Tuesday, November 17, 2015


The Terrorist Goal is to Cause Fear

Fear is that wrenching uncertainty that binds and traps people.  It is a very helpful thing properly directed and in real situations.  But fear out of bounds is ruthless and damaging and deadly.  The terrorist whether homegrown or foreign born destroying buildings and killing people is seeking the impact of crushing fear on a population.  That fear also exists in the home of an abuser who shoves and beats and threatens to instill fear.  And fear shows up, doesn’t it?  The news, the conversations, the social media pick it up and fear spreads.  

That ugly side of fear leads to flight or fight.  You have probably noticed.  People will lock themselves away behind 14 feet of concrete with supplies for “me and mine” or they are ready to join the war and lock and load those weapons for “any and all” they see as a threat.  

Being responsible to have safety is a good thing.  Dealing decisively with those who pose a threat is right.  But fear on steroids is a different thing.  That kind of fear brings delight to the terrorist.  In the creation of that fear they win.  Let’s not let them win.  Ever. 

A Behind the Scenes Look at the Battle

Having intel is crucial before engaging in a battle.  You as a Christian are familiar with the cosmos as it really is.  The physical world or physical universe is not the whole.  The invisible (to us) forces of the spiritual dimension are at work in the physical universe.  Paul pulls back the curtain for God’s people and says: 

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) 

You may remind me that the bombs that have gone off in recent times were very physical and the terrorists were flesh and blood.  Yes, absolutely.  But behind the scenes there is another force at work.  Supporting, encouraging, and guiding those whose hearts are turned to darkness.  The people who listen to the devil will be planted among those who are God’s own.  It is so in the church and in the communities.  Jesus gave a parable that included this idea:

The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one.  The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. Matthew 13:38-39 (NLT) 

The people who belong to the evil one are planted in places like Syria and Paris and all around the world.  And plans to steal, kill and destroy are formed.  

Breaking news is a search for Salah Abdeslam is underway in the Mollenbeek area of Brussels, Belgium.  He is reportedly a leader in the Paris bombings.  The most wanted are always the top leaders behind the group and the plan.  As it should be.  And behind that leader is another.  The ultimate leader is the evil one who is at work to create destruction and fear. 

A Tale of Intervention

As the world was changing back in the 1990s a plan was put into place for a spiritual intervention in Brussels, Belgium.  A shift in Europe was about to happen.  By 1992 Brussels would be the center of the European Union.  It already hosted the headquarters for NATO.  An attempt to take the Gospel to every person in Brussels in 1991 was put into action.  The Gospel was broadcast on every media.  Printed items were handed out to every house or apartment by going door to door.  Conversations were had face to face.  Events were held to point people to Jesus.  Prayer was going up in every corner.  There were specific groups working in the Muslim neighborhoods as well.  

Cass and I were there in 1991 leading a team of short-term missionaries on this effort in Brussels.  We worked long hours.  We linked arms with believers from Egypt, Holland, East Germany, England and Belgium.  It was an opportunity to bring light against the darkness of spiritual forces aligning against the people there.  I cannot imagine the outbreak that could have occurred if that giant effort had not been made.  

The recent events in Paris have located the center of the planning as the Mollenbeek neighborhood of Brussels.  It is a primarily Muslim area.  Some of those involved were born and grew up in that neighborhood.  They are in their 20s.  The project called Projet Bruxelles 1991 was 24 years ago.  These terrorists were there or were born about that time.  God was trying to reach them even then.  Others I am sure were reached or turned from doing harm by the prayers and efforts made at that time.  

Obviously more spiritual battles will need to be fought in that area.  Pray for the people in that neighborhood.  Pray for the city of Brussels as well.  The Muslims who are not engaged in terrorism are likely to suffer by way of association.  Ask God to empower the Christians in that area to reach out with Spirit empowered love.  The same will be needed in Paris and Syria.  A battle is going on. 

Fighting in the War on Terrorism

You can fight in this war on terrorism.  You may not be in the military or police force, but you can fight.  And there is a place for the physical defenses and the deploying of offensive tactics against terrorists, but the focus here is on the spiritual war.  You can fight.  You are being asked to fight.  People need you to fight.  

Begin by not giving in to the fear hoped for by terrorists. Paul reminds us: “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)   

Use the weapons God has made available and use them skillfully and boldly.  

We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT)

Here are some important things to understand.  The world is waging war one way, but we are God’s people and He has another way for us.  Worldly weapons are fine for some battles, but we use God’s mighty weapons.  The deceiver has planted the idea even among Christians that prayer is weak and really pointless and only worldly ways are powerful.  That isn’t how God sees it.  We use God’s mighty weapons.  There are strongholds of false thoughts filled with darkness.  We can attack those strongholds wherever they are across the globe near or far.  We can destroy obstacles that keep people from knowing God.  

