni did not preach the Jesus Christ revealed in the Bible. Moroni preached another message! May Moroni be cursed! An angel named Gabriel appeared to the prophet Mohammed commanding him to recite verses that would later be included in the Quran. Mohammed and his followers went on to establish Islam. The angel that appeared to Mohammed preached a message different than of the Gospel: Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Jesus! (John 14:6) May Mohammed’s angel be cursed!
I’ll end today’s post by describing how God has used my gift of discernment to do war in the spirit realm. I am a Joshua when I am awake, and I am a Joshua in my dreams.
When the Lord first began teaching me about spiritual warfare, I fought demons attacking me in my sleep. Evil entities screamed lies that echoed in my head as I dreamed. Their main goal was to scare me. In the beginning it worked! Even in my sleep I cried out a desperate prayer, “Jesus, help me!” As my unconscious mind sought God’s help, my physical body floated closer and closer to consciousness. The demons attacking me did not want me to get fully awake. They knew that when I was awake, I could speak, pray, and really fight them off. Proverbs 18:21 says that “life and death are in the power of the tongue”. If awake, I could send the demons packing with one word: Jesus! So, as I fought to regain consciousness, the demons fought to keep me asleep. In really tough battles, I felt evil spirits choking me. As soon as I finally wrestled myself awake, I prayed. I turned worship music on very low and tried to relax. It was hard to not panic even after I was safely conscious! These experiences were scary! To try to calm down, I always meditated on scripture. One that always gave me solace was 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” I often heard Jesus say through His Word, “Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Eventually, as my faith got stronger, the demons got weaker. When the attacks first began, they came almost nightly. Eventually, as I gained victory night after night, they stopped bothering me. Today, the only time they have a window to get to me is if I fall into unrepentant sin. Demonic scare tactics do not work anymore… I’ll write about this in my next blog post!
Occasionally, I have gone to battle for others in my dreams. A few years ago, I went to visit my friend Valerie’s house in Oklahoma over spring break. I met her four gorgeous daughters while I was there. Her second oldest, Amanda, was clearly struggling with some very personal issues. I thought of Amanda and prayed for her while I was there and on the plane ride home. Valerie and I had stayed up late talking and sharing while I was away, and I was exhausted when my plane landed in Indiana. As soon as I got back to my apartment, I went straight to bed to get some much needed sleep. My nap was anything but restful.
The Lord allowed me to have a dream. I found myself floating in a huge turbulent gray ocean. Clouds and darkness consumed my vision. Rain poured down and lightening flashed. Amanda was next to me in the water, struggling. She was fighting an unseen force and failing. Suddenly, I looked up and saw not an ordinary demon, but a higher ranking principality. This horrifying creature looked like a pterodactyl and had a huge wingspan of maybe 30 feet. My spirit knew the monster was a spirit of suicide. I could not fight this principality on my own. I had to get awake. I fought harder than I ever have in my life to get awake. The demonic spirits did not want me to get other people praying as I knew I needed. Finally, I was able to open my eyes and stumble to the phone to call my friend and prayer partner/warrior Dani living in North Carolina. I tried to explain in an almost drunk like state that I had been fighting a spirit of suicide and that I desperately needed back up in prayer. I wasn’t able to stay awake long enough to explain the entire dream because I simply didn’t have the strength. After I hung up the phone, I said a quick prayer and collapsed again into my bed totally spent. Mercifully, I slept peacefully when my darling Dani took over.
The next day, Dani called me to say that Amanda had attempted suicide. Thank God Amanda failed. The only conclusion that I can draw from the above is that God loved Amanda so much that He moved on His children to pray and thwart the efforts of the enemy.
Beloved readers, God’s Word is true. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but we do indeed fight unseen spirits in the air that work tirelessly to destroy (John 10:10). This invisible spiritual battle waging around us between light and dark will continue until Christ comes back. Even though Satan roams around like a roaring lion to persecute and distress us (1 Peter 5:8), ultimately, those that are in Christ have total and resounding victory. God’s Word ecstatically declares in Romans 8:35-39,
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Folks, God wins! He wins the big battles, and He wins the small wars. Even when Satan throws great heartache, pain and suffering our way, “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Praise Jesus because the deciding war was already won 2,000 years ago when Jesus declared, “It is finished!” and gave His life as a sacrifice for you and for me (John 19:13). Our conquering King “disarmed the powers and authorities, (and) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:5) The demons tremble at the Name of Jesus. When I say His Name, they must flee in terror! Someday in the future, when God’s people finally see Jesus face to face, we will all be witness to the moment when,
“…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10)
In my next entry, I will continue to talk about spiritual warfare. I’ll speak about going to battle for one lost soul and the victory that is rightly mine through the power of the cross.