God wants people everywhere to come to know Him.  That is important.  Terrorists may be the evil doers that need to be stopped on one hand, but they are also lost and God wants them to repent. 
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)
Our true enemy is the evil one in spiritual places blocking access to God’s light and influencing horrible acts of terror through those caught in his web.  

A powerful weapon is prayer.  Prayer is something that can be learned.  Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray.  It takes practice.  It requires submission to God’s ways.  It means getting into the Scriptures so that there is an understanding of God’s heart and His instructions.  Just jumping in and praying is good, and then develop in it along the way.  Here is a place to begin.  

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 1 Timothy 2:1 (NLT) 

The victims of terrorists in Africa or the Middle East, Europe or America need prayer.  The family and friends of all those affected need prayers.  The businesses and local communities as well. And pray for the terrorists that they would come to Christ and turn away from this evil.  In the mind of an Islamic terrorist the most horrible thing that could happen is that they would leave Islam and turn to Christ.  Pray.  

Paul who was living in the first century in the Roman Empire and dealing with all sorts of local authorities went on to say this: 

Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 1 Timothy 2:2-4 (NLT)

As terrible stories of war and terrorist’s destruction are unfolding there are people in authority in various countries and locales who have to make decisions.  Pray for them.  Ask God to guide them in their decision making and in their tasks.  Pray for their minds to be open to God’s ways and to block the voice of the enemy.  

If you hit a barrier and would like to pray, but don’t know how to go on.  Ask God to help you with that.  He will give wisdom to those who ask Him.  The Holy Spirit is also operational in God’s people.  He will help us pray.  

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. Romans 8:26 (NLT)

There is power in prayer and God is with us to use this power effectively.  

As we join in this battle with terrorists, the battle against the true enemy who is the prince of the powers of the air, we join with Jesus who came to destroy the works of the devil.  

But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 (NLT)

Let us be fearless in this battle, strong in God’s might, wielding effectively the weapons God has given us for defeating the enemy.  

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11 (NLT) 

Thank you for joining in this fight valiant warrior. Let me know if you would like to be more fully trained in prayer.  


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Reflections on Time in the U.S. Army

My Story...Randy Huddleston

Today is Veteran’s Day 2015.  I thought I would tell my story.  In September of 1972 I entered the U.S. Army.  Basic training was at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and Advanced training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  These were the days of the Viet Nam War.  It was winding down, but all of our training was geared for that jungle warfare in Southeast Asia.  Because of the news reports we had seen for years it seemed likely many of us would go, but not come back.  It wasn’t a fear.  No one ran.  It was just there hanging in the air.  

Jesus had become more and more real to me during my first year at Northeastern.  Digging into the Scriptures and discovering more about Him was thrilling.  A couple of guys at school were guiding me in the Bible and in how to talk to other people about Christ.  We were going around campus and door to door talking to people about Jesus.  A big event took place between the time school let out in May and I went to Basic in September it was called Explo ’72.  A gathering in Dallas of thousands of Christians getting trained in Bible basics and in evangelism.  Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ sponsored the event.  If you see the movie Woodlawn you will get an idea of what was going on at the time.  Getting even more encouraged to make Christ known I did what I could around Chouteau, and then the time came to go to the Army.  

A few weeks into Basic I had a weekend break and got to make a trip home.  That was such a welcome break.  While there I picked up my New Schofield Reference Bible.  Back at the barracks I would take out my Bible and talk about the Lord.  Guys were interested.  I think the uncertainty of what we were facing made things very real.  If we had any time in the evening after chow a few would gather from time to time and we would open the book and talk of the things of the Lord.  That continued into our Advanced training at Fort Sill.  Some came to the Lord during those days. 

When we were given orders for our next assignment not one of us was sent to Viet Nam.  Most of us were going to Germany.  After a wonderful time at home over Christmas I was on my way to Germany in January.  A crowded troop plane flew us into Rhein-Main in Frankfurt.  Disoriented, tired and carrying everything we owned we were loaded onto buses and taken across country.  Eventually making it to my final destination Herzo Base near Nurnberg in the middle of the night.   

A sergeant on CQ signed for us and seemed a little bothered that we arrived.  Eventually bunks were found and we found a less than welcoming scenario as we settled in.  The unit had been moved to this location from Dachau just before the ’72 Olympics so that Munich wouldn’t appear to be occupied by a military presence.  We were in a barracks that had been the home of Nazi aviators during the war.  Fixing it up apparently hadn’t been on anyone’s to-do list from their time to ours.  The tensions of the day included the Middle East.  Remember the eleven Israeli athletes killed at Munich by the Palestinian Black September group?  That had happened only months before.  For a feel of the times watch the movie MunichThere were European gangs making waves.  The Soviet Union had apparently 28 divisions on the border to our 3.  They liked to move massive numbers of tanks up to the fenced border at night so that when the sun came up and our border guards saw them a lot of excitement would take place.  Racial tensions existed as well.  Blacks against whites, Puerto Ricans against others right on base.  

Settled in to a new home.  Got a new job.  Started training.  Set up field positions.  Worked all day.  Worked all night.  In the winter cold.  In the mud.  Learned a lot.  Carried an M-16.  Served with some outstanding people and some not so great.  I never served in combat and came to really appreciate those who did.  In those days the guys from Viet Nam were often assigned to Germany to sort of give them a breather before returning to the States.  They had had it rough.   

Some of the guys at Herzo would drink too much or got into drugs.  Some spent a month’s pay on prostitutes (legal in Germany).  Many were depressed and just counting the days to get out of the Army. There were those who worked with the system and those who were looking to get away with whatever they could.  And there were some who were real soldiers and I was proud to serve alongside them. 

I connected with the Chaplain at Herzo Base.  Attended chapel and helped out where I could.  A group called The Navigators wanted to extend ministry to the area I was in and I got involved in that as well. Especially with newly appointed Navigator Representatives, Don and Sue Hankins.  Opportunities came to talk about Christ at work while on all night duty or when I was off and having coffee at the PX.  

There were guys in the Army who wanted to know about God.  They had ideas and wanted to check them out.  God showed up.  So did the enemy.  

A soldier and I had been talking and walking from the PX to the barracks.  He thought the Gospel sounded OK, but was really struggling with it.  Following Jesus meant changes to a person’s morality and that seemed to be a big hang up for those guys.  He broke off our conversation abruptly.  And went into his barracks.  Wooden floor, Army metal framed bunk, radiators along the wall, chipped paint and plaster in an empty room.  He quickly came back and caught up with me on my way to my barracks.  Anxious and talking fast he told me what had happened when he returned to his room.  Thinking about Jesus and the Gospel he sat on his bunk.  Suddenly his bunk took off with him across the room.  He was shocked, but shook it off.  Those kinds of things don’t happen.  He pushed it back.  He sat down.  The bunk took off again.  He took off too.  He came outside and wanted to know how to accept Jesus.  We prayed in front of the barracks.  

Most of the guys just responded to the Gospel and prayed to receive Christ.  Some joined the Bible studies.  The enemy was there by way of interference, distractions and temptations, but many a man found Christ and grew in Him.  I saw the heaviness on so many of the guys, and I was excited for them to find a new life in Christ.  The Christians came out of that dark cloud and began to really embrace what God had for them.  It showed up in their work and in their attitudes.  

I knew the dark cloud well.  When first arriving in Germany it was dark, gray, and cold.  Nights were long and days short.  I don’t remember seeing the sun for four months.  The work schedule was relentless.  Dark feelings, hopelessness, skepticism, and a crushing depression was heavy on me.  It took a while to get time to go to chapel.  Then with the help of the Chaplain and other believers I began to get on a solid footing with Christ.  Dick Douce, a fellow soldier, was walking strongly with the Lord and helped a lot.  He became a surgeon and serves as a mission doctor in South America now.  He and others challenged me with an eternal perspective.  This world is passing away, but God, His Word and people will be around so invest in what will last.  I began to.  They were insistent on our being a good witness by doing our work for the military well.  The team I worked with weren’t all believers, but they had a good work ethic and that helped on the job.  With the Lord and the help of others the depression lifted and a new life…truly, a new life began.  And I knew I wanted to help as many other soldiers experience that new life as I possibly could. 

God made it possible.  He opened many doors.  I had the chance to serve in the U.S. Army and to serve Christ at the same time.  My two years with the Army ended in August 1974, but that was not the end.  I returned to Germany work with soldiers and point them to Christ.  In May of 1976 I returned to the U.S. in time for my sister’s high school graduation.  

I moved to Stillwater to attend OSU and assist with leading some part of the Navigator ministry.  While there the Lord laid on me the need to join the Oklahoma National Guard.  I really had a hard time with that decision.  Thinking my time with the military was finished I didn’t want to return, but the Lord doesn’t always go with my thinking.  I gave in and joined the unit in Stillwater.  I served there with the Combat Engineers and Demolitions Expert along with becoming an unofficial Chaplain among the soldiers I worked with.  

 Graduating from OSU in July and getting married to Cass in August of 1979 my time with the Army was finished.  I was turned loose on July 4, 1979...6 years, 9 months, 27 days with the Active Army, the Army Reserve and the Oklahoma Army National Guard.  I thank God He saw fit to have me serve in various ways in the Army.  I was stretched.  I had my eyes opened.  I was crushed.  I was shaped.  I was given the opportunity to meet all kinds of people.  I was pushed to do a job well.  I had to learn discipline and respect.  I found God to be faithful in every situation.  Even in the U.S. Army.